DATASHEET- The holy grail for an electronics engineer
After having spent 1.5 years in the industry after my 4 years of engineering, I can definitely relate to the term “Refer Datasheet”. In spite of not being an industry veteran, I have understood that no matter how boring it is to read a datasheet, reading and understanding it is paramount for using any IC.
As far as I remember, the first datasheet that I read was that of TI’s timer IC 555. It was 36 pages long, with some weird graphs and few tables full of voltage and current ratings. I just skipped to the last page and referred some application note just to make my circuit work.
Datasheets are overwhelming. It contains every single piece of information. Although generally I used to look for just pin diagrams and general description, but, now when I am designing a circuit and using a diode, I need to know when it is going to blow up my circuit. And hence, I need the information about the diode’s breakdown voltage and current ratings.
During my college days, me along with a couple of friends had designed a small circuit with MSP430 micro-controller. Everything was perfect and the code was also bug-free. But, to our horror, the controller was not working. It was only after reading the data sheet again, we realized that we had used the pull-up resistor at RESET pin of a wrong value. In my first job, my senior once remarked, “There is no shortcut in electronics designing, you have to go through the datasheet at least once so that you know what is important to you and what isn’t”. Today I realize how true his words were.
Recently, while experimenting with a motor driver IC(for driving BLDC motor) at half the Vcc voltage(this Vcc level is much higher than the lower limit of Vcc), we realized that we were not able to write motor parameters into the EEPROM of driver IC. Only when one of my colleagues went through the datasheet, we realized that, in order to write motor parameters, there has to be sufficient Vcc voltage at the driver IC. And, this Cutoff voltage is much higher than the voltage we were operating at. Again the 57-page long complex datasheet came to our rescue.
In my opinion, Datasheet is not just a technical document, but an encyclopedia, where we get all answers to our problems related to that component/IC. And despite some of them being lengthy and extremely boring, you simply cannot skip them.
So, at my current company(Atomberg Technologies), we have come up with a different approach to this problem of reading datasheets. Whenever we need to understand an IC, we individually read the datasheet. Post that we have a pretty long group discussion. By implementing this process while improving our power circuit design, we ended up with a much clearer approach towards improving our design.
You might not exactly be in love with datasheets, but at the end of the day you need to figure out a way how to use these datasheets.
Originally published on http://atomberg.com/blog/