I’ve been dipping into All about circuits, a free electronic textbook written (mostly) by Tony R. Kuphaldt, as a possible textbook for the circuits class. I like that it is free, as that makes it much more likely that students will have ready access to it (many decide not to buy expensive texts, and end up trying to borrow them from friends).
The format, as 100s of HTML files, is a bit awkward to read, but fairly easy to search with Google (by adding “site:allaboutcircuits.com” to the keywords ins the search box), so indexing is not really an issue. The book starts at about a middle-school level, but gets up to the beginnings of circuit theory (Thevenin’s Theorem, RC and L/R time constants, Reactance and impedance—R, L, and C, …). The Operational amplifier chapter looks usable, though it does not have a design focus—circuits are presented as almost magical rather than carefully analyzed from first principles (as is done in more theoretical circuits books) or from design rules of thumb (as is done in books like Horowitz and Hill).
I think that All about Circuits can be a good supplemental text for students who need something at a lower reading and math level than Horowitz and Hill, for review of physics electricity and magnetism concepts, and to fill in gaps in prior education (such as complex numbers).
I don’t know that I want to use Horowitz and Hill as the main text, though, as it is pretty expensive for such an old electronics book. I wonder if there is another free book that is somewhat higher level than All about Circuits that can be combined with it to make a textbook at the right level for the range of students expected in the class.
I think we may need a more mathematical presentation of some of the material, if the students are to be able to continue into later electronics classes. This may not matter, because the chair of the EE department has made it pretty clear that no subsequent electronics course would use this course as a prerequisite, and that students would have to take the “real” circuits course in order to take any further electronics courses. Of course, if he holds to that for the bioelectronics class, then he’ll have almost no students in that class, since few if any of the bioengineers will subject themselves to the dry, repetitive linear algebra manipulations of the standard circuits class in order to take a bioelectronics class that doesn’t even include a lab component. If we get to teach our applied circuits course, we should be able to convince the professor creating the bioelectronics course to accept it as a prereq in place of the standard circuits course.