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Electronics : Electronics 101

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Bar'uun Strieg


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: Electronics 101
« on: Jul 18, 2018, 01:46 PM »
Tutorial: Electronics 101
Lead Author: Bar'uun Strieg
Contributors: AngelLM
Edited by: MMCC Education Team


This tutorial will cover basic electronics terminology and components designed to allow novice users to understand and complete electronics projects which can be added to their kit.

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Foundational Information

Datasheet

A datasheet is a document that contains the vital information about an electrical component.  Information presented by the datasheet will typically include connections, common electrical values, functions, sizes, circuit examples, etc.

Datasheets are usually provided with a purchased component, but you can also find them on the internet if they are not. Search for “Datasheet your-component-ID pdf” and you should get the desired information. You can also ask the seller for the datasheet.

Electronic Terminology

You have most likely heard some electric and electronic terms in your life.  Terms like circuit, voltage, volts, current and amperes or amps. These terms may, or may not, make sense to you, but we will attempt to make sure they do make sense.

Circuits:

A circuit is defined as a complete and closed path through which electricity can flow.  A closed circuit will allow electricity to flow between the power source and the ground and allow components within the circuit to function (i.e. an LED illuminating). 
An open circuit would break the flow of electricity and cause components within the circuit to not function (i.e. the LED would not illuminate).
 
Voltage:

Voltage is defined as an electromotive force or potential difference expressed in volts (V). What does this actually mean?
 
Imagine that you have a common AA sized battery.  That battery is marked as 1.5V.  This means that the battery can provide a maximum of 1.5 volts to a circuit. The potential difference of electrical energy between the positive (+) and negative (-) poles of the battery is 1.5V.
 
Voltage is not only related to batteries, it is related to every component in an electronic circuit. When we want to light up a simple LED we have to provide it with a sufficient amount of Volts. As an example, say the voltage needed to illuminate a LED is 200mV (0.2V).  It can be said that the difference in electric potential energy between the LED’s positive and negative pins is 200mV.
 
Current:

Current is defined as a movement of positive or negative electric particles (such as electrons) accompanied by such observable effects as the production of light, heat, a magnetic field, or of chemical transformations.  Current is measured in amperes (amps).

Some components, like LEDs have maximum and minimum current values. Below the minimum value they usually do not work. Above the maximum value they can burn out (such as attaching a LED directly to a 9V battery.  It will illuminate very brightly for a moment before it burns out and quits producing light). Maximum and minimum values are usually written in the component datasheet.
 
Resistance:

The resistance of an electrical conductor is defined as a measure of the difficulty required to pass an electric current through that conductor. It is measured in Ohms (Ω).

Every electronic component has resistance, to some degree, even wires.  In the example above where we burned out an LED by attaching it directly to a 9V battery, the burnout can be avoided if we were to place an appropriate resistor in the circuit to decrease the flow of current.
 
Ohm’s Law:

Now that we have basic definitions of Voltage, Current and Resistance we are ready to connect these 3 concepts. This connection can be made using the Ohm’s Law which states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points.

The Ohm’s Law equation that connects Voltage (V), Current (I) and Resistance (R)
 
V=I*R or I=V/R or R=V/I

If we need to calculate the Voltage between two points of a circuit we’ll use the first equation (V=I*R).  To calculate the current we’ll have to use the second equation (I=V/R). The third equation is used when calculating the Resistance between 2 points (R=V/I).

Keep in mind that for most components V is used for Voltage, A (amperes) is used for current, and Ohms (Ω) is used for resistance.
 
Polarity:

You probably know that batteries have a “+” and “-” symbol on them.  That’s because they have polarity. Polarity is defined as the direction of current flow in an electrical circuit. Current flows from the positive pole (terminal) to the negative pole.

Polarity also applies to many other electrical components.  When connecting a polarized component in an electronic circuit you’ll have to ensure that the current will enter through the positive side and exit through the negative one.  Accidentally reversing polarity is another way to burn out a component or make a circuit not function as intended.
 
Though not all-inclusive, some examples are as follows:
Examples of polarized components include LEDs, diodes, batteries and some capacitors.
Examples of non-polarized components include wires and resistors.
There are components, like capacitors, that can be polarized or not, depending on their structure.
If you are unsure of polarity, check the component datasheet.
 
Measuring Voltage, Current, or Resistance

Possibly the most important piece of equipment you could have at your disposal for electronics work is a good multimeter.  If you plan on doing any type of electronics project, it is highly encouraged that you acquire a multimeter.  Multimeters come in both analog and digital types, and the digital version is recommended since it is easier for a novice to read. 
Using the various settings on a multimeter, you can verify that components within a circuit are functioning properly, or troubleshoot a circuit that is not functioning properly.

This Link provides an excellent tutorial on how to use a multimeter.

Prototyping

Prototyping a circuit can be done before completing the project to ensure that the circuit is working properly.  Prototyping allows you to verify that each component, as well as the complete circuit, is functioning as intended before you solder components together in a more permanent configuration.  Once components are soldered together, it is significantly more difficult to replace a component or make corrections to a circuit than it is during prototyping.


Example of a prototyped circuit

Prototyping is typically done using protoboards, also called breadboards.  Breadboards have rows of holes that are connected together allowing the making of connections in a circuit without soldering.  Using a breadboard, jumper wires of various lengths, and the other components of your project, you can hook everything together and verify that it works as intended before you complete the permanent circuit.


Example of a breadboard


Soldering

Soldering is an essential part of electronics projects.  Soldering makes it possible to join electronic components in a more permanent and durable fashion while establishing a conductive connection between the components.
An excellent tutorial on soldering can be found here.

Final Thoughts

This primer shares some key terminology and examples designed to help you with electronics projects.  It is by no means all-inclusive.  You are encouraged to ask questions, perform internet searches, ask more questions, practice (and ask more questions).  As your knowledge of electronics increases, share it with your clan mates and help them complete their projects.  Mandalorians are strongest when they work together and share what they know.

--MMCC Education Team--

« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2019, 07:00 AM by Hik'aari » Logged
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