Guide to sci.electronics Newsgroups

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Mark Zenier

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Aug 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/13/96
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Viewers Guide to the USENET sci.electronics newsgroups. [Mar. 28, 1996]

Charters and description lines.

sci.electronics Circuits, theory, electrons and discussions.

This is now a bogus group. On January 2, 1996, it was
superceded by sci.electronics.misc as part of the reorganization
vote carried out two months earlier. Expect that access may be
turned off or aliased to the new group, and that propogation from
system to system will be unreliable.

sci.electronics.basics Elementary questions about electronics.

"A forum for discussion of electronics where there is no such
thing as a stupid question. Beginners questions. Discussion of
electronics education. Requests for other sources of information."

sci.electronics.cad Schematic drafting, printed circuit layout, simulation.

"sci.electronics.cad is an unmoderated group for the discussion
of Computer Aided Design software (and systems) for use in
designing electronic circuits and assemblies. Topics can
include Schematic "Capture" software, Printed Circuit Board
layout software, introductory and educational use of circuit
simulation software such as Spice, obtaining simulation
descriptions (Spice models) for electronic components, and any
other computer software that relates to designing electronic
circuits at the printed circuit board level."

sci.electronics.components Integrated circuits, resistors, capacitors.

"Discussions of electronics at the component level. The use,
limitations, and identification of resistors, capacitors,
integrated circuits, connectors, enclosures, ... and so on.
Locations and contact information for Manufacturers,
Distributors, and other sources for supply and technical
information."

sci.electronics.design Electronic circuit design.

"Discussions relevant to the design of electronics circuits."

sci.electronics.equipment Test, lab, & industrial electronic products.

"Discussion of the application and internal operation and
relative merits of test equipment, laboratory equipment, and
industrial equipment. This is not a forsale group.
Buying/selling is supposed to occur in the relocated
misc.industry.electronics.marketplace group. (Discussions on the
relative merits of various consumer electronics equipment are
better held in the groups in the rec hierarchy devoted to those
topics.)"

sci.electronics.misc General discussions of the field of electronics.

"General discussions on the topic of electronics. (Discussions
on the relative merits of various consumer electronics equipment
are better held in the groups in the rec hierarchy devoted to
those topics.)"

sci.electronics.repair Fixing electronic equipment.

"sci.electronics.repair is an unmoderated group for the
discussion of repairing electronic equipment. Topics to
include: Requests for assistance, Where to obtain servicing
information and parts, Techniques for diagnosis and repair, and
Annecdotes about success, failures and problems with equipment
manufacturers."

misc.industry.electronics.marketplace Electronics products & services.

"Advertisement and discussion for the buying, selling, and
bartering of electronic components (integrated circuits,
resistor, capacitors, etc.), electronics test equipment,
electronics laboratory equipment, electronics industrial
equipment, and services used for the production of electronics.
NO CONSUMER ELECTRONICS - NO AUDIO, VIDEO, or HOME COMPUTERS."


Q&A and some Comments.

Some things to remember. These newsgroups are worldwide in coverage.
That means that criticizing someone's English or making nationalistic
remarks is an invitation to a pointless flame war.

Keep in mind that various systems and standards are different around
the world. Household power voltages and frequencies are different,
and the techniques and regulations to deal with wiring are different
enough to cause safety problems if you try to use the wrong one.
Video systems (orginally tied to the power line frequency) are also
widely different around the world. Different scan rates and encoding
systems make things incompatible. More recent innovations are even
more diverse. For example, stereo audio on television transmissions
in the UK, Scandinavian countries, and other parts of Europe is a
almost CD quality digital transmission, while in the US, the MTS system
is a variation on the analog subcarrier system used for FM stereo.

Not only are the systems different, so is the jargon used to describe
them. What might be a Ground Fault Interrupter in North America, would
be a Residual Current Circuit Breaker across the Atlantic. And what was
written as 4.7 k ohms, might by (from the requirements of the schematic
drafting standards) be given as 4k7 ohms.

You should also consider where a poster is when they request the closest
source for some product or information. Not everybody has a Radio Shack
in the nearest shopping mall. A common problem is that the toll free
800 numbers common in North America are not easily or cheaply accessible
from the rest of the world.


And the computer equipment that will be used to read these messages is
anything but uniform. Any extensions that your computer has to support
various character sets will not always be reliably transmitted or
displayed at the other end. So avoid fancy superscript characters,
degrees temperature, greek letters, and line drawing characters. There
are newer standards for indicating the character interpetation to be
used with a posting, but there's no guarentee that the person on the
other end is up to date.


Q. "Someone has to give me an answer!"

A. Nope, sorry. Everybody here (except a few salesmen) is doing it
for their own purposes, and no question is guarenteed to get an
answer. Getting obnoxious about it, or repeating the question
across every possible newsgroup won't win any friends and marks
you as the archetypical "newbie".


Q. "I heard in a back alley that crossposting was, you know, bad.
So should I post, uh, seperatly to each of the 14 newsgroups
that look sort of like what my question, you know, fits?"

A. The only thing worse than crossposting a dozen newsgroups is
multiposting the same thing to each of that many groups.

Try to limit the posting to the one newsgroup whose topic
matches your subject. (A lot of us read many of these groups,
and about the third time a subject comes up, so does the
irritation level.) If it doesn't seem to fit any very well,
use the sci.electronics.misc group, or if you don't know enough
to figure it out, use the sci.electronics.basics group.

If it does seem to overlap a couple of newsgroups' topics,
crosspost instead of multiposting. Any competent newsreader
software will only show the the crossposted message to the
reader once. (Yes, there is a lot of incompetent software
out there.)


Q. Should I only advertise in misc.industry.electronics.marketplace?

A. That's the idea.


Q. Why can't I advertise my [stereo/computer/...] for sale in
misc.industry.electronics.marketplace?

A. For the main reason the group is for an audience that isn't
interested in buying them. (Note the word 'Industry' in the
newsgroup name. If you can buy it at the nearest shopping mall,
it doesn't belong here). And the second good reason is there
are already well established groups for those purposes. Try the
misc.forsale.computers groups, rec.audio.marketplace, rec.video,
or rec.radio.swap


Q. Can I post executable binary programs to these groups?

A. No. These are text discussion groups. The amount of resources
needed to transmit a program is much greater than the normal
posting. Many small sites and individuals use an automatic
forwarding system that sends all of the traffic in a newsgroup
to them. But often, with a cost determined by the amount of
data, or the duration of a phone call (in places where phone use
is billed by time). So posting large amounts of data imposes a
direct monetary penalty on other users. They don't like it.

Beyond that, every program needs a specific combination of computer
and operating system, so ANY program will not be useful to a large
number of the groups readers.

The alternatives are 1) to set up your own FTP archive or Web
page that allows any interested person with a direct Internet
connection to get their own copy. (And those without direct
connection may have access to systems that will give them access
through email.) 2) To get a public archive to put your files
onto their system. 3) To post the data to one of the
comp.binaries (if the moderator will accept it) or alt.binaries
newsgroups, or 4) to offer to email the data to persons who
request it.


Q. Can I post graphics images to these groups.

A. Again, this can take a lot of resources and the diversity of
formats means that no matter what format you choose, someone
will not be able to read it, (even if they are interested). And
substituting your graphics scanner for a little thought and
writing effort will not win you any friends. So think before you
do.

If it is really relevant, use a format that is common,
compressed, and encoded so that it can travel over the net in
the form of text. If you can't get the file to smaller than
about 30 thousand characters after UUencoding or Mime encoding,
I'd suggest that you set your files in an archive as discussed
above. Also if it's of long term interest, or very specialized
interest, no matter what its size. A net posting will only be
around for a short time, and putting your work in an acessable
archive will make it more widely available. Posting files that
are already archived somewhere is a waste of resources.

File formats that have some supporters are 1) Portable Document
Format (.pdf) that have been UUencoded or Mime encoded. 2)
Postscript files that have been compressed with gzip or zip and
UU or Mime encoded. 3) GIF files that have been encoded.
4) .bmp or .pcx files that have been compressed and encoded.

There has been periodic discussions of some file format produced
by CAD software, but no one format seems to have wide support.


Q. What's the difference between .components, .design, and
.equipment?

A. The split here is set up on levels of complexity. In this field
of technology, people look for solutions to problems along these
levels. Someone who is looking for a box that solves their
problems is working at a higher level of detail than someone who
is designing a module (circuit board) and that second person is
working at a higher level than someone looking for a prebuilt
integrated circuit that they need to purchase.

The proposed components group is for questions dealing with
individual parts. Someone working on this level is looking for
a specific function or source or identification for an
electronic component. Postings requesting the identification of
an integrated circuit are a large portion of the current
traffic.

The design group is for persons combining components into
circuits. Discussion on design solutions and techniques.

The equipment group is for persons looking for already available
solutions to their problems. In other words, if someone is
looking for a solution to their problem, and wants to buy
something with a warranty, and that has a salesman and tech
support along with it, .equipment is the place to ask for
advice. (This is not the place to suggest that the person can
go down to Radio Shack and get a 555 and wire up a circuit.)


Q. What's left for sci.electronics.misc?

A. Gossip, history, trivia, manufacturing, systems, standards,
announcements ...


Mark Zenier mze...@eskimo.com mze...@netcom.com


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