Papercraft gadget to help you figure out the value of resistors

If you don't want to rely on an obscene/racist mnemonic to help you figure out the value of resistors based on their colored bands, you can make this nifty papercraft resistor decoder from Adafruit.

It’s the newest tool in our Circuit Playground -- when you can’t get to your iPhone or iPad, use paper! One side helps you read 4-band types and the other side takes care of 5-band types. The Resistor Helper is on Thingiverse as a PDF (with Illustrator editability preserved). Designed by Adafruit with Matthew Borgatti.
Resistor Helper – Papercraft Resistor Calculator



    1. I have tried to memorize them, but my brain is not as good as yours. Don’t you think people who have a hard time memorizing the color codes should have aids to help them?

    1. Yeah, I never learned that one.  

      Personally, I remember them as 

      (dark colors) (rainbow) (light colors)

      1. That’s pretty much how I taught it. I also think of black/brown as “infrared” and grey/white as “ultraviolet”. This papercraft computer would have been a big help.
        Keeping the resistor boxes sorted and labeled is also a big help, but most of all, each student should have his or her own decent multimeter to verify resistances and capacitances.
        (as well as take-home component sets, solderless breadboards, and Forrest Mims books.)

        1. Ditto on the rainbow spectrum.

          Like someone else mentioned, when surface-mount came out the resistors simply had the numbers on them (which brought the new issue of needing magnification to look at a resisitor).

  1. Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly? I’m old and could give a shit about racism sexism or political correctness!

      1. I didn’t so much figure it out as look it up on Wikipedia.  It’s impressive as a mnemonic device, because that shit is so vile that after a single reading it is now burned in to my brain.

  2. Better Be Right Or Your Great Big Venture Goes Wrong is what I learned in middle school…

  3. Don’t know how it is in the rest of the country but electronics programs have been disappearing from community colleges in northern CA. . However, the kinds of classes I refer to as young adult daycare continue to multiply.

    1.  The program I attended in the 90’s is no longer available at my local college.  The instructor said he used to have many companies scouting our program every year, then it all went overseas.  We used to have 5 or 6 big name companies within a 50 mile area now there are maybe 2.  (My instructor blames NAFTA, I know very little about it)

      It’s a shame, the good programs fall off and ITT tech is still going strong for 5 times the price.  Then again, it was a hard program that typically lost 75% of the students by the end of second year.  We had 30hrs a week of lab/theory not counting the math/english classes.

      BTW, we just learned the sexist part of the mnemonic (like anthony peone) we skipped the racist part.

      1. If I knew where to get a soldering job around here (D.C.) I’d probably take it, pay cut and all.  When I lived in Austin I always figured I could go back to soldering.  No stress to take home.  But, yeah, pay was low (when and where I did it).

        This was at IBM, which I am not sure actually produces physical objects anymore (they certainly don’t in Austin, not for 12 or 13 years).

  4. I find an associative system much easier – for a start, you don’t need to go all the way through the mneumonic to get to the last few numbers. I made this for my students:
    They learn the code in just a few minutes. Go over it a few times over the next couple of days, and it sticks.

      1. Was stretching it for this one. I always put a line through my 7s, so I picture the line as a knife, and associate it as violent/violet.
        Let me know if you can think of a better one (though the main point is it that works)

  5. Perhaps the more interesting question to be asked is why this particular mnemonic device came into being.

    1. There are apps for that, including Resistor Photo ID, and Ohm Sense.  I’ve never used either, but they exist. 

  6. It’s 2012!!!  Print the resistance on the resistor in numbers for EFs sake! Color coding dates from a time where printing tech sucked. We’ve far surpassed that time. It’s time to move on into the 21st century.

    1.  Most of my resistors in the parts bin have printed values, and they’re all at least 15 years old.  My age means using a magnifier to read them, of course.

  7. Bye Bye Rosie Off You Go Birmingham via Great Western (UK version as taught to me by my Dad)

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