If you are new to electronics and would like to try adapting published projects,
or designing and building your own circuits, you need to have a small stock of
components available. However, there is a very wide range of components and it
can be difficult to know where to start. I hope this page will help you choose a
sensible selection within your budget. I have assumed you will mostly be
building circuits on breadboard where the components can be re-used.
There's also a section showing the extra items required for building permanent
(soldered) circuits on stripboard.
Kits of assorted components are available and this is a great way to start
if you can afford the initial cost.
Remember that you will need to organise storage of the components.
These are the components used in most projects. Individual components cost little but the total cost of the set
is significant. One way to spread the cost is to add a few items every time you buy components for a project.
0.25 W carbon film resistors are the cheapest type and suitable for most projects.
Choose resistors with 4-band colour codes because these are easier to read
(the precision of 5-band codes is unnecessary).
Ideally you need a good selection of values over the range
It is best to buy a kit of resistors as this provides a wide selection of values at an economical price
and it is easier than selecting and buying many values individually.
Capacitorswith values of 1µF and greater are usually electrolytic and they are polarised
so they must be connected the correct way round. There are two styles:
axial (leads at each end) and radial (both leads at one end).
Modern electrolytic capacitors are mostly radial style and this is the best (and cheapest) type to buy.
You will certainly need at least 10 each of 1, 10, 100, 220 and 470µF
with a voltage rating of 25V (or more). Ideally you need other values and a kit of radial electrolytic capacitors
is a good way to start.
You will need several LEDs, I suggest at least 20.
5mm is the standard size and you may wish to choose a selection of colours.
I suggest choosing LEDs with diffused coloured lenses so it is easy to identify their colour.
It is useful to have a few general purpose, low power, NPN transistors. The exact type isn't critical
but they should have a maximum collector current (Ic max) of about 100mA, and a minimum current gain (hFE min) of 200.
The BC548B is a good choice.
For building circuits on breadboard it is best to buy standard variable resistors.
Knobs are not essential because it is easy to turn the spindles by hand.
The most useful values are: 10k LIN, 100k LIN and 1M LIN.
They are usually listed as 'potentiometers', LIN means 'linear', the standard type.
You will need a clip ('battery snap') for a 9V PP3 battery, buy 10 if you plan to solder projects.
Remember the PP3 battery too, alkaline batteries last longer and are better value for money than zinc chloride batteries.
Another option (with longer battery life) is to use AA cells in a holder or battery box (helpfully available
from some suppliers with a built-in switch).
For example a box for 4×AA cells provides 6V and this will be fine for many projects intended for 9V.
Avoid rechargeable batteries until you are experienced because many can deliver very large currents if there
is a fault in your circuit, possibly damaging the circuit and battery as well as being a fire risk.
Breadboard and wire
A small breadboard (like the picture) is suitable for simple circuits with up to two ICs,
but for more complex circuits (such as counters) a larger breadboard is required.
You will need single-core 1/0.6mm wire for making wire links on the breadboard. A pack with a selection
of colours to help identify connections is better than a single reel of one colour.
To connect larger parts (such as variable resistors) you can either solder single core wire to their contacts or avoid
soldering by using crocodile clip leads to connect them to short pieces of wire pushed into the breadboard.
Loudspeaker 8 loudspeakers
are readily available, 64 is a good choice too.
Suppliers often list them as 'speakers'.
Piezo transducer Piezo transducers can be connected directly to the outputs of most ICs because they
require very little current. They are ideal for buzzes and bleeps but are not suitable for speech or music because they distort the sound.
Buzzer Buzzers have approximate voltage ratings, the example is rated 12V but can be used with a 9V supply.
The 'buzz' is typically about 400Hz.
Bleeper Bleepers have wide voltage ranges (such as 3-30V) and they pass a low current of about 10mA.
The one shown is rated 12 V but will work at 3 V. It emits a high-pitched 2.7 kHz tone so I call it a bleeper.
Suppliers may describe it as a 'piezo buzzer' or 'piezo transducer'. Unfortunately the second term may cause confusion because
as well as a piezo transducer it also has a built-in circuit to produce the bleep tone.
Small sheets of stripboard such as 25x64mm (9 strips of 25 holes) are fine for
projects with one 8-pin IC. Larger sheets can be cut to size with a junior hacksaw or snapped (with care) using the edge of a table or bench,
it is easiest to cut (or snap) along lines of holes. A reasonable larger size is 95x127mm (36 strips of 50 holes).
Avoid handling stripboard that you are not planning to use immediately because sweat from your hands will
corrode the copper tracks, making soldering difficult unless you clean the board first.
7/0.2mm stranded wire is best for connecting off-board parts such as switches to stripboard (and PCB) circuits because it
is flexible and less likely to break the joints. A pack with several colours is better than a single reel of one colour.
You can store all your components in a single container, such as a plastic food box,
but as you accumulate more items it will become increasingly difficult to find the
smaller components. A low-cost solution is to organise the parts into small snap-top
plastic bags which can be labelled. Some components may be supplied like this.
A better storage system is a cabinet of plastic drawers. You do not need many drawers
at first because there is no need to have a drawer for every single component value.
Many parts can be grouped together, such as decades of resistor values.
For example you could organise a 20-drawer cabinet like this:
(third band black)
(only a few but often large due to high power rating)
(third band brown)
(third band red)
(third band orange)
(third band yellow)
(third band green),
(third band blue)
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