Printed Circuit Board Basics

Learn about PCBs, how they work, and how to read them.

Close-up of a PCB and its mounted components.
Close-up image of a printed circuit board’s surface

What is a PCB?

A PCB, or printed circuit board, is one of the most fundamental components in electronics today. They are used in everything from everyday items like cell phones, computers, appliances, vehicles, and musical equipment to jets and nuclear power plants. PCBs allow electricity to travel between components across pathways etched into the surface of the board rather than use wires, allowing a significant simplification and reduction and size. Printed circuit boards have become so commonplace even the cheapest electronics now often have some sort of board component.

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Understanding Speedtronic Mark VI and Mark VIe Part Numbers

When working with any legacy system it’s important to understand naming conventions of the part numbers and how those part numbers may have changed through various part runs. AX Control sells many legacy systems, including several of the Speedtronic series like the Mark I-II, Mark IV, the Mark V, as well as the Speedtronic Mark VI and Mark VIe series boards.

When we look at GE’s Speedtronic Mark VI and Mark VIe as an example, we can see how this works. They have designed their part number so it gives the user a significant amount of information–if you know how to break down that information properly. Let’s look at one example.

An IS200AEAAH1CPR1 board from GE's MKVI Speedtronic line for gas and steam turbine control.
The IS200AEAAH1CPR1 Mark VI Turbine Control Card, available on

If we take the above IS200AEAAH1CPR1 board, we can break the number down into several different parts that will each tell us something about the board: IS/2/00/AEAA/H/1/C/PR1

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