Several different resistors are used on Digilent boards. Some are used to limit LED current, and some are used on inputs (like the button and switch circuits) to both limit the currents flowing to the main chip, and to help protect against electrostatic discharge (or ESD – more on this topic later). The resistors on the Digilent boards, like most resistors used in digital systems, are physically small because they will not encounter large voltages or currents. For these smaller resistors, the resistor value in Ohms is printed in microscopic numbers on the resistor body, not visible to the naked eye.
In contrast to digital circuits, analog circuits use signals whose voltage levels are not constrained to two distinct levels, but instead can assume any value between Vdd and GND. Many input devices, particularly those using electronic sensors (e.g., microphones, cameras, thermometers, pressure sensors, motion and proximity detectors, etc.) produce analog voltages at their outputs. In modern electronic devices, it is likely that such signals will be converted to digital signals before they are used within the device. For example, a digital voice-memo recording device uses an analog microphone circuit to convert sound pressure waves into voltage waves on an internal circuit node. A special circuit called an analog-to-digital converter, or ADC, converts that analog voltage to a binary number that can be represented as a bus in a digital circuit. An ADC functions by taking samples of the input analog signal, measuring the magnitude of the input voltage signal (usually with reference to GND), and assigning a binary number to the measured magnitude. Once an analog signal has been converted to a binary number, a bus can carry that digital information around a circuit. In a similar manner, digital signals can be reconstituted into analog signals using a digital-to-analog converter. Thus, a binary number that represents a sample of an audio waveform can be converted to an analog signal that can, for example, drive a speaker.
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