By Douglas Alexander and Brian Steeves, CE Consultants
Special to Footwasher Media
My first up close and personal experience with a resistor was a 9V transistor radio in the middle of a Dodgers baseball game in 1959.
I was listening to the game in the fourth grade with the earphone wire snaked from my jeans' front pocket, through my belt, (first historical use of a strain relief), under my sweater, up through the button hole in my collar, (second historical use of a strain relief), to insert the plug end, inconspicuously, as close as possible to my inner ear, cleverly designed to avoid the teacher’s detection.
All of a sudden, I began to smell something burning. Then I lost the audio entirely. At recess, I opened the back of my transistor radio to discover a cylindrical device with colored stripes printed around the cylinder with one of the two red stripes partially obliterated by a brown-black burn site that extended to the board and wiped out the “R” before the 10 label. I missed the end of the game but I did catch the end of my radio. Thus, my first experience with troubleshooting had begun with my nose and had ended with my eyes. Later in life, I heard my electronics professor telling me that I had discovered the first two steps for troubleshooting any circuit.
From that point on, I have developed a long-term professional relationship with the resistor, the most commonly used discrete device in electronics. The following is a discussion on some of the various resistor-based applications commonly in use today. This is not an exhaustive list, and the reader is invited to suggest other applications.Find out what wire-wound resistors have in common with heart disease in the rest of the article.