Chapter 13. Who Let the Smoke Out?

So far, this book has been about learning the skills of building circuits. There's more to building than just the mechanical construction, of course. Unless you're very lucky (or very, very good), there will be times when that circuit or project or system that you just assembled doesn't work. What then? This chapter shows you how to cope.


It's a little-known secret (kept in confidence by the experts) that all electronics works because of the Magic Smoke inside every component. If you let the Magic Smoke out, it stops working, it's that simple! (Well, at least nobody's been able to prove otherwise.)

In these few pages, it won't be possible to give you step-by-step procedures for every contingency. In fact, that's not possible even in hundreds of pages! Every circuit and piece of equipment is a little bit different in the problems that beset it and how it acts in response. The goal of this chapter is to extend your circuitbuilding skills by introducing some basic methods that you can apply to all those different problems. After you get good at using them, you'll be pleased to learn how quickly the problems yield to your awesome tool kit!

Troubleshooting and Debugging Basics

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Troubleshooting is what you do when something has failed. This implies that at some point the device has done what it's supposed to. Debugging is what you do when the device hasn't yet demonstrated that it's capable of doing what it's supposed ...

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