Electronic E-Bytes: The Resistor Revolution

Welcome to the Electronic E-Bytes series, where we dive into a different topic for 5 minutes every week. This week, we’re focusing on resistors.

According to Wikipedia, a resistor is defined this way: ”A resistor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element.”

Now that’s good, but it doesn’t elaborate much on the functions. That’s what we’re going to do today.

Ohm’s Law and the Theory of Operation

Now, this could also be called the science behind the resistor, but this is the proper name.

Ohm’s law states that E = I x R, or voltage = current x resistance. It can also be reconfigured to say that current = voltage divided by resistance, or I = E / R, which is more useful here.

It can also be more easily explained this way: Imagine you have 2 pipes. One has a clog, and one doesn’t. It would take more water pressure in the clogged pipe to achieve the same amount of water output as the non-clogged one. In the same way, a wire with no resistor and 3 volts input and a wire with 5 volts input and a resistor of a certain value would achieve the same amount of current output at the end.

Even though I explained that very badly, you can get the idea of what I’m talking about now.

Color Coding Resistors

Resistors are identified by a color coding system that is almost impossible to learn, but there are many guides and aids to help you. You can use these charts, or this calculator, my personal favorite, probably because it’s easiest. There is also this wheel, which is also a great aid. However, I recommend using a hole punch and punching out the middle, and putting a round-head fastener in instead of the tabs.

Microwave Resistor

Resistor Uses

Resistors are used to limit the current to an LED, so that it doesn’t blow out, as well as to limit brightness. They’re also all over your computer, right under your hands right now, and more! Because resistors convert current and voltage to heat, they’re also used in heating appliances, like microwaves, ovens, stoves/ranges, and more!


Thank you for taking a dive into the world of resistor science! Resistors are one of the most overlooked but important components in electronics and computers couldn’t be possible without it.

Thank you for reading Electronic E-Bytes: The Resistor Revolution! For more projects, click here.

The next Electronic E-Byte will come out Tuesday, May 31.

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