Don't Resist The Resistor...They Deserve More Respect!


Hey! I bet that you didn't know that a resistor was used in the invention of the pacemaker. That device, which keeps the heart beating regularly through electronic pulses, has helped to extend the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Perhaps even yours. I think that these tiny devices deserve more of our respect.

Otis Boykin, an inventor, received his first patent in 1959 for an improved electrical resistor that allowed a precise amount of electricity to flow to a component. Two years later, he created an even better resistor that could be manufactured inexpensively and withstand extreme temperature changes and shock. A version of his resistor was used in the invention of the pacemaker. From consumer electronics, to computers, to guided missiles, this tiny device is still used in many of these items to this very day.There are many, many types of resistors that are used for numerous applications. Below, are some of the various types and what they do.


What Is A Resistor?

A resistor is a passive two-terminalelectrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element. Resistors act to reduce current flow, and, at the same time, act to lower voltage levels within circuits. In electronic circuits resistors are used to limit current flow, to adjust signal levels, bias active elements, terminate transmission lines among other uses.


Types Of Resistors





Fixed Resistors


Carbon Composition Resistors

Axial Lead Resistor

These resistors consist of a solid cylindrical resistive element with embedded wire leads or metal end caps to which the lead wires are attached. The body of the resistor is protected with paint or plastic. Early 20th-century carbon composition resistors had uninsulated bodies; the lead wires were wrapped around the ends of the resistance element rod and soldered. The completed resistor was painted for color-coding of its value.

Carbon Pile Resistor

A carbon pile resistor is made of a stack of carbon disks compressed between two metal contact plates. Adjusting the clamping pressure changes the resistance between the plates. These resistors are used when an adjustable load is required, for example in testing automotive batteries or radio transmitters.

Carbon Film Resistor

A carbon film is deposited on an insulating substrate, and a helix is cut in it to create a long, narrow resistive path. Varying shapes, coupled with the resistivity of amorphous carbon (ranging from 500 to 800 μΩ m), can provide a wide range of resistance values. Compared to carbon composition they feature low noise, because of the precise distribution of the pure graphite without binding.

Printed Carbon Resistor

Carbon composition resistors can be printed directly onto printed circuit board (PCB) substrates as part of the PCB manufacturing process. Although this technique is more common on hybrid PCB modules, it can also be used on standard fibreglass PCBs.

Thick and Thin Film Resistors

Thick film resistors became popular during the 1970s, and most SMD (surface mount device) resistors today are of this type. The resistive element of thick films is 1000 times thicker than thin films, but the principal difference is how the film is applied to the cylinder (axial resistors) or the surface (SMD resistors).

Metal Film Resistor

A common type of axial resistor today is referred to as a metal-film resistor. Metal electrode leadless face (MELF) resistors often use the same technology, but are cylindrically shaped resistors designed for surface mounting. Note that other types of resistors (e.g., carbon composition) are also available in MELF packages.

Metal Oxide Film Resistor

Metal-oxide film resistors are made of metal oxides such as tin oxide. This results in a higher operating temperature and greater stability/reliability than Metal film. They are used in applications with high endurance demands.

Wire Wound Resistor

Wirewound resistors are commonly made by winding a metal wire, usually nichrome, around a ceramic, plastic, or fiberglass core. The ends of the wire are soldered or welded to two caps or rings, attached to the ends of the core. The assembly is protected with a layer of paint, molded plastic, or an enamel coating baked at high temperature. These resistors are designed to withstand unusually high temperatures of up to +450 °C.


Foil Resistor


Types Of Windings In Wire Resistor 1. Common 2. Bifilar 3. Common On A Thin Former 4. Ayrton-Perry

The primary resistance element of a foil resistor is a special alloy foil several micrometers thick. Since their introduction in the 1960s, foil resistors have had the best precision and stability of any resistor available. One of the important parameters influencing stability is the temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR). The TCR of foil resistors is extremely low, and has been further improved over the years.

Ammeter Shunts

An ammeter shunt is a special type of current-sensing resistor, having four terminals and a value in milliohms or even micro-ohms. Current-measuring instruments, by themselves, can usually accept only limited currents. To measure high currents, the current passes through the shunt across which the voltage drop is measured and interpreted as current.

Grid Resistor

In heavy-duty industrial high-current applications, a grid resistor is a large convection-cooled lattice of stamped metal alloy strips connected in rows between two electrodes. Such industrial grade resistors can be as large as a refrigerator; some designs can handle over 500 amperes of current, with a range of resistances extending lower than 0.04 ohms.

Variable Resistors


Adjustable Resistors

A resistor may have one or more fixed tapping points so that the resistance can be changed by moving the connecting wires to different terminals. Some wirewound power resistors have a tapping point that can slide along the resistance element, allowing a larger or smaller part of the resistance to be used.


A common element in electronic devices is a three-terminal resistor with a continuously adjustable tapping point controlled by rotation of a shaft or knob. These variable resistors are known as potentiometers when all three terminals are present, since they act as a continuously adjustable voltage divider. A common example is a volume control for a radio receiver.


Resistance Decade Boxes

A resistance decade box or resistor substitution box is a unit containing resistors of many values, with one or more mechanical switches which allow any one of various discrete resistances offered by the box to be dialed in. Usually the resistance is accurate to high precision, ranging from laboratory/calibration grade accuracy of 20 parts per million, to field grade at 1%.


Reference Source: Wikipedia
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