On a printed circuit board, I see lots of tiny letters and numbers. Is there some kind of standard that dictates what letter indicates what type of component?
The technical term for the markings is "reference designators" (aka "refdes") and there are a few standards can define them. Take a look at this wikipedia page for a quick overview. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_symbol
For schematic components, most EDA tools start off with one or few alphabets and then a sequential number. For example, R1 for the first resistor, C1 for the first capacitor, IC1 for the first IC and so on. You can download a free EDA tool such as Eagle to play around. Also, see the wikipedia page for a few more examples.
For PCB footprints, different vendors do make naming convention suggestions. See Altium's suggestions here, for example.
Edit: I do NOT know anyone personally that refers to this as a strict standard or a standard at all. It's mostly what you are used to and familiar with.
The standard which I think is most commonly used for symbols/reference designators is ANSI/IEEE Std 315 (1975). It has been revised a couple of times since but the basics have remained pretty much the same.
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I have a copy here on my machine, here is an example of the first few letters:
A *† (see also U and 22.2.4) electronic divider electronic function generator (other than rotating) electronic multiplier facsimile set field-polarization amplitude modulator field-polarization rotator general circuit element gyroscope integrator positional servomechanism sensor (transducer to electric power) separable assembly ‡ separable subassembly telephone set telephone station teleprinter teletypewriter AR amplifier (other than rotating) repeater AT bolometer capacitive termination fixed attenuator inductive termination isolator (nonreciprocal device) pad resistive termination B blowermotor synchro BT barrier photocell battery battery cell blocking layer cell photovoltaic transducer solar cell C capacitor bushing capacitor
In addition to that, you will also find other markings on the PCB. These are done by the fab house and are used to show UL certification numbers, UL standards that the PCB conforms to, sometimes showing RoHS compliance, and sometimes even a logo of the fab house. These can be done in silkscreening process, or anti-soldermask processes.
You can look up UL cert numbers here: http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/index.htm Fill in the UL file number with the ~7 digit number on the PCB to find who actually fabricated it.
Yes, there is, but its not really a standard, everybody simply does it more or less the same way.
- IC? stands for an IC
- R? stands for a resistor
- C? stands for a capacitor
these are the "names" of the component. the boardmaker then has a kind of list where is written what name stands for what component, e.g. R1 - Resistor, 100Ohms
here is a more complete list: http://www.electro-tech-online.com/circuit-simulation-pcb-design/112835-component-designators-pcb-design.html