1. Safety

2. The Ohio Electronics Education Calculator

3. Units of Measurement and Numeric Notations

4. Electrical Components

4.1. Resistors

Resistance is a property of every electrical component. At times, its effects will be undesirable. However, resistance is used in many varied ways. RESISTORS are components manufactured to possess specific values of resistance. They are manufactured in many types and sizes. When drawn using its schematic representation, a resistor is shown as a series of jagged lines, as illustrated in Figure 1.

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Figure 1. Types of resistors.

4.1.1. Composition of Resistors

One of the most common types of resistors is the molded composition, usually referred to as the carbon resistor. These resistors are manufactured in a variety of sizes and shapes. The chemical composition of the resistor determines its ohmic value and is accurately controlled by the manufacturer in the development process. They are made in ohmic values that range from one ohm to millions of ohms. The physical size of the resistor is related to its wattage rating, which is the ability of resistor to dissipate heat caused by the resistance.

Carbon resistors, as you might suspect, have as their principal ingredient the element carbon. In the manufacturer of carbon resistors, fillers or binders are added to the carbon to obtain various resistor values. Examples of these fillers are clay, bakelite, rubber, and talc. These fillers are doping agents and cause the overall conduction characteristics to change.

Carbon resistors are the most common resistors found because they are easy to manufacturer, inexpensive, and have a tolerance that is adequate for most electrical and electronic applications. Their prime disadvantage is that they have a tendency to change value as they age. One other disadvantage of carbon resistors is their limited power handling capacity. The disadvantage of carbon resistors can be overcome by the use of WIREWOUND resistors (Figure 1 (B) and (C)). Wirewound resistors have very accurate values and possess a higher current handling capability than carbon resistors. The material that is frequently used to manufacture wirewound resistors is German silver which is composed of copper, nickel, and zinc. The qualities and quantities of these elements present in the wire determine the resistivity of the wire. (The resistivity of the wire is the measure or ability of the wire to resist current. Usually the percent of nickel in the wire determines the resistivity.) One disadvantage of the wirewound resistor is that it takes a large amount of wire to manufacture a resistor of high ohmic value, thereby increasing the cost. A variation of the wirewound resistor provides an exposed surface to the resistance wire on one side. An adjustable tap is attached to this side. Such resistors, sometimes with two or more adjustable taps, are used as voltage dividers in power supplies and other applications where a specific voltage is desired to be "tapped" off.

4.1.2. Fixed and Variable Resistors

There are two kinds of resistors, FIXED and VARIABLE. The fixed resistor will have one value and will never change (other than through temperature, age, etc.). The resistors shown in A and B of Figure 1 are classed as fixed resistors. The tapped resistor illustrated in B has several fixed taps and makes more than one resistance value available. The sliding contact resistor shown in C has an adjustable collar that can be moved to tap off any resistance within the ohmic value range of the resistor.

There are two types of variable resistors, one called a POTENTIOMETER and the other a RHEOSTAT (see views D and E of Figure 1.) An example of the potentiometer is the volume control on your radio, and an example of the rheostat is the dimmer control for the dash lights in an automobile. There is a slight difference between them. Rheostats usually have two connections, one fixed and the other moveable. Any variable resistor can properly be called a rheostat. The potentiometer always has three connections, two fixed and one moveable. Generally, the rheostat has a limited range of values and a high current-handling capability. The potentiometer has a wide range of values, but it usually has a limited current-handling capability. Potentiometers are always connected as voltage dividers. (Voltage dividers are discussed in Chapter 3.)

4.1.3. Wattage Rating

When a current is passed through a resistor, heat is developed within the resistor. The resistor must be capable of dissipating this heat into the surrounding air; otherwise, the temperature of the resistor rises causing a change in resistance, or possibly causing the resistor to burn out. The ability of the resistor to dissipate heat depends upon the design of the resistor itself. This ability to dissipate heat depends on the amount of surface area which is exposed to the air. A resistor designed to dissipate a large amount of heat must therefore have a large physical size. The heat dissipating capability of a resistor is measured in WATTS (this unit will be explained later in chapter 3). Some of the more common wattage ratings of carbon resistors are: one-eighth watt, one-fourth watt, one-half watt, one watt, and two watts. In some of the newer state-of-the-art circuits of today, much smaller wattage resistors are used. Generally, the type that you will be able to physically work with are of the values given. The higher the wattage rating of the resistor the larger is the physical size. Resistors that dissipate very large amounts of power (watts) are usually wirewound resistors. Wirewound resistors with wattage ratings up to 50 watts are not uncommon. shows some resistors which have different wattage ratings. Notice the relative sizes of the resistors.

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Figure 2. Resistors of different wattage ratings.

4.1.4. Standard Color Code System

In the standard color code system, four bands are painted on the resistor, as shown in Figure 3.

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Figure 3. Resistor color codes
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Figure 4. Examples of resistor color codes.

The color of the first band indicates the value of the first significant digit. The color of the second band indicates the value of the second significant digit. The third color band represents a decimal multiplier by which the first two digits must be multiplied to obtain the resistance value of the resistor. The colors for the bands and their corresponding values are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Standard Color Code for Resistors



















































Use the example colors shown in Figure 3. Since red is the color of the first band, the first significant digit is 2. The second band is violet, therefore the second significant digit is 7. The third band is orange, which indicates that the number formed as a result of reading the first two bands is multiplied by 1000. In this case 27 x 1000 = 27,000 ohms. The last band on the resistor indicates the tolerance; that is, the manufacturer’s allowable ohmic deviation above and below the numerical value indicated by the resistor’s color code. In this example, the color silver indicates a tolerance of 10 percent. In other words, the actual value of the resistor may fall somewhere within 10 percent above and 10 percent below the value indicated by the color code. This resistor has an indicated value of 27,000 ohms. Its tolerance is 10 percent x 27,000 ohms, or 2,700 ohms. Therefore, the resistor’s actual value is somewhere between 24,300 ohms and 29,700 ohms.

When measuring resistors, you will find situations in which the quantities to be measured may be extremely large, and the resulting number using the basic unit, the ohm, may prove too cumbersome. Therefore, a metric system prefix is usually attached to the basic unit of measurement to provide a more manageable unit. Two of the most commonly used prefixes are kilo and mega. Kilo is the prefix used to represent thousand and is abbreviated k. Mega is the prefix used to represent million and is abbreviated M.

In the example given above, the 27,000-ohm resistor could have been written as 27 kilohms or 27 kΩ. Other examples are: 1,000 ohms = 1 kΩ; 10,000 ohms = 10 kΩ; 100,000 ohms = 100 kΩ. Likewise, 1,000,000 ohms is written as 1 megaohm or 1 MΩ and 10,000,000 ohms = 10 MΩ.

4.1.5. Simplifying the Color Code

Resistors are the most common components used in electronics. The technician must identify, select, check, remove, and replace resistors. Resistors and resistor circuits are usually the easiest branches of electronics to understand.

The resistor color code sometimes presents problems to a technician. It really should not, because once the resistor color code is learned, you should remember it for the rest of your life.

Black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white—this is the order of colors you should know automatically. There is a memory aid that will help you remember the code in its proper order. Each word starts with the first letter of the colors. If you match it up with the color code, you will not forget the code.

Bad Boys Run Over Yellow Gardenias Behind Victory Garden Walls,

or: Black — Bad Brown — Boys Red — Run Orange — Over Yellow — Yellow Green — Gardenias Blue — Behind Violet — Victory Gray — Garden White — Walls

There are many other memory aid sentences that you might want to ask about from experienced technicians. You might find one of the other sentences easier to remember. There is still a good chance that you will make a mistake on a resistor’s color band. Most technicians do at one time or another. If you make a mistake on the first two significant colors, it usually is not too serious. If you make a miscue on the third band, you are in trouble, because the value is going to be at least 10 times too high or too low. Some important points to remember about the third band are:

When the third band is . . . .

Black, the resistor’s value is less than 100 ohms.

Brown, the resistor’s value is in hundreds of ohms.

Red, the resistor’s value is in thousands of ohms.

Orange, the resistor’s value is in tens of thousands of ohms.

Yellow, the resistor’s value is in hundreds of thousands of ohms.

Green, the resistor’s value is in megohms.

Blue, the resistor’s value is in tens of megohms or more.

Although you may find any of the above colors in the third band, red, orange, and yellow are the most common. In some cases, the third band will be silver or gold. You multiply the first two bands by 0.01 if it is silver, and 0.1 if it is gold.

The fourth band, which is the tolerance band, usually does not present too much of a problem. If there is no fourth band, the resistor has a 20-percent tolerance; a silver fourth band indicates a 10-percent tolerance; and a gold fourth band indicates a 5-percent tolerance.

4.1.6. Fifth Reliability Band for Military Specifications

Resistors that conform to military specifications have a fifth band. The fifth band indicates the reliability level per 1,000 hours of operation as follows:

Fifth band color Level









For a resistor whose the fifth band is color coded brown, the resistor’s chance of failure will not exceed 1 percent for every 1,000 hours of operation.

In equipment such as the Navy’s complex computers, the reliability level is very significant. For example, in a piece of equipment containing 10,000 orange fifth-band resistors, no more than one resistor will fail during 1,000 hours of operation. This is very good reliability. More information on resistors is contained in NEETS Module 19.

Some resistors, both wirewound and composition, will not use the resistor color code. These resistors will have the ohmic value and tolerance imprinted on the resistor itself.

4.1.7. Incandescent Lamps [TODO]

4.2. Inductors [TODO]

4.3. Capacitors

4.3.1. Fixed Capacitor

A fixed capacitor is constructed in such manner that it possesses a fixed value of capacitance which cannot be adjusted. A fixed capacitor is classified according to the type of material used as its dielectric, such as paper, oil, mica, or electrolyte.

A PAPER CAPACITOR is made of flat thin strips of metal foil conductors that are separated by waxed paper (the dielectric material). Paper capacitors usually range in value from about 300 picofarads to about 4 microfarads. The working voltage of a paper capacitor rarely exceeds 600 volts. Paper capacitors are sealed with wax to prevent the harmful effects of moisture and to prevent corrosion and leakage.

Many different kinds of outer covering are used on paper capacitors, the simplest being a tubular cardboard covering. Some types of paper capacitors are encased in very hard plastic. These types are very rugged and can be used over a much wider temperature range than can the tubular cardboard type. Figure 5 shows the construction of a tubular paper capacitor; part Figure 6 shows a completed cardboard- encased capacitor.

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Figure 5. Paper capacitor.
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Figure 6. Paper capacitor.

A MICA CAPACITOR is made of metal foil plates that are separated by sheets of mica (the dielectric). The whole assembly is encased in molded plastic. Figure 7 shows a cut-away view of a mica capacitor. Because the capacitor parts are molded into a plastic case, corrosion and damage to the plates and dielectric are prevented. In addition, the molded plastic case makes the capacitor mechanically stronger. Various types of terminals are used on mica capacitors to connect them into circuits. These terminals are also molded into the plastic case.

Mica is an excellent dielectric and can withstand a higher voltage than can a paper dielectric of the same thickness. Common values of mica capacitors range from approximately 50 picofarads to 0.02 microfarad. Some different shapes of mica capacitors are shown in Figure 8.

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Figure 7. Typical mica capacitors.
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Figure 8. Typical mica capacitors.

A CERAMIC CAPACITOR is so named because it contains a ceramic dielectric. One type of ceramic capacitor uses a hollow ceramic cylinder as both the form on which to construct the capacitor and as the dielectric material. The plates consist of thin films of metal deposited on the ceramic cylinder.

A second type of ceramic capacitor is manufactured in the shape of a disk. After leads are attached to each side of the capacitor, the capacitor is completely covered with an insulating moisture-proof coating. Ceramic capacitors usually range in value from 1 picofarad to 0.01 microfarad and may be used with voltages as high as 30,000 volts. Some different shapes of ceramic capacitors are shown in Figure 9.

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Figure 9. Ceramic capacitors.
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Figure 10. Examples of ceramic capacitors.

An ELECTROLYTIC CAPACITOR is used where a large amount of capacitance is required. As the name implies, an electrolytic capacitor contains an electrolyte. This electrolyte can be in the form of a liquid (wet electrolytic capacitor). The wet electrolytic capacitor is no longer in popular use due to the care needed to prevent spilling of the electrolyte.

A dry electrolytic capacitor consists essentially of two metal plates separated by the electrolyte. In most cases the capacitor is housed in a cylindrical aluminum container which acts as the negative terminal of the capacitor (see Figure 11 and Figure 12). The positive terminal (or terminals if the capacitor is of the multisection type) is a lug (or lugs) on the bottom end of the container. The capacitance value(s) and the voltage rating of the capacitor are generally printed on the side of the aluminum case.

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Figure 11. Construction of an electrolytic capacitor.
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Figure 12. Construction of an electrolytic capacitor.

An example of a multisection electrolytic capacitor is illustrated in Figure 12. The four lugs at the end of the cylindrical aluminum container indicates that four electrolytic capacitors are enclosed in the can. Each section of the capacitor is electrically independent of the other sections. It is possible for one section to be defective while the other sections are still good. The can is the common negative connection to the four capacitors. Separate terminals are provided for the positive plates of the capacitors. Each capacitor is identified by an embossed mark adjacent to the lugs, as shown in Figure 12. Note the identifying marks used on the electrolytic capacitor are the half moon, the triangle, the square, and no embossed mark. By looking at the bottom of the container and the identifying sheet pasted to the side of the container, you can easily identify the value of each section.

Internally, the electrolytic capacitor is constructed similarly to the paper capacitor. The positive plate consists of aluminum foil covered with an extremely thin film of oxide. This thin oxide film (which is formed by an electrochemical process) acts as the dielectric of the capacitor. Next to and in contact with the oxide is a strip of paper or gauze which has been impregnated with a paste-like electrolyte. The electrolyte acts as the negative plate of the capacitor. A second strip of aluminum foil is then placed against the electrolyte to provide electrical contact to the negative electrode (the electrolyte). When the three layers are in place they are rolled up into a cylinder as shown in Figure 11.

An electrolytic capacitor has two primary disadvantages compared to a paper capacitor in that the electrolytic type is POLARIZED and has a LOW LEAKAGE RESISTANCE. This means that should the positive plate be accidentally connected to the negative terminal of the source, the thin oxide film dielectric will dissolve and the capacitor will become a conductor (i.e., it will short). The polarity of the terminals is normally marked on the case of the capacitor. Since an electrolytic capacitor is polarity sensitive, its use is ordinarily restricted to a dc circuit or to a circuit where a small ac voltage is superimposed on a dc voltage. Special electrolytic capacitors are available for certain ac applications, such as a motor starting capacitor. Dry electrolytic capacitors vary in size from about 4 microfarads to several thousand microfarads and have a working voltage of approximately 500 volts.

The type of dielectric used and its thickness govern the amount of voltage that can safely be applied to the electrolytic capacitor. If the voltage applied to the capacitor is high enough to cause the atoms of the dielectric material to become ionized, arcing between the plates will occur. In most other types of capacitors, arcing will destroy the capacitor. However, an electrolytic capacitor has the ability to be self-healing. If the arcing is small, the electrolytic will regenerate itself. If the arcing is too large, the capacitor will not self-heal and will become defective.

OIL CAPACITORS are often used in high-power electronic equipment. An oil-filled capacitor is nothing more than a paper capacitor that is immersed in oil. Since oil impregnated paper has a high dielectric constant, it can be used in the production of capacitors having a high capacitance value. Many capacitors will use oil with another dielectric material to prevent arcing between the plates. If arcing should occur between the plates of an oil-filled capacitor, the oil will tend to reseal the hole caused by the arcing. Such a capacitor is referred to as a SELF-HEALING capacitor.

4.3.2. Variable Capacitor

A variable capacitor is constructed in such manner that its value of capacitance can be varied. A typical variable capacitor (adjustable capacitor) is the rotor-stator type. It consists of two sets of metal plates arranged so that the rotor plates move between the stator plates. Air is the dielectric. As the position of the rotor is changed, the capacitance value is likewise changed. This type of capacitor is used for tuning most radio receivers. Its physical appearance and its symbol are shown in Figure 13.

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Figure 13. Rotor-stator type variable capacitor.

Another type of variable capacitor (trimmer capacitor) and its symbol are shown in Figure 14. This capacitor consists of two plates separated by a sheet of mica. A screw adjustment is used to vary the distance between the plates, thereby changing the capacitance.

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Figure 14. Trimmer capacitor.
  1. An oxide-film dielectric is used in what type of capacitor?

  2. A screw adjustment is used to vary the distance between the plates of what type of capacitor?

4.3.3. Color Codes for Capacitors

Although the capacitance value may be printed on the body of a capacitor, it may also be indicated by a color code. The color code used to represent capacitance values is similar to that used to represent resistance values. The color codes currently in use are the Joint Army-Navy (JAN) code and the Radio Manufacturers’ Association (RMA) code.

For each of these codes, colored dots or bands are used to indicate the value of the capacitor. A mica capacitor, it should be noted, may be marked with either three dots or six dots. Both the three- and the six- dot codes are similar, but the six-dot code contains more information about electrical ratings of the capacitor, such as working voltage and temperature coefficient.

The capacitor shown in Figure 15 represents either a mica capacitor or a molded paper capacitor. To determine the type and value of the capacitor, hold the capacitor so that the three arrows point left to right (>). The first dot at the base of the arrow sequence (the left-most dot) represents the capacitor TYPE. This dot is either black, white, silver, or the same color as the capacitor body. Mica is represented by a black or white dot and paper by a silver dot or dot having the same color as the body of the capacitor. The two dots to the immediate right of the type dot indicate the first and second digits of the capacitance value. The dot at the bottom right represents the multiplier to be used. The multiplier represents picofarads. The dot in the bottom center indicates the tolerance value of the capacitor.

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Figure 15. 6-dot color code for mica and molded paper capacitors.
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Figure 16. Example of mica capacitors (A).
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Figure 17. Example of mica capacitors (B).

To read the capacitor color code on the above capacitor:

  1. Hold the capacitor so the arrows point left to right.

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  2. Read the first dot.

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  3. Read the first digit dot.

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  4. Read the second digit dot and apply it to the first digit.

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  5. Read the multiplier dot and multiply the first two digits by multiplier. (Remember that the multiplier is in picofarads).

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  6. Lastly, read the tolerance dot.

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    According to the above coding, the capacitor is a mica capacitor whose capacitance is 1200 pF with a tolerance of ±6%.

The capacitor shown in Figure 18 is a tubular capacitor. Because this type of capacitor always has a paper dielectric, the type code is omitted. To read the code, hold the capacitor so the band closest to the end is on the left side; then read left to right. The last two bands (the fifth and sixth bands from the left) represent the voltage rating of the capacitor. This means that if a capacitor is coded red, red, red, yellow, yellow, yellow, it has the following digit values:

red = 2 red = 2 red = x 100 pF yellow = ±40% yellow = 4 yellow = 4

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Figure 18. 6-band color code for tubular paper dielectric capacitors.

The six digits indicate a capacitance of 2200 pF with a ±40 percent tolerance and a working voltage of 44 volts.

The ceramic capacitor is color coded as shown in Figure 19 and the mica capacitor as shown in Figure 20. Notice that this type of mica capacitor differs from the one shown in Figure 15 in that the arrow is solid instead of broken. This type of mica capacitor is read in the same manner as the one shown in Figure 15, with one exception: the first dot indicates the first digit. (Note: Because this type of capacitor is always mica, there is no need for a type dot.)

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Figure 19. Ceramic capacitor color code.
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Figure 20. Mica capacitor color code.
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5. Electrical Tools

5.1. Circuit Board Holder and Magnifier

The circuit board holder is an adjustable, rotatable holder for virtually any size circuit board. Figure 21 shows the circuit board holder [view (A)] and the magnifier unit [view (B)]. The magnifier unit provides magnification when detail provided by a microscope is not required. The special lens allows the technician to view a rectangular area of over 14 square inches with low distortion, fine resolution, and excellent depth of field. The magnifier unit, which includes high intensity lamps, adapts to the vertical shaft of the circuit board holder.