Electrolytic Capacitor and Potentiometer question

In summary, the conversation discussed two questions: whether the outside of an electrolytic capacitor is conductive and if a potentiometer smoking during testing is common. It was suggested to use a multimeter to test the conductiveness of the capacitor and to be mindful of bugs and potential issues with using a breadboard. Additionally, it was recommended to avoid putting components too close together to prevent possible problems.
  • #1
jbord39
74
0
Hey guys,

I have two quick questions:

Is the outside of an electrolytic capacitor conductive? (Should I worry about it touching some other circuit components)?

I have a 5kOhm potentiometer that for some reason began to smoke once while testing a circuit. I powered off the circuit and tested the potentiometer (the resistance decreased from 0-1.3kOhm). After about an hour I retested the potentiometer and it was at 0-5kOhm again! I replaced it in the SAME circuit, powered it up, and left it on for about 10 minutes. No smoke and it has worked since. Is this common?
 
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  • #2
It should be easy enough to test with a multimeter. You mentioned measuring resistance so I assume that you have one. Just measure the resistance between two points on the outside of the cap. I'm going to guess that they're coated in non-conductive enamel.

I'll tell you what's common. Bugs. Lot's and lot's of bugs. Especially when you're just starting to build circuits/write software. Over time you'll develop a knack for doing it in an organized way that isn't so error prone.

Are you using a breadboard? Pro tip: breadboards get filled up broken bits of wire and metal dust. They can become unreliable in certain spots. I can't tell you how many times I fixed a circuit by simply taking it all apart and putting in a new spot. Don't put things too close together if you can help it. The leads of the components can touch and cause problems.
 
  • #3
Thanks.

I do have a breadboard but I was not using it when this happened (the pieces were soldered).
 

1. What is an electrolytic capacitor?

An electrolytic capacitor is a type of capacitor that uses an electrolyte, usually a liquid or gel, as one of its plates. This allows it to have a much higher capacitance than other types of capacitors, making it useful for storing large amounts of electrical charge.

2. How does an electrolytic capacitor work?

An electrolytic capacitor works by using a conductive electrolyte, usually a liquid or gel, to create a thin layer of dielectric between two conductive plates. When a voltage is applied, the electrolyte allows an electrical charge to build up on the plates, storing energy.

3. What are the main uses for electrolytic capacitors?

Electrolytic capacitors are commonly used in electronic circuits to filter out noise and stabilize power supplies. They are also used in audio equipment to smooth out voltage fluctuations and improve sound quality.

4. What is a potentiometer?

A potentiometer, also known as a pot, is a type of variable resistor. It has three terminals and a sliding contact that can be moved along a resistive element, changing the amount of resistance in a circuit. This allows for precise control of the voltage or current in a circuit.

5. How does a potentiometer work?

A potentiometer works by varying the amount of resistance in a circuit. As the sliding contact moves along the resistive element, the amount of resistance between the contact and the other terminals changes. This changes the voltage or current in the circuit, allowing for precise control.

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