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Send Email. Mon-Fri, 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm U. Mountain Time:. Chat With Us. Metric Prefixes are incredibly useful for describing quantities of the International System of Units SI in a more succinct manner. When exploring the world of electronics, these units of measurement are very important and allow people from all over the world to communicate and share their work and discoveries.


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Some common units used in electronics include voltage for electrical potential difference, ampere for electrical current, watts for power, farad for capacitance, henry's for inductance, and ohms for resistance. This tutorial will not only go over some of the most commonly used units in electronics but will also teach you the metric prefixes that help describe all of these base units in quantities ranging from the insanely large to the incredibly small. If you would like to know more about the components that use the units and prefixes described in this tutorial, check out some of these related tutorials.

We've been measuring stuff for millennia, and our units used for those measures have been evolving since then. There are now dozens of units to describe physical quantities.

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For example, length can be measured by the foot, meter, fathom, chain, parsec, league, and so on. In order to better communicate measurements, we needed a standardized system of units, which every scientist and measurer could use to share their findings.

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Using the units above means everyone is speaking the same language. In dealing with electronics, there are a handful of units we'll be encountering more often than others. These include:. Now that we know the units, let's look at how they can be augmented with prefixes to make them even more usable! These are what we'll consider the standard six prefixes taught in most High School science courses. However, as you'll soon see, when learning about electronics and computer science, the range of prefixes well exceeds the standard six.

While these prefixes cover a rang of 10 -3 to 10 3 , many electronic values can have a much larger range. These above prefixes dramatically help describe quanities of units in large amounts. Instead of saying 3,,, Hertz, you can say 3. This allows us to describe incredibly large numbers of units succinctly.

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There are also prefixes for helping communicate tiny numbers as well. Now, instead one trillionth of a second, it can be referred to as a picosecond. This allows you to distinguish between the two when they use the same letter. As an example, one mW milliwatt does not equal one MW megawatt. As you'll see in the Bits and Bytes section , there is also some confusion with k and K when dealing with the binary base 2 prefixes. The beautiful thing about these metric prefixes is that, once you get the hang of conversion between a few of them, translating that ability to all the other prefixes is easy.

As a first simple example, lets translate 1 Ampere A into smaller values. A milliampere is 1 thousandth of the unit Ampere hence 1 Ampere is equal to milliamperes. Going further, 1 milliampere is equivalent to microamperes and so on. Going in the opposite direction, 1 Ampere is. Now that's a lot of current! As you may have noticed, switching between prefixes is the same as moving the decimal point over by 3 places. This is also the same as multiplying or dividing by When you're going up to a larger prefix, from Kilo to Mega for example, the decimal place is moved three places to the left.

Mega is the prefix right above Kilo so regardless of whether we are talking about Watts, Amperes, Farads, or whatever unit, the movement of the decimal place by three positions to the left still works when moving up a prefix. When moving down a prefix, let's say from nano- to pico-, the decimal place is moved three places to the right. Here's a short list so you can see the pattern:.

See the trend? Each prefix is a thousand times larger than the previous.

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While a little overwhelming at first, translation from one prefix to another eventually becomes second nature. Working with bits and bytes can cause a bit confusion pun intended. Since computers work with base 2 numbers instead of base 10, it is often unclear which number base one is referring to when using the metric prefixes. For example, 1 Kilobyte is often used to mean bytes base 10 , or it can be used to represent bytes base 2 , resulting in misunderstandings.

To eliminate these mix-ups, the International Electrotechnial Commision came up with some new prefixes for the base 2 bits and bytes. These are referred to as binary prefixes. Unfortunately, this system is not widely used in practice, so anytime you hear a number of bytes or bits, you have to wonder if they are talking about them in base 2 or base Hard drive companies and others typically sell products in base 10 as it makes it sound larger.

A 1 Terabyte hard drive will turn out to actually be about This is where we run into the upper case and lower case 'k' situation. The proper prefix for kibi if 'Ki'. However, it will sometimes appear as just and upper case 'K', which, again, represents temperature in Kelvins.

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Mountain Time: Chat With Us. Shopping Cart 0 items. Product Menu. Desktop Site Education. All Categories. Development Single Board Comp. Home Tutorials What is an Arduino?

What is an Arduino? Introduction Arduino is an open-source platform used for building electronics projects.

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What Does it Do? What's on the board? The Arduino Family Arduino makes several different boards, each with different capabilities. Here are a few options that are well-suited to someone new to the world of Arduino: Arduino Uno R3 The Uno is a great choice for your first Arduino.

The Extended Family While your Arduino board sure is pretty, it can't do a whole lot on its own -- you've got to hook it up to something. Sensors With some simple code, the Arduino can control and interact with a wide variety of sensors - things that can measure light , temperature , degree of flex , pressure , proximity , acceleration , carbon monoxide , radioactivity , humidity , barometric pressure , you name it , you can sense it! Resources and Going Further Now that you know all about the Arduino family, which board you might want to use for your project, and that there are tons of sensors and shields to help take your projects to the next level.

How do I install a custom Arduino library? It's easy! This tutorial will go over how to install an Arduino library using the Arduino Library Manager. For libraries not linked with the Arduino IDE, we will also go over manually installing an Arduino library. Favorited Favorite A step-by-step guide to installing and testing the Arduino software on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Arduino Board Comparison Guides. Examining the diverse world of Arduino boards and understanding the differences between them before choosing one for a project.

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