Electronic and RF-Toolbox – Software user guide
This Manual describes how to use Electronic Toolbox and RF-Toolbox. Most examples and Screenshots are taken from Electronic Toolbox but will work the same in RF-Toolbox.
Please note: Besides this Manual, with it’s general descriptions, there are additional descriptions of each individual Tool inside the App which can be opened using the (i) Icon in the top right corner from inside the Tools.
The content is divided into the following main chapters:
- Tools – How to use the individual tools on the main tools page
- Projects – How to create and work with Projects
- Circuit Editor – How to use the built-in Circuit Editor
- Settings – Explains various App settings
- FAQ – Frequently asked Questions and solutions to common issues
In case of general questions or issues with the App, please have a look to the FAQ section first.
You can open this link from your PC or Mac so you can see the Manual side by side with the App.
If you prefer a printed version, just tap on the PDF Icon on the website version to download a PDF file.
The Apps Electronic Toolbox and RF-Toolbox are offering many Tools which can be opened by tapping one of the Icons on the main screen of the Apps.
There are different types of Tools:
- Calculation Toolswhere Circuits or Components can be calculated (e.g. the Resistor or NE555 tool)
- Database Tools for Components (e.g. the Transistor or Pic Tool)
- Lookup Toolswith Tables and references (e.g. the Raspberry Pi Tool)
- Other Tools such as the Calculator, Scope or Audio Generator
All tools can be used in a similar way which is mostly self-explanatory but there are also sophisticated features such the E-Series adjustments for Resistance or Capacitance value entering or Parameter filter option for the database tools which are explained further below.
PLEASE NOTE: Before using the tools, double check your regional Settings on the Settings Screen under International. Here, you can select whether to use U or V for Voltage, the decimal separator or whether to use the metric system.
The Tools screen can be customized. Instead of Icons, a List can be displayed instead – with additional Information for each Tool.
Tools can also be grouped by the following categories:
- General Tools
- Tools for passive components
- Tools for active components
- Value conversion Tools
- Circuit related Tools
- RF related Tools
To switch between List or Icon mode or grouping and non-grouping, hit the top action button […] and select the desired option.
2.1.Finding a Tool
You can either scroll through the Icons to find the desired Tool. Or you can search for a Tool Name or even a Type.
For searching, tap the Spy-Glass, enter a search term and tap on Search on the keyboard. Next, all tools related to the search term will be displayed and can be selected.
In this example, we are searching for BJT. The results will show the Glossary Term for BJT and the two Transistor Tools.
You can also enter Types as search terms because the search feature also searches all Databases of all Tools. In this example, we entered the popular Transistor type BC107 as search term. This way, you can quickly jump to the Transistors Tool for this type.
(Please tap on Play > to start the Video)
2.2.The Database Tools
Database Tools are offering information like Specification, pinout, datasheet or alternative replacement type of a certain type of Component.
In Database Tools such as the Transistor Tool in the example below, you can find around 50.000 Transistors.
To find a particular type, you can either browse through the groups on the left side and the list, the most common use for this type of tool will be searching for a certain type.
For this, like on the main screen, you can tap the hour glass and enter a search term. After tapping on Search at the keyboard, you will see a list of matching entries.
(Please tap on Play > to start the Video)
In addition, you can also create a filter to narrow down the list content to types with certain parameters you are only interested in. For this, tap on the top Filter Icon and enter your filter criteria as follows:
(Please tap on Play > to start the Video)
Calculation Tools are for calculating electrical Components (Resistors, coils etc.) or even complete Circuits (Parallel-/series connections or even more complex circuits like NE555 Timer circuits).
In the example below, using the NTC PTC Tool, you can see how to use the Calculation Tools of the App.
Often, you need to select a type first. Like here, the type of NTC or PTC which should be calculated. Tapping on the Type will offer a list of possible selections.
You can enter values with the special Keyboard which allows you to tap on an x to clear the entry field or quick unit prefix selection k for Kilo, M for Mega etc.
The unit prefix can also be changed by hitting the button right of the Value. This is not only possible for input values but also for results (calculated) values. In the example below, we change the calculated Celsius value to Farenheit.
In most Tools, you can also define the direction of the calculation or in other words you can select which are the given values you have and which values should be calculated.
For this, you can use the yellow arrow button on the left side of a field. Hitting this button will change that field to a result field so this value will be calculated. Or you just tap on a result value to let this field be an entry field.
(Please tap on Play > to start the Video)
Preferred Numbers / E-Series
For capacitance and resistance values,certain fixed values have been standardized. For insance, a value of 5 is not available in the commonly osed E12 or E24 E-Series. Instead a value of 4.7 or 5.6 (E12) or 4.7 or 5.1 are available.
Tapping on the E-Series button left to the entry field will show a list of E-Series values (based on the E-Series selection at the top) and the difference of the entered value in percent will be displayed.
From here, you can also tap on a E-Series value to take over the value to the entry field. Now, you can reverse the calculation to see the deviation to your desired values.
More information about Preferred Numbers or E-Series can be found here.
Projects can be used as a general store for all kind of information that can either be collected throughout the Tools or even added from external resources.
Projects can be used to temporary store calculation results, components, images or even to maintain a full development of a complex circuit.
Projects can also be used to store and collect information for a complex circuit development.
Each Project can store one or more of the following parts:
- Components (such as Resistors, Diodes, ICs etc.)
- Diagrams (such as circuit diagrams or other images)
- Documents (such as HTML,PDF or Text documents)
- Notes (such as manually typed or pasted text notes)
- Websites (links to websites)
It is possible to im- and export projects via iTunes, iCloud and DropBox and even share projects with other users. Projects can also be printed or sent via Email.
How to use
After selecting “Projects” on the lower Tap-bar, all available projects will be displayed on this screen.
In order to create a new project, just tap the Plus (+) Icon on the right side of the navigation-bar. Alternatively, you can open an existing project and use the action button […] to duplicate that project.
Projects can be deleted by tapping on the project first, which displays the project details and then by tapping on the wastebasket.
3.1.Editing a Project
After opening an existing or creating a new Project, the Project Detail screen will be displayed where you can see, add and edit all the assets and properties of the project such as Components, Diagrams, Documents, Notes and Websites.
To add new element to a Project, there are two possibilities:
1. Hit the (+) button and chose which type of element (component, Image / Document, Circuit Diagramm, Website or Note) to be added
2. Switch to a certain Tool (e.g. the Resistors tool), perform your desired calculation and hit the action button […] in the upper right corner. From here, the Component can be added to a Project.
The following example shows how to add a Resistor to the component list of a Project:
This way, you can add an unlimited number of components or any other Content (Diagram, Documents etc.).
PLEASE NOTE: I strongly recommend to use iCloud Drive to store your projects. This will not just always keep a Backup of your projects but also allows you top open and work on your Projects on any of your devices.
In order to use iCloud Drive, the following three settings must be turned on:
1.) Under iOS Settings (not the App), iCloud must be switched on. You may need to enter your Apple ID after switching iCould on.
2.) Below this setting, there is another setting for iCloud Drive which also needs to be switched on.
3.) Finally, inside the App, go to Settings -> Miscellaneous and turn on “Use iCloud Drive”.
If you have concerns using iCloud for other purposes, you can simply switch off all other Services except iCloud Drive such as Photos, Notes etc. in the iOS iCloud Settings.
Once iCloud Drive has been aktivated, there is no difference when working with Projects except that Projects are stored on iCloud drive in addition whenever there is an internet Connection available. If you would then start the App on another device, you will see the same Project list and can open the Projects on that device as well.
The Project Components screen lets you enter a Name for the Component which could be the Name of the component on the PCB (such as R1, IC2 etc.).
Below, you can select the Component type by hitting the ☰ button. Select Other if no predefined type fits.
Next, you can enter The Type or Value of the Component. For Resistors, you can enter the Resistance value, for ICs you can enter the IC Type for example.
If you hit the ☰ button right of this field, you will end up in the corresponding Tool for the type and value. For Resistors, you can look up the color codes using this button.
The MPN field is dedicated for the Manufacturer Part Number. This value can, but most not be identical with the Type. For ICs there are often different MPNs for different packages. If you hit the ☰ button next to this field, you will get a browser which shows various matching MPNs of different Manufacturers. You can select the MPN by using this Browser or enter the MPN Manually.
If you hit the Datasheet button, the App tries to find the Datasheet based on the entered Type and MPN. If available, it will be displayed.
HINT: If there is no datasheet available for the selected Manufacturer, you can temporary select another Manufacturer (using the ☰ Button at the MPN) and check if a Datasheet is available for that Manufacturer (using the Datasheet button). Next you can change the MPN back to the original value.
If you want to store that Datasheet to your project, just hit the […] button and select “Add PDF Document to Project”.
3.3.Project Images and Documents
The Images (JPG od GIF Files) or Documents (PDF or HTML files) can be added or maintained in a similar way like components.
Here, only the Title needs to be entered and the file needs to be selected using the (+) button in the upper right corner.
Next you can choose if you like to add a File from DropBox, your Photo Library or from iTunes.
Images or Documents can also be added from inside the App from the included file viewer as described in the previous chapter for the Datasheet example.
The Notes screen allows you to enter text notes to your Project.
Similar to Documents, Notes need a Title. Below you can enter and edit any text you would like to keep as note for your Project.
3.6.Project Circuit Diagram
You can add Circuit Diagrams which have been created by your favorite Circuit Design Software (such as DesignSpark PCB for instance) as Document or Image to your Project.
On a limited basis, you can also create your own Circuit Diagram from inside this App.
PLEASE NOTE: This feature is currently under Beta, some features might have bugs or may not fully work.
To Create or Edit a Circuit Diagram, enter a Title and tap on Edit at the top. The Circuit Editor will be opened which allows you to create or maintain a Project.
All Components of such a manually created Circuit diegram can also be Synchronized with your Projects so they don’t have to be entered twice (In the Diagram and the Component list).
For this, just hit the top action button […] on the Project Screen (not the Circuit Screen) and select “Synchronize Components”. Synchronized Components will then be displayed in blue, whereas manually added Components remain colored in black.
The Circuit Editor allows you to draw Circuit Diagrams on a limited basis, limited to currently around 75 different components from passive Resistors to Logic Gates and SRAM Chips.
(Again, please note that this Edtor is in a Beta state and may have bugs)
As already mentioned in previous chapters, the Circuit Editor can be started from within Projects after adding a Circuit Diagram, opening the Diagram and tapping on Edit.
The Editor uses a menu at the Bottom for File operations and Copy/Paste, Undo/Redo features.
All other drawing features will extensively use gestures as follows:
- One finger Double-Tap on the sheet – to zoom in
- Two finger Double-Tab on the sheet – to zoom out
- Long Tap on the sheet – to add a new component
- Single Tap on a component – to select a component or component pin
- Double Tap on a component – to open the Component property screen
PLEASE NOTE: If you are using an iPad Pro with a Stylus, you can use the action button […] and select “Use Stylus”. This will disable some finger gestures which will be replaced by Stylus operations.
Adding a Component or Wire
When adding a new component using the Long-Tap gesture, you will get a Popup for selecting the desired Component from a grouped list. Once you select the Component (or Wire, outlet etc.) the Element will be placed right where you tapped on the Screen.
After adding a Component, you may want to double-Tap on the Component. This will open the Component property screen where you can enter a Name, Type and other Parameters. These properties will be used for the Project Component list Synchronization.
To move a Component to the desired Location, just tap once on the Component to select (Highlight) the Component. Now you can Tap-Hold and move the Component to any location.
To either Connect Components to each other directly or using a Wire, just tap on the Pin of the Component you like to connect. A circle will be displayed to indicate the selected Pin.
Now, you can move the Pin by Tap-Hold and move the Pin to the desired connection. Some Components will require a Wire to get connected to another Component like the OpAmp. Some others, like the Resistor can be connected directly to another Component.
Currently, only straight Wires (Horizontal or Vertical) are supported. If you like to place a Wire in a 90 Degree Angle for example, you need to use two Wires.
If you Connect Wires or Pins and see a red circle, this indicates that the App is not certain if you like to connect these Wires to each other. To solve this, just move the other Wire temporary to another location and back again.
(Please tap on Play > to start the Video)
The Settings on the Settings screen allows to change various settings to change the behavior or design of the app.
You can also find various information such as Version information and Version History on this screen.
Please use the Support / Feature Request button in case of questions, suggestions or even if you may find a bug.
By using the action button […], you can save or restore your settings to iCloud or restore all settings to their default values.
Please note the Check for data update button at the end of this screen. I am creating Data updates from time to time to update the Databases or even add some feature improvements (e.g. new Components). Once such an update is available, you should get a notification when the App is started. If the “Check for update at start” button is switched off or if you never use your App on a WiFi network when started, you will not get such a notification. For this reason, I suggest to check for data updates manually from time to time. Data updates will also be announced in the News section of the App.
Most of the settings and options here are self-explanatory maybe except for the following:
Show info Text in Tool
When enabled, the information text which will be displayed by hitting the (i) Icon will be displayed at the end of each tool.
Use U for Voltage, not V
In some countries, the U sign will be used for Voltage whereas some others are using the V. By using this setting, you can select which option is applicable to for your country.
Adjust entry to E-Series value
When switched on, values entered will automatically adjusted to the closest E-Series (preferred) value. For instance 4.6 Ohms will be changes to 4.7 Ohms.
This App offers many individual calculation tools and databases. Depending on your personal requirements, some Tools might be more important for you than others.
The Organizer will help you to sort or arrange all tools according your needs.
Using the Organizer, tools can be…
- …moved to a desired location,
- …moved and collected in folders,
- …or even disabled.
How to use
Once started, the Organizer lists all tools similar to the List View in the tools screen.
In order to disable (hide) a certain tool, just tap on the small check-mark button on the left side of each line.
In order to move a certain tool (e.g. move it to the top of the list or to the bottom), use the standard icon (≡) on the right side of the list. Just tap on this icon, hold it and move it up or down and release it at the desired location.
In order to store tools in folders, first create a new folder using the action button […] and select “Create Folder”. After this, you will be asked for a folder name before the folder with a corresponding Icon will be created.
In order to rename or delete a Folder, just tap on the folders Icon and select the desired function “Rename” or “Delete”.
Tools can be moved to folders in two different ways.
1. By tapping on the tool Icon of the tool you like to move to a folder. You will then be asked for the folder, where you like to move the tool to.
2. It is also possible to drag and drop tool Icons to a folder.
Tools can be removed out of folders by first opening the folder by tapping on the folder and select “open”. Inside the folder, just tap on the tool Icon you like to move out of this folder and select “Move out of folder”. The tool will then be placed back at the top level.
If you like to reset all folders and all locations of the tools to the original location, just press the action button […] and select “Reset to defaults” button at the top.
Save and restore
You can save or restore the layout and folder names you have maintained in the Organizer to iCloud. Saving to iCloud has two advantages:
- your work is saved and can be restored even if you would reinstall the app.
- you can restore the layout to another device if you run this app on more than one device.
To save or restore your work, just hit the action button […] and select the corresponding function.
Please note: iCloud services must be enabled in the setting of your device in order to use this possibility.
In the News section you will find information about App updates or other App related information.
You can use the action button […] to mark all News entries read/unread or delete entries.
You can manually update the news list by either taping on the refresh button or by pulling the list down and release it.
By using the setting (Gear) Icon, you can select subjects for which you like to see news.
8.FAQ and common issues
Please find below some common issues or questions and their solutions and answers. If you have a question and can’t find the answer here, or even in case you find a bug, please let me know. I am highly interested in your feedback.
Ideally, use the Support / Feature Request button on the Settings screen for this.
Data update takes ages or even never finishes
By using data updates, I am able to update contents for the App without the necessity to create a new App version which will takes much more time for being released due to development, extra testing effort and the necessity to let all updates be reviewed by Apple.
I am sending out Data updates from time to time. Sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger. If you download such a data update, only the changes to your existing database in your App will be transferred.
If you have just purchased this App and if there were many data updates meanwhile between the release of that App version and the time of your purchase, there might be a big data update which is waiting for being downloaded.
For the first data update I always recommend to use a stable WiFi connection. Further updates are usually smaller so they can even be downloaded using 3G/LTE/UMTS.
If for some reason, the update doesn’t download, please contact me using the support button inside the App. This problem can be solved but it’s often something very specific and individual so just contact me and we will sort out that issue via Email.
The Scope and Frequency counter are not working
This is, because you dismissed the iOS question which asked you for permission to use the Microphone by the App.
To enable the Microphone again for the App:
- Open Settings
- Tap on Privacy
- Tap on Microphone
In the following list, you see all Apps with features that need to use the microphone. You’ll notice that the Apps have switches. You can toggle these to control access to the microphone for each App.
So, for Electronic- or RF-Toolbox, just change this switch to “On” and the Scope and Frequency counter will work again.
Some users reported that they had to re-start their device after switching the setting to get it back working.
What does PDIP, SOP, SOIC or TSSOP mean and what is the difference?
Sometimes I get similar questions but there is a quick and easy way to ask Electronic Toolbox for an answer.
You can use the Global Search function of the App. Just enter, for instance PDIP in the top search field and start to search for this term. You will then see that PDIP is a Package type and there are even four different variants with 14, 20, 28 and 40 pins. In the same way, you can search for the other Packages and can see what the differences are.
How can I find the closest Resistor of the E12 series or preferred value?
This is quite easy to do by using the “E-Series” buttons in front of the Resistance, Capacitance and Inductance fields.
Let’s take the LED Calculator as an example. First select that you want to calculate the resistance here (tap on the button in front of Resistors) and just enter your values for Vin (e.g. 3.3V), number of LEDs (e.g. 1), LED Voltage (e.g. 1.2V) and LED Current (e.g. 20mA). You will get a resistance of 105 Ohms which doesn’t fit in the E12 series.
Now select that you like to calculate the current (tap on the button in front of this field).
Then tap on the E Series button in front of the Resistance value. At the top, if not already selected, select the desired E-Series (E12). In the list, you can now see all values which are part of this series and their individual difference to the calculated 105 Ohm value. The closest is 100 Ohms (4.76 % difference) but since it’s a good idea for the LED circuit to lower the current, rather to increase it, we should select a higher Resistance which is 120 Ohms with a difference of 14.29 %. Once you select this entry, you will jump back to the calculation tool which re-calculates the circuit based on your selection.
Now you can see that the LED Current will only be as high as 17.5 mA which is still fine.
I have a general question about Electronics. Can you help?
At least I can try. I am a passionate Electronics hobbyist and HAM radio operator and developed several projects. I am still building circuits and projects and even use my App almost every day. Of course there are subject I never worked on or may even never heard about.
So if you have a general question, don’t hesitate to ask. Maybe I can give you a quick answer or point you to some resources on the web but maybe I can also add a new feature to my App that helps regarding your question in one of the future updates.
However, please keep in mind that I am receiving a lot of mails per day and I will prioritize questions regarding the App itself.
I sent you a question via E-Mail but didn’t get a response. That’s unpolite!
Yes, that’s true and unpolite. However, usually I am answering any question – maybe not the same day.
But it happens sometimes that I receive questions sent by the Form on my website and when responding back, I get an error either saying that the E-Mail is wrong or the In-box is full or treats my answer as spam.
The first issue can be prevented by using the Support button in my App. This even adds some extra information to the mail about the App and iOS version you are using so I don’t have to ask.
For the two last issues, there is not much I can do but if you expect an answer and don’t receive one, please check for the aforementioned issues and don’t hesitate to send me a reminder.