# Collin’s Lab: Schematics

Schematics are the functional diagram of electronic circuits. With so many designs available on the web, understanding how to read schematics can unlock a world of possibilities for the electronics maker. In fact, if you can read a schematic, you can build a circuit before even understanding how it works!

The above video covers some vital basics. For more great info on the subject, be sure to check out Paul Spinrad’s Skill Set: Reading circuit diagrams.

## 16 thoughts on “Collin’s Lab: Schematics”

1. Becky Stern says:

Great video, Collin!

2. Anonymous says:

man… a quite informative video on schematics in just over 6 minutes. i wouldn’t have thought it possible.  very impressive.  thank you Sir.  look forward to inductors in “Schematics II”

3. Anonymous says:

Genius as always, Mr. C. Thanks so much.

Not that I’m much of an electronics guy, but even I learn a lot from these vids — like I didn’t realize that the upolarized cap symbol comes directly from the early parallel plate caps (makes sense, I just never made that connection).

And your animated diagrams are the best. In my dreams I’ve wanted to bring this level of visual and concept clarity to teaching electronics. This sets a standard to me.

4. ansel kirchubel says:

This was awesome.  Thanks

5. Peter Simpson says:

A well drawn schematic is a pleasure to read (and the converse!)

The corollary to “no dot, no connection” is that a connection should always be at a “T”; one wire bumping into another, but not crossing.  If it needs to continue after connecting, the wire leaving should be offset just a bit, to make it clear that this isn’t just a crossing. This is because dots can vanish or appear after multiple generations of copying.

Signal flow (that is, how the input gets to the output) should be from left to right if possible. It’s the way we think, and it makes it easier to follow the way the signals flow through the circuit depicted by the schematic.

And don’t be afraid to use more pages; there’s nothing worse than a “spaghetti schematic”, where the designer has tried to fit everything on one 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper!  I use 11 x 17 sheets and usually put a block diagram on the first page, with references in the blocks to what page of the schematic you can find the circuit for that block.  I try to keep the contents of each page related…a single sub-circuit to each page.

Comments aren’t just limited to software. Put notes on the schematic: what voltage or waveform one should see at key points, what frequency an oscillator operates at, label active-low digital signals with a “_L” suffix (because a star can look like a flyspeck and a ! can be mistaken for an I, and printers can’t always print an overbar) The person who tries to troubleshoot your design will appreciate those notes, believe me!

6. Anonymous says:

As always a great video. This one was especially helpful especially the explanation about the capacitors. It would be nice to see a part 2 to this video where you build a circuit from a schematic. Keep these coming.

7. Mark L Evans says:

As someone that has been reading these for 40+ years I must say, you got in about the most info you could in 6 min. great job.

And love the anachronistic look! If you had done this on flip paper and softened the colors I could have easily believed this was from the 1970’s. :-)

8. Nas says:

love your vidz, keep them rollin

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

### Collin Cunningham

View more articles by Collin Cunningham