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.
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.
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