How to Create a Data Line on your Computer Using a Pull Up Resistor

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What is a Pull Up Resistor?

With regards to electronic logic circuits in computers and other electronics, a pull-up resistor is a small device placed between the positive power supply voltage and the signal conductor to maintain the signal at a valid logic level at the pin. Let’s break it down a little bit, shall we?

Just to remind you, digital logic circuits come in three different logic states. These are High, Low, and Floating. A pull-up resistor ensures that even if high-impedance is introduced to the logic circuit or external devices are disconnected; the valid logic level will remain constant. However, computer nerds will always find a way to utilize technology thanks to a variety of unique applications. One such application is the use of these same pull-up resistors to create a data line. How can you achieve this on your MacBook Pro? Simple, but first, you have to understand a couple of things about the process.

What is a Data Line?

While a data line could be referring to cables used to transmit data between two different points, what we’re actually talking about here are individual lines or circuits that carry data within a computer or any communications channel within computer microchips. Think of it as a highway between point A to point B carrying a bus full of data to and from these points.

Your average computer contains an endless array of data lines. From the internet connection all the way to USB cable connections. One excellent example of a data line in your MacBook is between the battery and the system management controller. When the system controller tells you how much power is left in the battery, that is a very classic example of communication with the computer system through a data line.

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How to Create a Data Line with a Pull-Up Resistor

Contrary to popular belief, creating a data line does not involve shooting data out straight into the destination. A data line significantly resembles a pulse line, each pulse resembling communication between two different points in your computer. How high or low the pulse wave crests and troughs is determined by the voltage. A microchip in your computer interprets these pulses as normal computer functions such as battery percentage levels and CPU temperature and communicated to the computer via a data line. So what role does the pull-up resistor play in this circuit?

In some computer systems such as the MacBook Pro, circuits actually create this data by taking an already existing signal through the data line and pulsing it up and down every now and then. While this data line pushes data through the system, a pull-up resistor works in conjunction with the data line to communicate with your computer. Without the pull-up resistor, a data line would not pulse at all; it would just be one dead line without any feasible communication. Introducing a pull-up resistor facilitates regular and efficient pulsing, thus creating its own data line in your MacBook Pro.

If you have a problem with your pull up resistor, watch out for things like touch pads going haywire, battery unresponsiveness and even excessive overheating. Make sure you take your Mac to a certified Mac repair shop to repair or replace any faulty parts.