When to use a schematic VS a block diagram VS a Fritzing

Well I'm not wrong. A schematic that has just, say, an Arduino connected to a Neopixel strip is just a block diagram. Two boxes connected with some lines. At that point just use Fritzing/TinkerCAD.

If the thing uses parts that aren't available in either tool, sure, use a schematic.


Or at least I don't think I'm wrong. If I posted a tutorial on how to wire up a blinking light controlled by a potentiometer or something, do you think more people would build it if I showed a Fritzing or a schematic?

I will say that if the entire wiring of an Arduino UNO was put into a Fritzing, I would have to be hospitalized just looking at it.

As complexity increases, the usefulness of Fritzing decreases.

Maybe I should reword.

Alright I've decided to reword my original post because it wasn't very clear.

Fritzings - Great for beginner tutorials and ultra-basic circuits but becomes useless when things become remotely complex or start using parts that aren't included in the libraries.

Schematics - Not a great idea for a beginner tutorial but works great with very complicated circuits and obscure parts.

Connection Tables - Great little diagrams showing where a connection should start and end. Good for beginners but might lose some people who require visual cues. Furthermore, a connection table of a complex circuit turns into a four-mile long spreadsheet.

EDIT - Also, never post screenshots of your custom PCB designs because only people who are familiar with eCAD applications can kind of understand them.

And then there is one BEYOND schematics. I recall trying to read sheets of schematics showing ALL the logic connections in main-frame computers. Not just chip pin connections, but the internal logic parts in the chip and the pins connecting to them. Quickly gave the book back to the engineer!

I think those diagrams have ascended beyond the level of us mere mortal hobbyists.

Perhaps as it applies to you and your projects. Its great you found a system that works for you :slight_smile: and I'm sure there are like minded folks.

However the rest of the industry disagrees, schematics are the universal electronic documentation standard.

To your point, personally I can absorb an electrical concept/circuit/etc in moments when shown on a schematic. I literally have to draw a schematic to understand a tabular representation (with the exception of a circuit with < 5 parts (or so).

This is freaking hilarious! (from your post #8)
What particular aspect of the Fritzing do you find hilarious? While I've never used Fritzing, this particular example is quite helpful to someone wiring up such a design. In addition to connection information it conveys things like how grounds are made etc. I don't see that information in a table.

Of course there is the possibility you are "yanking our collective chain" just to see how folks react.

EDIT - Also, never post screenshots of your custom PCB designs because only people who are familiar with eCAD applications can kind of understand them.

If you are capable of converting a design from tabular form to working hardware (successfully) you will be able to understand a PCB layout. Early in my career our PCB designs were laid out by a design house. Technically I didn't know how eCAD worked however I sure as hell knew how my circuit needed to be laid out.

With respect, you do not know what you are talking about.

Good for you !

I've worked with similar things like this over the years, they are completely unmanageable when things get large and have no place when things are small.

A properly drawn schematic gives both connection and a functionality overview of the system.

As example, these 3 sheets of a 6 sheet system:

I'm getting a feeling someone's yanking our chain :face_with_monocle:

Needs to be repeated:


Dunno about you but I'm a hobbyist, not an industrial engineer. If I want to follow my thing I will. A lot of times I make a table based off a schematic for my own sanity.

These look nice. I don't think I've ever thought to do it in several sheets which is why they end up looking messy when I build them. And I've NEVER done anything that complex, so the use case there makes sense.

EDIT - My reaction on that Fritzing diagram was like it was because Fritzings are dumb for circuits that complex. Use a table. Maybe it'll be long but the reader can read one line, make a connection, read another line, make another connection, etc.

And as a summary, in large schematic systems, an inter connection block schematic, can make things clearer too:

Enough Time spent on this.

I never suggested you should do something other than what works for you. However when you term other approaches as "hilarious" you suggest others should be following your path. I am saying "bull s*&t" If it works for you find but don't label others approach with disrespect.

Signing off this thread.....

The only thing I'm disrespecting is Fritzing.

EDIT - This sounds pretty bad in hindsight but I'm not shaming the people who use it, just the software and the system itself.

It's really interesting how different people absorb information. I'm an engineer by profession. I spent a lot of time on a forum trying to explain to someone how to build a chicken coop door controller using relays. After a few back and forth rounds getting nowhere, I realized that the root problem was that he couldn't understand a basic schematic, but was too embarrassed to say so.
Changed the schematic into a table of "red wire goes from terminal 1 on relay to..." and it immediately clicked with him. A day later he had it built.

I'm pretty anti-Fritzing, but I have to admit that for some people it works.

Take away GPS, no one can get anywhere because they can not read a map.

If people don’t ask questions about what they don’t understand they need to reevaluate what they are doing.

When schematic go over a few pages it is best to draw them in a hierarchical way. That is the top level is a block diagram showing what blocks connect to what other block. Each block is then a separate sheet in the schematic showing the components in that block and how they are wired.

Typically I worked on schematics that could get over 20 pages in them, but layer out the right way the were easy to follow.

I would suggest that anyone who is anti schematic is an idiot of the first order and is well out of this hobby, just like an actor who doesn’t want to actually speak. And we all know where that leads to, and that is mime.
The ONLY way to convey an electronic circuit is by schematic. I once bought a electronics kit with magnetic plug together components in the USSR. The design was a rip of of a western design and is cost less than £1. The words were in Russian but the circuits were in schematic so I could read them and make the circuits.

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This topic comes up from time to time, so I previously collected a few examples:

A recent thread showed me that you can not rely on an OP to produce a useful schematic if they dont understand the underlying electronics; and many arduino players dont have that background. My feeling is a "belt & braces" approach is best when explaining a problem - so a schematic AND a photo of the wiring.

From a program design viewpoint you wouldnt go straight to code; similarly for a "top-down design" for hardware a block diagram is a good starting point.