Lesson 1: Introducing Electronic Components

This lesson will be taking a look at how all of our discrete components work and we build some basic circuits.
I made a few mistakes in the lecture so refer to these notes if you find inconsistencies

Zoom Recording of the Lecture

zoom recording


  1. Voltage, Current, Resistance, and Ohm’s Law
    • If you have never encountered circuits before or would like a nice review of the basics, this article is a good source of knowledge
  2. What is a Breadboard
    • If you have never built a physical circuit, then I recommend this article about breadboards which are used to layout circuit components
  3. Capacitors Explained
    • Capacitors can be a bit tricky so and this video provides some nice visuals. I highly recommend you watch this to understand what a capacitor is and how it works. Capacitors are an integral part of our project
  4. What are diodes
    • This goes over the basics of what a diode is and how to use it (only need to read the first few sections)
  5. How to use LEDs
    • This explains the basics of how to use an LED
  6. Electricity
    • For more information on electricity, this web page has some great links for a variety of related topics

Circuit 1: Light up an LED on a breadboard

This circuit is simple and will help you understand how a breadboard and led work as well what resistor value to choose using a current calculation.

Solving for Values and Making the Circuit Diagram

Before putting anything on the breadboard we want to derive some values and draw a circuit diagram. The goal of this circuit is to light up the LED. So how do we do that?

breadboard connection simple LED circuit

Circuit 2: Adding in a Potentiometer

The next thing we want to do is add in a potenetiometer which is an element that will enable us to control the brightness of the LED

How a Potentiometer Works

A potentiometer has three terminals and can be used in two different ways:

1. Variable Resistor

variable resistor

2. Voltage Divider

voltage divider

Circuit 3: Capacitors

Next we will add one more component to our circuit, a capacitor.


capacitor iv

Let’s look at an example circuit that will show how a capacitor can be used


One solution to this is to boost the current using a BJT, a type of transistor. I will save the details of the BJT for another lesson but here we use the BJT in the emitter follower configuration. I said “common emitter” in the lecture which was a mistake. bjt

We will use this property in order to light up our led using the small capacitor we have. I made a mistake in the diagram during lecture, the resistor should be connected as shown here, not directly in series with the capacitor as shown in lecture bjt fade

The breadboard schematic for the circuit is shown here. Use 330 Ohm resistors for this circuit