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Understanding Your Circuit

Buttons and switches are electronic components that control the flow of electricity through a circuit. The circuit is closed when current is allowed through by turning on a switch or pressing a button. When a piece of the circuit is disconnected by turning a switch or button off, it is an open circuit.

LilyPad Slide Switch

The LilyPad Slide Switch has a small switch labeled ON/OFF. When the toggle is moved to the ON position, the two sew tabs on the switch are connected, allowing current to flow through and close the circuit. When moved to OFF, parts inside the switch move away from each other and open the circuit (disconnecting it). It helps to visualize switches as drawbridges for electricity – when the bridge is up (open), nothing can cross over. When it is down (closed), the pathway is reconnected, and electricity can flow along the original path.

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LilyPad Button

The LilyPad Button Board is also a type of switch. When you press the button in the middle of the board, it connects the two sew tabs and allows current to flow through. When you let go of the button, the connection is opened again, and the button springs back into place. This button is an example of a momentary switch – it is only active when an action is applied.

This is slightly different from the slide switch, which is an example of a maintained switch, meaning its state remains the same until changed.

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Learn more about buttons and switches in our Switch Basics tutorial.