What is a circuit?

In any specific circuit, the elements included are transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and many others. All the elements are associated with wires, and the current is used to travel from these wires. Generally, at least one active component must be present to be known as electronic rather than electrical. The mixture of elements as well as conducting wires gives several types of processes to be executed, which are amplifying the signal, computations, and transporting data from one place to another.

Types of circuit

The electronic circuit is classified into various types, such as an analog or digital circuit and a mixed-signal circuit. The mixed-signal circuit is a mixture of both analog and digital circuits.

Analog circuit

The analog electronics are expressed as the circuits in which current or voltage alters continuously with time. An analog circuit is created from two basic essential structure arrangements named series and parallel circuits.

Digital circuit

The digital electronic circuits are expressed as the type of circuits where electric signals take on discrete values to describe logical and numeric values. These values represent the data that is being processed. In most cases, binary encoding is applied: one voltage indicates binary '1', and another voltage (0 Volts) indicates binary '0'.

Circuit tracers vs circuit finders

A tracer is known as the device which is employed to track the route of any specific circuit. It is mostly used by specialists to trace wires to renovate a home by knowing all the things behind the walls you may or may not be removing. Also, the tracer can be used as a tool to find shorts or follow wires located within a channel in energized (live) as well as de-energized (open) circuits.

The breaker finder is known as a device that usually works on energized circuits. The transmitter in this device draws some current of the line between the range 6 ampere to 10 amperes. Due to this, it produces a strong signal, and the transmitter portion of this system is relatively simple. No batteries are used in a digital circuit breaker finder.

In order to evaluate the proper breaker, the receiver sensitivity doesn't need to be high, and no needs to provide much gain because there is only a small amount of work to be done on the gap between the component carrying current in the breaker and the tool. The gap is approximately equal to 1 inch or 2 inches.

Why do we use circuit tracers?

The circuit tracers are widely utilized in modern residences for the cable system, which is a bit complex and functioning of other electrical components that are essential for everyday life. Now, for tracing the cables, it is not necessary to follow them through ceilings or walls. The introduction of tracers increases the speed of tracing any circuit having leakage to the ground (high resistance or low resistance). In this condition, a strong power source is also required along with the transmitter. Also, in branch lines, feeders, neutrals, control wiring, and many other regions, a circuit tracer is used.

Components used in a circuit tracer

There are three components used in a circuit tracer, which are as follows:

1. Transmitter

2. Receiver

3. Probe


The transmitter is represented as the electronic device which generates radio waves through the help of antennas. Also, the presence of frequency alternating current (AC) in the transmitter exhilarates the antenna for releasing the radio waves.


The receiver can be explained as the device that accepts signals, like radio waves, and transform these (with amplification) into a reasonable form. The following are some of the examples of the receivers.

  • Television receivers
  • Radio receivers


The probe is described as the device which combines electronic test tools with a device undergoing a test. In test probes, simple devices, complex devices, powerful devices, expensive devices, fragile devices, and many other types of devices are included. Some different types of probes are test probes, oscilloscope probes, and current probes.

Types of wire tracers

Active tracing

The active tracing is suitable for locating certain lines, tubes, and many others. A wire tracer charges a specific line through electricity and then utilizes a receiver to obtain the developed signal by applying a direct connection or by ejecting a signal. Some instruments need the direct branch to the line, while most of the others only have to be well-positioned on the ground above the given line.

Passive tracing

Passive tracing is one of the types of tracing which is applied if a targeted line is already charged with electricity. In this tracing method, without the assistance of the receiver signal is obtained. But passive tracing does not help you find a specific wire in pairs or bunch of wires. It will detect power in a specific area and help you reserve the place before drilling or other activities.

Common Mistakes

  • It is a misconception that digital circuits consume less energy, but actually, they consume more power.
  • One of the misconceptions is that there is no generation loss in the analog circuits. But these circuits are prone to generation types of losses.
  • Sometimes, students get confused about whether analog circuits are better than digital as they don't have noise losses, but digital circuits are transferred digitally without any noise losses.
  • It is a misconception that analog is generally suitable for long distances, but this is incorrect as digital circuits are best employed for long-distance transmission.

Context and Applications

This topic is significant in the professional exams for both graduate and postgraduate courses, especially for

  • Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Communication Engineering
  • Master of Technology in Electrical Engineering
  • Types of wire tracers
  • Types of circuit
  • Close circuit
  • Open circuit
  • Circuits and their types
  • Circuit tracer

Practice Problems

Q1. How many parts are there in a circuit tracer?

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Correct option: (c)

Explanation: The circuit tracer consists of three parts. They are the transmitter, receiver, and probe. The transmitter generates radio waves with the help of antennas. In contrast, receivers receive signals, and probes are known as test probes.

Which of the following is not a component of circuit tracer?

  1. Receiver
  2. Transmitter
  3. Probe
  4. Transducer

Correct option: (d)

Explanation: There are three components of circuit tracer, named as receiver, transmitter, and probe. Transducers are not part of a circuit tracer, and it is used to change one kind of signal into understandable or readable signals.

A device used to follow the path of the circuit is called ____________.

  1. Circuit tracer
  2. Transmitter
  3. Digital circuit
  4. Analog circuit

Correct Option: (a)

Explanation: The devices that follow the circuit's path can be termed circuit tracers. A circuit tracer is used to locate ground lines, control lines, neutrals, feeders, and branch or subbranch lines.

How many types of tracing are there?

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Correct option: (b)

Explanation: The tracings are classified as active and passive tracings. An active tracing locates particular lines and pipes. In contrast, passive tracing is employed where target lines are previously charged via electricity.

Consider a statement "Circuit tracer may also be used to locate ground lines, control wiring, neutrals, feeders, branch lines, and a lot more".

This statement is

  1. True
  2. False

Correct option: (a)

Explanation: Circuit tracers can be employed to position ground lines, branch lines, neutrals, control wirings, feeders, and many more. Therefore, the statement mentioned above is True.

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