An app to teach kids resistor color code values


I learned a sexist mnemonic, not a racist one.

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I learned having partial colourblindness is not as much fun as originally advertised. (colour confusion is often a better description to my experience.)

Tangentially, anyone know a good resource (android app or otherwise) that assists in proper identification of resistors by colour code? Say by using the camera rather than trying to match the colours which I can’t to reliably? Currently I get around this by testing each resistor with a multi-meter and placing in an appropriately marked bin. And testing again on retrieval, and once more to make sure. And again later when the circuit doesn’t work as expected :frowning:

Otherwise… Yay! Games for learning!


I wish there was a SMT Resistor color code app.

Post your racis sexist mnemonics please :slight_smile:

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Can be googled easily.

I didn’t know there were any that weren’t both

When my father taught me electronics, he made a point of laughing and saying our mnemonic was rude and offensive and shouldn’t be spoken aloud anywhere it might be misunderstood.

If I knew a really funny mnemonic, I could probably remember it, but I’m not going to remember anything insipid. The offensive one I know is very memorable precisely because of its offensiveness.

My father had the decency to not teach me the mnemonic, just the color code. I learned the mnemonic much later, in college.

Interesting choice of words. Most people who’ve actually met him seem to think Dad’s a pretty decent guy.

Your Google led me to this cool method:

Me, I think it’s much better to actually learn the mnemonic (making your brain better), rather than learning to rely on an Apple app on your iPhone (making your brain worse). Jeepers.

The problem with the usual mnemonics (and I learned the less offensive of the sexist versions, “Bad boys rob…”) is that you have to either count thru the whole thing, or just use it to write out the table and then use the table.

There’s a better set of mnemonics, which alas I haven’t memorized, which maps directly from color to number and thus doesn’t have the ordering problem. I remember one of its tricks was pronouncing “Brown” as “Brow-one”; I don’t recall the others.

The best answer, though, is to just sit down with a set of flashcards and memorize the correspondences. It’s no harder than learning your times-tables was. Of course we forget just how much work we put into that.

I always just dropped indigo and added the four others to the good old “roy g biv”. Easy enough to remember black/brown and grey/white as additions, and why memorize a whole sentence as a mnemonic when the initials are pronounceable and are usually taught to kids with the various songs about rainbows?

The tough part for me is when the colors used are so variable that some of them start to look the same. The red and blue colors used always seem to be so light that it’s difficult to tell them from orange and violet.

Black Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly - Get Some Now!

I personally like this one from Wikipedia: Better be right or your great big venture goes west

As I say, I first heard it (1970’s) with “Bad boys rob”, and without the suffix. (Which, frankly, strikes me as backward and dubiously necessary since it’s such a small set.) Still sexist, but less offensive.

I actually didn’t know about the Black/Rape version until someone objected violently to my quoting the more acceptable version. Apparently they believed I was bowdlerizing on the fly and really thinking the nastier form. Sigh.

“The problem’s all inside your head,” said my T.A.
“This homework’s easy, if you think in the right way
I’d like to help you in your struggle for an A
There must be … fifty ways to solve your circuit”

– AAAA and the Six Pistols, All Tech Sing contest, circa 1980
(to the tune of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, in case that isn’t obvious)

I do like the Wikipedia alternative. Only quibble I have with it is that the two B’s don’t have a built-in clue as to which is which; the old monstrosity does tie the A to blAck and O to brOwn. If you don’t need the reminder of which is which, you probably don’t need the mnemonic.

Yeah, I don’t even bother with the color codes since many resistors are so badly printed you can’t tell whether you’re looking at brown, orange, or yellow, especially when the body is a similar color. I know the value from looking at the label on the bag or bin I just picked it out of, or with a meter if it was just laying around loose. Who’s doing anything involving resistors without an ohmmeter at hand anyway?

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Just remember, folks, a 10% resistor should be assumed to be at least 5% out of spec, and a 5% resistor will be at least 1% out of spec – because these are sorted out after manufacturing, and if they could put it in the more expensive bin they would have.

Luckily, for most applications, 10% tolerance is Just Fine.

Black Brown, EM spectrum, Grey White. In many ways it is symmetric. You just have to remember not to say that stupid color ‘indigo’ when counting up.

I’m reminded of something that happened to me in fourth grade. At some point in class, during a discussion on a book I’ve long forgotten, our somewhat young teacher Ms. Coombs asked the class, “Does anyone know what SNAFU means?” I raised my hand. She asked, “Would you tell us?” I froze, appalled, not believing she actually wanted me to say such a thing out loud. I ended up stammering that I couldn’t quite remember. She gave me an encouraging smile, feeding me the words: “Situation… Normal… All Fouled Up.”

I took a deep breath. I’d honestly never heard anyone use “Fouled” as that particular F-word. I began to doubt she’d ever been in the service.


As one of my co-workers pointed out, you’d think in the year 2013 we’d have the tech to print the number on the resister and stop with the arcane color system. Other components just have the numbers printed on them