A Short Explanation of a Circuit

So, what do you think about giving this soft-circuit thing a shot? I’ve got a pretty cute (if I say so myself) pattern in the works for Monday, but in the meantime, let’s talk about circuit basics.  (WARNING: I’m so not an electronics person, so if I use the wrong words, or if I say something backwards, I apologize.  This is just what I’ve managed to figure out bumbling around on my own.)

Let’s make a little imaginary circuit.

We’ll start with an LED. I bought mine from SparkFun. They’re sold in packs of 5 for about 4 bucks. It’s tiny- about a half inch long, and less than an eighth of an inch wide, but it’s super bright when it lights up.  See on the two little holes on either end? Those are the connections to attach it into a circuit. You sew your conductive thread through those, as if you were attaching a button.

10081-02[2]We’ll also need a battery (duh).  I’m using a little coin battery (also from Sparkfun).  It’s the size of a nickel.

00338-07_replace[1]
Let’s use two “wires” (pieces of conductive thread) to attach the battery to the LED, like this:Circuit 1

See how the + side of the battery is attached to the + end of the LED? And the – side of the battery is attached to the – end of the LED? That’ll make sure that the LED will light up.

Now, we could stop here. We have a lovely, bright, and shiny LED. But, where’s the fun in that? I’d like to try turning the light off and on.

You can buy switches, buttons and other devices for turning your circuit off and on, but they all follow the same principle:  When you make a hole in one of the wires, the circuit is broken and the LED will turn off. If you patch up the hole, you complete the circuit, and the LED will turn on again.

See?  (The switch is shown in red)

OFF:Circuit 2ON:Circuit 3Easy! Frankly, the hardest part of this is making sure that your wires don’t accidentally cross and create a short circuit, but even that’s not too difficult!

Think you’re ready to try your hand at E-Textiles?

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