01 November 2010

Colour coding -resistor capacitor

Resistor

Resistor values - the resistor colour code

Resistance is measured in ohms, the symbol for ohm is an omega ohm.
1 ohm is quite small so resistor values are often given in kohm and Mohm.
1 kohm = 1000 ohm     1 Mohm = 1000000 ohm.
The Resistor
Colour Code
ColourNumber
Black
0
Brown
1
Red
2
Orange
3
Yellow
4
Green
5
Blue
6
Violet
7
Grey
8
White
9

Resistor values are normally shown using coloured bands.

Each colour represents a number as shown in the table.

Most resistors have 4 bands:

  • The first band gives the first digit.
  • The second band gives the second digit.
  • The third band indicates the number of zeros.
  • The fourth band is used to shows the tolerance (precision) of the resistor, this may be ignored for almost all circuits but further details are given below.
resistor

This resistor has red (2), violet (7), yellow (4 zeros) and gold bands.
So its value is 270000 ohm = 270 kohm.
On circuit diagrams the ohm is usually omitted and the value is written 270K.


Small value resistors (less than 10 ohm)

The standard colour code cannot show values of less than 10ohm. To show these small values two special colours are used for the third band: gold which means × 0.1 and silver which means × 0.01. The first and second bands represent the digits as normal.

For example:
red, violet, gold bands represent 27 × 0.1 = 2.7 ohm
green, blue, silver bands represent 56 × 0.01 = 0.56 ohm

Tolerance of resistors (fourth band of colour code)

The tolerance of a resistor is shown by the fourth band of the colour code. Tolerance is the precision of the resistor and it is given as a percentage. For example a 390ohm resistor with a tolerance of ±10% will have a value within 10% of 390ohm, between 390 - 39 = 351ohm and 390 + 39 = 429ohm (39 is 10% of 390).

A special colour code is used for the fourth band tolerance:
silver ±10%,   gold ±5%,   red ±2%,   brown ±1%.
If no fourth band is shown the tolerance is ±20%.

Tolerance may be ignored for almost all circuits because precise resistor values are rarely required.


Resistor shorthand

Resistor values are often written on circuit diagrams using a code system which avoids using a decimal point because it is easy to miss the small dot. Instead the letters R, K and M are used in place of the decimal point. To read the code: replace the letter with a decimal point, then multiply the value by 1000 if the letter was K, or 1000000 if the letter was M. The letter R means multiply by 1.

For example:

560R means 560 ohm
2K7  means 2.7 kohm = 2700 ohm
39K  means 39 kohm
1M0  means 1.0 Mohm = 1000 kohm


Capacitor


Polarised capacitors (large values, 1µF +)

Examples:   electrolytic capacitors    Circuit symbol:   electrolytic capacitor symbol

Electrolytic Capacitors

Electrolytic capacitors are polarised and they must be connected the correct way round, at least one of their leads will be marked + or -. They are not damaged by heat when soldering.

There are two designs of electrolytic capacitors; axial where the leads are attached to each end (220µF in picture) and radial where both leads are at the same end (10µF in picture). Radial capacitors tend to be a little smaller and they stand upright on the circuit board.

It is easy to find the value of electrolytic capacitors because they are clearly printed with their capacitance and voltage rating. The voltage rating can be quite low (6V for example) and it should always be checked when selecting an electrolytic capacitor. If the project parts list does not specify a voltage, choose a capacitor with a rating which is greater than the project's power supply voltage. 25V is a sensible minimum for most battery circuits.

Tantalum Bead Capacitors

Tantalum bead capacitors are polarised and have low voltage ratings like electrolytic capacitors. They are expensive but very small, so they are used where a large capacitance is needed in a small size.

Modern tantalum bead capacitors are printed with their capacitance, voltage and polarity in full. However older ones use a colour-code system which has two stripes (for the two digits) and a spot of colour for the number of zeros to give the value in µF. The standard colour code is used, but for the spot, grey is used to mean × 0.01 and white means × 0.1 so that values of less than 10µF can be shown. A third colour stripe near the leads shows the voltage (yellow 6.3V, black 10V, green 16V, blue 20V, grey 25V, white 30V, pink 35V). The positive (+) lead is to the right when the spot is facing you: 'when the spot is in sight, the positive is to the right'. tantalum bead capacitors

For example:   blue, grey, black spot   means 68µF
For example:   blue, grey, white spot   means 6.8µF
For example:   blue, grey, grey spot   means 0.68µF


Unpolarised capacitors (small values, up to 1µF)

Examples:   small value capacitors    Circuit symbol:   capacitor symbol

Small value capacitors are unpolarised and may be connected either way round. They are not damaged by heat when soldering, except for one unusual type (polystyrene). They have high voltage ratings of at least 50V, usually 250V or so. It can be difficult to find the values of these small capacitors because there are many types of them and several different labelling systems!

100nF capacitor Many small value capacitors have their value printed but without a multiplier, so you need to use experience to work out what the multiplier should be!

For example 0.1 means 0.1µF = 100nF.

Sometimes the multiplier is used in place of the decimal point:
For example:   4n7 means 4.7nF.

Capacitor Number Code

A number code is often used on small capacitors where printing is difficult: 1nF capacitor
  • the 1st number is the 1st digit,
  • the 2nd number is the 2nd digit,
  • the 3rd number is the number of zeros to give the capacitance in pF.
  • Ignore any letters - they just indicate tolerance and voltage rating.
For example:   102   means 1000pF = 1nF   (not 102pF!)

For example:   472J means 4700pF = 4.7nF (J means 5% tolerance).

Colour Code
ColourNumber
Black
0
Brown
1
Red
2
Orange
3
Yellow
4
Green
5
Blue
6
Violet
7
Grey
8
White
9

Capacitor Colour Code

A colour code was used on polyester capacitors for many years. It is now obsolete, but of course there are many still around. The colours should be read like the resistor code, the top three colour bands giving the value in pF. Ignore the 4th band (tolerance) and 5th band (voltage rating). 10nF and 220nF capacitors

For example:

    brown, black, orange   means 10000pF = 10nF = 0.01µF.

Note that there are no gaps between the colour bands, so 2 identical bands actually appear as a wide band.

For example:

    wide red, yellow   means 220nF = 0.22µF.

Polystyrene Capacitors

polystyrene capacitor This type is rarely used now. Their value (in pF) is normally printed without units. Polystyrene capacitors can be damaged by heat when soldering (it melts the polystyrene!) so you should use a heat sink (such as a crocodile clip). Clip the heat sink to the lead between the capacitor and the joint.







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