Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Putting It All Together

Thought for the day:  Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.  [Mikhail Baryshnikov]

[THEME: Amateur radio]


Know what it is? Basically, it's a single piece of semiconductor material (i.e. silicon or germanium) that's used in an electronic circuit in place of a bunch of individual components.

Kinda like if you were building with Lego blocks. (Oh, you KNOW you love 'em!) Let's say you had a big bag of itty bitty blocks to put together. Sure, you could pull out your handy dandy magnifying glass and do it, of course, but what if some of those blocks were already put together for you into larger units? Things would suddenly become a lot easier, wouldn't they?

With integrated circuits, that's exactly what manufacturers do. They put some of the components together for you. They put the components within the semiconductor material, and in such a manner that the IC performs a specific function within the circuit. Oh, and because of the piece, or chip, of silicon within these devices, ICs are also know as ... chips.

How many of these components can you identify?

In the picture above, the ICs are mostly clustered in the lower left hand corner, but the little red jobbie to the left of the LEDs is one, too.

Some ICs may only have a few components; others may have hundreds, or even thousands. (Whew! Talk about saving builders a TON of soldering!) Some are general-purpose chips; others are very specialized, and designed for one specific purpose within a circuit. It isn't a stretch of the imagination to call ICs electronic building blocks.

I'll bet you can pick out the ICs on this circuit board.

And this one.

The upside to ICs? They make life a lot easier for builders, and they're extremely space-efficient, which is one  reason commercially-produced electronic appliances and gadgets are so much smaller than they used to be.

The downside? If a component within an IC in your electronic appliance or gadget goes belly up, you may be outta luck. As technology advances, and IC designs mutate, the exact IC may no longer be readily available, so it may cost less to replace an item than have it repaired. More and more, these items are being considered throwaways ...

                                                              to SOME people.



  1. I work for a semiconductor company! Yay! :)

  2. I love hardcore geekdom. And I knew a band in the 70s called Integrated Circuit! Still have a couple of the posters!

  3. Re: How many of these components can you identify?

    I can identify everything except the white rectangle top row --between green capacitor and little fuse. I suspect it is a chiclet.

  4. I recognised the ruler, does that count: ;-)

    (Well, I thought I'd say it before somebody else did!)

  5. I'm with Sarah. The ruler, it's all I got. Still very informative, as always and much appreciated.

    I think I may suffer withdrawl when you get to Z. Bah.

  6. Well I clearly recognize that it all just looks like a bunch of strange stuff to me and yet, and yet, I did recognize the TERM integrated circuit.

  7. If you build it, they will come!

    Impressive, Most Impressive... to the challenge "I" is for Interesting!
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

  8. I can ID the ICs some transistors and capacitors after that I am just guessing!

  9. Loving this series and learning so much!! I knew absolutely nothing about any of this before starting to read your blog!

    Enjoying the A to Z Challenge and meeting new bloggers! Keep up the good work!

  10. Integrated circuits are much more enlightened than segregated circuits. It's best when the electrons all work together on a happy and harmonious bed of silicon...

    Lovin' your A-to-Z, Susan!

  11. I used to work for a rep firm and sold semiconductors. Had little idea about them except a few key phrases, but my job was to get the daily prices and to sell them to people who were in purchasing. Now money I understand.

  12. When I was a kid, at Christmas I was always excited for a while about my new toys, but my greatest discovery was the cache of boxes they came in. Now that was something cool to play with.
    So true about our disposable culture--something stops working, get rid of it and replace it with another. Hope we don't start thinking about people that way---with the divorce rate the way it is I think some do think that way.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  13. Wow. I may have to come back and read this with a stronger cup of coffee. I'm impressed, lady.


    I hope you are enjoying Enchanted by Starlight. If you are please...
    a)Leave a positive review on amazon or goodreads
    b)Tell your friends/bloggers/organizations.

    I need all the support I can get. Hugs.

  14. I love the way you ended this post, you homebrewing girl, you.

  15. Effervescencia- (YAY! I spelled it right the first time... and here, I was gonna ask you if I could call you Effie...) Very cool that you work for a semiconductor company. Companies like yours have revolutionized the world of electronics.

    Austan- Hardcore geekdom, huh? I dunno. I think of myself as more of a nerd ...

    Geo- HA! Good job. I'll just let you chew on it awhile before I tell you what it is ...

    Sarah- Absolutely! Sure, it counts!

    Skippy- Aw, how sweet. No reason to have withdrawal symptoms, though. Maybe I'll keep throwing out amateur radio tidbits every now and then.

    Delores- There ya go. And now you kinda know what the term means.

    Jeremy- Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure this challenge has kept you hopping. From blog to blog, that is.

    Al- Hey, you're a step ahead of a lot of people!

    Cro- I'm sorry. Tomorrow's post will be much easier on the gray matter.

    Paula- Thanks. I'm really glad you've been enjoying the posts.

    Chris- HA! I love the way you put that, but I have a sad revelation to make. Those pesky electrons aren't conducive to happy and harmonious at all; they're MUCH too negative.

    Arleen- Whether you understood exactly what you were selling or not, I'll bet you did a great job selling them. Personality counts.

    Lee- It's alarming how society has become so comfortable living in a disposable culture. There's enough to be said there to fill a whole post, so I'll leave it at that. Thanks for stopping by. (My grandchildren STILL love to play with the boxes.)

    Tina- Like I told Cro, tomorrow's post will be easier on the gray matter. I haven't started reading your book yet, but it's in my TBR queue.

  16. I'm ashamed to admit I could only identify the ruler. I better stick with Lego blocks! :D

  17. I built a circuit board in my AP physics class in high school. Unfortunately, all that science cracked off of the sides of my brain and is now floating around loose. Havoc abounds.

    Happy A to Z. Great post.


  18. I've always been fascinated by all those little pieces that make up electronics- and by the people who understand them.

  19. Julie- Hey, there's nothing wrong with Legos!

    Lucy- Maybe it's floating loose now, but I'll betcha you could reattach it to your synapses with no trouble at all if you found it interesting. Happy A-Z to you, too. Thank you for stopping by and for signing on as a follower.

    Jewels- Glad you find them fascinating, dear lady. Thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate it.

  20. Im with Tina....
    (swoops hand over my head)
    too much for me

  21. AHa! This explains the throwaway epimdemic in our society! Fascinating tidbit, thank you. I'm doing the A-Z challenge thingie too.

  22. So glad I don't have to understand any of this to make my stuff work for me! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

  23. Effie works fine :) sounds elvish. My real name's Udita (in ancient Sanskrit, it mean 'the rising') so you could just as easily call me that too :)

  24. John- Nah, not too much. Just not your bag.

    Margo- Well, it at least explains some of society's throwaway attitudes, anyway. Thanks for stopping by. I'll visit your blog later and see what you've been doing for the challenge.

    Sheila- There's a certain amount of comfort in knowing we can just plug something in, and it'll do whatever job it's supposed to do, isn't it? (Hmmm, too bad politicians aren't like that...)

    Udita- What a lovely name ... and meaning. I'll try to remember it.