Unsuprisingly, given the wide range of projects possible using the GPIO, I regularly come across questions where someone can't get a part of their GPIO related project to work.

Normally these sorts of questions come from new users, and they have often taken the the time to post their code, or the relevant section of code. However, they normally fail to post a picture/diagram of their circuit and how it is connected to the GPIO.

This tends to prompt me, (or it has already prompted someone else), to write a comment telling the user to include a picture of their setup.

My question is how useful is them posting a picture/diagram of the circuit to answering their question? And what are some obvious clues that the problem lies with the code rather than the circuit, which would then help to diagnose the problem.

  • 3
    In case anyone hadn't noticed, there's actually a schematic editor built into the interface. Here's an e.g. since people don't use it much; that's the only time I've used it, and it's not something I do much of, but it seemed pretty easy. Definitely easier than drawing the same thing would have been for me. Still, I never tell anyone new, "Hey there's a schematic editor, show us what you've done!". Mebbe we should have an example question using some standard form to represent pins etc.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Apr 30, 2017 at 13:32
  • 3
    I think pictures are very relevenat/helpful even mors so than a diagram. To paraphrase @joan a diagram shows what is supposed to be a picture shows what is. Several times a picture has helped diagnose a reversed ribbon cable or a breadboard power rail that was split in half in the middle of the board, In general a picture can help identify whether the fault lies in hardware or softweare. Apr 30, 2017 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


how useful is them posting a picture/diagram of the circuit to answering their question?

I still tend to say that schematics and/or pictures of the circuit are helpful to answering a question - as the error might still be in the circuit and not the code. I have to admit though, that at least some of the pictures do not help that much given what is shown and how the picture is done (e.g. too small details, blurred image, flares). Maybe teaching those users to produce helpful pictures is a worthwhile lesson in its own right.

I am a big fan of schematics over real life pictures of circuits as the latter are usually harder to understand for third parties. I believe that translating one owns circuit into a schematic is a big benefit to the OP themselves. It helps understanding what's being done and hopefully helps finding the error on their own.

The in-built schematics editor is (IMO) a good tool that is both simple enough to use and powerful enough for what is typically asked on the site. But other tools are ok too, such as fritzing which most users on our site seem to use, though I personally find the breadboard view they keep posting less intuitive than a "real" circuit diagram. Even hand drawn schematics are fine and helpful. Again key is that OP puts some effort into phrasing a good and understandable question and including supporting visualisation such as schematics will help to that end.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .