Electric circuits diagrams are used to determine what route electricity takes through a circuit and what components it passes during its path through the circuit. Learning to look at a schematic and translating it into physical electric components is a foundational skill in electrical engineering.
Electric circuit diagrams, typically referred to as schematics, provide valuable information on the flow of electricity and signal in a device. Schematics can be broken up into units called modules, with each performing a different function. For instance, a simple radio unit might have one module that uses the antenna to select a specific radio frequency, another that amplifies the signal to audible levels and sends it to the speakers, and a third that provides conditioned power for the other modules. In turn, each module is made up of a variety of electrical components, represented as different symbols in a schematic. Common electrical components include resistors, capacitors and IC chips, and the position and order of each of these components is given in the schematic.
When looking at a schematic, first identify the source of power and the location of ground. Though not exactly scientifically accurate, most schematics assume that electricity tries to flow from the power source to ground through the least resistive route possible. After finding this route, find the final output of the circuit. From there, work backwards to build an understanding of the function of each module. Decide which module needs attention, and then begin looking at the specific electrical components.