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Sometimes called an A-D, ADC is short for Analog-to-Digital Converter and is a tool that
converts the continuous analog signal to a multilevel digital signal without altering its content.
There are four commonly used ADCs used today; the parallel converter, the successive
approximation ADC, voltage-to-frequency ADC and the integrating ADC.
Also see: Analog, Digital


Electronic communication sent as signals of varying frequency

instead of ON or OFF like a digital data transmission. Analog allows equipment to handle
information that continuously changes such as voltage, current, and wave. In the picture to the
right, is an example of an analog signal or how analog may be represented.
Also see: Digital, Electronics definitions, PCM

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1. An electronic signal that is sent as binary digits of either ON or

OFF. Below are some examples of what a digital signal may look like. In the below image the
illustration to the the left is of the digital signal that is up or down for either ON or OFF, unlike
an analog signal that is more like a wave. The illustration to the right is of a digital picture where
a pixel is turned either ON or OFF helping to create an image on a display.
2. A computer company. See the Digital company page for more info about this company.
Also see: Analog, Electronics definitions, PCM

Electronics definitions
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Circuit board

Digital signal



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International Electrotechnical Commission


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Large-scale integration
Logic gate

Medium scale integration

Moore's Law




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Solid-state device


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Vacuum tube
Very large-scale integration


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1. Term used to describe how digital data transmits through the positive and negative values
of "1" and "0" or on and off.
2. Transistor or chip commonly used to amplify a signal.
3. A communications signal that alternates between positive and negative polarities.
Also see: Electronics definitions

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An electronic component consisting of a complete path; a voltage source and a load.
Also see: Electronics definitions, IC, IIL, Moore's Law, PAD, PCB, Power definitions, Resistor,

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Circuit board
A board where electrical components are connected. Generally, the circuit board is a dark green
as shown below, but can be other colors such as dark blue, and in some rare cases, even black.

Also see: Circuit, Electronics definitions, Populate, Unpopulated board

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Material that transmits electrical currents, heat, or sound.
Also see: Electronic definitions, Nonconductor, Semi-conductor

1. The flow of electricity.
2. Term also used to describe how old or new a computer or computer product may be. In
most situations a computer that is less than a year old is considered a current computer.
Also see: AC, DC, Electronics definitions, Power definitions

Semiconductor device that allows electrical current to flow in only one direction.A zener diode
is used in circuits where the voltage is high enough to break down the physical construct of a
normal diode.
Also see: Electronic definitions, Friode, Power definitions

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1. Short for Dual In-line Package, a DIP is a chip encased in a

hard plastic casing with pins along each of the sides of the plastic casing. Below is an illustration
of a DIP. To the right is an example of a DIP found on a computer motherboard that has been
soldered into place. Finally, below is also an illustration of a comparison between a DIP and a
SIP that are not connected to any type of circuit board.
2. A dip may also refer to a voltage drop.
Also see: BGA, Electronics definitions, SIP

Sometimes known as dope, dopant is impurities added to silicon during the manufacturing of a
computer chip to increase or decrease the electrical conductivity. Dopants may include arsenic,
antimony, bismuth or phosphorus.
Also see: Electronics definitions, Silicon

Short for Electronic Design Automation, EDA is the software used in designing integrated
circuits and chips.
Also see: Electronic definitions

Short for Electromotive Force, EMF is another name for difference of potential.
Also see: Electronics definitions, Radiation

Term used to describe a fried, blown, or otherwise damaged diode.
Also see: Electronic definitions, Diode

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The basic measuring unit of inductance.
Also see: Electronic definitions, Measurement

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Short for Light-Emitting Diode, LED is a special type of semiconductor that illuminates when
an electrical charge passes through it. LEDs are commonly green or red; however can be an
assortment of other colors. A good example of a LED is the led status indicators on your
keyboard for Num lock, Caps lock and Scroll Lock as shown in the below picture. In this pciture
the blue LED is lit on the keyboard to indicate the Num Lock is enabled.

Also see: Access light, Amber, Electronics definitions, Green, OLED, Orange, Red


Also known as a VOM or Volt-Ohm-Meter, a multimeter is a

device used to test and measure current, voltage, and resistance. To the right is an example of
what an analog multimeter looks like. After the proper power setting has been set connecting the
multimeter to the power source will display the detected current.
Also see: Electronics definitions, Power definitions

1. A piece of a physical circuitry component that governs signal flow. Having the switch open
allows the signal to flow through, while keeping the switch closed stops the flow and breaks the
circuit connection.

2. On a network, a switch is a hardware device that filters

and forwards packets through the network, but often not capable of much more. The first
network device that was added to the Internet was a switch called the IMP, which helped send
the first message on October 29, 1969. A network switch is more advanced than a hub but not as
advanced as a router. To the right is a graphic example of a SMC EZ Switch, a 10/100 network
3. A button or lever that can be switched to turn a device on or off.
4. When referring to the switches command, this command is loaded through config.sys and
allows you to add and remove various functions of MS-DOS. See the switches command for
further information about this command.
5. When referring to another command, a switch is an available option that can be used with the
command. For example, the command: "fdisk" can be used with the /MBR switch, using "FDISK
/MBR" would allow the user to recreate the master boot record and not just run the fdisk
Also see: Bridge, Electronics definitions, Network definitions, Parameter, Programmer's switch,

A single strand of metal capable of transmitting power or data from one side of the wire to the
other. These wires are almost always protected in a plastic covering that is sometimes color
coded to help identify each wire on each end of a cable.
Also see: Cable, Cord, Electronics definitions, Wire strippers

Method of transferring data without the use of wires. A common example of an infrared device
is a TV remote. However, infrared is also used with computers with devices such as a wireless
keyboard or mouse.
• Additional help and information about Infrared can be found on our infrared help page.

• RF
• Short for Radio Frequency, RF is one method used to transmit a wireless signal.
• Also see: Bluetooth, Infrared, Networking definitions, RF Shielding, RFI, Sound


A computing and telecommunications industry specification that

describes how different types of components such as mobile phones, computers or personal
digital assistants can communicate with each other. Bluetooth is a RF technology that operates
at 2.4 GHz, has an effective range of 32-feet (10 meters) (this range can change depending on the
type of power class), and has a transfer rate of 1 Mbps and throughput of 721 Kbps. A good
example of how Bluetooth could be used is the ability to connect a computer to a cell phone
without any wires or special connectors. To the right is a graphic example of a USB Bluetooth
adapter from SMC.
• Additional information about this specification can be found on the official Bluetooth
home page:
• See document CH000893 for additional information about removing the Bluetooth icon
from the desktop.
Also see: Access point, Cell phone, Cell phone definitions, Cordless, Transceiver, Wibree
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Wire stripper

A tool designed to remove the protective covering off of a cable

to expose the inner wires. Because different wires come in different shapes, there are dozens of
different types of wire strippers available. To the right is an example of a wire stripper, in this
example you'd place the cable in-between the blade and one of the ridges, twist it around the
cable and then pull the jacket from the cable.
• Additional information about making your own network cable can be found on document
Also see: Network definition, Strip

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hort for Wireless Fidelity, Wi-Fi utilizes one of the IEEE 802.11 wireless standards to achieve a
wireless network. A home wireless network commonly broadcasts a signal using a WAP to send
and receive signals from wireless devices on the network.
Also see: Access point, Cordless, IEEE 802.11, Network definitions, WAN, WAP, WEP,

1. In electronics, a signal is an electrical pulse that is used as a method of transmitting data.
2. When referring to communications, a signal is an indication that a device is capable of
reaching the destination.
Also see: Data signal, Digital signal, Electronics definitions, PM, Relay, Repeater


A hardware device designed to take incoming packets, analyzing

the packets and then directing them to the appropriate locations, moving the packets to another
network, converting the packets to be moved across a different type of network interface,
dropping the packets, or performing any other number of other types of actions. To the right is a
picture of the Linksys BEFSR11 router and is similar to what most home users would use for
their home network.
A router has a lot more capabilities than other network devices such as a hub or a switch that are
only able to perform basic network functions. For example, a hub is often used to transfer data
between computers or network devices, but does not analyze or do anything with the data it is
transferring. Routers however can analyze the data being sent over a network, change how it is
packaged and send it to another network or over a different type of network. For example,
routers are commonly used in home networks to share a single Internet connection with multiple

In the above example of a home network there are two different examples of a router, the router
and the wireless router. As can be seen in the example the router is what allows all the computers
and other network devices access the Internet. Below are some additional examples of different
types of routers used in a large network.
Short for Bridge Router, a "brouter" is a networking device that serves as both a bridge and a
Core router
A core router is a router in a computer network that routes data within a network but not between
Edge router
An edge Router is a router in a computer network that routes data between one or more
Virtual router
A Virtual Router is a backup router used in a VRRP setup.
Wireless router
See the access point definition for further information.
• How do I adjust the settings of my home router?
• Computer networking help and support.
Also see: Backbone, Bridge, Hub, Network definitions, Switch

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