A digital circuit requires a power supply to provide a constant and stable source of electric power to all devices. As discussed above, electric power is derived from the basic electrical forces that charged particles (e.g., protons and electrons) exert on one another – namely, electrons are repelled by other electrons, and attracted to more electrically positive areas where there are relatively fewer electrons. The vast majority of charged particles are found in ordinary matter bound in electrically neutral atomic structures (that is, most particles are found in structures that have an equal number of positive and negative particles). Some electrically neutral conducting materials (like metals) contain electrons that are not so tightly bound to their host atoms. If a voltage source is applied to these materials, the lightly bound electrons will move away from the concentrated source of electrons on the negative side of the supply towards the electrically positive side of the supply. A “power supply” in a digital circuit provides a local, contained imbalance of electrons that provides a voltage source that can do useful work, such as transmitting information through a conductor from one device to another. A digital circuit allows a controlled flow of electrons from of the negative to positive side of the power supply, but only via the paths designed into the circuit. As electrons flow to and from the devices in a given circuit, they can change device properties in useful ways.
Circuits often require inputs that come directly from users (as opposed to inputs that come from other devices). User-input devices can take many forms, among them keyboards (as on a PC), buttons (as on a calculator or telephone), rotary dials, switches and levers, etc. Digilent boards include several input devices, typically including push buttons and slide-switches. Since digital circuits operate with two voltage levels (LHV or Vdd, and LLV or GND), input devices like buttons and switches should be able to produce both of these voltages based on some user action.
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