Component Central

Okay, so we’ve gone over some physics and while there is still a few more things to go over, I thought this would be a good time to go over some different components, what they do, and the symbols used in schematics to identify them.

This is by no means a complete list of every component you will find. It is meant to be a place to start from to help build simple circuits. As we progress to start building larger circuits I will introduce more components as needed.

Breadboard – a breadboard is a device that is made up of plastic and copper. It is used to create and test circuits and acts as a generic circuit board with copper connections inside of it to allow current to pass through to different components. As this is a device that circuits are made on, instead of with, it has no symbol for a schematic.


In the example shown, copper runs parallel inside the board vertically along the positive (+) and negative (-) lines. Alternatively, copper also runs horizontally parallel from letters A-E and from letters F-J. The copper runs are seperated by a gap in the middle between letters E and F so that they are not connected.

Capacitor – a capacitor is a device that is used to store a charge. Electrons and the lack of electrons will store up on two plates, separated by an insulator. The end result being that no current is actually allowed through, but that the plates will hold a charge on either plate.


Jumpers –  jumpers are cables. They have various uses including connecting devices to breadboards and “jumping” from one spot on a breadboard to another. The connections and flow of current between devices on a schematic are labeled with solid black dots.


LED – LED is short for light emitting diode. This device takes current and dissipates it into light.


Potentiometer – a device that is used to scale resistance from no resistance to some resistance. In a circuit it can be completely opened or closed. When the potentiometer is open it allows current through with no resistance, and when it is closed it allows current through while adding the maximum resistance it can. The potentiometer can be adjusted to a desired resistance by turning the devices internal arm.


Power Supply – a device that supplies power to the circuit. Usually in electronics these are either batteries, or AC to DC power converters. The DC symbol uses the longer line to indicate which side is positive.


Relay – a relay is a more advanced switch, which uses a magnetic field to move contacts inside the relay to complete pathways.


Resistor –  a resistor is a device in a circuit that restricts the flow of current and voltage.


Tactile Switch – a tactile switch is a device that when pressed, will complete a circuit, and when not pressed breaks a circuit.


Toggle Switch – a toggle switch is a switch that will allow you to choose one of two available paths for electricity to flow on.


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