Episode #52: Sinking vs Sourcing Explained

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A useful topic to understand is the difference between “sinking” and “sourcing”.  You can use this for inputs and outputs.  You can use it to make sure that your feedback is compatible with your electronics.  I'm Corey Foster at Valin Corporation.  Reach out to us at this email address here.  Let's see what we can learn.

What is sinking and sourcing?  It has to do with whether the transistor is NPN or PNP.  We're not going to talk about that.  We're going to focus on the flow of current here.  I, as a layman, like to think about it in terms of the flow of water.  If you look at these two different sets of electronics here, we have an output here and we have an input here.  The current has to have a positive and it has to have a ground.  If you can see that connection and you can see that flow of that current, then you have a complete circuit.  This transistor here controls whether it is on or off and that goes to the ground. 

Now let's take a look at this one here, where the voltage is here.  Now we are supplying a ground here.  And so now we have the water flow all the way to the ground.  One of those is sinking, one of those sourcing.  What's tricky about that terminology is what perspective are you looking at it from?  This input is a sourcing input because it has a voltage, but it needs a sinking output to sink it to ground.  On the opposite here, this input is a sinking input and it needs a sourcing output to source that voltage.  So, if someone asks whether your input is sinking or sourcing, what do you need, instead of trying to figure out whether they're looking at it from the input or the output point of view, I'd like to say show me the schematic and let's figure out which one works.  And that is what is sinking versus sourcing is.

I'm Corey Foster at Valin Corporation.  I hope this little tidbit helped.  Reach out to us at this email address.  We are happy to help.

If you have any questions or are just looking for some help, we're happy to discuss your application with you.  Reach out to us at (855) 737-4716 or fillout our online form.