Discrete Component Basics

This tutorial sets out to introduce basic components in simple terms. At this level of explanation, some technicalities are avoided until later topics. In Summary:

The following are commonly referred to as discrete components, they are individual components that perform a specific single function within the circuit. A microchip (Intergrated Circuit) is not considered a discrete component, as it is more complex, may provide several functions, and internally is made up of many discrete components. We’ll cover microchips after discrete Component Basics, as circuits that use them most often need discrete components to support their function.


Used to restrict current in circuits.


Used to provide polarity in circuits by preventing current from flowing the 'wrong' way around the circuit. LEDs are a special type of diode that also provide light as their primary function.


A pair of plates that build up electrical charge that can store and discharge current, provide a filtering function – Think of it like an electronic battery.


A coil used to store energy in a magnetic field.


Used to amplify part of a circuit depending on an input source, for example, amplifying a weak input signal to provide a proportional stronger output.

Metal Oxide Varistors

A component used to absorb excessive voltage, providing a circuit protection function.

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