Best App Notes

Here's my list of Jim's best application notes (so far; this list covers App Notes 1 to 106):
  1. App Note 47, "High speed amplifier techniques: A designer's companion for wideband circuitry" (read October 2011, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6).
    This 132-page app note is Jim's magnum opus, and it contains a wealth of valuable information on high-speed measurement techniques, test equipment, oscilloscope probes, and, of course, applications. It should be required reading for all electronics engineers. Read it twice. Some of the highlights include "Mr. Murphy's gallery of high speed amplifier problems" (pages 7 to 15), "About oscilloscopes" (a gallery of scope and probe responses, pages 20 to 24), and "Breadboarding techniques" (two pictorial tutorials, Figures 62 to 65 and Figures F1 to F25).
  2. App Note 74, "Component and measurement advances ensure 16-Bit DAC settling time: The art of timely accuracy." (read January 2012, part 1 and part 2).
    This app note is the most exhaustive treatment (so far) on the topic of settling-time measurement. He has discussed this topic before (in App Note 10 and Appendix B of App Note 47). Here, he discusses the four different ways to measurement the settling time, and he compares and contrasts the results. An instrumentation tour de force. (App Note 79 applies these circuits and techniques to the measurement of op-amp settling time.)
  3. App Note 94, "Slew rate verification for wideband amplifiers: The taming of the slew" (read February 2012, App Note 94).
  4. This app note discusses slew-rate measurement, which is another great application for one of Jim's favorite topics: high-speed pulse generators. The text is only 12 pages long, but it is not a "brief" project. The main topic of the app note in the design, tuning, and verification of the necessary subnanosecond-rise-time pulse generator.
  5. App Note 65, "A fourth generation of LCD backlight technology: Component and measurement improvements refine performance" (read November 2011, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5).
    This app note is the zenith of the grand saga of power supplies for cold-cathode fluorescent lamps that spanned four app notes and a book chapter, and "the longest sustained LTC application engineering effort to date." The highlights include discussions of high-voltage probes, high-voltage calibrators, current-probe amplifiers, calorimetric correlation, and "A lot of cut off ears and no Van Goghs" (Appendix L). This app note also spawned the post on "IC pins named after persons".
  6. App Note 70, "A monolithic switching regulator with 100μV output noise: Silence is the perfectest herald of joy..." (read December 2011, part 1, part 2, and part 3).
    The applications of this app note are good, but the most important parts are the discussions of instrumentation and techniques for low-level noise measurements. In particular, the section on "Measuring output noise" (beginning on page 4), along with Appendices B, C, and D contain a wealth of good noise-measurement advice. (App Note 83 discusses the measurement of output noise in linear regulators.)
  7. App Note 25, "Switching regulators for poets: A gentle guide for the trepidatious" (read August 2011, App Note 25).
    A nice introduction to switching-regulator design without any equations (well, one equation, on page 19). Jim's sense of humor really shines through: the title is a classic, along with the discussion of Everyman and the poets, and "my poetry ain't very good." This app note also sports his first cartoon.
  8. App Note 43, "Bridge circuits: Marrying gain and balance." (read September 2011, part 1, part 2, and part 3).
    This app note is important for two reasons: one, it is a succinct and useful collection of signal conditioning circuits for bridge circuits, and two, it includes an in-depth discussion of low-distortion sine-wave oscillators, inspired by his obsession with the HP200A oscillator. This material also served as the basis of one of his book chapters, "Max Wien, Mr. Hewlett, and a rainy Sunday afternoon."
  9. App Note 28, "Thermocouple measurement" (read August 2011, App Note 28).
    This app note is noteworthy for being the first to start with a history lesson, but it also contains a good discussion of error sources in thermocouple systems (Appendix A), which later reappears as a discussion of error sources in precision circuits.
  10. App Note 45, "Measurement and control circuit collection: Diapers and designs on the night shift" (read October 2011, part 1 and part 2).
    This app note deserves a spot on this list for the for the baby-bottle rating system and Figure 36 (the first CCFL circuit).
  11. App Note 86, "A standards lab grade 20-bit DAC with 0.1ppm/°C drift: The dedicated art of digitizing one part per million." (read January 2012, App Note 86).
    Four pages of main text discuss the circuit details of a 20-bit DAC. Forty-eight pages of appendices describe how it was really done, including great advice on verifying linearity, building the appropriate voltage references, measuring settling time (of course), and picking the right cables. Unfortunately, there are also twenty-two pages of microcode, but the rest of the app note is pretty good.
Stay tuned! There are still some great app notes coming up in the next few weeks. This list will change as new app notes get added, the order is rearranged, and old app notes drop off the bottom of the list...

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