Skip to content

Electronic Circuits: Types and Aspects

One of the most profound and inseparable aspects out there are technology and electronics. Tech advances become a reality when the conditions of availability and capacity of electronics are met. While the importance of tech and electronics cannot get understated, it is essential to understand the underlying significance of electronic circuits similarly. Circuits are crucial drivers for any electronic appliance, instrument, device, or equipment.

So what take on the term electronic circuits? How is it significant to electronics, etc.? This article will try to answer some of the pertinent questions you might have regarding electronic circuits.

Electronic Circuits

Electronic circuits are crucial aspects of electronic appliances or devices. It refers to a conductive path created from conductive material like metal and connects electronic components (both passive and active components). The components on the conductive path often control the electric charge or current flow within this arrangement. Examples include simple circuits, printed circuit boards (PCBs), integrated circuits (ICs), etc., with diverse applications.

Electronic circuits are of different types. It can include analog electronic circuits, digital circuits, and mixed-signal circuits. An analog electronic circuit has signals that may vary endlessly with time in corresponding to the represented information. Examples include voltage amplifiers, tuning circuits, and power amplifiers. Devices such as televisions and radios also have these analog types of electronic circuits.    

Digital circuits have two levels of signals. It can either come as the typical on/off or the true/false level. In digital circuits, transistors become instrumental in creating logic gates. Examples include de-multiplexers, multiplexers, decoders, encoders, flip-flops, and counter.

On the other hand, mixed-signal circuits contain properties and elements of both digital circuits and analog circuits. Mixed-signal circuits also get referred to as hybrid circuits. Examples include timers, comparators, analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), PLLs, and digital-to-analog converters (DACs)

All electronic circuits have a conductive and closed path formed by interconnections and connections of active and passive components. Additionally, such components allow for the flow of current in a controlled manner. Circuits get constructed physically, though in multiple ways.

Electronic Circuit: Vital Elements

power electronic circuits

The elements in an electronic circuit often remain the same, though the circuit’s complexity and amount of components depend on the specific application. But to understand the crucial elements of an electronic circuit board is instrumental in considering the simplest circuit. So what are the essential elements?

The conducting path. It is an instrumental part of the circuit that allows the electric current to flow through. In most instances, the path comprises copper traces. Such copper traces entail copper sheets that are laminated on non-conductive substrates. The most typical electronic circuit with copper traces is the PCB or printed circuit board. However, copper traces find their application on other small and complicated electronic circuits like integrated circuits.

Source of voltage. All circuits have the basic function of allowing the flow of electric current through the circuit safely. Therefore, a circuit needs a voltage source that can come as a two-terminal device like batteries, power systems, or generators.

Load. It is an instrumental element within the circuit that uses power to execute a specific function. It can include a wide array of things based on the complexity of the circuit. For instance, simple circuits have light bulbs as among the simplest loads. On the other hand, complex circuits have loads like capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc.

It is also crucial to understand the difference between circuits such as open circuits, closed circuits, short circuits, PCBs, and IC’s. Further understanding the diverse electronic components becomes helpful in your electronic circuit’s design process.   

Types of Electronic Circuits: In-depth Review

Open Circuit

Overview

It is an electronic or electrical circuit having a broken continuity. Therefore, the current cannot flow through. In most cases, a disconnection happens between two terminals.  However, as much as current fails to flow throughout the circuit, a voltage drop happens between two spots or points. All it implies is that no power gets transmitted from such a circuit.

While often misconceived, there is a difference between an open circuit and a short circuit. Open circuits have zero current flowing through, while short circuits have infinite amounts of current flowing through. Additionally, the terminals’ resistance in open circuits proves finite, whereas those in short circuits are zero (ideally).  

Benefits

Open circuits, like short circuits, can be instrumental in checking the specifications of electronic products through testing.  

Application

Before, open circuits proved instrumental in turning off electronic devices like the television. However, not many devices still use this methodology in the current dispensation.

Closed Circuit

Overview

Closed circuits often imply a complete electrical circuitry or connection that allows for current flow through them. A complete path exists between the source (between the negative and positive terminals) and the connected loads. It is mainly referred to as a closed-loop path.

Some of the most important requirements for closed circuits entail a voltage source, conducting material such as copper, and a complete circuitry or path for an electric flow. An excellent example entails a light bulb connected to a battery (DC voltage supply source). If closed, then the circuit ensures a complete path when it comes to the electric current flow.

Closed circuits are the most important electronic circuitry forms that other advanced circuits such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards utilize. Additionally, most closed circuits need a circuit breaker or fuse to break the circuit when needed. The value of the flow of current often depends on the type of load.   

Some of the standard features of closed circuits include an easy flow of electric current from the source of power to the load. An electrical loss of power also happens due to the internal circuit component and conductor resistance to the traveling or flow of electric current. Further, the voltage drop always occurs due to the internal resistance of components or circuits and the current flow.

Benefits

  • Closed circuits are often efficient and reliable, especially when well-designed
  • Advanced features on some of them ensure complex functionality and ability in diverse areas of application.

Application

Closed circuits have diverse applications. All electronic and electrical circuits in devices subjected to any operation represent a closed circuit. Because of this, you will find closed circuits in motor circuits, lighting circuits, electronic and electrical appliance’s internal circuits, etc. It becomes a reality since all the applicable components within the circuit are closed at all ends.   

Short Circuit

Overview

Short circuits represent a type of electrical circuit, which allows the traveling of current along unintended paths. It is defined as a connection between nodes (two) that forces the nodes to have a similar voltage. Such a passage is with very low or no electrical impedance. It thus leads to excessive current flow throughout the circuit, which can damage components or parts in the circuit. In most instances, short circuits are never intended, and it happens accidentally.  However, short circuits are by design in some instances, for example, in voltage-sensing circuit protectors (crowbar). An excellent example is when you connect batteries’ negative and positive terminals using a conductor with low resistance.  

Short circuits have different categorizations based on their occurrences. It includes ground fault, phase-to-phase fault, etc.   

Benefits

While mostly undesirable due to the damage and harm it can cause to the electronic components and device, it also has some valuable benefits. For instance, a short circuit is instrumental in testing and troubleshooting equipment specifications to ensure they are above board.

Application

  • Short circuits create electric arcs instrumental in generating plenty of heat (up to 6500 degrees Celsius). Such heat is used for metal welding purposes.  
  • Short circuits can also apply in testing or troubleshooting equipment for certain specifications.

Parallel Circuits

Parallel Circuits

Overview

It is a type of circuit possessing diverse paths for the flow of electricity. The paths are akin to branches, and these divide the current by allowing only a specific amount to flow through any particular branch. The potential difference or voltage across every branch is similar though the current can vary.

The requirements of the parallel circuit determine the types of components on each branch. For instance, the components can come in inductors, resistors, capacitors, batteries, etc. however, all parallel circuits have the same common attributes. It includes the components having common or similar potential differences. As a result, such components in the parallel circuit will possess the same polarities at their ends. Circuits with the parallel combination also imply that the charges passing through every component will do so and return. It is the opposite of what happens with series circuits where the charge continues to other components. In parallel circuits, every component connected will possess a similar voltage regardless of the situation. What’s more? The division of current as it flows through different components will ultimately get summed up upon reaching the set point (Kirchhoff’s law)      

Remember that each electronic component in the parallel circuit, like resistors, capacitors, and inductors, has distinctive ways and rules of getting connected within the same parallel circuit.  

Benefits

Parallel circuits enforce the independence of components within the circuit. For instance, when utilizing one component, you can leave the rest switched off. Additionally, the failure of one component does not necessarily damage the rest of the components.

Consistent voltage. Parallel circuits ensure that all circuit components have a similar voltage to the source, unlike what happens with a series circuit.

It also allows for extra components. Parallel circuits permit additional components to get incorporated in the circuit, devoid of any need to change the voltage. It is possible because any addition of extra components in a parallel circuit does not enhance resistance.  

 Parallel circuits are safe, simple, and reliable. The circuit has a simple layout design that any contractor (electrical) can understand.

Application

Various application areas for parallel circuits exist. It includes home appliances, including household circuits. It also finds application in power grids, where power or energy is generated from diverse sources. Such energy needs consolidation and distribution through the grid where parallel circuits apply. It is also instrumental in decoration lighting.

Series Circuits   

Overview

It is a simple circuit type that mostly denotes the kind of connection used. A series circuit possesses components that are connected in an end-to-end fashion. As a result, the circuit forms a singular path to allow for the flow of current. For instance, the configuration can have different components like resistors connected along the chain from the battery terminal to the other end.  Additionally, the current flow is unidirectional, mainly clockwise from point A to point B and back to the starting point.  

It is prudent to note that the total current proves the same for every component within a series circuit. It arises because of the same path for the flow of current within the circuit. As a result, the flow rate will always prove similar at any single time. Additionally, the overall resistance of the circuit equals that of the overall sum of each resistance. The voltage supply also equates to the total sum of each voltage drop.

Benefits

  • It is a simple circuit to design and develop compared to ICs and PCBs
  • The circuit breaks whenever a component fails or breaks and thus safeguards the rest of the circuit components.
  • A series of circuits act as a regulator of current.
  • It has a lesser cost when it comes to building the circuit than other complex circuits like PCBs.

Application

Series circuits are instrument as divider circuits or low power circuits. As a result, it finds its application in automatic houses, especially the heating equipment (those with thermostats besides safety cut-out). It also applies in water heaters, lamps, well or borehole water pumps, refrigerators, freezers, etc.   

Integrated Circuits

Overview

ICs are important circuits in modern-day electronic equipment and appliances. Integrated circuits also get referred to as microchips, microelectronic circuits, or chips. It is an electronic component assembly that gets fabricated in one unit. Active and miniaturized active components such as diodes and transistors, besides passive devices like resistors, and their interconnections get to build on the semiconductor material.

Integrated circuits, while tiny, often prove complex and encompass a lot of components. It implies that each of the circuit components is microscopic when it comes to their sizes. Initially developed in 1947 during the development of transistors, Shockley’s team discovered that electrons formed a barrier on specific crystals and would control the electric flow by manipulating this barrier. However, the first person to develop an IC was Jack Kilby.

ICs can come in three main types. It can encompass digital, analog, or mixed-signal integrated circuits. Analogue ICs, also inferred as linear circuits, are simple and only utilize a few parts or components. Such integrated circuits get connected to electronic devices, which gather from or send to the environment. Digital circuits on the flipside solely accept specific voltage values. Digital circuits can come as binary circuits using the Boolean algebra logic.    

Integrated circuits can become monolithic microwave integrated circuits, radio-frequency ICs, application-specific ICs, etc. Integrated circuit generations include the SSI (small-scale integration technology), MSI (medium-scale integration tech), LSI (large-scale integration tech), VLSI, and ULSI.     

Benefits

  • Low power consumption
  • Small size
  • Reliability
  • Less weight
  • Less cost
  • Simple replacement of components
  • More consistent
  • It functions at high-temperature levels
  • Enhanced operating speed and performance
  • Ideal for small signal functions or operations

Application

An integrated circuit contains potentially millions of components (electrical) like transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc. As a result, ICs have applications in almost every single device. You will find it in smartphones, digital watches, television, etc. It becomes a possibility owing to the small size besides its high reliability and efficiency.

Other application areas include juice makers, PCs, logic devices, audio amplifiers, radio frequencies decoders, encoders, etc.  

Printed Circuit Boards

Printed Circuit Boards

Overview

A printed circuit board is an intricate electronic circuit for applications synonymous with many electronic appliances or equipment. It is a tiny electronic circuit primarily used in connecting components besides offering mechanical support. It comprises diverse non-conductive sheets such as fiberglass and holds the copper circuitry. The conductive paths composed of copper traces ensure transmission of electrical signals and communication between various components.

Suppose a board solely contains the copper traces and other features minus circuit components like capacitors, resistors, or any active components. In that case, it is inferred as PWB or printed wiring board. However, most people assume a PWB and PCB as similar owing to the blurred differences between the two. On the other hand, PCBs that get populated with parts or electronic components are PCA or printed circuit assembly.

Different types of printed circuit boards exist. The difference primarily arises from the number of layers involved (single, double-layered, and multilayer PCBs). However, the technique used to design the layout and schematic and materials also plays a crucial role in determining the type of PCB.  Design programs used include Eagle, KiCad, Altium, etc.

Production of printed circuit boards begins with the design process, fabrication, assembly (SMT or through-hole), and packaging. Different PCB companies will have diverse ways of going about the production process. For instance, RayMing PCB and Assembly will also deliver besides offering quality and assured customer care service. It is always prudent to consider many different aspects before settling on an ECM or EMS company.

Functionality

The functionality of a printed circuit board entails signal transmission and reception in an electronic device or equipment. The copper traces ensure electrical transmission between different circuit components while the non-conductive layer provides the basis (rigid, rigid-flex, and flexible PCBs). However, remember that the number and types of components in the printed circuit board, besides the material type, will depend on its application.    

Benefits

  • The compact size of PCBs becomes helpful in saving space besides also saving on the use of wires. It allows all this by connecting a large number of components using copper traces. The tiny nature of the components also increases the significance of the copper traces. Since the PCB allows for an efficient and simple arrangement of components in a compressed space, it can create complex and large electronic circuits.
  • Simple diagnostic and repair process. Printed circuit boards are simple and thus easy to check for faults. It is also easy to replace or correct malfunctioning parts. All PCBs have properly labeled components, especially regarding their polarities. As a result, it becomes simple and convenient to install or repair.
  • Printed circuit boards are straightforward when it comes to the connection of electronic components. As a result, connecting takes very little time, which saves time compared to conventional wire boards.
  • Components in a PCB are fixed firmly to the board and thus prove immune to any movement. The solder flux accomplishes it as it prevents any movement.
  • Printed circuit boards also have tight connections through the copper traces, limiting short-circuiting or loose connections.
  • It also experiences little to low electronic noise, especially when the PCB has a proper layout.  Electronic noise always degrades the quality of performance of the PCB.
  • Printed circuit boards are reliable, especially when the design factors are in the application area.
  • PCBs also have a low cost when mass-produced because of discounts in procurement and other economies of scale.

 

Application

Printed circuit boards have multiple applications in diverse industries or sectors. It applies to consumer electronic devices, medical apparatus, and automotive or motor vehicle areas. Further, Industrial components or devices, aerospace devices or equipment, lighting, and retail industry appliances also represent significant application areas. Other applications include electronic security, the defense industry, etc.  

Both advanced and basic electronic circuits have a different design, fabrication, and assembly processes. Additionally, the requirements for each also differ from each other. Therefore, it becomes prudent to research further on such design and manufacturing requirements before picking the right type for your specific area of application.  

Final Thoughts

Electronic circuits are essential elements for electrical and electronic devices and equipment. While the types and classifications differ, understanding each proves crucial in your efforts to design and fabricate an ideal circuit for your application area. The type of electronic circuit will influence the components (whether active or passive). However, remember to always consider the application areas before selecting a circuit type.

Hopefully, this article answers some of the fundamental questions you had about electronic circuits besides helping you settle for a suitable electronic circuit.