Short Topical Videos
- Horowitz & Hill, The Art of Electronics, 2nd Ed., Ch. 1
where is voltage, measured in Volts (), with typical values ranging from (into an oscilloscope) to (power lines, severe arcing danger); is current, measured in Amperes (), typical values ranging from (relatively safe for bench-top work) to (very dangerous); is resistance, measured in Ohms (), typical values ranging from (power resistors dissipating a lot of power) to (almost a no-connect).
A typical (330) resistor
A resistor resists the flow of electrons, such that a potential (i.e. voltage) is required to produce a current, as described by Ohm’s Law above. If we imagine electric current flowing as water, a resistor would be a narrow pipe. The higher the resistance, the narrower the pipe, and the harder you will have to push to get a liter-per-second of water through it. As per all electronic components, resistors dissipate energy as heat according to the equation:
Resistors in Series
Resistors in series add because, in the pipe analogy used above, all the water has to go through all of the pipes, and they all contribute drag:
Resistors in series
Resistors in Parallel
Resistors in parallel add reciprocally. In the pipe analogy, water has a choice of which pipe to flow through, and the bulk of the water will be carried by the widest pipe (or for electrons, the lowest-value resistor). Having more paths to choose from will always always reduce drag, but a thin straw next to a firehose isn’t going to do much:
Resistors in parallel
Reading Resistor Values
Color band locations on resistors
Resistor values are often encoded on the component using colors. For determining the value of a resistor in Ohms, place the component with the triplet of color bands on the left side, and then read from left to right. For the resistor above, we have red-violet-green.
Matching colors to values
Match each color with a digit using the chart above (I remember it as "black, brown, ROYGBIV, grey, white", where ROYGBIV is, of course, rainbow ordering). The first two color bands are a two-digit number (e.g. 27 for red-violet above), and the third number is a power-of-ten multiplier (e.g. for green above). Hence the resistor red-violet-green resistor above is a resistor.