Learn Engineering Hobbyist Hardware

Lesson 1: Hardware Components For Hobbyist Engineering

Hardware refers to the physical components required in a project. There are numerous basic electronic components that are used for building electronic circuits. Without these components, circuit designs are never complete or didn’t function well. This can be classified into two major categories: Electronic components and Tools.
1: Electronic hobbyist components
a) Transistors
Before the development of a Transistor, the critical and important component of an electronic device was a vacuum tube; it is an electron tube used to control electric current. It tubes worked but they are bulky, require higher operating voltages, high power consumption, yield lower efficiency, and cathode electron-emitting materials are used up in operation.

A transistor is basically a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit.
A transistor is a three-terminal device. Namely,
I. Base: This is responsible for activating the transistor.
II. Collector: This is the positive lead.
III. Emitter: This is the negative lead.

The basic idea behind a transistor is that it lets you control the flow of current through one channel by varying the intensity of a much smaller current that’s flowing through a second channel.

b) Resistors
A resistor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element. In electronic circuits, resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, to divide voltages, bias active elements, and terminate transmission lines, among other uses. A Resistor works on the principle of Ohm’s law and the law states that the voltage across the terminals of a resistor is directly proportional to the current flowing through it. The unit of resistance is Ohm.
There are different types of resistors available in the market with diverse ratings and sizes. This includes:
 Metal film resistors
 Wire wound resistors
 Thick film and Thin film resistors
 Network and Surface Mount Resistors
 Variable Resistors
 Special resistors

c) Capacitors
A capacitor is a device that stores electric charge in an electric field. It is a passive electronic component with two terminals. The effect of a capacitor is known as capacitance. While some capacitance exists between any two electrical conductors in proximity in a circuit, a capacitor is a component designed to add capacitance to a circuit.
Types of capacitors:
 Electrolytic Capacitor
 Mica Capacitor
 Paper Capacitor
 Film Capacitor
 Non-Polarized Capacitor
 Ceramic Capacitor

In its basic form, a capacitor consists of two or more parallel conductive (metal) plates which are not connected or touching each other, but are electrically separated either by air or by some form of a good insulating material such as waxed paper, mica, ceramic, plastic or some form of a liquid.

d) Micro-controllers
Micro-controller is a compressed microcomputer manufactured to control the functions of embedded systems in office machines, robots, home appliances, motor vehicles, and a number of other gadgets.

They are essentially simple miniature personal computers (PCs) designed to control small features of a larger component, without a complex front-end operating system (OS). A micro-controller is comprising components like – memory, peripherals and most importantly a processor.

e) Sensors
Sensors are devices, modules, machines, or subsystems whose purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment and send the information to other electronics, frequently a computer processor. A sensor is always used with other electronics. Sensors can be basically classified into analogue sensors and digital sensors. But there are a few types of sensors such as temperature sensors, IR sensors, ultrasonic sensors, pressure sensors, proximity sensors, and touch sensors are frequently used in most electronics applications.

f) Actuators
An actuator is a component of a machine that is responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system, for example by opening a valve. In simple terms, it is a “mover”. An example is a motor that converts energy into torque which then moves or controls a mechanism or a system into which it has been incorporated. It can introduce motion as well as prevent it.

g) Communication modules
The Communication Module (CMM) is responsible for the exchange of data between different components of a system such a robot. This includes both wired; LAN and wireless communication; Bluetooth, GSM and Wi-Fi. This data can range from Values got from sensors, commands to actuators or feedback from a control system.

h) Shields
Arduino shields are the boards, which are plugged over the Arduino board to expand its functionalities. There are different varieties of shields used for various tasks, such as Arduino motor shields, Arduino communication shields, etc. Shield is defined as the hardware device that can be mounted over the board to increase the capabilities of the projects. It also makes our work easy. For example, Ethernet shields are used to connect the Arduino board to the Internet. The pin position of the shields is similar to the Arduino boards. We can also connect the modules and sensors to the shields with the help of the connection cable.

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