Thursday, October 25, 2018

Understanding Electronics Tools and Circuit Components

Electronics Tools 

1. Soldering iron - This tool has a metal tip and an insulated handle. When it’s powered on, the tip heats up so it can melt solder. There are low- and high-wattage versions: Low wattage is useful for fragile projects, while high wattage is better for projects involving bigger pieces. There are also different types of tips available for the soldering iron.

2. Soldering Iron Stand - Buy a stand that fits your iron so you’ll have a place to put it down safely when it’s hot. (Leaving this thing lying around when it’s turned on is a good way to burn down the toolshed before you’ve even made anything cool with it!)

3. Wire-Modifying Tools - You’ll likely be soldering a lot of wire, so it’s useful to have a wire cutter, a wire stripper, and a needle-nose plier so you can manipulate the wire. Before connecting wires, you must peel back their insulation to expose the wires, so wire strippers are definitely a must.

4. Clips and Clamps - Soldering requires both hands, so you’ll need something to hold the materials you’re soldering in place. Clips, clamps, and even electrical tape can do the job.

5. Liquid Flux - Soldering works best when the items being soldered are squeaky clean, so have liquid flux on hand—it chases away oxides and other goop that can make soldering difficult.

6. Heat-Shrink Tubing - You can use plastic heat-shrink tubing to insulate wires before you apply heat and solder them. It’s available in several diameters for projects with various wire sizes.

7. Tip Cleaner - Your soldering iron’s tip will get a bit nasty as you work, so keep a wet sponge on hand to periodically wipe down the tip.

8. Exhaust Fan - The fumes from soldering are not healthy to breathe, so you need good ventilation from a fan or an open window to help clear the air.

9. Safety Goggle - Bits of hot solder can go flying as you work, so don’t do it without wearing safety goggles.

Circuit Components

1. Transistors - A transistor amplifies energy flowing to its base pin, allowing a larger electrical current to flow between its collector and emitter pins. The two basic types of transistors, NPN and PNP, have opposite polarities: Current flows from collector to emitter in NPN transistors and flows from emitter to collector in PNP transistors.

2. Potentiometers - When you need to vary resistance within a circuit, use a potentiometer instead of a standard resistor. These have a controller that allows you to change the level of resistance: “B” potentiometers have a linear response curve, while “A” potentiometers have a logarithmic response curve.

3. Switches - Switches open or close a circuit. Some are normally open as a default; others are normally closed.

4. Resistors - A circuit needs resistance to function. Without it, you’ll end up with a short circuit, in which the current flows directly from power to ground without being used, causing your circuit to overheat and otherwise misbehave. To prevent that from happening, resistors reduce the flow of electrical current. The level of resistance is measured in ohms, so check those numbers to make sure a component’s resistance matches the level indicated in the circuitry diagram.

5. Capacitors - These store electricity, then release it back into the circuit when there’s a drop in power. Capacitor values are measured in farads: picofarads (pF), nanofarads (nF), and microfarads (μF) are the most common units of measure. Ceramic capacitors aren’t polarized so they can be inserted into a circuit in any direction, but electrolytic capacitors are polarized and need to be inserted in a specific orientation.

6. Batteries - These store power for a circuit, and you can use more than one to increase voltage or current.

7. Wire - These single strands of metal are often used to connect the components in a circuit. Wire comes in various sizes (or gauges), and it’s usually insulated.

8. Diodes - These components are polarized to allow current to flow through them in only one direction. They are very useful if you need to stop the current in your circuit from flowing the wrong way. The side of a diode that connects to the ground is called the cathode, and the side that connects to power is called the anode. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, light up when current flows through them

9. Integrated Circuits - These are tiny circuits (usually including transistors, diodes, and resistors) prepacked into a chip. Each leg of the chip will connect to a point in your larger circuit. These vary widely in their composition and will come with a handy data sheet explaining their functions

10. Transformers - These devices range from thumbnail-size to house-size, and consist of coils of wire wound around a core, often a magnet. Made to transfer alternating current from one circuit to another, they can step the power of the current up or down depending on the ratio of wire windings between one coil and another.

11. Arduino - a popular open-source single-board microcontroller. Learn how to program one and let the possibilities take shape. Arduino microcontrollers come in a variety of types. The most common is the Arduino UNO, but there are specialized variations. Before you begin building, do a little research to figure out which version will be the most appropriate for your project

12. Microcontroller - A microcontroller is essentially a tiny computer, complete with a central processing unit (CPU), memory, and input and output. It’s really useful for controlling switches, LEDs, and other simple electronic devices


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