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Anyone Else Have Trouble Distinguishing Resistor Band Colors?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by phaeton, May 2, 2005.

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  1. phaeton

    phaeton Guest

    Hi it's me again! 0_o

    Do any of you have a hard time reading the color bands on resistors?
    Well I am! When looking at the resistor itself:

    1) I cannot see yellow bands against the beige resistor body at ALL.
    This is less of a problem, as if i see no band, i can usually assume
    it's yellow. White bands are very very faint.

    2) Red and Orange. If one is right next to the other, sometimes i can
    tell them apart, sometimes not. If there is only one or the other on a
    resistor, i never can tell which it is.

    3) Black, brown and violet. If black or violet is next to brown, i can
    tell it's brown. If black or violet are next to each other, they both
    look black. Brown by itself sometimes looks black, or occasionally
    looks like red, depending on what is next to it.

    What's funny, is that i'm not colorblind at all- anywhere else i don't
    have this problem. In fact, i just recently saw an eye doctor and they
    did the usual battery of "what number do you see in the dots" tests.
    No problem. I was also fitted with glasses that correct my
    astigmatism- everything is in focus now. I fiddled with electronics
    somewhat about 10 years ago, and don't remember this issue.

    I have one of those lil "resistor color code cheaters" from radio
    shack's days of yore- turn the wheel and dial up the right colors, and
    it'll show you the numbers. I don't have as much of a problem seeing
    those colors, with the exception of black and violet (i distinguish
    those by the numbers they bring up!).

    All in all, when in doubt the DVOM comes out. I usually try to read
    them first, and then measure them to see if i'm right. Sometimes i am,
    sometimes i'm not.

    I was suspecting my lighting- I haven't opened it up to look, but my
    overhead light is probably a 100W incandescent. I took some resistors
    of known values into the closet to view them under the flourescent
    light. I expected the problem to be worse, but it's slightly better.
    Not enough to help, but slightly better. I haven't tried sunlight yet-
    it's been raining, snowing or cloudy for the last few weeks.

    I might try a GE Reveal(tm) bulb:

    Claimed to filter out "dulling yellows" and improve color clarity.
    Dunno if it will help or hurt.

    Anyone else have this issue, found a solution, or am i just not trying
    hard enough? :p

    Thanks for letting be dribble...

  2. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Yeah - I have a lighted magnifier. :)

  3. My ability to distinguish colors depends on the light source.
    Sunlight best, Tungsten fair, compact fluorescents bad, sodium vapor
    lights, forget it.

    If you are using any kind of fluorescent, I suggest you look at its
    reflection in a CD and see how its spectrum of color compares to
    sunlight. Lots of shades are missing.
  4. Anyone else have this issue, found a solution, or am i just not trying
    Bright incandescent lights, take off my glasses, stick the resistor
    about an inch away from my eye - maybe I can see then :).

    (but be sure to check it in the multi-meter anyway before using it).
    --email: icbm: Delray Beach, FL |
    <URL:> Free Software and Politics <<==+
  5. Anyone else have this issue, found a solution, or am i just not trying
    I use only 1% resistors and find it impossible to read the colors
    against that blue-ish background! I just use a good DVM.

    Steve J. Noll | Ventura California
    | The Used Equipment Dealer Directory:
    | The Peltier Device Information Site:
  6. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    The old Allen-Bradley composition resistors still look great. The
    cheap carbon-film imports have very vague and inconsistant color

  7. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    At the lab where I used to work, we had exactly this problem,
    especially with those blue-bodied 1% resistors. One of the
    guys came up with the idea of switching to daylight balanced
    fluorescents, which completely solved the problem. It made
    the reds jump out from the browns. The only thing was it
    made the whole lab seem like perpetual dawn light. Hard to
    explain, but I found this unsettling after a few hours.
    (Lab had no windows. Maybe I had become part Morlock.)
    We eventually went back to mostly regular fluorescents,
    with the daylight tubes only over the main parts drawers.

    Best regards,

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator
  8. phaeton

    phaeton Guest


    I'm taking comfort in the fact that it's not just me. Thanks guys ;)

    I picked up some of those GE Reveal(tm) bulbs, touted to hand out a
    more balanced spectrum. It makes the room a little "whiter", but it
    doesn't seem to make much difference reading the resistor bands. Oh

    I only spent a couple of hours under that light though, and near the
    end of that timeframe, i was oddly starting to wonder if i would
    eventually find the light somewhat "fatiguing". Correlation with Bob
    Masta's story, perhaps?

    I doubt that these are as daylight-ish as the flourescents though. I
    may like to build a workbench with an overhead light with some small
    daylight-spectrum flourescents. Oh yeah, it's that Time*Money/Room
    problem again..

  9. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    The daylight-balanced tubes we were using made the light
    look "redder" to my eyes, not "whiter". It really was like the
    light you see at dawn. I'll find out what model tubes we were
    using and get back to you.

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator
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