Advice for neophytes... which you will almost certainly never see...

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,272
If you tried to solve a problem and failed, and you need help to solve your problem, don't present your failed solution. First present the problem you are trying to solve, then, if in your naïve enthusiasm you believe your failed solution just needs some secret sauce, present that—second.

Let us try to help you solve your problem which is not the same thing as the new problem of your failed solution.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
438
If you tried to solve a problem and failed, and you need help to solve your problem, don't present your failed solution. First present the problem you are trying to solve, then, if in your naïve enthusiasm you believe your failed solution just needs some secret sauce, present that—second.

Let us try to help you solve your problem which is not the same thing as the new problem of your failed solution.
Hmmm... Presenting a problem with no attempted solution is immediately followed by a question - "show us what you have attempted so far?" Or something along those lines

That is unless someone post the following - "we are not here to do your homework for you".

As a long time math tutor, i always want to see what the failed solution was. It helps to determine gaps in knowledge and if they are even trying.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,790
Hmmm... Presenting a problem with no attempted solution is immediately followed by a question - "show us what you have attempted so far?" Or something along those lines

That is unless someone post the following - "we are not here to do your homework for you".

As a long time math tutor, i always want to see what the failed solution was. It helps to determine gaps in knowledge and if they are even trying.
That usually applies to threads in Homework Help.

What this thread addresses is someone working on a project and cannot get a segment of the project to work. The creator is fixated on solving this problem and feels that having to reveal the nature of the entire project is unnecessary or reveals too much intellectual property. Further investigation reveals that the conceived solution is inappropriate and would not have existed had a proper solution been adopted in the first place.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
438
That usually applies to threads in Homework Help.

What this thread addresses is someone working on a project and cannot get a segment of the project to work. The creator is fixated on solving this problem and feels that having to reveal the nature of the entire project is unnecessary or reveals too much intellectual property. Further investigation reveals that the conceived solution is inappropriate and would not have existed had a proper solution been adopted in the first place.
That usually applies to threads in Homework Help.

What this thread addresses is someone working on a project and cannot get a segment of the project to work. The creator is fixated on solving this problem and feels that having to reveal the nature of the entire project is unnecessary or reveals too much intellectual property. Further investigation reveals that the conceived solution is inappropriate and would not have existed had a proper solution been adopted in the first place.
I understand what you mean. But question is, why was that solution attempted in the first place. I have a project at work right now that I am forced to deal with where no an inappropriate solution is being implemented. Why? No budget. No budget = no choice
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,790
I understand what you mean. But question is, why was that solution attempted in the first place. I have a project at work right now that I am forced to deal with where no an inappropriate solution is being implemented. Why? No budget. No budget = no choice
That's an example of false economics. Too often taking no action costs more than acting in the first place. Being proactive is often times less costly than being reactive.

A case in point is taking action on mitigating climate change.
Another example: having a healthy, resilient social fabric in place is less costly that having to deal with the consequences of a pandemic.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
438
That's an example of false economics. Too often taking no action costs more than acting in the first place. Being proactive is often times less costly than being reactive.

A case in point is taking action on mitigating climate change.
Another example: having a healthy, resilient social fabric in place is less costly that having to deal with the consequences of a pandemic.
Yes. Unfortunately our public services overlords do not seem to know that. For example the "project" I am talking about is proving a concept that has already been proven and implemented many times over. Since I work in healthcare, this is a perfect illustration of how it "functions"
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,338
If you tried to solve a problem and failed, and you need help to solve your problem, don't present your failed solution. First present the problem you are trying to solve, then, if in your naïve enthusiasm you believe your failed solution just needs some secret sauce, present that—second.

Let us try to help you solve your problem which is not the same thing as the new problem of your failed solution.
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Amen-Brother .............
Probably ~80% of the questions that I choose to look at have this exact syndrome.
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The Thread-Starter has an epiphany, and thinks he has just re-invented the Wheel.
This demonstrates to me that they have not evaluated the thousands of previous
efforts towards solving the exact same problem,
and how that problem is currently solved commercially, on average,
and the normally numerous, practical DIY methods, for achieving that same end result.
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Simple, Cheap, Bullet-Proof, "Bottom-Line"-type solutions,
have been my pursuit for ~55 years, ( in many different fields).
I believe that it would be advantageous for you to do the same.
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Your design will probably start-out overly complex.
As you gain a better understanding of what-causes-what,
you will start to see ways to simplify your design.

Start-out with individual "Building-Blocks" and
learn to make them "play-nice" with each other.
Then see if you can incorporate several "Building-Blocks"
into one larger, simplified, Block.
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Keep in mind that Power-Supply-Design is vital to the success of your project,
and can sometimes be more complex, and expensive,
than the Circuit that it provides Power for.
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You don't need a Micro-Controller for 95% of DIY stuff.
Although, if your actual pursuit is learning to Program, more-power-to-ya.
You need to learn basic Analogue / Linear Circuits FIRST,
to be successful with Computer-Digital-Control.
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If you want to eventually be hired as an Electronics Engineer,
by all means, knock yourself out with learning all the pit-falls of microscopic SMD Design.
But if you are just a DIY Hobbyist, wanting to make some cool stuff,
stick with Through-Hole, Bread-Board, Perf-Board, and "Dead-Bug", Construction-Techniques.

SMD Construction is geared towards CHEAP Automated-Mass-Production,
If you think that you have come up with a working, "World-Beater" Circuit-Design ...........
AFTER you work out all the Bugs,
THEN convert it to SMD,
THEN you can start with the job of working out the SMD Bugs.
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( enough with the Rant )
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I believe in Heavy Fact/Reality Bombing,
but I'm usually too nice anyway,
and understand that the only real barriers are .......
mis-understood words / concepts,
too many acronyms,
and not having paid attention in Math Class.
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GetDeviceInfo

Joined Jun 7, 2009
2,106
If you tried to solve a problem and failed, and you need help to solve your problem, don't present your failed solution. First present the problem you are trying to solve, then, if in your naïve enthusiasm you believe your failed solution just needs some secret sauce, present that—second.

Let us try to help you solve your problem which is not the same thing as the new problem of your failed solution.
As much as I agree, you are likely talking to those who aren’t here, yet.
It’s incumbent on those that engage, to seek ‘root cause’, unless of course you just want to tell your story.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
438
"You do not need a microcontroller" - unfortunatelly internet tells you that you do. Even for a blinking LED... Sad but true. The push is that "everyone can be a programmer" and many seem to believe it
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,479
Once you know micros and programming though, you will never go back to using 4 chips to make a circuit that cannot be changed without rewiring instead of one chip and being able to change the functionality on the fly with no new hardware.

Bob
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,109
"You do not need a microcontroller" - unfortunatelly internet tells you that you do. Even for a blinking LED... Sad but true. The push is that "everyone can be a programmer" and many seem to believe it
"Everyone can be a programmer" is much the same as saying everyone can add 2+2 and write the result on a worksheet(spreadsheets). Programming is very simple for the most part. Read spec, implement accordingly.
Code primate stuff.

Much more important here is electronic/electrical analog and digital circuit (skills that must be known separately from computer programming) problem solving using direct effect (embedded) programming skills as a way to translate sets of physical electrical characteristics and transfer functions into the equivalent math/logic constructs, how to manipulate those constructs in the digital computer domain and then convert that back to the physical electrical effect needed. Once you have that skill set you don't see circuits in the same way as before. Your brain abstracts analog functionality and problem solving into the digital domain easily with practice.
 
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ElectricSpidey

Joined Dec 2, 2017
2,153
I just finished working out a problem that took 2 days to get a handle on, the reason...a simple quirk of I2C I wasn't aware of, and no mention of it in the data sheet.

The moral to the story...I haven't got a clue, I just wanted to tell someone. :)

(perseverance)
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,338
I'm helping another guy to figure-out his Fan-Controller in another Thread,
he doesn't understand the FET-Drive Requirements required of his Micro-Controller for PWM use,
and probably has severe noise problems coming in with his Temp-Sensor Signal.
These are all Linear / Analogue problems that will be with us for some time to come.

And, there is a lot to be said for a Circuit that always does exactly what is expected of it,
instantly, every single time, or continuously, for as long as power is applied.

Trim-Pots are wonderful things.

Everything has it's advantages, and dis-advantages.

A Bug in a Computer Program can instantly destroy hundreds,
or thousands, of Dollars worth of Equipment.

Drones would not be possible without tiny Micro-Controllers, running at Ghz speeds,
they would also not be possible without ~50-plus Amp SMD MOSFETs.

The first Electronic-Computers used Analogue-Vacuum-Tubes to solve Math problems.
.
.
.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
5,857
Once you know micros and programming though, you will never go back to using 4 chips to make a circuit that cannot be changed without rewiring instead of one chip and being able to change the functionality on the fly with no new hardware.

Bob
My threshold would be rather higher than four! The processor might need its own 3.3V supply, a connector to program it and inputs and output may need voltage shifting, etc.
I appreciate that @BobTPH is referring to logic chips here, but this thread is "advice for neophytes" and I often see the concept that just because a MCU has analogue inputs and outputs it can implement complex analogue functions, where phase response is critical (SMPSUs for instance).
My advice to neophytes would be "if you can't design it in the analogue domain, you certainly can't program a MCU to do it!"
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,272
My threshold would be rather higher than four! The processor might need its own 3.3V supply, a connector to program it and inputs and output may need voltage shifting, etc.
I appreciate that @BobTPH is referring to logic chips here, but this thread is "advice for neophytes" and I often see the concept that just because a MCU has analogue inputs and outputs it can implement complex analogue functions, where phase response is critical (SMPSUs for instance).
My advice to neophytes would be "if you can't design it in the analogue domain, you certainly can't program a MCU to do it!"
I think you are correct that @BobTPH intended his advice to be about the digital domain. I think you make an excellent point, though, that the obvious assumption that talking about MCUs would suggest it was focused primarily in that area would not necessarily be obvious at all to a neophyte.

When I made my living writing I learned the hardest type of article to do well is a how-to. Deciding what you can safely assume the audience will know is hard. It works in both directions: if you multiply your "steps" by adding obvious things (which are obvious is clearly a matter of the reader) you will lose the interest of your audience or annoy them. On the other hand, if you skip something because you expect it to be obvious, you will confuse and frustrate those to whom it is not at all obvious.

I think clarifying two things helps: @BobTPH's advice is heuristic it is not a rule. It is a way of thinking that helps to decide which way to go, not a natural law that demands it. The other thing is it depends on being able to use an MCU, so implicitly it is saying "add MCUs to your skills toolbox so you can use them when they are an advantage".

Of course, it should be immediately pointed out that if a person has come to the electronics hobby via the Arduino world, it is equally true the inverted advice is valid: "add discrete logic circuit skills to your toolbox so you can use them when they are an advantage". (It should be obvious analog circuits are also critical to know.)
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,479
I think clarifying two things helps: @BobTPH's advice is heuristic it is not a rule. It is a way of thinking that helps to decide which way to go, not a natural law that demands it. The other thing is it depends on being able to use an MCU, so implicitly it is saying "add MCUs to your skills toolbox so you can use them when they are an advantage".
Exactly. Not knowing micros would be severely limiting for an electronic hobbyist (like me) today. For example, I am working on lighting effects right now. I could certainly do something with RGB strips and discrete circuits to do fading and flashing effects. But make them addressable ((WS2812B) strips and add a micro and you are only limited by imagination.

Bob
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
5,857
When I made my living writing I learned the hardest type of article to do well is a how-to. Deciding what you can safely assume the audience will know is hard.
I spent a decade of my career writing manuals as part of my job. First in Professional Audio and Lighting, where I was writing for professional installers, then in HVAC where I was writing for the general public, who might not even be familiar with the acronym "LED" ("indicator" is the term to use!) I use to imagine that I was writing instructions for my mother to follow - she's almost 90.
We still managed to have a customer who assembled an oil-filled radiator the wrong way up, and another would couldn't see that the mains plug was packed with a protective cover on it, and couldn't get it to go in the socket.
This may be a bit off-topic, but an ability to write manuals is essential for anyone embarking on a career in a small company, or could even be a career in itself.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,272
I spent a decade of my career writing manuals as part of my job. First in Professional Audio and Lighting, where I was writing for professional installers, then in HVAC where I was writing for the general public, who might not even be familiar with the acronym "LED" ("indicator" is the term to use!) I use to imagine that I was writing instructions for my mother to follow - she's almost 90.
We still managed to have a customer who assembled an oil-filled radiator the wrong way up, and another would couldn't see that the mains plug was packed with a protective cover on it, and couldn't get it to go in the socket.
This may be a bit off-topic, but an ability to write manuals is essential for anyone embarking on a career in a small company, or could even be a career in itself.
It is at least tangentially related to the advice in my original post. The problem that frequently occurs in such cases is a person without enough knowledge to know what is wrong assumes they have enough knowledge to pare down the system they are working on to the parts relevant to solving the problem. So often, it turns out they have removed essential things and created an imaginary version that can’t be used to model the problem at all because it lies elsewhere.

So, a case of unwarranted assumptions, often based on the very ignorance that has created their problem in the first place.
 
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