From the construction of our simple science projects up to the latest advancements in robotics, there is still some basic knowledge that we must never forget. This knowledge would be about basic tools and equipment (printed circuit board, capacitors, resistors, electrodes, soldering iron, batteries, etc.) and also the safety precautions when constructing any electronic device.
The Basic Components
1. Printed Circuit Board
Printed circuit boards can have a variety of uses, from simply amplifying signals up to the more complicated functions. There are three types of printed circuit board. The first type is the one sided PCB, wherein components will only be soldered on the side of the substrate (most FR4). However, if there are too many substrates, both sides of the printed circuit board can also be used. In using a double sided circuit board, holes must be drilled to connect the components in both sides. Another option is the multi-layer PCB whose substrates are made up of layers separated by insulation. Components are connected to one another by drilling to the appropriate layers of the board.
In soldering the components into the PCB, there are two methods which are presently used. The first is what we call the through hole technology wherein we will need to push through wires and leads into small holes and solder these to the connection pads on the other side. This method is good for devices that are heavy duty like industrial electric fans and advanced types of robots. The other method is called the surface mount technology wherein the components with L-shaped legs will be placed with solder paste and oven heated to hold their position. This method is most commonly used for home appliances like irons, washing machines, lamp lights, and even older television sets.
This component is very important to reduce the flow of current and the voltage in a system. Also, it has two sides where you can connect all of the other components.
Capacitors function to temporarily store the electrical energy. It has two terminal sides.
It is used to conduct electricity from semiconductors, vacuum, or electrolytes.
5. Soldering Iron
This device is used to supply heat so that it could melt the solder and mount the right components onto the PCB properly.
Some Safety Precautions
When handling any electrical equipment, the first thing to always consider is our safety. Because of that, here are some precautionary measures that should be followed.
1. Always let other people around you know that you are working on something that involves electricity. This is important in cases wherein we will need high voltage power. In case there are accidents that occur, we can always call on someone else for help.
2. Remove any liquid from your table. This is very important because spilling of liquid in our circuit boards may cause short circuits or worse, you might get electrocuted.
3. Keep everything out of reach of children and pets. This is important not only because they may ruin your work, but also, your electric equipment might be harmful to them.
4. Always wear full body protection. We don’t always have to wear laboratory gowns or jumpsuits. However, we must wear protective footwear and pants so whenever a problem arises, we will be ready. Also, do not forget to wear goggles and gloves to avoid direct contact with electricity and harmful chemicals.
5. Always assume that any wires you are working with are live wires. Wires must never be touched with bare hands even if the power source is turned off because there might be some residual charge that can still be harmful to humans.
6. Always double check everything. Whether it is just a test or you are about to leave your equipment, you must always double check everything with the design, the connections, and the power supply. Make sure that everything is placed properly.