The art of electronics starts with being able to build the most basic circuits reliably and, most importantly, neatly. As circuits become more complex, good circuit building habits will be essential in tracing faults or following circuit diagrams.
Starting with the most basic battery and bulb circuit, always try to build the circuit in a similar layout to the circuit diagram - even to the point of laying out the components first. Use a sensible colour code for wires so that the circuit is easy to follow. It is most often the case that RED is used for positive and BLACK for negative - also called 0v or Ground.
Adding more components in series simply involves extending the loop of wires but ensuring there is just one continuous path from the battery positive and leading back to the battery 0v. The order does not actually matter but it is good practice to copy the circuit diagram. In this circuit RED is used for positive but then other coloured wires are used for the intermediate connections before ending with BLACK for negative - the colours used should not be random, they should make the circuit easier to follow.
Adding components in parallel simply involves connecting each end of the two components together so that the circuit splits and the current can go down one branch of the circuit or another. Again, keep the layout as close to the circuit diagram as possible and ensure the colour code is consistent. Wires that join should be the same colour therefore only RED and BLACK are used in this circuit.
When circuits contain both series and parallel circuits all mixed up together it is a good idea to build the basic circuit first and then add the remaining components one at a time rather than just building the whole circuit in one go and hoping for the best. Again, try and use a sensible colour code - even if it just getting the RED and BLACK wires consistent - and lay the circuit out like the circuit diagram.
Ammeters and voltmeters are always added to the circuit after it has been built and tested - these are measuring instruments and should not actually affect the working of the circuit. The circuit should work without the ammeters and voltmeters. Ammeters are added in series and voltmeters are connected in parallel.
© Paul Nicholls
Electronics Resources by Paul Nicholls is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.