How to Read Your First Autodesk Fusion 360 Schematic in 3 Easy Steps

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The schematic forms the building block of every electrical circuit, and even if you aren’t designing one yourself, knowing how to read one is invaluable. And with some schematic reading knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to design, build, and ultimately troubleshoot your way through your design logic before heading on to your PCB layout.

But how in the world do you go about reading a schematic if it’s your first time? There’s a ton of symbols that might be new to you, all those random lines connecting everything together. Fear not, we’ve got you covered with a surefire way to read your first schematic in Autodesk Fusion 360 like a pro, in only 3 steps.

Step 1 – Your Building Blocks

Let’s start by going over all the symbols you might find on a typical schematic. While we won’t be covering every possible symbol, knowing the ones outlined below will make you dangerous enough to understand a typical schematic. And for anything you don’t know, remember to refer to a part’s datasheet. Here we go!

Resistors

Resistors are one of the most common building blocks you’ll find in an electrical circuit. Without these guys, those energy-efficient LEDs that we’ve come to depend on would never work! The resistor symbol will look different based on if you’re using the US or international standards. For the US, you’ll find a zigzag line connected with two terminals. The international symbol is just a plain rectangle with the same terminal connectors.

resistor-symbol

The resistor symbol in both US and International versions.

You’ll also want to be on the lookout for variable resistors and potentiometers. You can quickly identify these by looking for a diagonal arrow placed across the zigzag line for a variable resistor, and a horizontal arrow pointing towards the zigzag line for a potentiometer.

potentiometer-symbols

With the help of some new arrows, we can easily identify a variable resistor and potentiometer.

Capacitors

Capacitors are those lovely little components that can hold some serious charge. You’ll find two kinds of capacitors, polarized and nonpolarized, each of which will have two terminals connected.

capacitor-symbols

Capacitors are easy enough to identify, with the polarized capacitor getting a curve for its cathode.

Inductors

Next up is the inductor. These guys are responsible for storing energy in the form of a magnetic field, all thanks to a simple coiled wire! Inductors are pretty easy to identify on a schematic, with the typical looping lines shown in US standards. International inductors are boxier, and you’ll want to look for a solid rectangle.

inductor-symbol

US inductors are easier to identify with their single looping coils.

Switches

These robust little switches are responsible for throwing your circuit into action. When open, no electricity flows, but in their closed state, the magic starts to happen. There are quite a few different forms of switches, but the simplest of

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