The extent of building?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Mathematics!, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    I am curious for a electronic/electrical /hardware hobbiest.

    What the extent of building devices is

    1) useing only simple basic electronic/electrical components (i.e resistors , capacitors , inductors , transistors ...etc and PCB boards)
    NO IC , CPU/MICROPROCESSORS , OR CHIPS. (IE you have just the basic components to build with )
    What can you build in practice? I know in theory you could build the same things as if you had IC , CPU...etc because these are just made up with smaller versions of the basic components but the practicality of building would be slim for most devices and would probably take a life time.

    Would it be possible to build a 3G or QAM modulator /demodulator with no chips and just the basic components.

    You can assume in both cases you can send away to have the PCB etch for you. And you can assume that you can develop PCB schemes/spec's in eagle or other software.

    I am just curious how much you can do without chips , IC , or microprocessors/cpus , etc etc in building electronic circuits and hardware devices
  2. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    One big limiting factor you'll run into is the added parasitics of running with discrete components; circuit bandwidth will decrease dramatically, so you will have to operate at much lower frequencies. This alone may exclude many functions.

    My 1st computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977. It used ICs, but they were mostly SSI and MSI. Its' clock speed was only 1.7MHz, and the RAM ICs were quite spread out on the board.

    Here is one example of a useful circuit that's normally handled by an IC:
    That's a lot of soldering, and a lot of board real estate.

    A single IC can handle all of the functions that a clock requires.

    I'm not going to go into other possibilities; it's simply too broad of a question.
  3. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    There is no limit as to how many transistors you can assemble into a working circuit.
    The the first electronic digital computer, Colossus Mark I, was built in 1943 with 1500 valves (tubes).

    The ENIAC built in 1946 had 17,468 valves.
  4. K7GUH


    Jan 28, 2011
    Take a look at WWII and Korean War surplus radio equipment, or IBM 7040/7090 computers.
  5. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    By hand and in a life time there is a limit based on speed of a human assembly.
    Its just simple math.

    I was more wondering what device or to what extent you could make hardware/device with out IC , CPU ,...etc and just the basic components in a humans life time.

    Like could you ever make something in theory as complicated as 3g modulators or QAM modulators , or other involved circuits with out IC's/chips/cpu's/dsp's
  6. vpoko

    Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    I don't see why not, you might just need more humans. The limiting factor would be the size of the component, which would limit its speed and power consumption/efficiency. In terms of performance, you're not going to build a modern CPU out of discrete components, but in terms of functionality, sure. I guess where speed is an integral part of the functionality (like a modulator that needs to modulate at a certain speed to work) then you won't be able to do it out of discrete components, but I'm sure where, exactly, that limit is will depend on what you're trying to build.