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Editor’s Choice: Our Top 7 Technical Articles of 2023

December 26, 2023 by Dale Wilson

As we look back on the year, let’s take a look at All About Circuits’ most popular and memorable technical content.

At All About Circuits, we are “empowering engineers to create a better future” as part of our mission within the EETech Group. Our primary goal is electrical engineering education, whether you are an EE student just getting started or a seasoned career professional looking to stay up-to-date.

I will first present five of our most popular, new Technical Articles from 2023. Our Technical Articles are written by EEs for EEs and are foundational to our mission. I will finish the top seven with our two top Industry Articles. These are similar to Technical Articles, but are contributed by company experts and vetted by our editorial team before publication.

 

Understanding Negative Voltage…and Negative Comments

For the experienced engineers and technicians in our audience, answering the question, “Can voltage be negative?’ might seem obvious. But we all had to learn the answer somewhere, and getting back to the basics can be really helpful.

 

Example circuit diagram and water analogy for understanding voltage

Example circuit diagram and water analogy for understanding voltage.

 

Back in April, one of our top writers, Robert Keim, addressed this fundamental question in our most-read new Technical Article of 2023. While a few commenters seemed to think this was not a topic worth covering, many thousands of other readers appeared to disagree. Don’t worry, we love all of you commenters with strong opinions…maybe you would like to write content for us in 2024!

Check out the article and the fun comment thread here:

Can Voltage Be Negative? Understanding Negative Voltage

 

Getting a Boost From Boost Converters

In 2023, Robert penned a number of articles covering the design, operation, and simulation of voltage regulators. His explanation of how a step-up switching regulator generates an output voltage higher than its input voltage resonated with our audience.

 

A diagram of a boost converter in the switch-off state, with the flow of current indicated by green arrows

A diagram of a boost converter in the switch-off state, with the flow of current indicated by green arrows.

 

Even though this article was not published until September, Robert’s keen ability to simplify important concepts made this one of our top Technical Articles despite its late start in the race. You can read it for yourself here:

Understanding the Operation of a Boost Converter

 

Current Sources are Currently of Interest

As explained in the summary of our next article, current sources are less well-known than voltage sources like batteries and AC wall power. Engineer and author Harry Trietley did his part to remedy that with our first published Technical Article of 2023.

 

Demonstration of a series multimeter connection used for measuring current.

Demonstration of a series multimeter connection used for measuring current.

 

In his eminently practical article, Harry covered the basics of current sources, testing, and their use in industrial processes and integrated circuits. It was not only our first Technical Article of the year but also one of the most read. You can enjoy his article here:

An Introduction to Current Sources

 

Tiny IoT Antennas Have a Big Impact

Nthatisi Hlapisi began contributing to All About Circuits in 2023 and hit the ground running. She created a number of excellent articles on Bluetooth and IoT that I highly recommend.

 

PCB antenna on the left and chip antenna on the right

PCB antenna on the left and chip antenna on the right. Image used courtesy of Infineon

 

In her most popular Technical Article, she noted that designing RF antennas for wireless communication in compact IoT devices is a tricky task, but an increasingly important one. It was important enough to be one of our most-read articles of 2023. You can find it here:

The Challenge of Integrating an Antenna Into Small IoT Devices

 

Transmission Lines Create Waves in 2023

Like every year at All About Circuits, you readers have flocked to read the highly detailed Technical Articles from Dr. Steve Arar. This year his article series included RF amplifiers, ADC testing, and PCB transmission lines.


Example curves for the forward voltage (top), backward voltage (middle), and total voltage (bottom) of a short circuit.

Example curves for the forward voltage (top), backward voltage (middle), and total voltage (bottom) of a short circuit.

 

It was his explanation of PCB transmission line reflection coefficients and standing waves that received the most views in 2023. You can reflect on his article here:

Transmission Line Theory: Observing the Reflection Coefficient and Standing Wave

 

2023 Top Industry Articles

I am going to bend the rule just a bit and first highlight this Industry Article that was published at the very end of 2022 (December 20th to be exact). While it didn’t have much of a chance to make our 2022 list due to that late start, it was very, VERY popular in 2023.

Our most-read Industry Article of 2023 was USB PD vs. USB-C: Differences, Benefits, and Adapters by Bruce Rose of CUI. Power delivery over USB has become increasingly important over the past year in consumer and industrial applications. Apple’s announcement that they would switch to USB-C also contributed to this being a hot topic.

 

Voltages and current limits defined by USB PD vs. source power rating

Voltages and current limits defined by USB PD vs. source power rating. Image used courtesy of CUI

 

Our most popular Industry Article that was actually published in 2023 was Debugging Common I2C and SPI Problems with Advanced Oscilloscopes by Daniel Monforte of RIGOL Technologies .

 

I2C clock and data with noise from poor grounding

I2C clock and data with noise from poor grounding. Image used courtesy of Rigol Technologies

 

This was an excellent article covering an important topic for many engineers: how to best use advanced oscilloscopes to debug issues with I2C and SPI communication.

 

Tell Us Your Favorite Technical and Industry Articles

What articles did you really appreciate or use during the past year? Or, what topic would you like us to cover in 2024? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments below, as we truly appreciate your feedback.

 

Featured image used courtesy of Adobe (altered)

1 Comment
  • Profvargasp December 29, 2023

    I’d like to congratulate you about articles. Thank you for all work it demands, I think it’s a kinf of consideration. I think it’s all useful to me because increase my knowledges about those matters, and I’m taeacher in technical school. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Best regards

    Like. Reply