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Solid State University

Understand the following components: Potentiometers Thermistors Capacitors Diodes Zener Diodes Transistors

Differentiate between



A rheostat changes current flow in a series circuit

A potentiometer is a voltage sensor in parallel

Less resistance


More resistance



Very low current


4 volt

Used as a sensor


2 volt

poor ground


2.5 volt (should be 2 volt)

open ground


5 volt (should be 2 volt)

Rheostats are wired in series with the load their purpose is to change amp flow Potentiometers sense motion check for: reference voltage good ground un-interrupted signal

0.01 5.03 4.51 5.02 4.51 V V

0.52 4.52 V V

0.52 0.0 V V

MIL lamp lit. TPS code

What is wrong?

Thermistors change resistance with temperature
Negative Temperature Coefficient thermistors decrease in resistance when they heat Commonly used to sense changing temperatures

High Resistance when Cold!

Low Resistance when Hot!

Hot or Cold? COLD!

4.52 V

Hot or Cold? HOT!

1.53 V

1.15 1.45 V

Gauge reads colder than actual temperature

0.49 V 0.02

Gauge reads colder than actual temperature

0.47 V

Gauge reads colder than actual temperature

Thermistors are checked with an Ohmmeter or a Voltmeter A temperature probe or thermometer should be used when checking

Capacitors store an electrical charge
Capacitors provide an alternate path for electrons and act as a current shock absorber Capacitors are commonly used to suppress noise alternators coils motors

Capacitors are rated in microfarads Capacitors are connected in parallel with a load

they can be checked with an ohmmeter for short or open circuits

Find the Capacitor


When coils turn off they self induce and create a voltage surge
this surge can create electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference capacitors absorb this surge to dampen interference

Conductors have 3 or fewer electrons in the valence ring of the atom

copper has one aluminum has three

Insulators have 5 or more electrons in the valence ring of the atom

Elements with four valence electrons are not good as insulators or conductors Silicon, when is a crystal form, shares valence electrons to make a good insulator Silicon can be doped to add electrons to the valence ring or remove electrons from the valence ring

Silicon doped with phosphorous (which has five electrons in the valence ring) will create an N type semiconductor Silicon doped with boron (which has three electrons in the valence ring) will create a P type semiconductor

Placing an N type semiconductor with a P type will create a diode. In a forward biased diode current will flow with a small amount of resistance Too much current will overheat and destroy the diode

Reverse biasing a diode will create very high resistance at the center of the diode and current will not flow
Too much voltage will overcome the internal resistance and the diode will short out

0.0 V 12.6

Arrow shows conventional theory (hole flow)

Diodes wired like this will block current

12.0 12.6 0.1 V

Arrow shows conventional theory (hole flow) Diodes wired like this will allow current to flow with a slight voltage drop

Testing Diodes
Diodes require .2 - .6 volts to forward bias Digital ohmmeters may not supply this voltage with ohm check

use diode check feature when using DVOM

Testing Diodes
Shorted diodes on alternators will allow A/C voltage that may confuse a control module
Routine checks with oscilloscope are easy

Anti- Spike Diodes

Clamping or Anti-Spike diodes protect sensitive control modules

Anti- Spike Diodes

Functioning anti spiking diodes will exhibit un-equal resistance when reversing polarity (using an analogue meter)

Failure in Anti- Spike Diodes

An open, or shorted diode will damage computer control modules
Open diodes allow spike voltages to harm electronic components

Shorted diodes (and relay coil windings) will cause too much current to flow and burn out switching transistors in computers

Testing Anti- Spike Diodes

Open diodes will show equal resistance with reversed polarity (using an analogue meter) Shorted diodes will show equal, and low resistance

Open Diode

Shorted Diode

Good Diode

Good Diode

Types of Diodes
Positive diode Negative diode Zener Diode

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Transistors can act as a relay

they use a small signal current to control a larger working current

Transistors can act as a signal amplifier

PNP transistor
Points In Permanently Will conduct current when the base sees a Negative polarity

NPN transistor
Never Points In Base must be Positive to allow transistor to conduct current

Transistors are damaged by too much current
Transistors are damaged by high voltage