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Types of Resistors - Color code

1st band - 1st digit - Yellow = 4

2nd band - 2nd digit - Violet = 7
3rd band - Red = 2 -- number of zeros that follow -- means
4700 ohms -- 4.7 kilo ohms or 4k7

For 4 banded ones, MFR 1% first 3 bands represent first

three digits, and fourth band stands for the number of
zeros that follow. 4.7k will be Yw Vt Bk Bn.

Right End Band is for tolerance

Brown Band 1% -- MFR Metal Film Resistor is used in
Instrumentation Electronics.
Gold Band 5% -- CFR Carbon Film Resistor is common for
Consumer Electronics.
Silver Stripe is 10%

Bk Bn Rd Og Yw Gn Bu Vt Gy Wt
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Blac Brow Re Orang Yello Gree Blu Viole Gre Whit

k n d e w n e t y e
1/4W Metal Resistor LVC Ser
Riedon MFR Audio Gold
Resistors Networks LVC-1
Futurlec Riedon Caddock Ohmite Ohmite
1/4W 1 Ohm to 39 standard 3 watt to 50 Standard
Metal Film 10 Meg models watts Sizes
Resistors. Ohm Type 1776 Non- Terminal
High Tolerance to precision inductive Barrier
stability ± 0.05% resistor available Resists
Solid Low Temp. networks Reduces Ag
constructi Coeff. Absolute signal Migration
on TC ± Tolerance distortion -55°C-
1% 3ppm/°C Absolute T- Minimizes +125°C
tolerance Very Low Coeff thermal EMI Auto
1R to 10M Inductance Insertion
1% MFR demanding 3, 4, and 5 wire wound low value
tight applications - decade ceramic core chip
tolerances minimum voltage resistors
tolerances dividers high-end current
Highly long-term 10:1 - loudspeaker sense
stable stability 10,000:1 amplifier applicatio
low noise 1,200 volts applications ns
low temp- continuous low
coeff overvoltage profile,
to 2KV cost
"Fixed" . Single Turn Trimmer "Pot" Multi-turn Trimmer

Fixed Symbol . Potentiometer Symbol Potentiometer

Wire Wound Resistor tied as a Wire Wound Resistor tied as a Voltage

Rheostat Divider

Resistors do a lot of Useful Things!


Voltage to Current Convertor

When driving the input (base) of a transistor gain
you must convert the input voltage to a current by
a voltage to current convertor
--a resistor.

Current to Voltage Convertor

When deriving a voltage from the collector of a
transistor amplifier stage: you convert the output
(collector) current into a voltage by using a Current to
Voltage convertor in the collector circuit--you
guessed it--a resistor.


Resistance is Determined partially by Composition,

and is inversely proportional to Cross Sectional Area
Notice Also that Resistance is proportional to Length


Resistor- Color -Code -----------------

4 Band Color Code
Be Careful when reading 5 and 6 Band Resistors
Note: the 3rd Digit is not used when reading the 4 band resistor
What do resistors do?

Resistors limit current. In a typical application, a resistor is

connected in series with an LED:

Enough current flows to make the LED light up, but not so
much that the LED is damaged. Later in this Chapter, you
will find out how to calculate a suitable value for this
resistor. (LEDs are described in detail in Chapter 5.)
The 'box' symbol for a fixed resistor is popular in the UK
and Europe. A 'zig-zag' symbol is used in America and

Resistors are used with transducers to make sensor

subsystems. Transducers are electronic components
which convert energy from one form into another, where
one of the forms of energy is electrical. A light dependent
resistor, or LDR, is an example of an input transducer.
Changes in the brightness of the light shining onto the
surface of the LDR result in changes in its resistance. As
will be explained later, an input transducer is most often
connected along with a resistor to to make a circuit called a
potential divider. In this case, the output of the potential
divider will be a voltage signal which reflects changes in
Microphones and switches are input transducers. Output
transducers include loudspeakers, filament lamps and
LEDs. Can you think of other examples of transducers of
each type?
In other circuits, resistors are used to direct current flow to
particular parts of the circuit, or may be used to determine
the voltage gain of an amplifier. Resistors are used with
capacitors (Chapter 4) to introduce time delays.
Most electronic circuits require resistors to make them
work properly and it is obviously important to find out
something about the different types of resistor available,
and to be able to choose the correct resistor value, in ,
, or M , for a particular application.

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Fixed value resistors

The diagram shows the construction of a carbon film

During manufacture, a thin film of carbon is deposited onto
a small ceramic rod. The resistive coating is spiralled away
in an automatic machine until the resistance between the
two ends of the rod is as close as possible to the correct
value. Metal leads and end caps are added, the resistor is
covered with an insulating coating and finally painted with
coloured bands to indicate the resistor value.
Carbon film resistors are cheap and easily available, with
values within ±10% or ±5% of their marked, or 'nominal'
value. Metal film and metal oxide resistors are made in a
similar way, but can be made more accurately to within
±2% or ±1% of their nominal value. There are some
differences in performance between these resistor types,
but none which affect their use in simple circuits.
Wirewound resistors are made by winding thin wire onto
a ceramic rod. They can be made extremely accurately for
use in multimeters, oscilloscopes and other measuring
equipment. Some types of wirewound resistors can pass
large currents wihtout overheating and are used in power
supplies and other high current circuits.

Colour code

How can the value of a resistor be worked out from the

colours of the bands? Each colour represents a number
according to the following scheme:

0 black

1 brown

2 red

3 orange

4 yellow

5 green

6 blue

7 violet

8 grey

9 white

The first band on a resistor is interpreted as the FIRST

DIGIT of the resistor value. For the resistor shown below,
the first band is yellow, so the first digit is 4:
The second band gives the SECOND DIGIT. This is a violet
band, making the second digit 7. The third band is called
the MULTIPLIER and is not interpreted in quite the same
way. The multiplier tells you how many noughts you should
write after the digits you already have. A red band tells you
to add 2 noughts. The value of this resistor is therefore
4 7 0 0 ohms, that is, 4 700 , or 4.7 . Work through
this example again to confirm that you understand how to
apply the colour code given by the first three bands.
The remaining band is called the TOLERANCE band. This
indicates the percentage accuracy of the resistor value.
Most carbon film resistors have a gold-coloured tolerance
band, indicating that the actual resistance value is with +
or - 5% of the nominal value. Other tolerance colours are:
Toleran Colou
ce r


±2% red

±5% gold
±10% silver

When you want to read off a resistor value, look for the
tolerance band, usually gold, and hold the resistor with the
tolerance band at its right hand end. Reading resistor
values quickly and accurately isn't difficult, but it does take

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Colour code convertor

The colour code convertor is a special purpose computer

program which will help you identify the value of a resistor
from its colour code. Alternatively, the program lets you
find out what colours to look for by typing in or selecting
the resistor value.
The program works with Windows 95 and looks like this:

To download the program (~210K), click on its image.


More about colour codes

The colour code as explained above allows you to interpret

the values of any resistor from 100 upwards. How does
the code work for values less than 100 ? Here is the code
for 12 :
brown, red, black
The multiplier colour black represents the number 0 and
tells you that no noughts should be added to the first two
digits, representing 1 and 2.
What would be the colour code for 47 ? The answer is:
yellow, violet, black
Using this method for indicating values between 10 and
100 means that all resistor values require the same
number of bands.
For values bewteen 1 and 10 , the multiplier colour is
changed to gold. For example, the colours:
brown, black, gold
indicate a 1 resistor, while the colours:
red, red, gold
refer to a 2.2 resistor.
Metal film resistors, manufactured to 1 or 2% tolerance,
often use a code consisting of four coloured bands instead
of three. The code works in the same way, with the first
three bands interpreted as digits and the fourth band as
the multiplier. For example, a 1 metal film resistor has
the bands:
brown, black, black, brown (+brown or red for tolerance)

while a 56 metal film resistor has the bands:

green, blue, black, red
It is worth pointing out that the multiplier for metal film
resistors with values from 1 upwards is brown (rather
than red, as in the three colour system), while the
multiplier for 10 upwards is red (instead of orange).
You are likely to use low value resistors and metal film
resistors on some occasions and it is useful to know how to
read their codes. However, most of the resistors you use in
building electronic circuits will be carbon film types with
values indicated using the three band colour code. It is this
system which you should master first.

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E12 and E24 values

If you have any experience of building circuits, you will

have noticed that resistors commonly have values such as
2.2 , 3.3 , or 4.7 and are not available in equally
spaced values 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 and so on.
Manufacturers don't produce values like these - why not?
The answer is partly to do with the fact that resistors are
manufactured to a percentage accuracy. Look at the table
below which shows the values of the E12 and E24 series:
E12 series E24 series
10% 5%
tolerance tolerance

10 10


12 12


15 15


18 18


22 22


27 27


33 33


39 39


47 47


56 56


68 68

82 82


Resistors are made in multiples of these values, for

example, 1.2 , 12 , 120 , 1.2 , 12 , 120 and so
Consider 100 and 120 , adjacent values in the E12
range. 10% of 100 is 10 , while 10% of 120 is 12 .A
resistor marked as 100 could have any value from 90 to
110 , while a resistor marked as 120 might have an
actual resistance from 108 to 132 . The ranges of
possible values overlap, but only slightly.
Further up the E12 range, a resistor marked as 680 might
have and actual resistance of up to 680+68=748 , while a
resistor marked as 820 might have a resistance as low as
820-82=738 . Again, the ranges of possible values just
The E12 and E24 ranges are designed to cover the entire
resistance range with the minimum overlap between
values. This means that, when you replace one resistor
with another marked as a higher value, its actual
resistance is almost certain to be larger.
From a practical point of view, all that matters is for you to
know that carbon film resistors are available in multiples of
the E12 and E24 values. Very often, having calculated the
resistance value you want for a particular application, you
will need to choose the nearest value from the E12 or E24
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Current limiting

You are now ready to calculate a value for the resistor used
in series with an LED. Look at the circuit diagram:

A typical LED requires a current of 10 mA and has a

voltage of 2 V across it when it is working. The power
supply for the circuit is 9 V. What is the voltage across
resistor R1? The answer is 9-2=7 V. (The voltages across
components in series must add up to the power supply
You now have two bits of information about R1: the current
flowing is 10 mA, and the voltage across R1 is 7 V. To
calculate the resistance value, use the formula:

Substitute values for V and I:

Look out! The formula works with the fundamental units of
resistance, voltage and current, that is, ohms, volts and
amps. In this case, 10 mA had to be converted into amps,
0.01 A, before substitution.
If a value for current in mA is substituted, the resistance
value is given in :

The calculated value for R1 is 700 . What are the nearest

E12/E24 values? Resistors of 680 , 750 and 820 are
available. 680 is the obvious choice. This would allow a
current slightly greater than 10 mA to flow. Most LEDs are
undamaged by currents of up to 20 mA, so this is fine.
What is the colour code for a 680 resistor?

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Resistors in series and parallel

In a series circuit, the current flowing is the same at all

points. The circuit diagram shows two resistors connected
in series with a 6 V battery:
Resistors in series
It doesn't matter where in the circuit the current is
measured, the result will be the same. The total resistance
is given by:

In this circuit, Rtotal=1+1=2 . What will be the current

flowing? The formula is:


Notice that the current value is in mA when the resistor

value is substituted in .
The same current, 3 mA, flows through each of the two
resistors. What is the voltage across R1? The formula is:

What will be the voltage across R2? This will also be 3 V. It

is important to point out that the sum of the voltages
across the two resistors is equal to the power supply
The next circuit shows two resistors connected in parallel
to a 6 V battery:

Resistors in parallel
Parallel circuits always provide alternative pathways for
current flow. The total resistance is calculated from:

This is called the product over sum formula and works

for any two resistors in parallel. An alternative formula is:

This formula can be extended to work for more than two

resistors in parallel, but lends itself less easily to mental
arithmetic. Both formulae are correct.
What is the total resistance in this circuit?

The current can be calculated from:

How does this current compare with the current for the
series circuit? It's more. This is sensible. Connecting
resistors in parallel provides alternative pathways and
makes it easier for current to flow. How much current flows
through each resistor? Because they have equal values, the
current divides, with 6 mA flowing through R1, and 6 mA
through R2.
To complete the picture, the voltage across R1 can be
calculated as:

This is the same as the power supply voltage. The top end
of R1 is connected to the positive terminal of the battery,
while the bottom end of R1 is connected to the negative
terminal of the battery. With no other components in the
way, it follows that the voltage across R1 must be 6 V.
What is the voltage across R2? By the same reasoning, this
is also 6 V.
When components are connected in parallel, the voltage across them is
KEY POINT: the same.

Here is a slightly more complex circuit, with both series

and parallel parts:
Circuit with series and parallel
To find the overall resistance, the first step is to calculate
the resistance of the parallel elements. You already know
that the combined resistance of two 1 resistors in
parallel is 0.5 , so the total resistance in the circuit is
1+0.5=1.5 . The power supply current is:

This is the current which flows through R1. How much

current will flow through R2? Since there are two equally
easy pathways, 2 mA will flow through R2, and 2 mA
through R3.
The voltage across R1 is given by:

This leaves 2 V across R2 and R3, as confirmed by the

calculation for R2:
Again, the sum of the voltages around the circuit is equal
to the power supply voltage.
Check through this section carefully. A clear understanding
of the concepts involved will help tremendously.

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Power rating

When current flows through a resistance, electrical energy

is converted into heat. This is obvious in an electric torch
where the lamp filament heats up and glows white hot, see
Chapter 1. Although the result may be less evident or
imperceptible, exactly the same process of energy
conversion goes on when current flows through any
electronic component.
The power output of a lamp, resistor, or other component,
is defined as the rate of change of electrical energy to heat,
light, or some other form of energy. Power is measured in
watts, W, or milliwatts, mW, and can be calculated

where P is power.
What is the power output of a resistor when the voltage
across it is 6 V, and the current flowing through it is
100 mA?
0.6 W of heat are generated in this resistor. To prevent
overheating, it must be possible for heat to be lost, or
dissipated, to the surroundings at the same rate.
A resistor's ability to lose heat depends to a large extent
upon its surface area. A small resistor with a limited
surface area cannot dissipate (=lose) heat quickly and is
likely to overheat if large currents are passed. Larger
resistors dissipate heat more effectively.
Look at the diagram below which shows resistors of
different sizes:

The standard size of carbon film resistor used in most

circuits has a power rating of 0.5 W. This means that a
resistor of this size can lose heat at a maximum rate of
0.5 W. In the example above, the calculated rate of heat
loss was 0.6 W, so that a resistor with a higher power
rating, 1 W or 2 W, would be needed. Some resistors are
designed to pass very large currents and are cased in
aluminium with fins to increase surface area and promote
heat loss.
Input and signal processing subsystems in electronic
circuits rarely involve large currents, but power rating
should be considered when circuits drive output
transducers, such as lamps, LEDs, and loudspeakers.