Introduction to Circuits

This course covers the fundamental concepts of circuit theory and analysis. Through calculation, simulation in Multisim Live, and real-life circuit-building using the NI ELVIS III, students will explore and confirm the behavior of common components and configurations. Starting with elementary principles such as Ohm's law and Kirchoff's circuit laws, the course also covers equivalent circuits, voltage dividers and resistance bridges, capacitor and inductors circuits, and transformers. The circuits course culminates with a project lab in which students apply their learning in the context of a real-world electronic device, a radio. By completing this course, students will prepare themselves for future study in electronics.



  1. Differentiate among voltage, current, and power, and perform calculations based on their relationships
  2. Discuss the functions, characteristics, and applications of resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transformers, and predict the output of RC, RL, and RLC circuits
  3. Develop and analyze a circuit simulation, build a circuit on a breadboard, and measure it using common instrumentation
  4. Apply fundamental techniques, including Ohm’s law, Kirchhoff’s Laws, nodal analysis, mesh analysis, superposition, Thevenin’s theorem, and Norton’s theorem to analyze a given circuit, and design a circuit to specification.


Level University, First or Second Year
Topic Introduction to Circuits
Style Laboratory, Project Based Learning
Prerequisite Skills Students should be able to:
  • Place and modify components, build a circuit, run a simulation, and measure results in Multisim Live
  • Run and connect to the NI ELVIS III and NI Protoboard
  • Connect, configure, run, and read measurements from the NI ELVIS III Instruments
  • Place and connect components on a breadboard
Links to tutorials and help documentation for these activities are provided in the labs.


In this lab, students will learn about Ohm's law. Ohm's law defines the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance, and is one of the key laws of electrical circuits. Students will use Multisim to simulate the behavior of basic circuits, and then explore further by building and testing circuits with NI ELVIS III to confirm the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance.
In this lab, students will learn how to apply Kirchoff's Voltage Law (KVL) to verify the voltage drops and supply voltage in a circuit. Kirchoff's Voltage Law implies that the sum of the voltages in any closed circuit is equal to zero. It is used to determine unknown voltage drops in a closed circuit and can also be combined with Ohm's law to find unknown currents or resistances. Students will use Multisim to simulate a circuit with multiple resistors that demonstrates Kirchoff's Voltage Law and then use the NI ELVIS III to build a real circuit that further confirms this concept.
In this lab, students will learn about Kirchoff's Current Law (KCL). KCL states that the sum of the currents flowing into any junction in a circuit is equal to the sum of the currents flowing out of it. Kirchoff's Circuit Law is a fundamental law that allows us to analyze parallel circuits and is often combined with Ohm's law and Kirchoff's Voltage Law to solve for unknown values in a circuit. This lab gives students the opportunity to calculate unknown values using Kirchoff's Current Law and then confirm those values by building a real circuit using the NI ELVIS III.
In this lab, students will learn about Thevenin and Norton equivalent circuits. Equivalent circuits are simplified versions of complex circuits that yield the same values and can therefore, be used to make calculations about those circuits easier. For both Thevenin Equivalent Circuits and Norton's Equivalent Circuits, students will confirm the founding theorems of equivalent circuits through a combination of calculation and circuit-building on the NI ELVIS III.
In this lab, students will learn how to recognize and analyze voltage divider and resistance bridge circuits. A voltage divider is a linear circuit that produces an output voltage smaller than its input voltage; it works by splitting the input voltage among its components. A bridge circuit is a circuit with two branches that are connected by a conductive bridge. Both types of circuit have numerous influential real-world applications, as students will discover through both simulation and hands-on work using NI ELVIS III.
In this lab, students will learn about capacitors, devices that store energy as electrostatic charge. They are a common circuit component that have numerous applications both in series and parallel arrangements. Students will start by calculating capacitance in various configurations. Then, students will have the chance to build circuits and observe capacitors in action with the NI ELVIS III. Finally, students will test their knowledge by calculating the capacitance of a more advanced configuration.
In this lab, students will learn about resistor-capacitor (RC) circuits. These are circuits in which a resistor is placed in series with a capacitor and used to control the rate at which the capacitor charges or discharges. Like capacitors themselves, RC circuits have many applications in real-world circuitry. Students will make calculations for a given RC circuit and then build, modify, and measure that circuit with the NI ELVIS III. Students will also gain experience with two instruments: the function generator and the oscilloscope.
In this lab, students will learn about RLC circuits. These circuits consist of a resistor (R), inductor (L) and capacitor (C) wired in series, parallel, or any combination of the two. RLC circuits are oscillators, meaning that they produce a periodic, oscillating electronic signal. Each RLC circuit has its own resonant frequency, an input frequency at which the circuit exhibits distinctive behavior. For this module, Students will be given an RLC circuit and asked to calculate its resonant frequency. They will then build that circuit with the NI ELVIS III to observe how it behaves and confirm its resonant frequency using the Bode analyzer.
In this lab, students will learn about transformers. Transformers are devices that use electromagnetic induction to increase and decrease the voltages of AC signals. They allow us to manage the logistics of power transmission and to establish a suitable voltage for each power use. The output of a transformer is determined by the ratio of turns in its two coils, also known as the turn relationship. Students will work with two different simulations in order to understand how a transformer's turn relationship affects voltage and current and to investigate transformer power efficiency.
In this project, students will apply their knowledge of circuits to understand components of a complex real-world device: a radio. All radio receivers include a tuning circuit so that they can be turned to pick up a specific broadcast frequency. Many simple passive radios use LC or RLC circuits as tuners, and it is these you will be investigating in this lab. Students will be challenged to use Multisim Live to design and test your own RLC tuning circuit to receive specified FM signal frequencies.


Engineering laboratory solution for project-based learning that combines instrumentation and embedded design with a web-driven experience, delivering a greater understanding of engineering fundamentals and system design.

TI Analog Parts Kit for NI ELVIS III

A set of components for circuits and electronics education provided by Texas Instruments which includes all components and building blocks of any introductory electronics laboratories.

Multisim Live

Multisim Live is an online, touch-optimized component of Multisim, so students can design and simulate their circuits anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Required Software

Download Academic Software, Learn About Software Licensing

Required Hardware

Purchase Engineering Education Products


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