Resistor color code mnemonic

Thread Starter

mtonge

Joined Apr 19, 2016
93
My grandson has expressed an interest in electronics and I thought that I may be able to help him with some of the basics. I remember how my high school electronics instructor taught us to remember the resistor color codes with a little saying starting with ‘bad boys’. As much as I would like to pass on this little gem to a new generation, I know his mother wouldn’t appreciate it. Does anyone know another mnemonic for the resistor color code?
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,684
Just make him to classify some hundred resistors in one or two days. Good chances he will learn to recognize them almost automatically after that.
Never used any problematic mnemonic but keeping all my resistors duly classified.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
28,185
My grandson has expressed an interest in electronics and I thought that I may be able to help him with some of the basics. I remember how my high school electronics instructor taught us to remember the resistor color codes with a little saying starting with ‘bad boys’. As much as I would like to pass on this little gem to a new generation, I know his mother wouldn’t appreciate it. Does anyone know another mnemonic for the resistor color code?
Does he know the order of the colors of the rainbow?

If so, then that's what the resistor color code is based on. Because there are only six rainbow colors {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet} which can be remembers with the old ROY G. BIV (just remember that indigo was dropped long, long ago), they needed four more. So they went from black to white with {black, brown, gray, white} and stuck the rainbow colors right in the middle, giving {black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white}.
 

Thread Starter

mtonge

Joined Apr 19, 2016
93
I hadn't heard that one before. Mr McCullum taught industrial arts classes including basic electricity and electronics to high school boys. After he taught us the color code mnemonic, we would chant it like a mantra. There weren't any girls taking industrial arts, so we didn't think much about it. Presenting the color code as a rainbow (or just having him practice by sorting my parts tray) may be a better idea.
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
834
Does he know the order of the colors of the rainbow?

If so, then that's what the resistor color code is based on. Because there are only six rainbow colors {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet} which can be remembers with the old ROY G. BIV (just remember that indigo was dropped long, long ago), they needed four more. So they went from black to white with {black, brown, gray, white} and stuck the rainbow colors right in the middle, giving {black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white}.
I like this one, at least your killing 2 birds with one stone. If he ever takes a Physics class he will know the medium of light in a Rainbow, which will lead to prisms and wavelengths , basically how light behaves within a medium or refractor.

kv
 

pfofit

Joined Nov 29, 2006
57
Does he know the order of the colors of the rainbow?

If so, then that's what the resistor color code is based on. Because there are only six rainbow colors {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet} which can be remembers with the old ROY G. BIV (just remember that indigo was dropped long, long ago),
I remember from my old high school physics class ROYGBIV as
Run O You Great Big Irish Villain.

Funny that now I can't remember what I went downstairs for though.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
28,185
I remember from my old high school physics class ROYGBIV as
Run O You Great Big Irish Villain.

Funny that now I can't remember what I went downstairs for though.
Oh, that last one hits close to home!

Just a week or so ago I went downstairs to get something (now I can't remember what) that was sitting on the edge of a counter within arms reach of the bottom of the steps. But I did something else and went upstairs and realized I had left it downstairs. So I went back down and, once again, got distracted and ended up upstairs without it. I did this a total of FOUR times before I finally got what I went down for and then only because I single-mindedly stared at the item as I walked down and grabbed it and immediately went back up.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was getting old.
 

Thread Starter

mtonge

Joined Apr 19, 2016
93
Worrying about the here after...what am I here after? The grand kids are coming later this summer, and I'll have a few more toys on the bench by then. I gave Robbie (age 11) an Arduino starter kit for Christmas to see if this is something he would be interested in. If there is real interest, any hurdles will be challenges not impediments. It would be gratifying if I could help him along, but no pressure. Kids just want to have fun.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
28,151
We've had this same question asked recently.
The best answer I can give is this one:

Black
Brown
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Violet
Gray
White

Edit: corrected, thanks to Dennis for spotting the mistake.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
15,511
The best answer I can give is this one:

Black
Brown
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Grey
Violet
White
Violet and Gray are transposed. But I get what you mean.

When I read resistor color codes, I see the colors and read them as numbers. For example, if the code is yellow-violet-orange, I read it as 47k.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,915
Violet and Gray are transposed. But I get what you mean.

When I read resistor color codes, I see the colors and read them as numbers. For example, if the code is yellow-violet-orange, I read it as 47k.
o_O ... in my book, that's called schizophrenia ... :eek::p:D
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
28,185
Violet and Gray are transposed. But I get what you mean.

When I read resistor color codes, I see the colors and read them as numbers. For example, if the code is yellow-violet-orange, I read it as 47k.
I can't say that I ever reached that point. For the very common values I did, but if you give me a 68 kΩ or a 820 Ω resistor I'm walking up the the colors. But then I never worked with hardware on a day-to-day basis for years. I designed chips most of the time and designed the test hardware and built it up and used it, but that was a tiny fraction of my time overall. Maybe if and when I finally retire....
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
15,511
I never worked with hardware on a day-to-day basis for years.
I started doing the automatic translation from colors to numbers about 2 years in to my career. I only did what I'd call hardware for about 4 years. The last 3 of those years were in R&D where being able to read the color code was helpful.

I spent the last 30-some years of my career working more on IC design support; managing computer systems, supporting physical verification, layout automation, and writing design rule checkers.

Electronics is just one of my hobbies now.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
28,185
I started doing the automatic translation from colors to numbers about 2 years in to my career. I only did what I'd call hardware for about 4 years. The last 3 of those years were in R&D where being able to read the color code was helpful.

I spent the last 30-some years of my career working more on IC design support; managing computer systems, supporting physical verification, layout automation, and writing design rule checkers.

Electronics is just one of my hobbies now.
And I would imagine that it is one of those things that once it becomes automatic is stays with you and comes back very quickly without much effort even after years of not working with it.

I know I have gone for years without looking at a banded resistor and the common ones are still there without thought and the uncommon ones still require about the same minimal amount of thought as they did decades ago.

The only difference is that I'm growing increasingly dismayed that I have to use the plural form of 'decade'. :(

Even more sad is that it won't be too long before I will be able to talk about some of this stuff using time frames measured in fractions of a century (actually, I can already use quarter-century, but when I can start using half-century, it won't be fun).
 
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