Community Guide

Basic Electronic Components

Day 01-30 Beginner6 min
A dog smiling in a party hat
Sean DavidsonSenior Hardware Engineer
This guide is an introduction to the different components that make your electronic projects come to life. We will go through a quick breakdown of the most common components and functions they perform.

This guide is an introduction to the different components that make your electronic projects come to life. We will go through a quick breakdown of the most common components and functions they perform. If you want to learn more about how the individual components work, add my more detailed guides to your challenge plan.

Switch

Switches are electromechanical devices that allow users to interact with electronic circuits. They can come in many forms such as pushbutton, rocker, momentary and others. Their basic function is to interrupt electric current by turning a circuit on or off.

electronic_components_switch

Resistor

Resistors are used to resist the flow of current or to control the voltage in a circuit. They are typically constructed of metal wire or carbon. The amount of resistance that a resistor offers is measured in Ohms. Most resistors have colored stripes on the outside and this code will tell you it’s value of resistance.

electronic_components_resistor

Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

A light-emitting Diode (LED) is an electronic device that emits light when current is passed through it. LEDs are small, extremely efficient, bright, cheap, electronic components. Like standard diodes electrical current only flows through them in one direction.

LEDs are everywhere, and not without reason. Compared to traditional light sources they are highly efficient, resulting in less power consumption and less heat for the same brightness.

electronic_components_led

Diode

A standard diode only allows electricity to flow in one direction and blocks it from flowing the opposite way. Due to this property diode’s primary role is to route electricity from taking an unwanted path within a circuit.

Variable Resistor (Potentiometer)

A variable resistor is also known as a potentiometer. These components can be found in devices such as a light dimmer or volume control for a radio. When you turn the shaft of a potentiometer the resistance changes in the circuit.

electronic_components_poti

Light-Dependent Resistor (LDR)

Light-dependent resistors, LDRs or photoresistors are often used in electronic circuit designs where it is necessary to detect the presence or the level of light. These electronical components are a type of variable resistor. Instead of being controlled by a small knob like potentiometers, the level of light defines their resistance.

Capacitor

A Capacitor has the ability to store electricity and can discharge it back into the circuit when there is a drop in voltage. Basically a capacitor acts like a rechargeable battery within a circuit.

electronic_components_capacitor

Transistor

Transistor are tiny switches that turn a current on or off when triggered by an electric signal. Additionally, transistors can also be used to amplify electronic signals. A transistor is similar to a mechanical relay except without any moving parts.

Integrated Circuit (IC)

An integrated circuit is a circuit that’s been reduced in size to fit inside a tiny chip. This circuit contains electronic components like resistors and capacitors but on a much smaller scale. Each pin on an IC is unique in terms of it’s function.

electronic_components_integrated_circuit

Relay

A relay is an electrically operated switch that opens or closes when power is applied. Inside a relay is an electromagnet which controls a mechanical switch.