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Electro-technologies Safety:

Personal Protection​:

When working in the electrical\electronics field, there are safety precautions a person
must take when working with electricity:
a) Shock:
The most common safety concern is shocks. These can range from a mild "buzz"
felt when contacting an electrical source to deaths caused by higher electrical
currents. Since everybody has a different tolerance to shock, it is not a good
idea to experience a shock and expect to survive it just because someone else
has. Devices used to protect people from serious shock include: receptacle
protectors which cover outlets so that things cannot be put in them; ground fault
current interrupters that trip a receptacle or circuit if it detects an abnormal
current flow; and isolating transformers which limit the amount of current that
can be used to a level that would not be serious if there was a shock hazard.
b) Burns:
When soldering, the circuit components and the soldering irons and guns can get
very hot. The soldering irons must be set on their stands to keep the tips from
burning the counter. This will also hold them in place so that they will not move
and burn you.
c) Chemicals:
Liquids: There are a number of chemicals used when constructing a circuit
board. When developing a circuit board, care must be taken not to spill developer
on skin. It is a mild corrosive and also readily absorbed into the body. Etchant for
removing copper off a circuit board is a strong corrosive substance (ferric
chloride). Rubber gloves must be used when working with developer and etchant.
Tongs are used to put a circuit board into these chemicals as well as to remove
the circuit boards from the chemicals.
Solder: Care must also be taken with the solder used because it is made several
elements with an acid core (centre). Take care not to have your eyes or open
wounds exposed to the acid when soldering. Eye protection must be worn.
D) Fumes:
Chemicals give off a very small amount of fumes and are not a danger as long as

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they are not inhaled for prolonged periods. When soldering, the solder used is a
mixture of elements with a mild acid flux in the middle of the solder. When the
solder is heated, it melts and fumes are given off which we avoid. Make sure you
work in a well-ventilated area so that you will not inhale these fumes. The lead
could accumulate in your body over a period of time leading to chemical
Electrical Fundamentals:

Normally open and normally closed:

Normally open and normally closed are used when describing switches or contacts. If a
switch or contact is called normally open, in its resting state with nothing acting on it, the
points (parts which electricity flow through) are not touching. This means no electricity
can flow through it. If a switch or contact is normally closed, then the switch or contact
needs something acting on it to stop the flow of electricity.
Normally Normally
open closed

Circuit Protection:
Just as in personal safety, we must pay attention to the safety of our electrical devices.
Too much electricity will destroy parts (components). There are four main devices that
are used to protect circuits: fuses, breakers, surge protection, and under voltage
protective systems.

A fuse is a device which has a wire
in it designed to melt when too
much current passes through. A
fuse is selected so that the wire in
the fuse melts before any
components in the circuit can be

It is important that a circuit protected by a fuse be checked for problems before

electricity is allowed to pass through the circuit again. It can be very dangerous to
equipment and personal safety if a fuse larger than the size specified is used. Fuses are
not reusable.

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A breaker is a device also used to protect a circuit
from too much electricity. A breaker has a metal
strip in it that the electricity flows through. If too
much electricity flows through this piece of metal,
it will heat up and bend. When it bends, one end
of the metal strip will disconnect so that the
electricity cannot flow any more. After the strip
cools down, the breaker can be reset and
electricity will flow through it again. Breakers are

Where We Get Our Electricity From:

Electricity can be either static or current.

Static electricity is produced in nature by lightning or by friction (rubbing two items

together such as your feet rubbing on carpet). Though we get a shock from this type of
electricity it cannot be used to power our appliances. It is also very unpredictable and
not stable. Static electricity generally runs on the surfaces of objects.

Current electricity is man-made electricity that can be made to flow through wires. It is
controllable and we can predict what will happen when we use it. There is a wide range
of sources for our electricity, but the three most common sources are power plants,
batteries, and solar cells.

Power Plants:

Power plants provide us with the

electricity we use to power our lights and
run appliances in homes and other
buildings such as hospitals and schools.

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This type of electricity is called ​alternating current (AC)​. Alternating current is
produced using generators using magnetism to force the electricity to move along a
wire. A generator is an electricity pump. If we use an oscilloscope (a machine that
allows us to see what sound, light, and electrical waves look like) to see what
alternating current looks like, it would be a sine wave. A sine wave is a curved line that
has the same pattern over and over. This line represents how the voltage is constantly
changing from a maximum positive to a maximum negative voltage. The electricity we
get from the power company has a current that flows through the wires in one direction
and then in the opposite direction. This is repeated 60 times a second or 60 cycles per
second. This is called the frequency.

In order to transmit electricity efficiently over great distances to our towns and cities, the
voltage is raised to a high level (usually around 400 000 volts). This high voltage is
"stepped down" for industry to between 400 and 600 volts to run larger electric motors
and to 240 volts for residential use. Our electric ranges and dryers use 240 volts but the
rest of our appliances like microwave ovens and computers use 120 volts. The device
that is used to reduce (step down) the voltage carried by the power lines is called a
transformer. The transformer has a connection in it so that we can also have a 120-volt
supply in our homes. The outlet receptacles (plug-ins) in our homes as well as our lights
are all 120 volts.

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A Typical Distribution System 

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A cell is a device that uses a chemical

reaction to produce the electricity. Most cells
produce 1.5 - 2 volts. A cell produces ​direct
current (DC)​. This means that the electrical
flow is the same (constant) all the time. It
does not change like alternating current. A
battery is a group of cells put together to
give us more electricity. A 9-volt battery
actually has 6 small 1.5-volt cells inside it to
give the 9 volts.
Positive contact

carbon rod

magnesium DRY CELL

negative contact

terminals WET CELL

Lead plate sets (6 sets produce 2+ volts each)


Electrolyte liquid


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Solar Cells:
A solar cell converts light energy into electrical energy. Generally, the larger a solar cell,
the more electricity it can produce. Solar cells can be used for providing electricity for
homes and recreational vehicles, powering remote sensors, or as a power source for
personal consumer electronics. Solar cells can be connected together so that you can
get the voltage you need to power your electronic devices.

Direct current flows in one direction. Cells have a positive (+) and a negative (-) end.
These positive and negative ends are the polarity of the cell.

Alternating current has polarity but it alternates or switches 60 times a second. This is
why we do not have to worry about plugging in an appliance backwards. The word
alternate means changing back and forth. This is the reason alternating current is called
this. From the graph drawn for AC you can see that the polarity is continuously
changing or alternating.

Voltage and Continuity:

Voltage is used to measure pressure. The pressure being measured is the force needed
to move electricity along a wire. These pressures differ with different sources. A battery
has a voltage or pressure of 1.5 volts whereas household voltage is 120 volts, and the
pressure or voltage used when transmitting electricity over power lines can be as high
as 238 000 volts. Keep in mind that the voltage in a cell (battery) is DC and the voltage
in our houses is AC

A multimeter can measure voltage in volts, resistance (opposition to electrical flow) in

ohms, and current (amount of electricity flowing) in amps.
The multimeter is set on DC volts if measuring direct current and AC volts if measuring
alternating current. This measurement is used to check parts of circuits to see if the
electricity is flowing through it, as it should. If you take a voltage reading and it is 0, you
can, by the process of elimination, find the problem in a circuit.

Analogue Multimeter

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A continuity tester is a type of voltage detector. If there is a
voltage, a light will glow giving a visual indication that there is a
voltage in that part of the circuit. Continuity testers are used when
it does not matter what the voltage reading is. The most common
uses for continuity testers are in logic circuits (where you are just
concerned whether parts of the circuit are on or off) or
automobiles (where the voltage should always be the same). 
A continuity tester looks like a screwdriver with a light in the
handle and a wire coming out of the end of the handle. The wire is attached to a ground
point (such as the negative terminal of a battery). The point or probe end is placed at
different points in the circuit to detect voltages. If the lamp does not light, then you will
know there is no voltage where you put the point of the continuity tester.

Measuring Voltage, Current, Resistance, and Continuity

Each of these values can be measured in order to determine if a circuit or parts of it are
operating correctly.
a) To measure voltage in a circuit, the circuit must be powered on.
b) Select a voltage scale that is the next higher scale than what you expect the
voltage to be.
c) Place the multimeter
probes across the part
of the circuit to be

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a) To measure current, the circuit
must be powered on.
b) Select a current scale that is the
next higher scale than what you
expect the current to be.
c) Open the circuit and place the
multimeter probes between the
open points in the circuit.

a) To measure resistance, the circuit
must be powered ​off​.
b) Select a resistance scale that is the
next higher scale than what you
expect the resistance to be.
c) Place the multimeter probes across
the device you are measuring. The
device should be removed from the
circuit to avoid having the circuit
affect the value.

A continuity test is related to
measuring resistance. It is used to
check to see if circuit board trace or
solder joints are conductive (allow
electrons to flow) or to see if there are
shorts (parts connected that shouldn’t
a) To check continuity, set the
multimeter to a low resistance
b) Place the probes across the
points to be checked. If you are

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checking to see if a circuit board trace or solder is good, the reading should be
close to 0. If there is a break or bad solder joint, the reading will be very high or
the multimeter will show a ‘1’ on the far left of the display. If you are checking for
shorts, place the probes across where you think there is a short. If the multimeter
goes to 0, then you have a short. If the multimeter gives a very high reading or a
‘1’ on the far left of the display, then there is no short.

Circuit Fundamentals:
Schematic and Parts Placement Diagrams:
There are many types of components used in electrical and electronic circuits. In order
to build a circuit, you must know both what the components look like as well as what
their schematic (graphic) symbol is. When you get plans for a circuit that you want to
build, a schematic diagram is given to show how the components in the circuit are to be
connected. This diagram uses graphic symbols to show the components. These are
much easier to draw than what the actual component looks like. Parts placement
diagrams use pictures (usually photos) to show where the components go when you are
putting the components on the circuit board.

Component Schematic Description

Slows electron flow

Potentiometer (varistor) Adjustable resistor

Cell Electron pump

Battery More than one cell

Ceramic Capacitor Stores electrons

Electrolytic Capacitor Stores many electrons


Diode Allow electrons to flow one-way only

LED A diode that lights up

Ground Connects to earth or a return path to the

negative side of a cell/battery
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Switch    Turn circuit on or off.

Coil (Inductor) Electron shock absorber

Transformer Changes voltage up or down. Also used to
isolate circuits

Transistor: NPN Electronic switch. Requires connection to

a small positive electron at the base to
activate it.

Transistor: PNP Electronic switch. Requires connection to

ground at the base to activate it.

CHIP (Integrated circuit) An electronic circuit in a package, such as

a timer circuit (555) or ATmega328P
(microcontroller in the Arduino Nano)
Op-Amp (Operational Amplifier circuit in a CHIP

Control Circuits:

A control circuit is a circuit that is used to control something. You may use it to control a
bell, lights, a motor, or just about any other device. One example of a control circuit is
the doorbell houses use or a thermostat for a furnace.

There are two main types of control circuit:

1. A detector circuit: uses devices like temperature detectors (thyristor), switches, or
heat detectors to turn on some electrical device such as a buzzer.
An example of this type of circuit would be a burglar alarm where if a door is opened,
contacts (a type of switch) detect the door opening and the circuit then turns on a siren.
In this circuit, when the switch
closes, the buzzer will sound.

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2. An electro-mechanical circuit: uses a magnetic device to switch on another circuit or
device. An example of this type of circuit is a furnace thermostat. The thermostat needs
24 volts to operate. When the thermostat turns on, the 24 volts is used to turn on a relay
(a type of electro-mechanical switch) that allows 120 volts to flow to the motor to turn it

mechanism high voltage for furnace motor

low voltage furnace motor

(24 volts) (120 volts)
for thermostat

Relay Circuit for Controlling a Furnace Motor

How Electro-Mechanical Devices Work

Electro-mechanical devices are machines that use electricity to make an electromagnet

work, or ones that use a magnetic device to make electricity.

How Electricity Makes an

Electromagnet Work
Wrapping many turns of wire
around an iron core makes an
electromagnet. When the ends of
the wire are connected to a
battery, electricity is made to flow
through the wire. Any time
electricity is made to flow through
iron-based metal, something called flux is created. This flux
is nothing more than a mini magnet created around a wire. If
we have a whole bunch of wire wound around an iron rod,
then all the flux or mini magnets in each wind of wire add up
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to make one big magnet. If one wire makes a very small magnet, then the more winds
of wire we put on the iron rod, the stronger our magnet will become.
How a Solenoid Works
A solenoid is an electromagnet with a hollow
iron core. A smaller iron rod (called a plunger)
that fits through the hollow core is placed inside.
When electricity is connected to the
electromagnet, the plunger will jump. If you
reverse the electricity on the electromagnet, the
plunger will jump in the opposite direction. This
is how most doorbells work. If you take the
cover off your doorbell and watch the little
plungers while someone presses the doorbell,
you can see the plunger jump to hit the bar that
makes the sound.

How a Relay Works

A relay is an electro-mechanical device that allows you to control one circuit with
another. A relay is built around an electromagnet. Two metal pieces (called points) are
attached so that the ends are a little ways apart from each other and the points are not
touching anywhere else. Wires are then attached to the points and lead to another
circuit not connected to the electromagnet circuit. The new circuit must be attached to a
supply (120 volts for a furnace motor) and to whatever is to be controlled (such as a
furnace motor). When the electromagnet is connected to a battery, the electromagnet
pulls down one of the points so that it touches the other point and now electricity can
flow (the 120 volts) to the motor so that it will start. Relays are used because smaller
wires can be run to the thermostat. These smaller wires are much less expensive than
the bigger wires needed for the furnace motor. This not only saves money, but also
conserves the copper needed to make wire.

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A De-energized Relay An Energized Relay

How a Transformer Works

A transformer is basically two electromagnets wrapped around the same iron core. In a
transformer, we do not really care about the strength of the electromagnet created. The
flux created in the wire connected to the battery (this is called the primary winding or
simply primary) in the electromagnet will create flux in the other wire (this is called the
secondary winding or just secondary) wrapped around the iron core. The primary will
then be able to supply electricity to another circuit connected to the secondary. The
number of times that the primary and secondary are wrapped around the iron core will
determine what the voltage will be for the circuit connected to the secondary. If we have
twice as many primary windings as secondary windings, then the voltage for the
secondary will be half as much as the voltage connected to the primary windings. If we
have twice as many secondary windings as primary windings, then the voltage will be
twice as high as the voltage connected to the primary windings. When the secondary
voltage is smaller than the primary voltage, we call this a step-down transformer. When
the voltage of the secondary will be higher than the voltage of the primary, we call this a
step-up transformer.

Note the two windings wound around the iron core.

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How a Magnetic Strip Works
A magnetic strip is a thin plastic tape that has a magnetic
coating applied to it. The tape is passed by a coding and/or
decoding head. The tape head, as it is called, produces
electrical pulses that magnetize the tape in a pattern. This
pattern can then be run by a receiving tape head where the
magnetic tape induces a small electrical signal in the tape head.
This is amplified and then either decoded for data or run
through an audio processing circuit to produce sound. 

8-track audio tape Cassette audio tape

How a Speaker Works

A speaker is a specialized solenoid. A movable diaphragm
is attached to a magnet. The plunger has a voice coil
wrapped around it. When electrical pulses are sent to the
speaker the voice coil induces a magnetic field that makes
the movable magnet vibrate. This back and forth
movement has varying force, matching the pulses in the
voice coil. The magnet in the speaker moves the
diaphragm in concert with the electrical pulses fed through
the voice coil. The attached diaphragm moves air. The
pulses in the air create movement in our eardrums which our brain interprets as sound.

How a Moving Magnetic Pickup Works

These are used in record players. A needle rides in the grooves that are pressed into
the vinyl records. The grooves in the record are not smooth. As a result, the needle
moves back and forth with these undulations in the groove. The needle is attached to a
magnet which moves through a coil of wire. When the magnet moves through a coil of
wire, it generates a small electrical pulse in the coil. This is then amplified and
connected to a speaker to produce the air waves that we interpret as sound. 

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How a Generator Works
A generator works by using a prime
mover to move a coil of wire through a
magnetic field. This results in an
electrical current being induced in the
coil. This current is alternating. The
majority of electricity we use in our
buildings is produced this way. A prime
mover is whatever turns the generator.
The most popular prime movers are
water pressure, steam, and wind. In
this way, rotational energy is
transformed into electrical energy.

How a Motor Works

The principle of motor operation is
basically the opposite of a generator. For
motor operation, the electrical current in a
coil of wire that is wrapped around the rotor
of a motor (the middle part that turns)
creates magnetism in the rotor. The stator
(the outside part of the motor that doesn’t
turn has magnets mounted around the
rotor. The rotor is designed so that the
property of like magnetic poles repelling
each other is used so that this repulsion is
used to spin the rotor. In this way, electrical energy is transformed into rotational

Cable and Connector Fundamentals:

There is a wide range of cables designed to perform specific functions. Cables can be
divided into two main groups. These are as follows:
1. ​Power cables​ that supply electricity to devices. These would
include electrical transmission lines, electrical wiring in buildings,
and extension and power cords for appliances such as power tools,
hair dryers, or computers. The size these cables must be is
dictated by the electrical code for the jurisdiction where the
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installation is to take place.
2. ​Communications cable​ that is used to carry signals such as voice, computer data,
and pictures. These cables would include telephone line, fibre optic cable, and co-axial
cable used to carry television signals.


Extension and appliance power cords:

These cables are used to transfer the electricity from the wall outlet to the appliance.
This wire is usually 14 to 18 gauges, with 18 gauge being the thinnest. Appliance cord
has two wires (called conductors) to carry the electrical current and sometimes a third
bare wire for grounding (to protect from shock). The conductors are usually stranded
wire. This means that the wire is made up of a whole bunch of small wires twisted
together to make the bigger conductor wire. The conductors are made this way so that
they will be more flexible. The connections for appliance power cords are solderless.
There are many different types of solderless connection. See the list below in the
‘Solderless Connectors’ section.

Audio patch cords:

Patch cords for audio systems transfer the sound signals along wires to get the sound
from one component to another. For example, a CD player will produce a signal (the
sound produced) that is sent along patch cords to an amplifier to make the signal
stronger (louder) and then patch cords will carry the signal to the speakers so that you
will hear the music. Patch cords to connect stereo components together use connectors
referred to as RCA connectors. The wires from the conductor are soldered onto the
RCA connector.

Communication cable:
Communication cable is another name for any cable that carries data signals. An
example of these types of data signals would be computer information (modem) or
voice (telephone) transmissions. This type of cable usually comes into our home in a

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4-conductor set. A special installation tool is used to fasten on the connectors used to
make extension cords.

CATV cable:
This type of cable carries communication signals such as internet
and cable television. This cable consists of a solid wire in the
core, some insulation, a stranded wire or foil wrap and then an
outer insulation cover. The foil wrap is used to eliminate
interference from our cable TV signal. Connectors are most easily
put on this cable by first stripping back about 12 mm of outer insulation. Slit the foil or
stranded wire and fold back over the insulation. Slit the inner insulation off the inner
conductor leaving about 2 mm of the inner insulation. Next press and turn on the
connector until it is tight against the outer insulation shoulder. There is another type of
connector that requires a special crimping tool, so it is more economical to use the twist
on connectors.

Connecting Cables
There are two main ways of making electrical connections. These are soldered and
solderless connectors.

Types of Solderless connectors:

A solderless connection is used whenever you may need to take apart the connection or
when there may be a lot of movement in a wire. In extension and appliance cords, since
they are moved often the connections must be solderless.
There are several types of solder less connection that are commonly used:

● Crimp connectors:​ These connectors are available in a

wide variety of shapes. They allow for connecting cables
without the need of a solder iron and can be completed

● Wire nuts:​ These are used extensively in the

building construction industry to attach wires. The
ends of the wire are stripped and then the wire
nut is twisted over the wires that are twisted
together. The cover of the wire nut is plastic and
insulates the wires.
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● Terminal screws:​ These are found most often on

appliances and cords attached to appliances. A terminal
screw squeezes the stripped end of a piece of wire to
hold the wire on and make the electrical connection. The
wire on a terminal screw must always have the strands
twisted together. The loop made on the wire to go
around the screw must always be made in a clockwise direction or the wire will
not stay tucked under the terminal screw when it is tightened.

Types of Soldered connections:

Soldered connections are now used almost exclusively on circuit boards to attach
When attaching cables soldered connections are rarely used. Solderless connectors
that are much faster than soldering and are just as good electrically have replaced
There are instances when one might want to splice power cable. These splices are not
used as much since the development of solder less connectors but are still used in
industry to make permanent connections. Below are some types of splice that can be
used. These are usually soldered and then wrapped with electrical tape to insulate
● Pigtail:​ These are used most often in building wiring. The
insulation on the wires is stripped and then they are twisted
together. Usually a wire nut is used over top of this
connection to keep the wires together and insulate them.
The wires joined like this are either both solid or both
stranded. Mixed wire types cannot be used with this

● Tap:​ A tap is used when a new wire is joined to the middle

portion of an existing wire. The desired amount of
insulation is removed from the existing and tap wire. The
tap wire is wound onto the tap wire in one direction for one
wind and then crossed over and the rest is wound in the opposite direction to
create a strain relief knot.

● Western Union:​ This type of splice

was created by the Western Union
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Company when they used to provide telegraph services. Their lines were strung
beside railway lines. When these broke, they developed this type of splice to
repair the line. This splice allows the line to be repaired in a straight line. The two
wires to be joined have the insulation stripped and then each is bent and hooked
into the other wire, then twisted around itself.
● Fixture splice: This is for joining stranded wire to solid
wire. It is called a fixture splice because it is used to join
the stranded wire of light fixtures to the solid wire in
buildings. The solid wire has insulation stripped from the
end and then it is bent in a 90​0 ​angle. The stranded wire
is stripped and then wound around the end of the solid
wire that is not bent. Once this is complete the bent end of the solid wire is then
squeezed against the stranded wire, trapping it. A wire nut or electrical tape is
then placed over the splice to complete the connection.


Printed circuit boards and small inexpensive components have revolutionized the
electronics industry. A circuit board allows us to install a number of components fairly
close together. Circuit board size has been reduced as components get smaller and
smaller. This also has increased the need for having an organized way of supporting the
small parts and joining them together. A circuit board provides us with a method of
doing this.

Circuit Construction and Connection

There are a number of different ways to connect a circuit. Some are meant to be
permanent while others are used to prototype (try out) a circuit to make sure it works
before making it permanent. We will look at the temporary ways of connecting a circuit
Temporary ways of connecting a circuit:
● Nail and Board:
This is the oldest method of temporarily connecting a
circuit. It was created when​ ​electronics were first
made available to the hobbyist. They needed a way
to hold the components to make a circuit, so they
used nails hammered in a matrix into a cutting
board, hence the name. The component leads were
wound around the nails providing connection points. These are usually big,
bulky, and inexpensive to make.

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● Point-to-point:
If you only have a few components to join together, this
method is inexpensive and quick to make the circuit.
They are usually much smaller than nail and board, but
are prone to shorting. The twisted component ends must
be kept apart. These could get quite difficult to
troubleshoot if there are many components.
● Spring clip:
These were modelled after the nail and board method
of connecting circuits. Instead of using nails and a
wood board, springs mounted on a plastic base were
used. This made connecting components quicker with
better connectivity. These popularized circuit
prototyping when companies created kits with
electronic components and plans to make a wide
range of circuits. These were expensive but very
popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
● Solderless Breadboard:
This is the current method used for
prototyping. These have rows of
holes into​ ​which components are
placed along with wires to test a
circuit. The advantage is that the
circuit built on the breadboard can be changed very easily and also easy to
troubleshoot. This is not a permanent method of constructing a circuit.

Permanent methods of connecting a circuit:

● Point-to-point:
While point-to-point can be used to permanently connect a circuit, it is used most
commonly as an evaluation method. If it is to be used for a permanent
connection, all of the wires must be soldered and insulated to prevent shorts.
● Perf-board:
Also known as perforated circuit board,
this is a flat plastic board with a matrix of
holes drilled in it. Components are
placed in the holes and then the leads of
the components are joined using small
jumper wires and soldering these wires
on. This is usually used only for very simple circuits where you do not want to
make a printed circuit board.
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● Printed circuit board:

This is a permanent method of
making a specific circuit where the
components are soldered on the
board. The printed circuit board has
a trace on it. This trace is little
copper paths that the electricity can
flow along to get from one
component to another. The trace
eliminates the need to make a
bunch of little wire jumpers to get
from one component to another.
Circuit boards can be made two
main ways. The trace that the electricity follows can either be put on the circuit
board by tracing it on using an etch-resist pen (permanent black marker) and
then etching the board. The other common way is by using pre-sensitized circuit
board (coated with a chemical that is sensitive to light, exposing the board to light
that is shining through a clear plastic with the trace on it, developing the circuit
board, and then etching the board.

Ohm’s Law:
Electrical circuits are wonderfully predictable using math, we can gauge what current
will flow in a circuit. This allows us to design circuits knowing how they will function and
be reliable. While there are many mathematical formulas for circuit analysis, the most
basic formula relates voltage, current, and resistance. ​Ohm’s Law​ states:

Voltage (Volts) = Current (Amps) X Resistance (Ohms).

By manipulating the formula, we can find

any value of the three given the other
two. This is very helpful when we are
troubleshooting a circuit that is not
functioning as it should. We can find out
if one or more of the values, and
therefore components are faulty and help pinpoint where the problem is.

Making a Printed Circuit Board

One of the ways of placing the trace onto circuit board is to trace it on using etch
resistant markers. This is very straightforward and will not be dealt with here. Once the
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circuit is traced in this manner, just go down to the ‘Etching the Circuit Board’ procedure
and continue on from there.

The pre-sensitized method​:

In making an electrical circuit, there are two procedures. These are constructing the
circuit board and then mounting the components.

Constructing a printed circuit board:

NOTE:​ The pre-sensitized circuit board is sensitive to light. Do not expose it to light.
You will ruin it.

Putting the circuit trace onto the circuit board:

The following steps are to be completed in the darkroom under safelight conditions:
1) Obtain the clear plastic original (called artwork) with the trace of the circuit you want
to build. Measure this and then add 5mm in each direction.
2) Cut your circuit board out, in the darkroom, slightly larger than this. Your teacher may
have already done this for you.
3) Place the artwork right side up on the exposing table glass.
4) Peel the white vinyl off the circuit board, uncovering the black photo-sensitive
chemical coating one side of the circuit board. This also covers the copper that coats
the circuit board.
5) Place the circuit board, copper side down (the black side that was covered with the
white vinyl), onto the exposing table. Set the timer for the manufacturer’s recommended
time (90 seconds). Lock the lid closed, turn on the exposure table main power switch,
turn on the vacuum, and then turn on the light and expose the circuit board for the
above-mentioned 90 seconds. You can go a few seconds over, but not over 120
seconds, and definitely not under 90 seconds.
6) Using tongs, set the circuit board into the developer. Wait 5 seconds and then start to
brush the developer side of the circuit board lightly until only the trace is left and the rest
of the circuit board is shiny. Take the circuit board out of the developer using the tongs
and rinse well in the tray of clean water. Pat the circuit board dry with a paper towel.
Your circuit board can now be brought into the light.

Etching the circuit board:

1) Warm up the etchant in the etching tank for about 15 minutes before putting your
circuit board in it. HINT: Turn on the etching tank before you expose your circuit
2) 2) Using tongs, place your circuit board in the circuit board holder and place in
the tank. It will take about 20 minutes for your circuit board to etch.
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3) Check it after 10 minutes and turn it upside down if it needs more time to fully
etch and etch for another 10 minutes.
4) Check again and repeat the process in 5 minute intervals until fully etched.
5) When it is done, the only place copper will be left will be where the trace is. Wash
the circuit board off well with water and pat dry. Let the copper harden about 10
6) Drill the holes as shown on the drill guide posted by the drills. Some holes will be
drilled a small (0.033” drill bit) while others will be drilled with 1/32” drill bits.

Mounting components onto the circuit board:

Once the circuit board has been etched, the components can now be placed onto the
board. A drawing called the parts placement diagram shows where the components are
to be put on the board. Devices such as electrolytic capacitors, diodes, transistors, and
SCRs must be installed a certain way in the circuit. The parts placement diagram
usually will show how the part is to be placed. The order that the components are
placed on the board is critical since some of the components are very heat sensitive
and must be soldered carefully.

The order that components should be soldered onto the circuit board is:
a) resistors
b) capacitors
c) coils and transformers
d) chip sockets
e) jumper wires and wires to external devices
f) diodes including LEDs
g) transistors
h) integrated circuits (chips) and operational amplifiers (op-amps)
i) peripheral devices (speakers, switches, plugs, etc.)
The components must be placed on the circuit board with the leads inserted through the
circuit board. In order for the component leads to fit in the holes in the circuit board, they
must be bent.

Bending component leads:

a) Place the component in the middle of the holes the leads are supposed to pass
b) With a pair of needle nose pliers, grab the lead where you want to bend it. Do this for
all component leads.
c) Place the component in the circuit board holes. The leads are on the trace side of the
circuit board and the component itself on the side of the circuit board with no copper
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trace. The leads are bent so that they touch the circuit board trace.
d) Cut the leads so there is only about 3 mm left. The component is then ready to be
soldered to the circuit board.

Properly Bent Component Leads (note sharp bends) Improper Bends

Soldering components:
When soldering all components it is important to remember that a lot of the components
are sensitive to heat. The following procedure will help to protect the components from
too much heat:
1) Preheat the solder iron to 400​0​ Celsius. The light on the solder station will go out
when the pre-set temperature is reached.
2) Clean the solder iron tip in the brass wool and apply a small amount of solder to
the tip of the solder iron. This is called tinning the tip. If solder will not stick to the
tip it needs to be de-oxidized with a file. In this case, gently file the tip until the
dull oxide coating is removed. Immediately apply solder.
3) To solder, apply the solder iron so that it ​touches both the circuit board and the
component​. This is very important as it reduces the risk of cold solder joints. Hold
it there for the count of three before applying the solder.
4) Keeping the solder iron in place, apply the solder so that it touches both the
solder iron and the component. Hold it there for the count of three.
5) Pull the solder away and run the solder iron around the lead(s) being soldered.
6) Place the solder iron back in its holder and check the solder joint. The solder joint
should have a smooth shiny finish to it with the solder covering the component
lead and the solder pad. The solder pad is the little circle through which the hole
is drilled for the component lead. The solder should not look like a ball. If it does,
you either added too much solder or have a cold solder joint. In each of these
cases, reheat the solder joint and use the solder iron to drag the solder along the
copper trace to spread it out and get it to bond to the copper trace.

At times it is necessary to take apart a solder joint. There are a number of products that
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can be used to remove solder from a joint. These include solder suckers that look like
big eyedroppers, a special desolder iron that has a solder sucker mounted on it, or
solder wick. The easiest to use and the most efficient is solder wick. To desolder with
solder wick you:
a) Set the solder iron to 450​0​ Celsius and let the solder iron warm to this
b) Place the solder wick over the component lead to be soldered.
c) Place the solder iron firmly on the solder wick, laying it sideways along the lead
to be de-soldered.
d) Hold the solder iron on the solder wick until you see the solder wick turning a
silver colour. Hold until the silver area on the wick stops expanding.
e) Pull the solder iron and the solder wick away at the same time.
f) Check to see if all the solder is removed. If not repeat steps a) through d) with a
fresh piece of solder wick.
g) Using needle nose pliers, bend the leads straight and pull the component off the
circuit board.