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I read that the intersection of a row and column represents a bit, and if an intersection is linked with a diode the corresponding data output line goes low or 0. But why?

Take the following figure for example. An input of \$ A_2 A_1 A_0 = \{0, 0, 0\}\$ gives a 0 (LOW) out of a's NAND gate and 1 (HIGH) out of b-h's NAND gate. The low potential of a's NAND gate sinks all current in the circuit, and there will be four parallel currents from \$ 5V \$ voltage supply, each through \$ R_3, R_2, R_1, R_0 \$ into a's NAND gate. For \$ D3 \$ to be 1 (pulled HIGH), the impedance of a's NAND gate has to be significantly larger than \$ R_3 \$ keeping \$ D_3 \$ at a potential close to \$ 5V \$.

Current through \$ R_2 \$ will then get a diode voltage drop (e.g. -0.6V) before reaching a's NAND gate. Assuming all four pull-up resistors have the same value, then voltage difference between \$ D_3 \$ and \$ D_2 \$ is just that diode voltage drop (i.e. 5V vs. 4.4V), but a 4.4V will not get interpreted as a LOW (0). So instead of outputting 1011, I should get 1111.

Above is my interpretation which make sense to me, but it got to be wrong.

To output 1011, there has to be no current through \$ R_3, R_1, and R_0 \$, pulling \$ D_3, D_2, and D_0 \$ to HIGH (5V), leaving only current running through \$ R_2 \$ and the diode into a's NAND gate. The voltage drop of \$ R_2 \$ and the diode takes \$ D_2 \$ low. This has to be what's happening but nothing sense to me: a's NAND has the lowest potential in the circuit and sinks all current through all four pull-up resistors.

Basic Diode Decoder

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There are no connections where the lines cross (there's no black dot to indicate a connection) so only D2 is pulled low. The others stay high, so the voltages are 5/0.7/5/5 = 1011.

The diodes are to prevent sneak paths as would occur if the diodes were replaced by shorts. Only a is low, so the other diodes (where present) are either unbiased or reverse biased. Only the one diode to D2 comes into play.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Arrr.... "there's no black dot" arrr.... \$\endgroup\$ – KMC Jun 13 '20 at 10:07
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The matrix either has no connection at a junction, or it has connection via diode. NAND "a" output is only connected to R2 via the diode, it is not connected the anything else. That's why only current is via R2 which pulls the voltage low via diode. There is no connection to other resistors, so no current flows in them, and the other output bits are high. So a diode at a junction is logic 0 bit, no diode at a junction is logic 1 bit.

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