E, I R, and P Chart
December 1954 Popular
Maybe given the nature of
newly published Popular Electronics, the editors decided using a big word like "nomograph" might be a little too
out of the realm for use in a magazine seeking to appeal to newcomers to the electronics field. It is a little
surprising since students of the day were quite accustomed to using this type of a graph since computers still
filled entire rooms and hand-held calculators went by a different name -
December 1954 Popular Electronics
[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about
and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
In fact, because of a familiarity with using a
slide rule, people were more accustomed to having to
shift decimal points to the left or right first to do the calculation on a device that only displayed values in a
single decade range, and then to arrive at the final answer after the calculation. That is exactly the skill
needed to use the nomograph.
I guess that people today - even engineers - would have a harder time keeping
track of powers of 10 than most reasonably skilled high school math students of the 1950s.
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E, I R, and P ChartIF YOU know any two of the four quantities. voltage (E), current (I), resistance, (R). and power (P), in a
circuit, you can find the other two by using this chart. Using the upper part of the chart. just lay a
straightedge between the graduations corresponding to the two quantities you know, then read the other two
quantities where the straightedge crosses the corresponding lines.
For example, suppose the voltage is
100 volts and current is 30 milliamperes. The resistance is 3330 ohms (approximately) and the power is 3.0 walls.
If the quantities you have are larger or smaller than any shown in the chart, you still can find your answer. Move
the decimal point in each quantity to bring it within the range of the chart. In a power figure. move the decimal
point a multiple of three places; in a voltage figure, a multiple of two places. In current and resistance, the
decimal point can be moved any number of places. Then, using the lower part of the chart, lay your straightedge
between the numbers corresponding to the number of places you must move the decimal point on the chart left or
right to get the quantities you actually have. Read along the straightedge the number of places you will have to
move the decimal point in each answer as given by the chart, to get the proper decimal point for your actual
For example, suppose that the voltage in the previous example had been 0.01 volt and the current
0.3 milliampere. To go from 100 volts to 0.01. volt, we must move the decimal point four places to the left. To go
from 30 milliamperes to 0.3 milliampere, we must move the decimal point two places to the left. In our answers,
we must move the decimal point two places to the left in resistance, giving 33.3 ohms, and six places to the left
in power, giving 0.000003 watt (0.003 milliwatt or 3 microwatts). END
Voltage, Current, Resistance, and Power Nomograph