A first look at a circuit diagram may be confusing, but if you can read a subway map, you can read schematics. The purpose is the same: getting from point A to point B. Literally, a circuit is the path that allows electricity to flow. If you know what to look for, it’ll become second nature. While at first you’ll just be reading them, eventually you will start creating your own. This guide will show you a few of the common symbols that you are sure to see in your future electrical engineering career.
In a digital circuit, power supply voltage levels are constrained to two distinct values – “logic high voltage” (called LHV or Vdd) and “logic low voltage” (called LLV or GND). The GND node in any circuit is the universal reference voltage against which all other voltages are measured (in modern digital circuits, GND is typically the lowest voltage in the circuit). In a schematic, it is often difficult to show lines connecting all GND nodes; rather, any nodes labeled GND are assumed to be connected into the same node. Often, a downward pointing triangle symbol, is attached to a GND node in addition to (or instead of) the GND label. The Vdd node in a digital circuit is typically the highest voltage, and all nodes labeled Vdd are tied together into the same node. Vdd may be thought of as the “source” of positive charges in a circuit, and GND may be thought of as the “source” of negative charges in a circuit. In modern digital systems, Vdd and GND are separated by anywhere from 1 to 5 volts. Older or inexpensive circuits typically use 5 volts, while newer circuits use 1-3 volts.
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