If I were to ask a question about signal and noise in home electronics, and how to debug an issue, and what possible solutions might be, would that be on-topic?

In my mind, system-level debugging and noise in consumer electronics occupy a weird space between consumer electronics (where enthusiasts are in over their heads compared to engineers) and electrical engineering (where practitioners have a solid understanding of the fundamentals that can cause weird behavior).

As a case in point, I've got a receiver sending a signal to a wireless transmitter to my subwoofer. Somewhere before transmission, the line is picking up an FM station at 140Hz (that's the cutoff at which the sub's low-pass filter removes the noise), but only when the receiver is off. Would it be on-topic to ask how one might debug this setup or isolate the various components from noise?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for asking on meta first. Previously, I wrote this answer to a similar question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 22 '16 at 3:11

Debugging of "home electronics" is off topic as that term is likely interpreted by most. The reason is that it usually doesn't have real electrical engineering content. For example, plugging in ethernet cables to routers and PCs isn't electrical engineering, and debugging such a setup is off topic here. "Plug dis inta dat" isn't electrical engineering.

For debugging questions to be appropriate here, they have to be seriously about the electrical engineering aspect. They need to be clear about what exactly the setup is, show a proper schematic, explain what was expected, and what was actually observed.

A bug is a discrepancy between expected behavior and observed behavior. It should be obvious that it therefore takes both to define a bug, but unfortunately we get too many questions not specifying one, particularly what was expected.

Some examples:

  1. Bad audio quality from two stage audio amplifier

    This is a reasonably OK question. It shows a good enough schematic, and a reasonably decent attempt to describe the problem. In this case, the desired behavior is implied by the specification of "audio amplifier".

    Note that the totally clueless nature of the circuit doesn't make this a bad question, only a rather ignorant one. It's OK to be ignorant, but never to be stupid.

  2. My LED lamp is blinking. Could the power supply be the issue?

    Don't let this happen to you. Note the confusing hand-waving trying to describe the problem, no diagram or schematic, and very low electrical engineering content. This is more of a consumer electronics question than about electrical engineering.


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