Let's Make Robots!

How to read a datasheet tutorial

I'm realizing and sort of remembering that when you get started in this hobby, datasheets can sometimes be a hurdle to overcome. Information dense, full of expert jargon, and they are all laid out differently. Sort of. There are some general similarities between them all. Understanding this can help break up that sea of gibberish into understandable chunks. I've found that the Sparkfun tutorial has a warm way of explaining how to do this. I strongly suggest it to the newbie.

I believe the key to quickly understanding a datasheet is to understand the principle of the part in general. The datasheet is not going to teach you how the part works. Sometimes they give a brief explaination or two but they assume you know how the component functions, what "enable low" means, what a logic truth table is, etc. For that I recommend allaboutcircuits.com's DC tutorials. They helped me understand a lot in the beginning. Even though they don't have sections for "L293D motor drivers," for instance, but they tell you how H-bridges work, which is the core of a motor driver.

And I also must point out the tutorials here are excellent as well. I was always pleased when letsmakerobots.com would pop up in google when I had a tech question. Some of the other robot user websites have good robot-oriented tutorials as well.

As always: Stay the course and godspeed!

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That's a great article on Sparkfun, and I agree very much with your post.

I would like to add that some manufacturers also issue Application Notes for some parts. Although not every part has an appliation note, if you find one for a part you are interested in, it may be a wealth of examples and explainations that the datasheet was lacking.