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Electronic Components – Resistors

Electronic Components – Resistors

If you’ve ever looked inside some electronic device you’ve probably seen a little cylindrical component with some colors on it and most of these little components have different colors on them. If you’ve ever done anything with electronics as a hobby or read up on the subject at all you’ll know that these little components are resistors. Resistors are basically an electrical component on a circuit board that provide resistance to the electrical current and this resistance is measured in “Ohms”.

What inside of resistors look likeResistors are added to a circuit to prevent overloading the thing you’re trying to energize, for example in this video if you’re powering a 3 volt LED with a 9 volt battery, you need to add some resistance because supplying too much voltage will destroy or shorten the life of the device. There are a few different styles of basic resistor and they help impede voltage in different ways. The long and short of it is that resistors are basically the backbone of electronics.

illustration of the inside of resistorsThe most commonplace resistors are carbon resistors. Essentially, carbon or graphite dust is combined with ceramic to slow the electrical current down. Given that they’re relatively easy to make, they’re usually the cheapest. Film type resistors are similar, being made of ceramic, but instead of carbon dust various metals are used and a laser imprints a spiral into the metal film. Film type resistors tend to have a higher Ohm value as well as being made of different materials. It goes without saying that you want to make sure to use the right resistors in your project so knowing a bit about the plusses and minuses of the various options might be a good idea.

resistor chartHow do you know what resistors you should use in your project, or better yet, how do you tell them apart? You can tell your resistors apart with the convenient color coding system that was developed in the 1920s by the RMA. Resistors use between 4 and 6 bands to help you calculate how much resistance a given resistor has. There are calculators online that help you figure this out. Depending on how many bands there are, the first couple bands help you find the numerical value while the last couple bands give you the multiplier and the tolerance. Pretty easy once you get comfortable with the idea.

Resistors are small but important pieces of any electronics project or device and while the idea of working with them as an electronic component may be intimidating, they really are quite simple to understand and even identify. We sell a variety of Velleman electronics kits that use resistors as well as individual resistors for custom projects. We’d love to see what you’re using resistors for, if you’re into electronics connect with us on Facebook or Instagram to show us your projects!

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