Wise Warthog Logo

Review of Pease: Troubleshooting Analog Circuits

Newnes, 1991, 217 pages

This popular book is not only about troubleshooting analog circuits, it also gives you lots of advice about designing them. So in many cases it may help you to avoid to get into trouble in the first place. The book is full of his experience that he acquired during decades of designing analog circuits.

It is a very practical book, with nearly no mathematics. But is assumes that you already have a solid knowledge of electronics. The fundamentals of diodes, transistors or operational amplifiers (Op Amps) are not explained, Pease assumes that you already know the basics - for a very easy introduction to electronics, take a look at the free e-book Lessons In Electric Circuits (allaboutcircuits). But even if you are new to analog electronics you can benefit from the book. You may not (yet) understand some parts of it, but e.g. chapter 2, Choosing the Right Equipment, gives practical advice that you can follow without any prior theoretical knowledge.

My advice is to read the book from cover to cover, with 217 pages this should not take you too long. Otherwise you might miss some nuggets of wisdom that can be found in each chapter and that do not really fit into a category. This includes chapter 13, Letters to Bob. It is of course completely unstructured but contains some good advice.

What Pease writes is always interesting, but you should not blindly follow every suggestion from him. He is not shy to say his opinion, even if it differs from the opinions of many other people who work in electronics. For example, on p.147 there is a section called Keep It Cool, Fool.... where he questions whether decreasing the temperature of components really improves their reliability. And the practice of not using ground straps when handling CMOS digital ICs that he describes on p.81 would be considered unsafe by many engineers. Now Pease may be right or he may be wrong. The important point is this: Whenever he says that his advice differs from the mainstream, you should think about it, discuss it with other students or your colleagues and form your own opinion.

One topic where Pease seemed to have a very strong opinion is the use of computers in general and of SPICE in particular. However, you should not take everything absolutely seriously. When he threw a computer from the top of a building or shoved a SPICE printout into a bird cage, this was mainly intended for the entertainment of his fans. You have to read between the lines, Pease did not seriously suggest that an analog designer should not use computers. What he says is, that one should not blindly believe in the results of any computer program. There is a nice story on p. 146 about a test engineer who fed the data that came from a faulty IC tester into a statistical analysis program without doing any plausibility check. The output of the statistics program did not make any sense, but instead of investigating what might have gone wrong, the test engineer focussed on creating a beautiful report using the meaningless data. As a result the production release of a perfectly healthy IC was considerably delayed.

You may also be interested in some recommendations for other troubleshooting resources. And you can get lots of Pease writings for free at Columns and Application Notes by Bob Pease.

Wise Warthog Site Overview:

General: Forums, Tips on how to seek Advice

Practical Electronics: Books and Other General Resources, Troubleshooting, Introductions to Oscilloscopes, Breadboarding and Prototyping

Foundations: Basic Linear Circuit Analysis, Analysis and Design of Electronic Circuits, Introductions to Analog IC Design, Circuit Simulation with SPICE

Devices: General Op Amp Resources, Op Amp Applications, Resistors, Capacitors, Diodes, Bipolar Junction Transistors

Application Notes: Analog Devices Seminar Notes, Columns and App Notes by Bob Pease, App Notes by Jim Williams, E-books and App Notes from Texas Instruments

Mathematics: Complex Numbers, Calculus, Mathematics for Physics and Engineering

Wise Warthog - Learning Resources
for Analog Electronics and more