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This article is being split into components check for duplication prior to updataing. You can find the components at ??


Probably the most basic component, just a hunk of wire ( low resistance ) or a long thin wire ( high resistance ).

When a voltage is applied to the two ends of an object, then a current usually flows through the object. If the object resists the voltage then the current will be small, if it does not then the current will be high. The amount of resistance is, tactfully, called the resistance. It is measured in ohms. ( Note that acting as a resistor is the simplest thing the object can do, there are more complicated behaviors, see capacitor, diodes, inductors, etc. A resistor is pretty much the simplest of electrical components. If almost no current flows we call the object an insulator, if a large current flows we call it a conductor. We often view a wire as a resistor of 0 ohms and an insulator as a resistor of infinite ohms. The key equation for a resistor is:


where I = current ( unit: amperes, amps ) V = voltage ( unit: volts ) R = resistance ( unit: ohms = volts per amp )

List of standard 1% resistors. If you want 1% resistors, you must pick from this list or you will pay a fortune for the resistor, assuming you can ever get it. Interpret these numbers as the "mantissa" of the value. You can multiply the value by anything from 0.01 to about 100,000.

100 102 105 107 110 113 115 118 121 124 127 130 133 137 140 143 147 150 154 158 162 165 169 174 178 182 187 191 196 200 205 210 215 221 226 232 237 243 249 255 261 267 274 280 287 294 301 309 316 324 332 340 348 357 365 374 383 392 402 412 422 432 442 453 464 475 487 499 511 523 536 549 562 576 590 604 619 634 649 665 681 698 715 732 750 768 787 806 825 845 866 887 909 931 953 976


  • current limiting:

Putting a resistor in a circuit, usually in series with another component it will reduce the current in the circuit, this is often useful to protect the other component. Very common to limit the current in a LED. current sense: When a resistor is in series with a circuit the voltage across it will vary with the current ( ohms law ) Sometimes we do this with a low value of resistance and use the voltage across the resistor to measure or control the current.

  • Isolation :

A resistor between but connecting 2 components will tend to equalize their voltage, but only using small currents. It the components “want to go there own way, voltage wise” all they need do is put out a small current. For example people will sometimes ground themselves through a 10 mega ohm resistor. This tends to bring them to ground voltage, but they are protected from a deadly shock because most voltages cannot push a lethal current through 10 megs.

  • pull up or pull down:

Sometimes a component will have a very high resistance to both the positive and negative side of the power supply and the voltage can easily drift around due to more or less random events. Under these conditions we will often connect a resistance ( typically around 10 K ohms ) to either the positive or negative side of the power supply. If to the positive side it is called a pull up resistor, if to the negative side a pull down resistor.

  • voltage divider:

A voltage divider takes some voltage as an input and has an output that is some fraction of the input ( from 0 to 1 ) A volume control is usually some sort of voltage divider.


  1. All about resistors
  2. Components: Resistors
  3. Resistor From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Pull-up resistor From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  5. Voltage divider rule From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  6. Electronics and radio components see section on Resistors


The most common found resistor is the carbor film. Theses are generally the cheapest and most used in devices. The commonly are designed to withstand 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 watts of power. Much more information on carbon film resistors.

Metal Film[edit]

The resistive material is a thin metal film in which a spiral is cut to produce the desired resistance, see metal film resistors


The resistive material is wire, typically wound on a bobbin. Useful for cheap and accurate resistance, but has significant inductance compared to film resistors. Some may be wound in one direction, others half in one direction half in the other, this second method reduces but does not entirely eliminate the inductance. Very common in the range of 5 watts and up. Beware of these for use.


Accurate to 1% of marked value or better. In the old days even a 5% resistor was considered precision.

FET as a Variable Resistor[edit]

FETs can be used as a variable resitor over some of the gate voltages -- I think. This clearly needs more work.


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A Potentiometer is a resistor that has a third connection somewhere between the two main terminals. This connection is movable and if put at one end of the resistor will have no resistance between that end of the resistor and the full resistance to the other end. By moving the connection ( sometimes called a tap ) we can control the resistance to each end of the pot, but the sum of the two resistances always equals the total resistance of the potentiometer. A potentiometer is often used as a sort or adjustable voltage divider. There is an electriclly adjustable version: Digital_Potentiometers


  • Adjustable voltage divider.
  • Volume control.
  • Variable resistor ( sometimes used when the correct value of resistance is not know or available, then the pot is use: it is adjusted, perhaps just once, after the circuit is built – to “tweak” the circuit into operating correctly.
  • Trim or 0 adjustment

External Links

Types of pots:[edit]

One set of classifications overlap with resistors (resistive material, precision, power dissapation ), others like number of turns and purpose differ from resistors.


Small pots, typically mounted on a circuit board to make fine adjustments to a circuit. Typically changed only when the device is built and then cemented in place, or adjusted when the circuit is serviced.

10 Turn[edit]

Often precision with special dials to give a wide range of adjustability with calibrated results. Sometimes found in trim pots.

Digital Pots[edit]

Accept digital signals to control a solid state pot. Programmable Potentiometers

Laboratory Pots[edit]

These are very fancy pots, typically precision 10 turn mounted in a box with other auxiliary components. Often used with a standard cell to measure voltages precisely. I think they have be largely superceded by modern devices.