Electronic Components and Tools

Learning about basic electronics and creating your own projects is a lot easier than you may think. Before you get started, make sure your electronic workbench is properly set up.  The work area doesn’t need to be fancy and you could even build your own electronic workbench. Electronic components can be small and it’s a good idea to keep everything organized. The most popular option is to use clear plastic storage boxes for storing parts.  In addition, you could use plastic storage bins that hang from a rack or fit on a shelf.Some of the main Electronic Components are: resistor, capacitor, transistor, diode, operational amplifier, resistor array, logic gate etc. Table of Contents: Types of Electronic Components. Electronic Components and Their Function.


   We'll show you some essential tools to set up your own electronics lab.


   Multimeter. A multimeter is a measurement tool absolutely necessary. ...

   Soldering Station. ...

   Soldering Accessories. ...

   Bench Power Supply. ...

   Wire Stripper. ...

   Needle-nose Pliers and Wire Cutter. ...

   Hot Glue Gun. ...

   Precision Screwdriver Set.


Basic Electronics Components


   Basic electronic components: capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc.

   Power sources: Signal generators and DC power supplies.

   Measurement and analysis instruments: Cathode Ray Oscilloscope (CRO), multimeters, etc.


Electronic Workbench

Before you get started, make sure your electronic workbench is properly set up.  The work area doesn’t need to be fancy and you could even build your own electronic workbench.

makerspace workbench


Electronic components can be small and it’s a good idea to keep everything organized.  The most popular option is to use clear plastic storage boxes for storing parts.  In addition,  you could use plastic storage bins that hang from a rack or fit on a shelf.

storage basic electronics


Now that you have a good workspace set up, it’s time to stock it with the proper tools and equipment.  This isn’t a complete list but it does highlight the most common items used in electronics.


Breadboards are an essential tool for prototyping and building temporary circuits.  These boards contain holes for inserting wire and components.  Because of their temporary nature, they allow you to create circuits without soldering.  The holes in a breadboard are connected in rows both horizontally and vertically as shown below.

arduino breadboard connection direction

Digital Multimeter

A multimeter is a device that’s used to measure electric current (amps), voltage (volts) and resistance (ohms).  It’s a great for troubleshooting circuits and is capable of measuring both AC and DC voltage.  Check out this post for more info on how to use a multimeter.

multimeter basic electronics

Battery Holders

A battery holder is a plastic case that holds batteries from 9V to AA.  Some holders are enclosed and may have an on/off switch built in.

battery holder basic electronics

Test Leads (Alligator Clips)

Test leads are great for connecting components together to test a circuit without the need for soldering.

test leads basic electronics

Wire Cutter

Wire cutters are essential for stripping stranded and solid copper wire.

wire cutters basic electronics

Precision Screwdriver Set

Precision screwdrivers are also known as jeweler’s screwdrivers and usually come as a set.  The advantage of these over normal screwdrivers is the precision tips of each driver.  These are very handy when working with electronics that contain tiny screws.


Helping 3rd Hand

When working with electronics, it seems you never have enough hands to hold everything.  This is where the helping hand (3rd hand) comes in.  Great for holding circuit boards or wire when soldering or tinning.


Heat Gun

A heat gun is used to shrink plastic tubing known as heat shrink to help protect exposed wire.  Heat shrink has been called the duct tape of electronics and comes in handy in a wide variety of applications.

heat gun shrink

Jumper Wire

These wires are used with breadboard and development boards and are generally 22-28 AWG solid core wire.  Jumper wires can have male or female ends depending on how they need to be used.

breadboard jumper wires for arduino uno board

Soldering Iron

When it time to create a permanent circuit, you’ll want to solder the parts together.  To do this, a soldering iron is the tool you would use.  Of course a soldering iron isn’t any good unless you have solder to go with it.  You can choose leaded or lead-free solder in a few diameters.

how to solder soldering iron station

Electronic Components

Now its time to talk about the different components that make your electronic projects come to life.  Below is a quick breakdown of the most common components and functions they perform.


Switches can come in many forms such as pushbutton, rocker, momentary and others.  Their basic function is to interrupt electric current by turning a circuit on or off.

switches basic electronics


Resistors are used to resist the flow of current or to control the voltage in a circuit.  The amount of resistance that a resistor offers is measured in Ohms.  Most resistors have colored stripes on the outside and this code will tell you it’s value of resistance.  You can use a multimeter or Digikey’s resistor color code calculator to determine the value of a resistor.

resistors basic electronics

Variable Resistor (Potentiometer)

A variable resistor is also known as a potentiometer.  These components can be found in devices such as a light dimmer or volume control for a radio.   When you turn the shaft of a potentiometer the resistance changes in the circuit.

potentiometer basic electronics

Light-Dependent Resistor (LDR)

A light-dependent resistor is also a variable resistor but is controlled by the light versus turning a knob.  The resistance in the circuit changes with the intensity of the light.  These are often found in exterior lights that automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

light dependent resistor LDR


Capacitors store electricity and then discharges it back into the circuit when there is a drop in voltage.  A capacitor is like a rechargeable battery and can be charged and then discharged.  The value is measured in F (Farad), nano Farad (nF) or pico Farad (pF) range.

capacitor basic electronics


A diode allows electricity to flow in one direction and blocks it from flowing the opposite way.  The diode’s primary role is to route electricity from taking an unwanted path within the circuit.

diode basic electronics

Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

A light-emitting diode is like a standard diode in the fact that electrical current only flows in one direction.  The main difference is an LED will emit light when electricity flows through it.  Inside an LED there is an anode and cathode.  Current always flows from the anode (+) to the cathode (-) and never in the opposite direction.  The longer leg of the LED is the positive (anode) side.

LED basic electronics


Transistor are tiny switches that turn a current on or off when triggered by an electric signal.  In addition to being a switch, it can also be used to amplify electronic signals.  A transistor is similar to a relay except with no moving parts.

transistor basic electronics


A relay is an electrically operated switch that opens or closes when power is applied.  Inside a relay is an electromagnet which controls a mechanical switch.

electronic relay basic electronics

Integrated Circuit (IC)

An integrated circuit is a circuit that’s been reduced in size to fit inside a tiny chip.  This circuit contains electronic components like resistors and capacitors but on a much smaller scale.  Integrated circuits come in different variations such as 555 timers, voltage regulators, microcontrollers and many more.  Each pin on an IC is unique in terms of it’s function.



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