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Electronic circuits that use the 555 Timer

555 Timer Circuits

555 Timers are fun and a great way to start learning electronics

An Overview of the 555 Timer

The 555 Integrated Circuit (IC) is an easy to use timer that has many applications. It is widely used in electronic circuits and this popularity means it is also very cheap to purchase, typically costing around 30p. A 'dual' version called the 556 is also available which includes two independent 555 ICs in one package.

The following illustration shows both the 555 (8-pin) and the 556 (14-pin).

555 and 556 Timer

In a circuit diagram the 555 timer chip is often drawn like the illustration below. Notice how the pins are not in the same order as the actual chip, this is because it is much easier to recognize the function of each pin, and makes drawing circuit diagrams much easier.

555 Timer Symbol

For the 555 to function it relies on both analogue and digital electronic techniques, but if we consider its output only, it can be thought of as a digital device. The output can be in one of two states at any time, the first state is the 'low' state, which is 0v. The second state is the 'high' state, which is the voltage Vs (The voltage of your power supply which can be anything from 4.5 to 15v. 18v absolute maximum). The most common types of outputs can be categorized by the following (their names give you a clue as to their functions):

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Pin Configuration