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Entries in Electronics (3)


Inductor Core Type Tradeoffs

I found the following summary of the design tradeoffs imposed by inductor core type useful.  I hope this helps someone else try to figure out whether they want a ferrite core or a toroid core.

“Renco: ferrite stick core inductors; benefits are typically lowest
cost and can withstand ripple and transient peak currents
above the rated value. These inductors have an external
magnetic field, which may generate EMI.

Pulse Engineering: powdered iron toroid core inductors;
these also can withstand higher than rated currents and, being
toroid inductors, will have low EMI.

Coilcraft: ferrite drum core inductors; these are the smallest
physical size inductors and are available only as surface
mount components. These inductors also generate EMI but
less than stick inductors.”

Source: (see Inductor Section)


Which material finish should i use!?

When it comes to buying metal stand offs and screws the common materials are Aluminum, Brass, Brass + Zinc or Nickel Plating, Stainless Steel (at least when buying from Digikey).

I didn’t know what the advantages and disadvantages of each were so this post is to summarize what i found out.

In a nutshell…
If there is nothing special about your application, then use Zinc plated steel or aluminum.  If you want them to conduct electricity and they don’t need to be very strong use brass.

  • Zinc - Plated Steel
    • Pros:
      • Economical
      • Most Popular if you consider other types of hardware outside the realm of just what used at the PCB level.  For example: You are likely to be able to find Zinc Plated hex lock nuts but not brass lock nuts.
      • Zinc Plated Screws and Stand offs are readily available which is a good thing because you don’t have to mix metal types (see links below).
    • Cons:
      • The coating can be scratched off leaving it susceptible to corrosion.
      • Steel is more magnetic then stainless steel which might be an issue to certain electronics.
    • USED: most common fastener material because it’s the cheapest and it’s easier to find matching materials.
  • Aluminum
    • Pros: inexpensive and lighter then steel or brass
    • Cons: poor conductors and relatively soft.
  • Stainless-Steel
  • Brass/Zinc
    • Pros:
      1. Best Conductor of Electricity
      2. Fairly easy to find brass stand offs
    • Cons:
      1. Slightly more expensive then Zinc Plated Steel
      2. Not as strong as steel.
      3. Hard to find Brass Screws
    • USED WHEN: Appearence is a concern or when you want the standoff to be the best conductor.


Other Interesting Info:


Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic Corrosion is something you should probably read up on if corrosion is of any concern.  Here are some good links;

Galvanic corrosion occurs when dissimilar metals are in electrical contact in water especially salt water. As a small electrical current flows from one metal to the other, one metal will begin corroding faster than normal (the anode) and the other will corrode more slowly than normal (the cathode). The result is that the anode material will be eaten away much more quickly than the cathode material.


Availability of each type on Digikey:

By using the parametric search feature on digikey i selected each material finish on at a time.  The idea being the part part which has the most items is a good indicator of the material which is the most common.

Metal Standoffs (Total of 671 items):
Aluminum - 33 items (ONLY 1 in stock)
Aluminum + Iridite Finish - 207 items (159 item in stock)
Brass - 3 items
Brass/Nickel - 192 items (100 are instock)
Brass/Zinc - 154 items. (88 in stock)
Stainless Steel - 82 items (ONLY 4 are actually in stock).

Then Filtered Nylon out there are a total of 223 items:
Brass/Nickel -  2
Stainless Steel - 100
Steel, Nickel Plated - 5
Steel, Zinc Plate - 110
Steel, Black Oxide - 5 (all non-stock items)

Material Price Comparison

Looked at common standoffs which had digikey had in stock which could be purchased in each material type.

For a 4-40 0.25” Hex standoff in QTY of 100
Aluminum + Iridite = $0.18
Brass/Zinc           = $0.19
Stainless Steel = $1.12





Microchip PWM Calculator Spreadsheet

Here is a link to a spreadsheet lists the resulting PWM frequencies based on what the applications oscillator frequency, period register (PR) , Prescaler, and Postscaler are set to.

This is useful for visualizing resolution available and min and max frequencies.