How to Make a Low Ohm Resistor

Written by jason thompson
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How to Make a Low Ohm Resistor
You can make your own resistor with little more than a pencil. (pencil image by AGphotographer from

When you design and build your own electronic circuits, as audiophiles, musicians, and electronics hobbyists often do, you can't always find what you need among standard components. Low value resistors, for instance, can be very difficult to find. Fortunately you can easily make your own using very common materials and obtain values even under 100 ohms.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sheet of heavy cardstock
  • Ruler
  • Multimeter
  • 2 paper clips

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  1. 1

    Draw a rectangle on the sheet of cardstock, using the ruler and the pencil. It should measure approximately 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long. Colour it in completely, and use heavy strokes of the pencil to build up a good layer of graphite. Pencil graphite is essentially the same substance that common resistors are made out of.

  2. 2

    Cut the rectangle out of the sheet of cardstock, leaving a border of about 1/2 inch of unmarked paper all around the edge. You should now have a rectangle of cardstock 1-1/2-by-4 inches, with a smaller rectangle marked in the middle of it. Handle this only by the unmarked border. Try not to touch the pencilled-in rectangle. Wiping away some of the graphite will change its resistance.

  3. 3

    Set the multimeter to read resistance. Place one probe on one end of the resistor and the other probe on the other end. It does not matter which probe you put where. Write the resistance of the rectangle on one end of the unmarked border, using the pen. Write a zero on the other end.

  4. 4

    Placing one of the probes at the zero mark, place the other exactly in the middle of the rectangle. Mark that length on the unmarked border, along with the resistance of the rectangle at this point. Mark the one-quarter and three-quarters lengths in the same fashion. You now have a scale marked along the side of the rectangle, which is the body of the resistor you are making.

  5. 5

    Hold one of the paper clips flat in front of you, so that the outside end is on the right side. Bend that outside length straight downward, about 1/2 inch from the end. Do the same to the other paper clip. They should still be able to work as paper clips.

  6. 6

    Slide one paper clip onto the body of your resistor so that its metal just touches the edge of the graphite rectangle marked with the zero. Slide the other onto the point that corresponds to the resistance that you want. The parts of the paper clip that were bent down are the leads of the resistor. You can use them to solder the resistor into a circuit.

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