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What to know about circuit breakers

Circuit breakers have many useful purposes and should never be taken for granted. For instance, imagine a scenario where you are at home, watching television, and then suddenly all of the lights in your home go out. More often than not, a total home blackout is not the cause of a burglar, but an overloaded circuit that’s protected by an electrical circuit breaker that has been tripped.

Normally, when a circuit is working as intended, its electrical circuit breaker, and its associated wires, will effortlessly transfer the required amperage needed by your electronic devices. Here, we will delve into circuit breakers and explore what they are and what causes them to overload.

What are circuit breakers?

Whenever electricity enters your property, it will travel through a circuit breaker box in your home. However, if you currently reside in an older residence, your home may use a fuse box to get the job done. In any event, the electricity will travel from your breaker or fuse box to multiple different circuits. Moreover, each circuit will be properly protected by either a fuse or a breaker.

At this point, we must discuss amp circuits, as different devices will have different amp circuit requirements. For instance, your dining rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms will generally be served by 20-amp circuits, as they are rooms that will likely involve heavy-duty items hairdryers, irons, and toaster ovens.

Conversely, smaller rooms that only run smaller electrical items, such as alarm clocks and conventional lights, will usually involve the use of lighter-duty circuits, such as 15-amp circuits.

It is also possible to have dedicated circuits, which may be the case if you own monolithic electrical ranges that require 10,000 watts, or electric water heaters that demand 5,000 watts. In such a scenario, you will likely require a 30 to a 50-amp circuit that is dedicated to the power-heavy appliance in question.

What is a circuit overload?

Your circuit breaker, and its associated wires and wire insulation, are all designed to work together as a cohesive system. However, this system has certain limits that you should be aware of.

For instance, if you overload the system, inadvertently or not, by pumping more current through it than what it is normally designed to handle, many things can go awry.

For example, the excess current may cause the wires to heat up. When this happens, the insulation that sheaths the wires may melt or degrade due to the intense heat. Subsequently, the current will no longer be confined within the wire itself, and, in some cases, a fire may ensue as a result.

Fortunately, circuit breakers are designed to help prevent fires from destroying homes, as they are designed to sense excess current. They will “trip” so that the power flow will cease before a fire damages your property.

Thus, it is advisable to avoid overloading your home by running many devices at once, particularly power-hungry devices, such as space heaters and electrical ranges.

How to Calculate Watts, Volts, and Amps with Relative Ease

To begin tackling the issue, we must first be aware of a simple formula, which will help us determine if all electrical items on a given circuit are overloading it. Moreover, this particular formula will also help us define some common terms and how they relate to one another.

In other words, the household electrical system in your home is measured in volts, while your home’s circuit breaker and tools are measured in amps. In addition, your handy space heater and your light bulbs are labelled in watts, so you must comprehend how they all fit together.

Fortunately, the formula is quite simple to understand; namely, that watts divided by voltage equates to amps.

To further illustrate, voltage here refers to the pressure under which electricity moves. Also, please note that electricity in this equation serves as a chain of neurons that is set in motion. We should also note that the majority of current households are pushed at 120 volts.

However, current for much larger appliances can be pushed to higher voltage yields, such as 240 volts. As for amps, which are sometimes referred to as amperes, they are defined as the measurement of the number of electrons that the voltage pushes past a certain point in a given second.

In regards to watts, they are merely a unit of measurement that is used to measure electrical power. In other words, watts indicate the number of electrons that were pushed through an electronic unit to activate it. As such, when you receive your electricity bill in the mail every month, you are actually being billed for the number of watts that your household consumed.

How to Prevent Circuit Tripping on a Temporary Basis

A quick and simple way to prevent your circuit breaker from tripping is to plug, say, your space heater into an outlet on a circuit that is designed for excess capacity. If you are uncertain about the existing load on your circuit, you can determine it by clicking your breaker off.

After that, activate your test outlets and turn on your light switches to assess which ones no longer work. Finally, calculate the total watt load throughput of gadgets on that particular circuit.

In sum, once you have mapped out a circuit (and have added electrical loads), you will be able to easily ascertain whether or not you can affix more electrical items into a given circuit without causing it to overload.

Circuits Central

If you would like to learn more about circuit breakers in Toronto or require state-of-the-art electronic circuit design and manufacturing services, then please visit Circuits Central at our website. You can also give us a call at 888-821-7746 if you would like to discuss your circuit design and manufacturing needs over the phone.

Reworking your BGA

Those interested in BGA soldering may require help to rework their BGA. However, in our guide, you will learn how to rework various BGA components using many tools that are readily available to many people, as well as a hot air gun. Caution must be practiced, as high temperatures can be generated, even during routine operations.

For instance, elevated temperatures may lead to unreliability, in regards to the tin solder that affixes the pins to the board pads. Excess heat may lead to either continuous shrinking, expansion of the circuit board, or the component in question.

It should also be noted that professional repairs will generally require fairly expensive equipment because BGA components have a very precise temperature curve for cooling. Still, the guide below can be used for people who want to take matters into their own hands to salvage, say, an old satellite TV receiver or personal computer.

What You Will Need to Rework Your BGA

You will need some iron wire that is thick such as a wire clothing hanger, as well as a soda can, a pair of scissors, a hot air gun, some flux and tin solder, a vice or a pair of pliers, and some scrap iron strips. You can obtain these from pallet material that is used to keep loads intact.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 1

You will need to take your BGA chip and measure it carefully. Once you have the length, you’ll need to use a hammer and a vice to bend the strip so that a square is formed. You can also use a pair of pliers to bend the strip, or you can combine a pair of pliers with a hammer and vice combination to get the job done more effectively.

In any event, the square that you make should be slightly bigger than the actual BGA chip that you own, so that the heat will be allowed to flow beneath the chip body.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 2

Now you will need to make a clip by using some iron wire that you have at your disposal. Once you have made your clip, you should set it aside, as you will need it, later on, to hold all of the various parts and components together.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 3

Next, finish your soda off completely and use a pair of scissors or a cutter to cut open your soda can. Then, you will need to flatten the can and cut out a square hole. The reason why the hole needs to be square-shaped is so that the square frame that you made — from step 1 — can fit tightly into it.

The aluminum foil on your soda can should suffice to protect the remainder of your board components from excess heat once you begin heating the chip via your hot air gun. Heating issues should not be a problem, provided you followed all the steps carefully.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 4

At this point, your soldering flux will need to penetrate the actual BGA chip. You can aid your cause by using a small brush, ensuring to reach all sides.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 5

Next, you will need to take a tiny piece of your tin solder and roll it into a small ball. Then, set your ball aside, as you will need to return to it during the heating process.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 6

The circuit board will need to be clamped to your workbench at this point so that it doesn’t move about as you work. Ensure that the chip stays off the table so that you will be able to heat the chip from underneath easily. Next, you will need to take your square frame and your aluminum foil and set them in position using the wire clip that you made at the beginning of your project.

Take your small tin ball and set it down in the nucleus of your BGA chip. The board will need to be positioned so that the tin solder ball will not roll away once the tin has been melted sufficiently.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 7

Now comes the truly fun part, which is the heating. To begin the heating process, you will need to pull out your hot air gun, ensuring to set it to a low temperature to start. You will then need to heat the board from the bottom side as well as from above until your tin blob begins melting.

After it has melted, continue heating the area for at least an additional thirty seconds. You will know that it has melted sufficiently when the tin turns into a metallic ball that is quite shiny when it has been melted, and it will roll away if you fail to follow our steps mentioned above.

As an added tip, try and hold the gun perpendicular to the board — and above the chip — ensuring that there is an appropriate amount of distance between the chip and your hot air gun: When performed correctly the tin ball should remain on your chip instead of falling to the floor.

Reworking Your BGA: Step 8

The final step involves cooling the board. Once your board has cooled, it should be completely reworked. It will be given a new lease on life, and will not need to be thrown into a dumpster, where it would have likely been transported to a local landfill.

If you would like to learn more about BGA soldering, call Circuits Central at 888-821-7746 or contact us here.

Electronics projects for beginners

Many would-be engineers enjoy tinkering with various electronic components in order to fabricate DIY projects that they can proudly call their own. Many of their efforts will prove fruitful, thanks to the recent streamlining of various projects, and the relatively low cost of many components on the open market.

Here, we will discuss some small and fun electronic projects that beginners can get into with minimal effort and know-how.

Creating a Mini-Charger

In the past, many people would need to spend large sums of money to charge their USB-based devices while travelling from destination to destination. Today, however, things have changed significantly. While many people opt for portable chargers that they can purchase for a small amount on eBay or Amazon, another option is to make one yourself.

You can build your very own battery-powered USB charger using a small tin, such as an Altoids tin. To create the device, you will need 2 AA batteries and some charge circuitry, as well as an Altoids tin — or something of comparable size — to house the components.

You can also use rechargeable batteries instead of the 2 AA batteries if you wish. You can even upgrade to either D or C cells to create a mega battery pack. Virtually any device, including smartphones, cameras, and music players, can be charged via this homemade USB charger. For full details/specifications, please consult this guide.

USB Light

Another fun and exciting project involves using a supercapacitor to power a tiny LED. To do so, you will first need to charge the supercapacitor using a USB unit. The components that you will need to build your supercapacitor USB light are an LED, a supercapacitor, and a USB plug.

We would suggest that you use it as an emergency light in the event of a power failure in your home. For a full step-by-step guide on how to build a reliable supercapacitor USB light for a few dollars, take a look at this guide

Stereo Mixer

Audiophiles who also enjoy do-it-yourself projects may get some enjoyment out of making a stereo mixer using an Altoids tin. You will be able to enjoy multiple audio inputs via a stereo, such as a car stereo.

This is a fairly simple project that many beginners will enjoy working on and only requires a few components to complete. For a full guide on how to build a car stereo mixer using an Altoids tin and a few other components, please consult this guide.

Universal Remote

If you have to use more than one remote to enjoy your entertainment hub at home, then you may be thinking about making things easier on yourself via a universal remote. However, while you can pick up a universal remote at your local retailer, or order one online for that matter, it may be more rewarding to make one yourself.

You can make your own remote to turn many television sets on and off with ease. The device will also scan for several different frequencies by itself, and th

For a full guide on how to build your very own universal remote in a few hours, take a look at this guide.

LED-Based Throwies

For those who have never tackled a DIY project before, this one comes highly recommended, as anyone can do it with the right materials. Here, you will be making LED throwies, and you can decorate your entire house for the holidays or kick spring off right by using thousands of these luminous beauties. The LED throwies look like Skittles that have been set alright, and you will need to tape the LEDs to a watch battery to complete the job.

Flashlight Chapstick

If you want to feel like a stealthy spy, then why not build a makeshift flashlight that fits in a chapstick container? For just a few dollars, you can make an LED flashlight that can be housed comfortably in a chapstick container with just a little know-how and patience.

For the full guide on how to do so, click here.

Take the Next Step

While the aforementioned projects are very simple to take-on, this one will take a little bit more know-how, but we would still consider it to be a relatively small and easy project for most people.

Here, we will be making a persistence-of-vision toy that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

It also serves as a superb introduction to newcomers who want to learn the basics of programming a microcontroller, as well as the fundamentals of assembling kits and soldering.

In fact, this website has all the required code that you will need in order to program the microcontroller, so you can simply download it when you have the time.

You will only need to modify a mere fraction of the code to program your personalized message into the system. This means newbies who want to start with an easy project should look no further than this fun and exciting persistence-of-vision project.

There is a myriad of different projects that neophytes can tackle with just a little bit of money, patience, and gumption, with more advanced projects available for those who are prepared to take things to the next level.

For more small and fun electronic projects for beginners, call Circuits Central at 888-821-7746 or contact us here.


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