PHYS S-123 Laboratory Electronics: Analog and Digital Circuit Design
This course surveys practical electronics, from Ohm's Law through microcontrollers, with little mathematical or physical explanation but much opportunity to design and build circuits. Each of the 4-hour meetings devotes about 2 1/2 hours to a laboratory session. The small class size allows a format closer to seminar than to ordinary lecture. Since the course aims above all to enable students to design useful circuits, it concentrates on the most effective techniques, analog and digital: operational amplifiers and microcontrollers. The analog half of the course moves quickly from fundamentals (resistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors) to design with transistors, bipolar and field-effect, and then to the many applications of feedback, using operational amplifiers. The digital half of the course looks briefly at discrete-gate design, then at analog-digital interfacing. Students are introduced to programmable logic devices (PLDs, often called PALs), programming these through a logic compiler (Verilog). Somewhat more than half of the digital content concerns the application of microcomputers, microcontrollers, and the design of their interfaces. The laboratories conclude with a series of sessions in which each pair of students uses a single-chip controller programmed and debugged using a laptop computer. The content of the course is not difficult, but the fast pace makes it a very challenging class, nevertheless. And the course demands a great deal of time. Enthusiasts among our students often spend extra hours in the lab beyond the required sessions.