Physics 29A, Electronics Laboratory

© 2015-2016, Kevan Hashemi, Brandeis University Physics Department

Here are lecture notes and laboratory instructions for Electronics Laboratory I, Physics 29A, a four-credit course we teach here at the Brandeis University Physics Department.

Summary: We start with resistors, capacitors, and inductors. We build an audio amplifier and a transistor radio. We build a few operational amplifier circuits, then move to digital circuits. The students design their own a seven-segment display driver. They build a complete analog-to-digital converter from individual gates and registers. At the end of the course, the students are challenged to build several ingenious circuits and figure out how they work.

Materials: Below are links to the laboratory instructions, lecture hand-outs, and additional notes we composed for the students. The quizzes are from past sessions of the course. We provide solutions for the quizzes at the request of our students. Our lecture notes are not yet complete, and those that exist we modify as our students point out errors and ambiguities.

Syllabus: List of topics covered.
Laboratory 1 and Lecture 1: Resistors and Thevenin's Theorem.
Laboratory 2 and Lecture 2: Capacitors and Inductors.
Laboratory 3 and Lecture 3: Frequency Response.
Laboratory 4 and Lecture 4: Diodes.
Laboratory 5 and Lecture 5: Transformers.
Laboratory 6 and Lecture 6: Bipolar Transistors.
Laboratory 7 and Lecture 7: Audio Amplifier.
Laboratory 8 and Lecture 8: Transistor Radio.
Laboratory 9 and Lecture 9: Operational Amplifiers and Feedback.
Laboratory 10 and Introduction to Digital Circuits: Combinatorial Logic.
Laboratory 11 and Lecture 11: Decimal Display.
Laboratory 12 and Lecture 12: Memory, Clocks, Counters, and Converters.
Laboratory 13: Three Transistor Circuits. How do they work?
Laboratory 14: Active Filters.
Quizzes: A selection of past quizzes.

Format: There are two three-hour sessions per week. The first begins with an hour-long lecture. The lecture presents the physical principles and mathematical tools needed to understand the circuits the students will be building for the rest of the week. After the lecture, the students start work in the lab. The second session begins with a quiz lasting no more than half an hour, after which laboratory work continues. We prefer the students to work in pairs, but sometimes they work alone or in a group of three. Each student draws their diagrams and presents their observations in their own laboratory notebook during the laboratory session. The laborator work is divided into parts. At the end of each part, each laboratory group presents their work to an instructor. For those who cannot complete the lab during the first two sessions, the teaching assistant will host office hours in the laboratory at the end of the week. There is no homework, only preparation for the laboratories and quizzes. The lecturer provides two hours a week for students to come and ask questions. Half of the final grade comes from a student's quiz scores, the other half from their group's performance in the laboratory, which we grade each week for completion, understanding, and presentation.

Pre-Requisites: We assume the students are adept with differentiation, integration, and solving first and second order differential equations. We use the complex exponential to calculate the behavior of electronic filters in response to sinusoidal inputs. We assume familiarity with Faraday's Law, Coulomb's Law, Biot-Savart's Law, and Gausse's Law. Familiarity with the Boltzmann factor will help when it comes to diodes and transistors, but is not essential.