Printed Circuit Boards

Written by Adam Blau
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Printed circuit boards provide a means for current to flow within an electronic device. Imprinted onto the board are tiny conductive pathways, composed most frequently of copper. The current emanates from a power source (often a battery or alternating current), travels the path of the circuit board, is processed by various components on the board (such as resistors and capacitors), and completes its trip back at the power source.

If any part of this signal chain is interrupted, the flow of power through the entire circuit ceases to exist. As any cursory examination of a printed circuit board will demonstrate, the circuit paths imprinted on the surface can be extraordinarily complex and intricate. It is vital that the manufacturer of the circuit board take great care in creating it, lest the circuit be incomplete or inadvertently bridged at an inappropriate spot.

Circuit Boarding House

Printed circuit boards do more than simply conduct current. They also provide a "home" for the various electronic components that comprise the final device. Transistors and resistors are soldered onto the board, and outboard components such as knobs and switches are also connected via solder pads.

The circuit board is where all of the electricity is managed. It is imperative that the circuit board remain protected from the elements, lest one or more of the components be damaged and the board cease functioning. Because of its sensitivity, circuit boards are almost always enclosed in protective cases, more often than not suspended and secured inside, so as not to disturb the onboard components.

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