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Electrical Concepts

The field of electronics is very broad, and applies to many aspects of our everyday life. Every radio, television receiver, VCR, and DVD player is electronic in design and operation. So are modern microwave ovens and toaster ovens. Even conventional ovens now include electronic sensors and controls.

Beyond that, however, are even simpler devices that are still electronic in nature. For example, a recent development is the laser pointer, which is essentially a specialized flashlight — and both of these are rather basic electronic devices.

Nor are electronic devices all that new in most households. The telephone system, including standard telephones, is a widespread electronic network designed to be rugged and reliable, with only very simple electronic components. This has changed in more recent years, as more sophisticated electronic devices and methods have enabled improved performance, but the fundamental nature of the telephone system is still pretty much the same.

Basic Electronic Components

All components used in electronic circuits have three basic properties, known as resistance, capacitance, and inductance. In most cases, however, one of these properties will be far more prevalent than the other two. Therefore we can treat components as having only one of these three properties and exhibiting the appropriate behavior according to the following definitions:

As you might expect, components whose main property is resistance are called resistors; those that exhibit capacitance are called capacitors, and the ones that primarily have inductance are called inductors.

In this set of pages, we will examine each type of component. We will see how they are made and what basic properties they have. Then we will see how they behave when a fixed, dc voltage is applied to them, both by themselves and in combination with other types of components.

Once we see how they behave in response to dc voltages, another set of pages will explore how these components respond to the application of ac voltages.

Next: What is Electricity?

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