Electronics Simulated in Software

From one of the speakers at Rebel Maker Camp, who suggested testing curcuit designs in software. He uses “LTSpice IV but a better starting place might be

He also said: “resistors limit current”. I wish someone had told me that was their job.

Internalising that was the best bit of learning from playing with the Arduino. I knew all the sums (or did at one time) and had an internal model, but building and debugging circuits made it intuitive. Also, terms like pull down/up resistor suddenly make sense.

Oh good, I’m glad it wasn’t just me. It’s pretty obvious once you’ve been told, from Ohm’s Law (V=IR for anyone who knows even less than me about electronics.) The Voltage is usually constant across a piece of the circuit, so if the resistance goes up, the current (I) goes down. I knew that. What I didn’t know was the practical reason for that - you put a big resistor in the protect the components that follow it from burning out. ‘If in doubt, put in a big one and make it smaller later’. I guess this quickly becomes obvious if you learn electronics the practical way.

It didn’t when I jumped straight from simple bulb circuits at school to the internals of operational amplifiers and P-N junctions in my physics half-degree. I was always blindly following instructions and equations without any of the #feels for why. I’ve come across teachers confused between explaining the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ quite a bit recently, sometimes saying they are going to do one but doing another.

‘The speaker’ was and his talk was ‘Hardware Isn’t Hard’. He flipped between assuming a lot and assuming nothing, which was probably a fair reflection of his audience but may have left both halves a little unfulfilled. It made me think I might be able to get electronics, so maybe it worked.

Feedback for @phazonoverload is that talks should declare ‘level’ they are aimed at (me=Doesn’t understand what resistors are for, does know what JavaScript, ‘front end’ and ‘a library’ is but hasn’t really used one, ‘Does know that Ruby on Rails is a programming language’) and what/whether the speaker is promoting something. I don’t mind being sold to, as long as I can assess that I’m not receiving impartial advice.


Thanks for the feedback - it’ll help not only us, but Alex. I’ll make sure he hears it. It’s the second time he’s delivered the talk, so (just like us) feedback will only make it better.

We did think about adding difficulty levels, but that still streams people by ability and that’s something we’re trying to avoid. We wanted all material to be suitable for people of less confidence in a topic, and then have a good range of topics - meaning that there should be at least one piece of content suitable for everyone.

Really helpful feedback though, appreciated <3

I wasn’t thinking of difficulty level or ability but current knowledge. If you don’t know what JavaScript or front-end are, you might not get the React.JS talk.

Appropriate pre-requisite knowledge?

Great suggestion! We’ll take it on board for the next event <3

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