An electronic circuit in its most basic form is a pathway for electronics to flow to and from a power source. Along the way, the electrons can flow through a wide variety of different components that allow your electronics to work exactly how they need to. Today, many circuits are printed on circuit boards. Circuit boards in Illinois still allow the electrons to flow, but are more condensed and stable than wiring. Let’s examine the various components and parts that frequently make up circuits.
· Circuit Board – The circuit board is where the circuits reside. It is typically made of a non-conductive substrate on which the conductor is printed. Other components are then connected to the board in the appropriate places to complete the circuit.
· Resistor – A resistor is an electrical component that “resists” the flow of electrons. It is used to limit how much electricity can flow through the circuit. This is necessary for components that would quickly burn up if they had unlimited access to power.
· Capacitor – A capacitor is similar to a battery, but with a much more limited supply of power. A capacitor can charge and discharge very quickly, which makes it helpful when large amounts of power are required quickly. Additionally, a capacitor can be used to smooth out the flow of power by absorbing any surges in the flow of electricity.
· Transistor – These components of a circuit are the trickiest to explain. Essentially, a transistor is able to switch from being a conductor to being an insulator based on the amount of electricity flowing into it from a third connection. This allows the circuit to be controlled without the need for a physical switch to complete or disconnect the circuit. Transistors are the foundation of amplifiers and microchips. All of our electronic devices would not function without transistors.
· Inductor – An inductor is a coil of wire. Sometimes they are wrapped around a solid core and sometimes they are not. You can easily make one by winding some wire around a pencil or nail. The strength of an inductor is directly related to the number of coils it has. The more coils it has, the stronger the inductor is. They are frequently used as filters to make sure the electricity flowing through the circuit is smooth to prevent damage to components down the line. They store excess energy in a magnetic field.
· Integrated Circuit – An integrated circuit is essentially a premade circuit designed for a specific purpose. Rather than being on a large board, the components are shrunk down into a small chip that can be easily placed on your circuit board. They can be used for just about everything: microchips, amplifiers, converters and much, much more.
There are a large variety of components that can be used in a circuit. Each one serves a specific purpose to make your circuit perform exactly how you want it to. Some other examples of components include variable resistors, diodes, transducers, sensors, antennas, and many more. These parts all work together to allow our electronics to work exactly how we want them to.