Structured Electronics Design

color coded resistors

Structured Electronics Design offers strategies, methods, and techniques for electronic circuit design.

The complexity of analog electronics

Many people consider analog electronic circuit design complex. This is because designers can achieve the desired performance of a circuit in many ways. Together, theoretical concepts, circuit topologies, electronic devices, their operating conditions, and the system’s physical construction constitute an enormous design space in which it is easy to get lost. For this reason, analog electronics often is regarded as an art rather than a solid discipline.

Experienced designers and intuitive design

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward way to design analog circuits. In daily practice, experienced designers intuitively use all these degrees of freedom to modify and combine known solutions into new ones. However, intuition is knowledge of which the origin has become unclear. It results from a personal internalization process and cannot be shared with novices who have yet to acquire this knowledge. Therefore, intuition cannot and should not be a basis for design education.

The design of electronic circuits can be taught, shared, and understood if presented in a structured way with a distinct formulation of design goals, strategies, methods, and techniques. Moreover, it requires a clear distinction between theoretical concepts and their physical implementations.

Structured Electronics Design

Rather than taking numerous existing circuits as a starting point, it is much more effective to start a new design with a clear understanding of

  1. The application and its environment

  2. The required functionality

  3. The implementation technology and physical operating mechanisms

  4. Theoretical concepts, design strategies, methods, and techniques

All of this needs to be combined to achieve an acceptable performance-cost ratio.

Structured Electronics Design is a systems engineering approach to the design of analog electronics. It places analog electronics design in the perspective of information processing and provides a top-down design method with a bottom-up awareness. The hierarchical design process has a similar structure at each hierarchical level.

Important questions driving the design process are

  1. How is the information present in the electrical signals?

  2. Which physical signals present in the application environment may degrade the quality of the signal processing?

  3. In which way and to what extent is the application sensitive to all kinds of information processing errors?

  4. Which physical operating principles exist for implementing (also: materializing) the information processing functions, and to what extent are they available in the desired technology?

  5. Do the fundamental physical limitations of information processing and technological or economic limitations cause unacceptable design risks?

  6. Which design methods and techniques are available to maximize the performance-cost ratio of the design?

The first three questions emphasize the top-down approach, the next two illustrate bottom-up awareness, and the last shows the conceptual design approach.

Structured Electronics Design

  1. Defines a step-by-step design process based on the above questions, and indicates which design question is answered at each design step.

  2. Properly orders and orthogonalizes the design steps, based on solid principles from physics, signal processing, control theory, and network theory.

  3. Helps circuit designers efficiently and effectively obtain the desired performance-cost ratio.

  4. Provides a solid foundation for circuit design education and automation.

  5. Has been developed and educated since the 1980s at the Delft University of Technology.