I have a confession to make: When I first used the Internet, I considered it a waste of time. I know, I know, shortsighted. My husband loves to harass me about it, especially given the fact that I now spend upwards of 10 hours a day on the Internet researching stories, monitoring the industry, and generally gathering information, not to mention the fact that this is where most of my work sees the light of day.
The root of my early problems with the Internet was ineffective search engines. I used a very early version of Lycos, back when it was only a search engine. It had an annoying tendency to time out, as well as limited offerings when it came to search strings. As a result, when I performed a search on the single computer in our department that had web access, either my search ended prematurely or I wound up with 150,000 largely irrelevant results. Hence, my comment that beyond email, the Internet was a waste of time, the statement I will never live down.
In honor of that, I’m presenting a list of science and technology-based search engines that do an effective job of ferreting out information. Although general search engines do a fine job, sometimes these purpose-built sites can save time when it comes to finding the information you need. Circuit Scout No point in reinventing the wheel—this site allows you to prowl through more than 32,000 circuit diagrams and schematics.
Datasheets.com This page lets you choose among more than 250 million electronic parts.
Google Scholar Access a wide array of scholarly literature, including journals, books, theses, and more from professional societies, universities, academic publishers, etc.
Patent Law Links Working on the next great invention? Before you can patent it, you have to declare disclose prior work in the area. This website has a wide array of search engines that will allow you to review existing patents as part of your due diligence.
RefSeek This ad-free search engine delivers academic results from more than 1 billion indexed documents, web pages, books, journals, newspapers, and more.
Scirus This scientific research tool indexes over half 1 billion scientific items. Use it to seek out journal articles, technical books, researcher homepages, patents, and more.
Sweet Search Although it’s ostensibly for students, the search engine not only returns results but augments each entry with excerpts from the page so that you can take a closer look at where you’re going to get without taking time to load the link.
TechStreet Need to look up a standard? This site provides a comprehensive global listing that includes JEDEC, IEEE standards, IEC standards, and more. WWW Chemistry Guide A useful reference for chemical properties and data, curated by scientists and engineers.
These are some of the tools that I find useful. What about you? What are your must-have sites?
I came to this piece looking for an UNBIASED search engine for engineers. Came away disappointed.
Google has become next to useless in the past two or three years.
You know things are grim when you look for an IC part number and the datasheet FROM THE MANUFACTURER turns up on page 7 or 8. That makes datasheets.com SPAM, in my book.
Thanks for your feedback.Is your disenchantment with Google related to the search engine as a whole or the Google Scholar offering? I follow a couple of researchy areas like nanotechnology, biotech,and drug discovery. I personally find Google Scholar to be helpful when I'm trying to hunt up a journal article and don't want to scroll past a bunch of trade-book articles and press releases. I'd like a little tighter time discrimination, but otherwise I think it works pretty well. If you have another tool you think works better, I'd welcome the recommendation. Tx, K
I couldn't agree more. datasheets.com is the bane of the internet for electrical engineers. The fact that it would even be listed as a "useful search engine" by this blog post not only damages the article's credibility, it hurts eetime's legitimacy. I know datasheets.com advertises here and even sponsors some "content". However, that doesn't mean eetimes needs to advertise for a site that is actively trying to make the web WORSE for engineers.
Hey Sean, I think the 'bane of the Internet' may be a bit of a stretch:) Lots of pretty bad stuff out there.
Anyway, Datasheets.com is actually a partnership between us and Silicon Expert and is set up a service for engineers/procurement professionals to provide an independent source of product info from many distributors and suppliers, and then allow a good deal of comparative analysis before buying.
We really do think it's one of the better independent (ie: none distributor run) sources, but of course we may be biased or flat out wrong. So please, by all means offer some suggestions for better ones you've used or could recommend, and maybe why. That would be very helpful to the other members. Thanks!
I'm still surprised how many people either don't know about or appreciate the utility to the engineering and general technical community of the following site, maybe they don't understand that the premise of "calculators" gets extended at the high end to include full functional simulation of various physical phenomena, see if you don't agree:
It's the best out there, even at that it's not perfect. Try using it to pick switching regulator parts for simple boost or buck applications and you'll see what I mean. You ought to be able to specify a desired input and output voltage and let the DATABASE select the parts that meet the spec. Instead they have you manually multiselecting possibly hundreds of ranges that overlap the voltage you actually wanted in the first place, and if you fail to hold down the control key for even one keystroke you cancel everything you entered and have to start over, in that one situation they seem to have created the absolute HARDEST way to get what you're looking for! But considering how nicely set up everything ELSE is I guess it's just the exception that proves the rule.
Digikey is generally the first place I go when looking for datasheets. They probably cover 80 - 90 of my datasheet needs, as well as most of my component purchases.
The one challenge I do seem to get from DigiKey comes with parts that don't have clear part numbers or parameters - headers and other connectors, for example. In the catalog days, it was very easy to just page through, looking at the pictures to get close. That's much more difficult with an online catalog.
Speaking of confessions, am I the only one out there still hoping that AltaVista will regain its glory days?
As far as searching for parts on the internet, if I search for a TI regulator, the datasheet ought to shop up near the top of page one. Maybe the semiconductor companies can partner with the search engine companies to make it happen. I like Digikey and Mouser also for part searching. Newark can also be useful.
I completely agree that DATASHEETS.COM is spam.
When you search for a component there for which they don't have a matching datasheet, they display dozens of links to advertisement sites or other junk stuff.
And once you find a datasheet, it is usually not the original one, but manipulated.
Thanks for publishing this list Kristin. I've used several of these sites, but there are others I had never heard of. Like you, I also have had good results with Google scholar to weed out everything that is *not* the journal article or academic publication I'm looking for.
Mouser is where I always go first for parts and datasheets. For live pricing and availability when I don't find it in Mouser, I use Octopart, a specialised parts search engine that gives you real time pricing from several vendors on the same component. The hard work of finding obsolete parts info I leave it to Bing.
I used to search for parts on Google, but that's where I found all of my spam. I don't recall the sites, but I always seemed to get links that pretended to have the info, but just linked to other sites that linked to other sites... Then I gave up on Google.
Over the weekend, I've been experimenting with DigiKey, Datasheets and Mouser - running parts from my BOMs through. I did find an electrolytic to not be on Datasheets and a few parts to not be on Mouser. I tend to select parts based on what I can buy at DK, so I would expect to find all of the parts there.
Another site that I find quite useful is: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html It's about grammar, not technology, but, though I value function over form, form does help with good communications. This site covers all of those little things like "affect vs. effect:" that I ignored while back in school.
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned findchips.com. I use it all the time to find which distributors have parts, and if a part numer (or partial part number) pops up, the link takes you to the distributor page that generally has the datasheet.
It's really mind-boggling to think of what my hourly rate would be if I were paid for the actual time that I spent troubleshooting a problem to get to a fix. The challenge is to avoid going down a rathole.
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