Page 2 capacitor basics – How to use in circuits for DIY beginners learning electronics

Capacitors have 2 primary purposes in electronics.

Capacitor component common appearances schematic symbols and basic uses diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Capacitor component common appearances schematic symbols and basic uses diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom
  • Store energy for temporary power. Supercapacitors are very large value capacitors that can actually power small loads for a relatively long time.
  • Change voltage over time in order to be used as a signal.

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larger value capacitors are almost certainly polarized. That means one side needs to always be the more positively charged side while the other side if always the more negatively charged. Damage will occur if you reverse charge them. Generally speaking, polarized capacitors are black cylinders with a gray stripe and dashes on the negative side. The positive size also usually has a longer metal lead than the negative side.

Basic capacitor demonstration circuits

It takes time for a certain amount of current to fully charge or fully discharge a capacitor with a certain amount of capacitance. The LEDs in this circuit give you a way to help see current flowing into or out of a capacitor if you only press one button at a time.

Capacitor charge and discharge through resistor and LED circuit schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Capacitor charge and discharge through resistor and LED circuit schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom

Video below is a variation of the circuit above.

Quick capacitor charge and discharge through an LED circuit schematic to breadboard build

RC time constant

Simple RC time constant charging capacitor at switch release circuit by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Simple RC time constant charging capacitor at switch release circuit by electronzap electronzapdotcom

The time it takes a capacitor to charge/discharge through a resistor is called the RC time constant. One time constant (in seconds) is equal to the capacitance of the capacitor in farads (F), times the resistance of the resistor in ohms (Ω). It takes 5 of those time constants to go from fully discharged to fully charge, or from fully charged to fully discharged.

 

 

Quick RC time constant of charging capacitor schematic to breadboard build and oscilloscope

 

Simple discharging capacitor RC time constant circuit schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Simple discharging capacitor RC time constant circuit schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom

Affiliate link ad. Americans clicking this link help support the site at no extra cost to you! Kit that has the screwdriver I use in most of my videos.

Quick discharging capacitor RC time constant circuit schematic to breadboard build and oscilloscope

Voltage ramp

A steady current into, or out of, a capacitor leads to a steady voltage change. Since it is a straight line working it’s way up or down when graphed, it is called a ramp.

Simple charging capacitor voltage ramp using constant current source schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Simple charging capacitor voltage ramp using constant current source schematic diagram by electronzap electronzapdotcom

Affiliate link ad. Looks like a really good kit to own if you need higher value capacitors.

Quick 1000uF capacitor voltage ramp using LM334 set at 1mA circuit schematic to breadboard build

Simple discharging capacitor voltage ramp circuit schematic by electronzap electronzapdotcom
Simple discharging capacitor voltage ramp circuit schematic by electronzap electronzapdotcom

Affiliate link ad. Nice looking capacitor kit for those needing larger value capacitors.

 

Quick discharging capacitor voltage ramp circuit schematic to breadboard build

Page 3 – 555 timer basic circuits

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  • Information on this site is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always consult the manufacturer info/datasheet of parts you use. Research the proper safety precautions for everything you do.