Components in Series & Parallel

I was surprised at how frustrating I found working through these labs to be. I feel as though I have a solid understanding of the theory behind electricity and how it travels through circuits, but I wasn’t able to easily translate that into placing wires and components on a breadboard properly.

It was fairly simple to set up the power supply using the Arduino’s 5V regulator as was demonstrated in class. So far so good:


It was also fairly simple to create a circuit without any switches. Utilizing a 560 Ohm resistor and a red LED, I simply connected them to the power and ground portions of the breadboard directly.


When I tried to place multiple switches in series and parallel, things got much more complicated. I wasn’t entirely sure how exactly to wire things at first and had to think a lot harder about it than I expected. Eventually, I ended up figuring it out and don’t think I’ll have problems wiring components in series on a breadboard in the future.


Wiring things in parallel involved a fair amount of mental gymnastics, and even though pictures were provided in the lab I had trouble with it. I did eventually end up making it work:

Switches in Parallel, Simple from Ian Gibson on Vimeo.

Since I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the process, I wanted to make something a bit more complex that involved components in both series and parallel within the same circuit. I sketched out an idea:


From there, I had to figure out how to wire it all together. After the basic exercises above, I found it much easier to try and figure out despite its increased complexity. I had it working after a few tries:

Switches in Parallel, More Complicated from Ian Gibson on Vimeo.

At this point, I’m not feeling comfortable enough with these concepts to think too creatively about their use. I’m really intrigued by the idea of conductive thread and fabric, and think it would be interesting to use switches and LEDs in some sort of application using them. Though I’ve never experienced it myself (and won’t, yay male privilege!), I have read and heard that┬ápeople too often treat the bellies of pregnant women as objects to be touched at their leisure. I could see some sort of pressure-based switch being used to light up a message of reclamation of a pregnant woman’s body on an article of clothing being useful if for no other reason than as a political statement. Incorporating sound would strengthen the concept. I have no sewing experience and can’t create a prototype this week, but plan to do a lot of skills building and exploration in the soft lab to delve further into my initial interest in the technology.

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