A Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Circuit Board Components

Date of publication: 20.08.2023

As you probably already know, Printed circuit boards are the backbone of electronic devices. You will most likely find them in these everyday electronics, including smartphones and household appliances. They provide a foundation for the connection and assembly of various electronic components required for the functioning of these devices. However, many users of these electronics do not consider the technology that underlies them.

Familiarizing yourself with the printed circuit board components is essential to understanding how PCBs work. There are many significant components soldered onto the surface of the circuit board - including diodes, transistors, resistors, and capacitors, that have a specific function and are essential to the board's overall functionality.

Throughout this beginner's guide, we will thoroughly discuss in detail the electronic components mounted on a printed circuit board. This will also include a breakdown of the active components (such as the integrated circuits), their functions, characteristics and their applications.

What does a printed circuit board (PCB) mean?

A printed circuit board is an essential unit of an electronic component which serves as the base for connecting and powering components to create a single, fully-functional electronic circuit that can power multiple devices. Circuit boards come in single- and double-sided designs. The entire PCB is a compilation of copper traces through substrates. Also, without these components, a printed electric circuit is considered a bare board.

The PCB Components -A Detailed List

A. Mechanical component

Depending on the type of metal chosen, mechanical circuit board parts, including those composed of aluminium, steel, copper, or bronze, are produced using a "mechanized" method in their manufacturing process. These parts differ from electrical parts in that they serve the printed circuit boards with extra support or auxiliary functions as opposed to providing electrical functioning as their primary function. The choice and inclusion of appropriate mechanical components help the overall mechanical integrity and dependability of the printed circuit board.

B. Electrical component

Electrical components act as supplementary materials to mostly make it easier to solder or wire electrical connections between the components and the PCB. These parts are essential for supplying power arrangements inside electronic circuits. In addition, depending on how they send out electrical signals, they can be classified as passive, active and other components are common PCB assembly parts.

Passive Component

A significant group of components included in PCB components are passive components. Their primary function is to react or save energy; they do not enhance or regulate electrical signals. some of the passive components include:

  • Capacitor
    Capacitors are parts of the components found on a PCB, symbolized by the letter "C" or a capacitance number (44mF). They are rated in Farads and are commonly stated in Millifarads (mF) or Microfarads (F). They save energy in an electrical field. Capacitors are essential components needed to briefly store electrical energy and discharge the stored energy. Capacitors retain electrical charge by compiling opposite charges on two conductive layers which are separated by an insulator. Capacitors come in four major types which are ceramic, electrolytic, film and paper capacitors. the type of capacitor used on the PCB is dependent on the conductor and dielectric material employed. Ceramic capacitors are used in high-density on the PCB, film capacitors are used to protect the device from voltage surges, electrolytic capacitors are used when high capacitance is needed and paper capacitors are used to block DC signals while permitting the passage of AC signals.

  • Fuse
    A fuse is an important component used in PCB manufacture and assembly. A fuse is a significant component used in PCB manufacturing. it is used in the protection of current overload in the circuit. A fuse is symbolized by the letter "F."  You can easily recognise a fuse because of its glass casing where the fuse wire can be seen and metal caps on both sides of its ends.  Bear in mind that a fuse can have the aforementioned qualities if it is a through-hole component. Though, when working with a surface mount fuse, its properties often involve a semi-clear tube that is axially led just above the fuse's surface. 

  • Resistors
    Resistors are used for electrical resistance. resistors have two passive terminals because they are one of the passive electrical PCB components. The primary function of a resistor is to resist the passage of electric current through them as opposed to storing energy. Additionally, resistors can be used to stop or block the flow of electricity into each linked element. It is rated in ohms and uses a resistance value.

    How do you identify a resistor? 
    First, determine whether the component has an oblong body or structure and whether it is stamped with green or blue bands of various hues. If it has the aforementioned qualities, it is a resistor because it shows the key components, including tolerance and value. Checking the alphabet is the second method for identifying a resistor. It is denoted with the letter "R." 

    Also, body size is the most challenging factor to find in this component. Usually, the optimal size is lengthy but certain resistors might be made much smaller, especially if they are produced using Surface Mount Technology (SMT). The body size of these resistors is smaller and often does not have any colour imprinted on their surfaces but if you are familiar with the letter "R," it will be a breeze for you. Resistors range from a variety of materials.

    Resistor types include fixed resistors, variable resistors, thermistors, and potentiometers. Potentiometers, often known as "pots," are a form of variable resistor that is used to control the flow of electricity in a circuit. Potentiometers, as opposed to fixed resistors, contain an adjustable knob or slider that allows users to modify the resistance within a set range. Because of their adaptability, they are useful for activities like volume control in audio equipment, dimming lights, and other applications requiring varying resistance. The most frequently used resistor is the carbon film resistor and it is made axially.

  • Connectors
    These are small electronic devices typically used to "connect," "attach," or "incorporate" various components. ideally, the circuit board is coupled to a bigger component. Also, it may be used to join two circuit boards together. The fastest way to spot a connector on a PCB is to search for the letter "K." They can blend with jumpers, which is another way to identify them. Jumper cables have connector pins on each end of the cables. 

    The sizes of connectors come in a variety. They may be enormous or slender. If they are slender, that indicates that the connectors are made to attach to flat wires. However, if they are bigger, it suggests that the connectors are combined with other connectors.  

  • Inductors
    Like resistors and capacitors, inductors are the final members of the family of basic passive components. Inductors store energy in the form of magnetic fields as the current flow through them as opposed to capacitors that store energy through electrostatic energy. Unlike capacitors that temporarily store energy, inductors store energy till the electronic circuits are broken. Wire coils are the most common form of an inductor. Inductors are symbolized with the letter "L" and it is rated in Henry (H).

    The magnetic field and resulting inductance increase in proportion to the number of windings. They could be ringed by a magnetic field with a variety of forms. As a result, the magnetic field and the energy that has been stored are boosted significantly. Inductors are frequently employed to filter out or prevent certain signals, such as interference in radio equipment. etc.

  • Potentiometer
    The role of a potentiometer is to regulate the electronic signal of a circuit. Potentiometer controls the electric power of switches.

    Rotary potentiometer and linear potentiometer are the two types of potentiometers.  Compared to linear ones, rotary potentiometers are more often used. The knob on a radio that controls volume is a nice illustration of a rotary potentiometer. The volume released is controlled by the potentiometer, which regulates the current flow going to the amplifier. Linear potentiometers are found in smartphones.

Active component 

These are the parts that aid in the efficient movement of electronic signals across the PCB. These components include;

  • Diodes
    This is represented by the letter "D." the primary role of a diode is to control voltages, most times it is done in one direction. It denotes that in a Printed Circuit Board (PCB), the diodes are semiconductor devices that function as one circuit for currents or voltages.

    The electrical signal goes out either through the anode or cathode. This feature can be used to prevent damaging electricity from flowing in the incorrect direction. The light-emitting diode, or LED, is the most common diode though some diodes function as an electromagnetic switch. They are used to give off light, as their name indicates, however, it is important to properly understand how to use an LED to make it work. 

    Diodes are essential components of modern electronics, allowing a variety of functions and applications ranging from power control to signal processing and light emission. Their distinct properties make them essential components in electrical design and circuits.

  • Integrated circuits
    An integrated circuit is the part of the PCB that supplies the circuit board with an electronic signal. Transistors, capacitors and resistors are encompassed in it. They may do a variety of tasks as a result of this. The substance utilized to create integrated circuits is silicone. Digital and analogue integrated circuits are the two different types available.

    The earliest calculators and the current generation of powerful computers, have their components fitted into a single chip.  

  • Transistors
    The transistors are significant PCB component used in modern electronics. A single IC chip may contain many billions of transistors sliced into a semiconductor material. However, transistors are only electronic switches and amplifiers. They come in a variety of varieties, with the bipolar transistor being the most popular. They can also be divided into NPN and PNP variations. The base, Collector, and Emitter are the three pins of a bipolar transistor.

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Other components

  • Silicon controlled rectifier
    Silicone-Controlled Rectifiers are called thyristors, they are comparable to transistors and diodes; they are simply two combined transistors that work together to regulate large amounts of voltage and current. They have four silicon layers. The silicon layers act as switches than amplifiers. It is crucial to note that it is mostly appropriate for electronics project. 

  • Crystal oscillator
    Many circuits that call for accurate and reliable timing components use this as the clock source. They physically cause an oscillation in a piezoelectric material, thereby giving rise to a periodic electronic signal. In comparison to other timing techniques, each one is made to vibrate at a certain frequency and is more reliable, affordable, and has a smaller form factor. They are therefore frequently employed as accurate timers for microcontrollers or, more frequently, in quartz wristwatches.

  • Sensors
    Sensors are used to convert energy from physical causes which are sent to PCB components. A printed circuit board's sensors work by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. They are known as converters because of their feature. It's important to emphasize that they come in a variety of shapes. Sensors are often used in automated lighting, motion sensors, and humidity sensors.

VECTOR BLUE HUB  - Your Trusted Partner

If you're considering introducing a new electronic device into the market, we at VECTOR BLUE HUB are always ready to be your close partner in Electonic Contract manufacturing. We can take care of everything including the PCB layout and design and component packaging options. We can go above and beyond manufacture a fully functional product. Contact us to get started!

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