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Simple yet effective, they come in a dizzying array of forms and materials. Vital to so many circuits for storage, timing, and filtration – the mighty capacitor!

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In this installment of the MAKE presents series I explain – how to build a leyden jar, how the capacitor was invented, and how to use one to light an LED. I incorporated some viewer requests from MAKE presents: The Resistor and I’ll be adding more in the next installment. Please a comment if there’s anything else you’d like to see covered in this series.

Collin Cunningham

Born, drew a lot, made video, made music on 4-track, then computer, more songwriting, met future wife, went to art school for video major, made websites, toured in a band, worked as web media tech, discovered electronics, taught myself electronics, blogged about DIY electronics, made web videos about electronics and made music for them … and I still do!


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Comments

  1. Frenzy says:

    I think you should do one covering ohm’s law. I’m still a little sketchy understanding it.

    also i think transistors and diodes are in order i can see this stuff being played in high school science classes!

    ————————————
    groovypancakes.com

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    Hi Collin – cheers for that, I am a total newb and it’s really useful to have the basics explained. I’ve kindof dived in at Arduino level with only very vague ideas about what the basic associated components do. I think there are probably quite a lot of people like me – programmers, who are starting in the middle etc, and who are struggling a bit because we’ve missed the beginning.

    Anyway… did you know you look a bit like Graham from the Goodies?

    http://www.genomicon.com/2009/02/geeks-from-the-future/

  3. csalzman says:

    Thanks for the video, extremely helpful!

  4. anachrocomputer says:

    Surely there was an earlier episode featuring the LED and the resistor?

  5. Jake von Slatt says:

    Oh that’s marvellous! Leyden jars are neat things and fun as heck to play with and I’ll second the Ohm’s law suggestion – a solid understanding of Ohm’s law is essential.

  6. Michael Una says:

    Nice one Collin. You make the perfect hip mad scientist.

  7. cyenobite2 says:

    Thanks for that!
    More please :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    excellent video! very well done! I’m looking forward to more of these “make explains” videos. If someone had explained electronics to me like this when I was a kid, I probably would have taken a very different career path.

  9. Ann says:

    This series is great! A fantastic resource for noobs and even old hands who might not know about the history of their favourite components. Keep it up!

  10. Anonymous says:

    An inductor vid would be fantastic – to complete the holy “Inductor, Resistor, Capacitor” triad ;)

  11. Aaron says:

    Great vids, but capacitors are so much more than just “energy storage devices”. How are they different from a battery? Batteries store energy, right?

    How about their amazing ability to pass AC signals and leave DC alone.
    Or their ability to pass only signals above a certain frequency, or cut off frequencies above a frequency. Or do both in the same circuit.

    How about their ability to filter a noise out of a DC circuit (like in a power supply) and fill in some extra juice when needed.

    Or their ability to be used as a timer (when coupled with a resistor).

    How about showing the square wave going into a cap and the output like you did in the inductor vid?

    And lastly, how could you make a video about capacitors without blowing an electrolytic up!!! Come on!

    I see a Capacitors Part II in your future…

    Really great job guys!

  12. ron says:

    Thanks Collin, cool presentation….

  13. […] again Collin Cunningham comes through! This time he provides an elegant description of capacitors, including early capacitors called Leyden […]

  14. thomastheo says:

    Hello from Leiden, the Netherlands… Thanks for the tutorial!