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Free downloads and basic information, this is reference material used in
Technical Science 1 & 2 (or Sci-Tech) classes. Be smart and study this to
catch up with returning students or get a head start on other new students

Jim McMillan, teaching Robotics Class at Providience  Private School, Jims,  special, creative, FUN, projects, &, robotics, teach, scientific principles, &, develop, creative,  problem solving, abilities, Kinetic Learning Center, uses, Home-School, Enrich
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(1) International Color Code

Memorize the following sentence - it helps to learn/remember the code.
The first letter of each word is the first letter of the color in the code

B lack   B ears  R arely  O utrun  Y oung  G rizzlies  B ut   V ictomize  G ray   W olves

Note: the numbers run from 0 to 9 (starting with Zero)

         Word             Color       number        .

        Black             black             0
        Bears             brown            1
        Rarely            red                2
        Outrun           orange           3
        Young            yellow           4
        Grizzles          green             5
        But                 blue               6
        Victimize       violet             7
        Gray              gray               8
        Wolves          white             9

Note the Bands (or rings) around the
resistors body use the international
color code to give the parts value.(ie:
red, brown, red = 2, 1, & two zeros
which would equal 2,100 ohms
or 2.1 K ohms. A resistor's value is
measured in ohms, the symbol for
ohms is the greek letter omega.

The most common use of the Color Code is on resistors: A resistor has three bands on one end that define it's value & usually a gold (5%) / silver (10%) tolerance band on the other end.

The first band         =      a # from 0 to 9
The second band    =       a # from 0 to 9
The third band        =      the # of zero's following the first two numbers.

Example A: if the third band is orange: orange = the #3, or three zeros (third band).
Three zeros imply 1000 (1000 or 1 Kilo = 1K).

Example B: If the three bands are red, green, orange
This gives us: (2,5,3 zeros = 2-5-000) = 25,000 ohms = 25K ohms

Remember to start counting with zero (not one). ie: Orange is the fourth word in the sentence but the number three (3)... Black (black=0) Bear (brown=1) Rarely (red=2) Outrun (orange=3).


The color code is used to mark the values on electronics parts. It's especially helpful when bulding kits or repairing circuits. It's important to be able to select the right value!

Black  B ears  Rarely  Outrun  Young  Grizzlies  But  Victomize  Gray  Wolves

The first two color bands represent a number - the 3rd color band is the # of 0's AFTER the first two numbers! These colors are used to define the parts value.

Note: the numbers run from 0 to 9 (starting with '0', not '1')

A Resistor has three color bands that give it's value.
           The first band band is ..... a # from 0 to 9
           The second band is ......... a # from 0 to 9
           The third band is ............. the # of zero's following the first two #'s

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International color code

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(2) Soldering Review:

Basic Steps to Soldering Success.....

(1) To check if the iron is hot - hold your hand over it (heat
       rises). Keep the tip clean by wiping on a damp sponge.

(2) "Tin" the tip by applying a small amount of solder to the
       tip and look for a small smoke signal.

(3) Hot Spot? Look for a shiny spot of melted solder on the
      irons tip. It is essential to transfer heat! To make a Hotspot
      scrape or file the tip, dip in flux & add solder to the tip!

(4) Equally heat junction of the parts by applying the "hot spot"
       for apx 2 sec's and then add a small amount of solder to the
        'Hot Spot' at the point of contact. Hold the Soldering Iron
        at a 60 to 80 degree angle to avoid soldering shorts.

(5) Remove the solder but keep the Irons Hot-spot on the connection
       until the solder "flows"
- then remove the Iron. 'Flow' means the
       soldered parts are fully covered - this indicates a good solder joint!

       1) Apply Heat (to juncton/part being soldered)
       2) Apply solder (to the hotspot & junction)
       3) Remove solder (leave the heat until solder 'Flows')
       4) Remove heat (the soldering iron)
       5) Hold still apx 3 - 5 sec. (until solder 'sets').

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(8) If done correctly the joint should look smooth & shiny. If it looks
      dull/flaky, it's a cold solder joint, simply reheat to fix. Make sure
     the complete joint and/or pad are evenly covered with solder.

(9) Clip off the wire close to the board (but not so close you cut
       the etch) and then reheat the joint until the solder "flows" again - just to be sure it's
       a good joint.

(10) A good connection should leave the surface of the wire or pad
        evenly covered.

(11) The finished solder joint should look like a small shiny volcano
        shaped cone.

CAUTION: Do not overheat, that can remove the "etch" and also can
       destroy transistors & intergrated circuits.

Important Facts To Remember:

* Soldering iron tips get very hot & burn anything they touch.

* DO-NOT waste solder by "chasing" it on the tray or table.

* Always put the soldering iron in its holder (spring) when not in use.

* Always be careful not to burn the power cord.

* Keep the Tip clean by carefully wiping it with a sponge.

* Visually check for shorts (across the etch) or poor solder joints.

* Burns can be painful for days - use first aid cream if burned.

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(3) Electronics Fundamentals:


A device used to set voltage levels in a circuit. It's value is measured in ohms which are always positive numbers. We say that resistors have a "voltage drop" across them when power is applied. There value is given by a series of three bands/rings on one end. When building a circuit try to install them with the "bands/rings" to the left or top of the board. This makes it easier to trouble shoot, esp if testing a bunch of boards!

CAPACITORS: Are used to block DC, like a road with a bridge out/up stops traffic. However non-DC signals can hop across or pass through the capacitor. The signal will altered in size &/or shape as it passes through the capacitor.

An "electrolytic capacitor is a special type of capacitor that can store a charge (& hold it for up to 6 months). Capacitor values are usually very very small and are measured in "Farads". A micro farad is 1x10 to the minus 6th power (a millionth of a farad).

An electrolytic capacitor is usually round with a positive and a negative lead. The neg. lead will be marked by neg. signs (-) or arrows on the side of the case. In electronic parts when two leads come out of the same end then the long lead is positive.

DIODES: are used to control current flow and seperate circuits (regular diodes), set voltage levels (Zenor diodes), and to generate light (LED's). An "LED" is a light emitting diode. Diodes have number printed on them like 1N914 and a band/ring on the negative end. The symbol is an arrow with a vertical bar on the pointed end, The arrow is the anode (+ end) and the vertical bar is the neg (-) end. In a circuit current (I) flows from positive (+) to negative (-) or in the direction of the arrow (in symbol).
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Transistors: A transistor acts like a switch and is controled by input voltages or symbols. Transistors are used to shape signals and control circuits. Transistors have either a NPN or PNP junction which determines the voltages necessary to turn them on or off. There are many different types, uses, shapes and sizes. The most common is a DIP (dipped in plastic) which is a small black plastic case rounded on the back with a flat face. The type (ie: 2N3904) will be stamped on the face as will the manufactors name or symbol. A transistor has three leads: A Base, usually the center or middle lead, a Collector, and the Emitter. The symbol for a transistor will always have an arrow on the Emitter. If the arrow is pointing into the transistor it's a PNP, if it's pointing out it's a NPN.

Switches: A switch is simply an on-off mechanical device whereas a transistor is an on-off electronic device. The most common examples are:

(SPST) Single Pole Single Single Throw. One input pole & one output
(SPDT) Single Pole Double Throw. 1 input, 2 output positons
(DPDT) Double Pole Double Throw. This is essentially two SPDT switches
             "ganged" together - if you throw one you throw both...
(Mom) Momentary contact switch. Usually a SPDT switch. A Momentary switch is
            usually normally open (NO)- when you press on the switch it will close
            while you hold it down. A SPDT Mom switch has two positions; NO and
            NC (normally closed). You can wire it to opperate in either mode.

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(4) Power Tool Introduction :

(1) Power Sanders:
I recommend using a combination 1" belt sander with a 5" disc. Under age 9 should use only the 1" belt sander! This tool is very safe - main danger is filing your fingers/finger nails. When using the 5" disc try to keep your work piece on the side of center (of the disc) that rotates into the table, the other side can throw objects up & in your face due to the direction of rotation of the disc. ALWAYS wear safety goggles and keep a firm grip on your work piece when using this tool.

(2) Drill Press:

Again a very safe tool if used correctly. Put a piece of wood on top of the table to drill into, align Drill bit so that it'll go into hole in the table - not the table itself. Hold down firmly on your work piece or use a bench vise or clamps. Be especially careful drilling metals and plastics - they can "grab" your work and spin it in the air! If this happens DO NOT try to grab it, either turn off the power switch or unplug the tool. ALWAYS wear safety goggles and keep a firm grip on your work piece when using this tool.

(3) Band Saw: The most dangerous of the tools covered here! Always think of the fact that this tool can cut your finger off! Not to 'FEAR' but to have a 'Healthy Respect' for the tool! Do not wear long sleeves or coats when using this tool. Let the material dictate the speed - slow for hard materials, faster for soft woods, etc. Never put your fingers in a position where if you slipped they could go into the blade. Try to keep your fingers at least 1" from the blade and never 'Force' the work piece. Try to never have to 'back-out' the blade, if you do be very careful and follow the contour of the cut or you'll pull-off or break the blade. Always take your time when using this tool. When about to cut through your material push with the hand holding the bigger piece and guide with the other hand - gently push through at the end of the cut!

(4) Dremel Tool:
Or any small hand drill - guide the 'Bit' straight both going in & coming out, do not use to 'wallow-out' a hole (make it bigger). To much pressure on a smaller drill bit will break it, too fast a drill speed will burn it up!

Not Yet completed - but I am working on it!

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(5) Building Successful Projects

(1) Open the kit and check to be sure that you have all the "right" parts(ie: the correct parts).

(2) Keep the parts in a parts bag/box. Do not leave them loose on the table or you will surely lose some key part ...
Murphy's Law: anything that could go wrong - probably will.

(3) Check (read) all the instructions, diagrams, pictures, drawings and written information. Everything you need will be there someplace but sometimes you have to look (or search) for it.

(4) Before you start to assemble the kit be sure you understand all the steps. You, of course, must read them to see! If not sure ask for help before you do it wrong. It's better to take your time and do it right than spend hours correcting (if you can) your mistakes.

(5) Follow instructions in the order given and check off each step as you do it. The order is usually important due to the size or positioning of the parts. If a resistor is to stand on its end check that you position it so that the bare wire side will not short to something close by.
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(6) Put the part in place, double check that it's the "right" part for that spot, then press in down on the board (leave transistors apx. 1/4th inch off the board). Solder one lead then check that part's on the board in proper position then solder the other lead/leads. Resistor color bands go to the Left/Down!

(7)When installing a part with long leads, place leads through the hole on the "component" side of the board and bend slightly outwards (on the "etch" side) to hold the part in place while soldering.

(8) Install & solder one part at a time. Use good technique (don't overheatparts/etch), use just enough solder to cover the wire &/or the pad. Cut off the leads and reheat the joint to insure a good connection.

(9) Recheck every part & solder joint (reheat & add solder if needed). Make sure the right parts are in the right holes and that transistors, diodes & capactors are not in backwards, etc... Do Not apply power or install battery until the instructor has checked your circuit and so OK!

(10) Use a test meter or buzzer to check for shorts between lines of etch and across power lines. Look for unsoldered or bad soldering joints, shorts across etch lines, frayed wires, etc....

(11) Make sure no wires, leads or components are positioned so they could cause or become a short. Make your work look as neat as possible. Insulation on wires should go to the board/joint surface. Whenever you complete a task, ask yourself - Is this as good as I can do? If the answer is YES! then great job! IF the answer is NO - then ask yourself, Why Not! Always try to do your best but learn from your mistakes.

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(5b) Building Tips Review

1)    Put electrolytic capacitors down flat against the board to protect the etch.
2)    You must put the parts in correctly - check polarity & alignment.
3)    Follow directions, most mistakes result from not paying attention to details.
4)    Always double check your work - before soldering in the part!
5)    If not sure ask for help, it can save hours of time and/or the project.

    Helpful Hints On Using Tools:

Soldering iron - use to solder, remove solder and to strip wire. You must have a sharp tip, hold it against the part then add solder.

Wire cutters - to cut small wire, not paper, plastic, coins or
metal objects. Use tip to snip leads at solder joint, main blade for heaver stuff.

Long nose pliers - use to hold hot stuff, bend wires around post, wrap/twist wires. Learn to open & close using one hand (if don't have a spring in pliers).

Screwdrivers - put handle in your palm & twist screwdriver with your fingers, keep pressure on the screw & hold SD vertical, don't let blade slip out of slot.

De-Solder Tool - When hot squeeze the Bulb several times to clear out any old solder (not over the PCB). Squeeze & hold the bulb, place on the solder joint until the solder melts then release bulb to 'suck' up the solder. Clear the bulb as before and do the other lead, do twice if necessary! You should be able to gently remove the part, do not force it in/out. Straighten & thoroughly clean the wire and the hole before re-installing use braid for maximum cleaning.

Solder Braid - apx 1/8th in. width, push it in to make it wider and to absorb more solder. Place braid over the joint and heat with soldering iron to 'wick' away solder. When saturated move up 1/4th in. or cut it off. Braid is expensive so don't waste it, leave it on the roll, cutting off chunks just adds waste!

Soldering tricks - when installing a part,

Put part in correctly & re-check to make sure it's right!
When using polarity sensitive parts make sure positive wire goes into the + hole.
Check orientation of Transistors. LED's, Diodes, Capacitors, etc...
Check if part is positioned correctly (esp. IC's then solder one pin and
        check to see if part is against board before continuing.
Note that E-caps (electrolytic capacitors), transformers & IC's have special
        position markings such as Dots, notches & negative stripes
Sometimes it helps to use tape to hold a part in place while you solder.
When soldering on a part notice how the surrounding etch lines run. Try to
         avoid bending leads towards another line of 'etch' and always solder
          away from an etch if possible - to deduce the risk of shorts.

Parts Placement-

Double check each part before you solder it in place, most major hard-to-fix
         problems occur because of soldering or replacing parts.
In some cases a part is meant to stand on its end - if so there will be a circle
          with a hole in it (body of part) & another next to it for the other wire.
         ie: if a resister put its body down against the board in the circle with 3
          rings or bands up, put the other wire through the other hole!
Remember long lead implies positive and the short lead negative!
Most kits PCB's have drawings/symbols with the parts listed in or next to them.
A resister will be R# (R1) and they usually give Part type/number, value, and the
         3 band colors. On the board will be a rectangle with part # in it.   R1...R4
          means R1=R2=R3=R4=are the same value (ie:10K).
An elecrtolytic capacitor (E-cap) will have a positive sign in the PCB circle
          mext to the caps + wire hole. Circle size = physical size of Cap. Value of
         Cap is written on its side.
On the board a Diode will have a rectangle with part # (ie: D1) and a line on the
         negative end. The line on a Diode (part/symbol) will always be on the neg end.
An IC, integrated circuit, symbol will have a notch/dot on the pin one end.
A line on a part indicates the negative end. On a diode the line in the symbol
          implies the negative (-) end. On an E-capacitor is a bar with one or two
         negative signs - this indicates the wire on that side is the negative lead.
         In an LED negative is indicated by line in symbol & flat side of case.
Transistors - should be installed at least 1/8th inch off the board (thickness of a
          small paint stick) to prevent overheating when soldering. The T part number
          (ie: 2N3904) is written on the 'face' (flat surface) of the transistor. Be sure to
          install the trans. in right location with 'face' side matching drawing on PCB

9) Parts Removal - if you need to remove a part ...

Locate the parts wires & pads circles on etch side of the PCB
Use Solder Braid or De-solder tool (see learn to use tools, above)
Be careful removing a part so you don't break it. Apply gentle pressure using an
         Exacto knife (ie: under a resister) or long nose pliers for bigger parts.
Most serious problems come when putting parts back in (new/used) you must be
         careful not to lift, tear or crack the etch - be sure to clean parts.
Do not force a part into a hole, it will rip the etch off the board.

If I missed anything, made a mistake or you have a suggestion then
e-mail me
the information... Thanks Jim McMillan

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Jim McMillan, teaching Robotics Class at Providience Private School, Jims, special, creative, FUN, projects, &, robotics, teach, scientific principles, &, develop, creative, problem solving, abilities, Kinetic Learning Center, uses, Home-School, Enrich