Robotics: Beginners Guide


BASIC ELECTRONICS COMPONENTS Resistors, capacitors, and inductors are basic electrical components used in electronic circuits. Some of the electrical components and their symbols are given in Figure 3. RESISTORS Resistors are components which resist the flow of electronic current. The resistors are mainly used to reduce the voltage applied to other components and to limit the current flowing through other components. The higher the value of the resistance, the lower the current will be. Resistance of a resistor is measured in terms of Ohms (Ω) since the relationship between voltage (V, volts), current (I, Ampere), and resistance (R) is explained by Ohm's law given in equation-1 V=IR (Eq-1)

The most common resistors are made using a carbon rod core with end caps and wire leads. We can categorize resistors into two basic types: fixed and variable resistors (or potentiometers). A fixed resistor is the one which has a fixed resistance value. Variable resistors have variable resistance values. The value of the resistor is often changed by a user by turning a knob or a dial. There are some special resistors designed to change in resistance when heated. They are called Thermistors and are used in temperature measuring circuits. The same idea is also used to design pressure sensors where a membrane is designed to be a resistor. The membrane resistance changes when it is deformed by the pressure in a chamber.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


Figure-3: Common Electrical Components and their Symbols Resistors generate heat and have a wattage rating relating the power level they can handle. The higher the wattage rating the more heat they can dissipate. There are standard wattage ratings such as 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, more watts. In addition to the value and wattage, each resistor has a tolerance regarding their resistance. Standard resistors have 10-20% tolerance but special resistors can have tolerances around 1%. Depending on the application, the proper tolerance rate is chosen. These properties are often marked on the resistors using a color code. Sometimes, they are written on the resistor. Resistor Color Code and Standard Resistor Values Fixed value resistors are color coded to indicate their value and tolerance. Some have their value written on them. There are three color coding systems: a 4 Band code, a 5 Band code, and 6 Band code.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


The standard color coding method for resistors has 10 colors to represent numbers from 0 to 9: black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, grey, and white. The first two bands always represent the significant digits on a 4 band resistor. On a 5 and 6 band, the significant digits are the first three bands. The third band is the multiplier or decade which is multiplied by the resulting value of the significant digit color bands. For example, if the first two bands are brown (1) and orange (3) and the third band is red (2), this means 102 or 100. Then, this gives a value of 13 × 100, or 1300 Ohms. For the decade band, the gold and silver colors are used to divide by a power of 10 and 100 respectively, allowing for values below 10 Ohms. The tolerance of the resistor is represented by the next band. Four colors are used for the tolerance band: brown (+/-1%), red (+/-2%), gold (+/-5%), and silver (+/-10%). For example, if the tolerance band is silver, the true value of the resistor can be 10% more or less than 1300 Ohms. Thus, the actual value of the resistor can be from 1170 to 1430 Ohms. The sixth band on a 6 band resistor reveals the temperature coefficient of the resistor, measured parts per million per degree Centigrade (PPM/C). Seven colors are used for the temperature coefficient: white (1), purple (5), blue (10), orange (15), yellow (25), red (50), and brown (100). The most popular color is brown (100 PPM/C) and will work for normal temperature conditions. The other colors are used for temperature critical applications. Figure-4 represents all the colors and their meaning depending on their location on resistors. Since the sizes of the electronic components are shrinking or changing in shape, it becomes very difficult to put color bands on a resistor. Instead, a simpler alphanumeric coding system is used. This coding system uses three numbers, sometimes followed by a single letter. The numbers play the same role as the first three bands on a 4 band resistor. First two numbers is the significant digits. The third number is the decade. There are five possible letters: M=20%, K=10%, J=5%, G=2%, F=1%. For example, if 473K is written on a resistor array, the 4 and 7 are the significant digits and the 3 is the decade, giving 47 x 1000 or 47000 Ohms. Since the letter is K, the resistor has 10%. The same coding system is also used on the surface mount resistors with SMD package. Since it could be difficult to see text on some components, the letters K, M and R are used in place of the decimal point. The letter K represents 1000, the letter M represents 1000000, and the letter R represents 0. For example, a 3900 Ohm resistor will have 3K9 on the package and a 7.2 Ohm resistor is represented as 7R2. There are seven standards for resistor values: E3, E6, E12, E24, E48, E96, and E192 based on their tolerance levels 50%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 2%, 1%, and less than 0.5% respectively. E3 standard is no longer used. E6 standard is used very seldom. The most used standards are E12 and E24. In the E12 standard, the resistors take all decades of the following values: 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, 2.2, 2.7, 3.3, 3.9, 4.7, 5.6, 6.8 and 8.2 In the E24 standard, the resistors take all decades of the following values: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 2.7, 3.0, 3.3, 3.6, 3.9, 4.3, 4.7, 5.1, 5.6, 6.2, 6.8, 7.5 and 8.2.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


Figure-4: Resistance color codes INDUCTORS An inductor is an electronic component composed of a coil of wire. The magnetic properties of a coil come into effect. When a voltage is applied, a current starts flowing in the coil and a magnetic field is created as shown in Figure 5. While the field is building, the coil resists the flow of the current. Once the field is built, current flows normally. When the voltage is removed, the magnetic field around the coil keeps the current flowing until the field collapses. Thus, the inductor can store energy in its magnetic field, and resist any change in the amount of current flowing through it. The unit of inductance is the Henry (H). In order to increase the inductance, we can use core materials like Soft iron, Silicon iron, etc. The most common type of inductor is the Bar Coil type. The others are surface mount inductors, Toroids (ring-shaped core), thin film inductors, and transformers. The choice of inductor depends on the space availability, frequency range of operation, and certainly power requirements.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


Figure-5: An Inductor and its magnetic field CAPACITOR A capacitor is an energy storing device, made up of two parallel conductive plates separated by an insulating material. This insulating material is called a dielectric. It stores a charge because electrons crowd onto the negative plate and repel electrons on the positive plate, thereby inducing an equal and opposite charge. The unit of the capacitance is Farad (F). However, practical values of a capacitor are in micro and nano Farad ranges. Figure 6 presents an electrolytic capacitor and its symbols.

Figure-6: An Electrolytic capacitor and its symbol There are two different types of capacitors: Electrolytic and Non-electrolytic. Nonelectrolytic capacitors use mica or polyester as dielectric. Electrolytic capacitors use aluminum metal plates on either side of a sheet of paper soaked in aluminum borate. Ceramic capacitors are used in high frequency applications. These are stable at high frequencies. Tantalum bead capacitors are very small in size, thus commonly used as surface mount components. Large capacitors have the value printed plainly on them but smaller ones often have just 2 or three numbers on them. It is similar to the resistor codes. The first two are the 1st and 2nd significant digits and the third is a multiplier code. Sometimes, one or two letters are added for tolerance and temperature coefficient.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


The values calculated using the digits on a capacitor is in pF (pico Farad). For example, if a capacitor has 105F on it, the capacitor has 10× 100,000 = 1000000 pF = 1000 nF (nano Farad) = 1 μ F (micro Farad) value and 1% tolerance. There are two letters used for temperature co efficient: P (+100) and Z (+80). There are other standards such as EIA (Electronic Industrial Association) where there are more letters for a detailed tolerance and temperature coefficients. DIODES Diode is an electrical device allowing current to move through it in one direction with far greater ease than in the other direction. The most common type of diode in modern circuit design is the semiconductor diode. Diodes are polarized, which means that they must be inserted in the correct way. Diodes have two connections: an anode (positive) and a cathode (negative). The cathode is always identified by a dot, ring, or some other mark, shown in Figure 7.

Figure-7: Diodes Diodes are said to be biased, based on the voltages applied to it. To forward bias a diode, the anode must be more positive than the cathode. To reverse bias a diode, the anode must be less positive than the cathode. When forward biased, the device conducts current, but when reverse biased, it prevents the flow of current. Note that diode starts to conduct when the voltage on the diode reaches a certain level (in practice this is about 0.7 Volt). Voltages above this value increase the current going through the diode linearly. On the other hand, if the voltage on the diode is reversed, the diode does not let any current pass through itself. However, if the reverse voltage is increased up to a certain level, the diode can be broken and lets a high current pass through itself. This voltage is called breakdown voltage.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


LIGHT EMITTING DIODE (LED) A light-emitting diode (LED), shown in Figure 8, is a semiconductor device that emits incoherent narrow-spectrum light when electrically biased in the forward direction. The longer leg in the figure is the anode, and the shorter one is the cathode. This effect is a form of electro-luminescence. The color of the emitted light depends on the chemical composition of the material used, and can be near-ultraviolet, visible, or infrared.

Figure-8: Light Emitting Diode (LED) An LED is a special type of semiconductor diode. Like a standard normal diode, it consists of a chip of semiconductor material impregnated (doped) with impurities to create a structure called a p-n junction. Current flows easily from the p-side (anode) to the n-side (cathode). Charge-carriers (electrons and holes) flow into the junction from electrodes with different voltages. When an electron meets a hole, it falls into a lower energy level, and releases energy in the form of a photon as it does so. The light we see from an LED is created by these photons. TRANSISTOR A transistor shown in figure-9, can be initially thought of as an "electronicallycontrolled resistor." Two of the pins act like a normal resistor. The other "control" pin controls the resistance "seen" between the other 2 pins. The "control" pin is called the gate in a Field Effect Transistor (FET) (the other 2 pins are the source and drain). The "control" pin is called the base in a Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT) (the other 2 pins are the emitter and the collector). Two electrical quantities can be used to control the resistance between the two terminals - current and voltage. In a FET, the voltage at the gate controls the resistance between source and drain, while in the BJT, the current flowing into the base controls the resistance between the emitter and collector. While often referred to as an amplifier, a transistor does not create a higher voltage or current of its own accord. Like any other device, it obeys the Kirchoff's laws. The resistance of a transistor dynamically changes, hence the term transistor.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


Figure-9 Transistors One of its popular uses is in building a signal amplifier, but it can also be used as a switch. Today's transistors are mostly found inside ICs. Stand- alone transistors are used mostly only in high power applications or for power- regulation. Both the BJT and the FET are popular today (among the FETs, the MOSFET being the most popular form of transistor), each one having certain advantages over the other. BJTs are much faster and high current devices, while FETs are small-sized lowpower devices. Understanding the function of a transistor is a key to understanding electronics. OPERATIONAL AMPLIFIER One can clearly generalize and say that the field of electronics largely depends upon manipulating with the input signals such as voltage or current to produce desired output. These manipulations include (not limited to) mathematical operations, such as addition, subtraction, integration, and differentiation. In the analog domain, the most common device that is used to perform the above listed operations is the operational amplifiers or op amps. Current applications of operational amplifiers go far beyond simple mathematical operations. Op-amps are used in many control and instrumentation systems to perform various tasks such as voltage regulators, oscillators, logarithmic amplifiers, peak detectors, and voltage comparators. Operational amplifiers have special characteristics due to which they are widely used as predictable building blocks in many circuit designs. Some of these characteristics are as follows: very high gain (10,000 to million), high input resistance (103 to 1015 ohms), small size, low power consumption, good reliability and stability, and last but not the least, low cost of manufacturing. Figure 10 illustrates the standard symbol of an operational amplifier. It consists of two input terminals and one output terminal. The input terminal indicated with minus sign is called the inverting terminal and the other input terminal is called the non-inverting terminal. A signal applied at the inverting terminal and ground appears at the output with a 180o phase shift. Likewise a signal applied at the non-inverting terminal and ground appears at the output with a 0º phase shift.

Robotics: Beginners Guide


Figure-10 Operational Amplifier In the analysis and design of circuits employing op-amps, a simplified circuit model known as ideal op-amp is often used that has the following characteristics. • • • • • Infinite open loop voltage Infinite input resistance The amplifier draws zero current Output resistance is negligible The gain is constant and independent of frequency

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