Guide: Electricity Basics

This course is mostly about software, but we will touch on various hardware topics. For example, the first two assignments will involve programming the Raspberry Pi to turn on and off LEDs and LED displays. We will assume that everyone understands the basic principles of electricity.

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  • What is the difference between current and voltage?
  • Will 5V generate an electrical shock that will kill you?
  • What might happen if you plug in a 12V power supply to a integrated circuit rated for 3.3V?
  • Suppose you have an LED with a 2.3V drop across it when when 1 mA passes through it. The LED is full-on with 1 mA and you want to limit the current to 1 mA. What size resistor do you need to use when hooking it up to a 3.3V power supply?
  • Do you know how to use a transistor to increase the amount of current to an LED?
  • Do know how to use a breadboard? a multimeter? a soldering iron?

We recommend you read the following articles from Sparkfun for any topic on which you could use a refresher: