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Glossary

Breadboard

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A solderless breadboard is a plastic box full of metal strips, with a grid of holes on top, used to build and test circuits quickly.

Capacitor

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A capacitor is a component that is used to store an electric charge. It consists of one or more pairs of conductors separated by an insulator. Capacitance is measured in FARads.

Electrolytic capacitors are polarized, with a positive and negative lead.

Ceramic capacitors aren't polarized.

Current

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Current (I) is the flow of electrical charge. It is measured in amperes.

Diode

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A diode is a component with two leads that allows current to flow in only one direction, blocking the flow in the other direction.

Frequency

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Frequency is the number of cycles per unit of time, such as number of cycles per second. It is measured in Hertz.

Ground

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Ground in electronics refers to reference voltage of zero potential.

Integrated Circuit

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An integrated circuit combines multiple electronic circuit on a layer of semiconductor material.

Light Emitting Diode(LED)

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An LED is a diode that emits light when a voltage is applied to it.

Photo Resistor

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A photo-resistor is a resistor that decreases its resistance when exposed to light.

Potentiometer

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A potentiometer is a variable resistor, the resistance of which can be changed by turning a knob or screw.

Resistance

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Resistance (R) refers to a material's opposition to the flow of electrons. It is measured in OHMS.

Resistor

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A resistor is a component that limits the flow of electrical current in an electrical circuit.

Schematic

A schematic is a diagram of an electrical circuit. It shows the path that current will follow. The layout does not necessarily map to the physical layout of the circuit components.

Switch

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A switch is a device that makes or breaks a connections in an electric circuit.

Transistor

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A transistor is a component used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power.

Voltage

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Voltage(V) is a measure of electrical potential. It is measured in volts.

Wavelength

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Wavelength is the distance between corresponding points in cycles of a waveform.

Credits + Acknowledgements

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Sean Michael Ragan Author

A longtime contributor to Make: and author of the Popular Science book The Total Inventor's Manual (2017).

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Jody Culkin Illustrator

Artist and teacher. Jody is currently a professor at CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College in the Media Arts and Technology Department.

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Maker-written books designed to inform and delight!


This workshop is adapted from the How to Use a Breadboard! book and kit, with additions from Make: Electronics 2nd Edition — all available from Maker Media.

The intro photograpgh used for Core Concepts is by Thomas Kelly on Unsplash.

How to Use a Breadboard

Are you ready to build your first electronic circuit? Let's get started then.

Here you'll find instructions for completing 6 circuits. The best way to learn about making is to do it yourself. First, forage for the supplies listed and then get ready to follow along with the illustrations, step by step, so that you can replicate the desired results.

This workshop is adapted from the How to Use a Breadboard! book and kit, with additions from Make: Electronics 2nd Edition — all available from Maker Media. Buy the book and get instructions for four additional challenging circuits; the kit includes the book and all the supplies you need to build all the circuits.

Electronics
Beginner
approx. 8 hours

Master the Concepts


Up Next!

The Breadboard