ECE 209: Circuits and Electronics Laboratory

237 Caldwell Laboratory

Sample syllabus (instructor’s syllabus takes precedence): PDF

Text/Resources: Sample schedule (instructor’s ordering, pre-lab activities, and exams take precedence):
Lab 0: Course Overview
Lab 1: Introduction to the Digital Oscilloscope and Function Generator (pre-lab due)
Lab 2: Meters, Measurements, and Errors (quiz)
Lab 3: Introduction to Operational Amplifiers and Step and Frequency Response of First-Order Circuits (quiz)
Lab 4: Frequency Response of First-Order Active Circuits (quiz)
Lab 5: Properties of Second-Order Circuits (pre-lab due)
Lab 6: Nonlinear Circiuts: Diode and Transistor Switch (quiz)
Lab 7: Digital-to-Analog (D/A) Application (quiz)
Final Exam (in class)


Lab Resources

SOURCE CODE: LaTeX has been used to generate the documents for this class linked below. The Mercurial repository at archives the source code of these lab resources.

LICENSING AND REUSE: Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Theodore P. Pavlic and included in this website and any related pages, including its archives, is protected by copyright and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License ("CCPL"). Use of this website is expressly conditioned upon the user's acceptance of the terms and provisions of the CCPL. Use of this site and any of the materials thereon constitutes acceptance of the CCPL by the user.

COMPONENTS: For your information, a list of required laboratory components is provided. You are not required to purchase electronic components for the class; they are stocked within the laboratory. However, you can use this list to gather these components at the beginning of each class.

Running List of ECE 209 Lab Equipment Tips

Electronics Texts

On-line Electronics Resources

Lab Report Writing Resources

Engineers are not scientists in the traditional sense. Scientists generate knowledge about the natural world by observing natural phenomena (in fact, the word "science" comes from the Latin for "knowledge" or "knowing"). Engineers use that knowledge to generate new technologies that aid in human activities, but they are rarely concerned with generating new knowledge about the natural world. Instead, engineers generate knowledge about their own creations. While the subject matter is different, the method behind the generation of knowledge is identical. That is, engineers are "technoscientists"; they use the scientific method to generate knowledge about technology.

In the engineering laboratory, you should practice all of the steps of the scientific method. In particular,

  1. Define the question (e.g., "How does a certain filter respond to a generic input signal?")
  2. Gather information and resources (e.g., recall your operational amplifier theory and the physical characteristics of passive electronic devices)
  3. Form hypothesis (e.g., "The filter will act like an abstract linear time-invariant system with transfer function H(s).")
  4. Perform experiment and collect data (e.g., measure magnitude and phase response at several frequencies)
  5. Analyze data (e.g., plot the data)
  6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as starting point for new hypothesis (e.g., compare measured and expected responses and draw the conclusion that the theoretical model matches the qualitative low-pass behavior of the system but matches poorly in the neighborhood of the corner frequency. Suggest that cable resistance or component tolerances may have changed the effective corner frequency. Suggest a new experiment that measures cable resistance and repeats trials over several components with tight tolerances)
  7. Publish results (e.g., submit your lab report)
  8. Retest (e.g., assume that others will read and respond to your published report by following your suggestions for future work)
These steps should influence everything you do in the lab and everything you write in your report.

Section Structure

A good section structure inspired by the scientific method is:
  1. Introduction – the purpose of the lab (i.e., define the questions that you are trying to answer during the experience)
  2. Procedure – what was done (i.e., describe the experimental method)
  3. Theoretical results – what was expected (e.g., your hypothesis would fit nicely here)
  4. Measured results – what was observed (i.e., present your data without drawing conclusions)
  5. Conclusions – explanation of measured results and suggestions for future work
    • Interpret the data to show how it responds to the relevant questions of the experience – use the data to test your hypothesis.
    • Suggest starting points for new hypotheses that explain the observed differences from the theoretical results – if possible, suggest new experiments to test these new hypotheses.
Alternatively, the conclusions section could be called an "Analysis" section and a new "Conclusions" section could be added that summarizes the report. The section structure you choose should help reinforce the message you are communicating in your report; keep the steps of the scientific method in mind.

For the lab reports you submit to me, you do not need an abstract nor any appendices. With the possible exception of hand-drawn figures, all material should be in-line with the text of the document.

Regardless of your section choices, be sure to pay attention to the course policies on lab reports (e.g., include a cover page with table number, group member names, instructor name, section, etc.).

Technical Details

More Resources

Help Getting Started Using TeX/LaTeX

For myriad reasons, professional technical documents are rarely produced with popular programs like Microsoft Word. In areas that are highly influenced by mathematics (e.g., engineering), the free TeX typesetting system dominates. Many TeX (pronounced "tech") users prefer the LaTeX suite of macros to simplify common typesetting tasks.

TeX documents, like the source code for computer programs, start as text files that are later "compiled" into their final document form. A typical TeX workflow is

  1. Edit document source code in a standard or specialized text editor. For example, a text file called "mydocument.tex" could contain the LaTeX code:
    \textbf{Hello world!}
  2. "Compile" source code to produce printable document. The "mydocument.tex" file would produce a "mydocument.pdf" that would contain the bold text:
    Hello world!
    A good editor will typically provide a quick way (e.g., a "LaTeX" button on the graphical user interface) to compile your code.

    If you want to compile your code manually, you can use PDFLaTeX with the command
    pdflatex mydocument.tex
    or you can use LaTeX with the commands
    latex mydocument.tex
    dvips mydocument.dvi
    The difference between these two methods has an impact on what type of figures you can include (i.e., EPS files versus PDF, GIF, JPG, or PNG files). See below for details.

  3. View printable document and repeat process to make changes (e.g., you could change the \textbf{Hello world!} line to be simply Hello world! to get rid of the bold).

Thus, many people feel that TeX typesetting is more like programming than it is like using standard word processing tools. So it's not surprising that you'll need a "compiler", editor, and viewer (note: the ECE computer labs are already equipped with everything you need to get started).

  1. If you want to submit lab reports or pre-lab homework assignments using TeX, you will need one of the free TeX distributions. These distributions contain TeX and the popular LaTeX macros.
    • Windows users should get MiKTeX. Click on the link under Download.
      • Alternatively, Windows users can try TeX Live. For the moment, it is recommended that new users stick with MiKTeX.
    • Mac OS X users should get MacTeX. Download the MacTeX Installer.
    • Unix users should get TeX Live. Follow the quick installation directions.
    These distributions contain programs that can "compile" TeX source files into a nice-looking printable form.

  2. Once you have installed a TeX distribution, you will need an editor. Any text editor can be used to edit TeX files, but some are more friendly than others.
    • TeXmaker is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
    • WinShell is the free LaTeX editor used in the ECE computer labs.
    • TeXnicCenter is a popular free LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • WinEdt is a popular commercial shareware LaTeX editor for Windows.
    • The combination of Vim with the VIM-LaTeX suite makes for a powerful LaTeX editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix.
    • TeXShop is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and PDF previewer (with auto-refresh) for Mac OS X.
    • TeXworks is a free and minimal LaTeX editor and auto-refreshing PDF previewer (based on TeXShop) that is still in development for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix. It is available for download. It is based on Qt and Poppler.
    • Kile is a popular free LaTeX editor for KDE (i.e., for Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix).
    • iTeXMac is a popular free TeX editor and PDF previewer for Mac OS X.

  3. You will probably also want a good PDF viewer. Some of the editors above include decent PDF previewers, but others depend on you to find one.
    • Members of the Adobe Acrobat family (including the free reader) are sufficient so long as your editor knows how to kick them whenever your PDF is regenerated. Unfortunately, they are big and bloated and have a stagnant feature set.
    • Mac users should check out the free Skim, which supports auto-refreshing and lots of other helpful features.
    • Windows users might want to check out the free Sumatra PDF, which is a minimal PDF viewer that supports auto-refreshing and has some other nice features.

  4. You may want some examples to get you started. It might be helpful to see an example homework template too.

  5. You will often want to include figures in your documents. To make this process easier, make sure you have these two lines in your LaTeX preamble:
    Then, in the main part of your document, you can choose whether to include your graphics as "floats" or not. Most figures in books are "floats." That is, they do not appear exactly where they are mentioned in the text. Instead, they "float" to a convenient place (e.g., the top of the next page). In lab reports, people sometimes prefer that their graphics do not float.

    To include a graphic as a float, use lines like
            \caption{A nice caption for my figure.}
    Alternatively, if you want the figure to be typeset EXACTLY where you place it within your source code, use lines like
            \captionof{figure}{A nice caption for my figure.}
    That is, replace the figure environment with a center environment and replace the \caption line with a \captionof{figure} line.

    A similar procedure exists for tables (i.e., tables can be included as floats as well).

    In the \includegraphics lines above, a "width" parameter is set to half of the column width (i.e., 0.5\columnwidth). You can change this to an absolute dimension as well (e.g., [width=3in] for a three inch width). You can even use height instead (e.g., [height=3in] for three inch height). In either case, the image is scaled so it maintains the correct height:width ratio.

    In the example above, a PNG file was included.
    • If you want to include PNG, GIF, JPG, or PDF files, you must use PDFLaTeX.
    • If you want to include EPS files, you must use LaTeX.
    So when you export files from MATLAB, make sure you choose an appropriate file format.

  6. Additional LaTeX examples (e.g., LaTeX code for electronic circuits, graphs, and block diagrams) can be found in Ted Pavlic’s OSU Course Mercurial repositories for
    • ECE 209 (not too much here),
    • ECE 327 (a circuits lab with lots of documents with lots of circuit diagrams),
    • ECE 557 (a controls lab with lots of LaTeX and MATLAB generated figures).
    Click on the files links and navigate the tree.

  7. Some other terrific examples can be found on the web.
    • PSTricks lets you harness the power of PostScript to draw great looking line drawings inside TeX.
    • PGF/TikZ has been growing in popularity as a more portable alternative to PSTricks.
    • The TeX Users Group (TUG) links to lots of helpful resources.
    • The Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) is a huge central store of useful TeX material.
    • The LaTeX Community forum can be a great resource that can quickly answer some of your questions.
    • The comp.text.tex (CTT) Usenet newsgroup has been a resource for TeX users for a long time. Search and participate.

Course Policies (instructor policies take precedence)

  1. Sample course grading (instructor grading policy takes precedence):
    • Quizzes and pre-labs: 20%
    • Lab reports: 40%
    • Attendance, active participation, and clean-up: 10%
    • Final exam: 30%

    At instructor’s discretion, grades may be made available on Carmen.
  2. Quizzes and pre-labs (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • For two labs, students complete an individual pre-laboratory assignment due at the beginning of class. Each of the other labs starts with an individual closed-book and closed-notes quiz over its material. Students should arrive to class on time for the quiz.

    • The purpose of the pre-lab quizzes and assignments is to ensure that each student has reviewed the lab and its theoretical background. The laboratory experience will move more smoothly and be more beneficial to the student if the pre-lab study has been completed.

    • Pre-lab assignments should be completed INDIVIDUALLY by EACH STUDENT. Pre-lab submissions are NOT group assignments.
  3. Final Exam (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • The final exam will be a written test over theory discussed in the class.
    • There will be no hands-on laboratory component to the final exam.
  4. Labs (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • Students are required to attend all labs.
    • Students will work in groups of two or three.
  5. Lab reports (instructor policy takes precedence):
    • See the lab report writing resources for more information about the contents of a good lab report.

    • Each group will submit one lab report.

    • On your cover page, include:
      1. the class identifier (i.e., "ECE 209")
      2. the section day and time (e.g., "Tuesday 4:30")
      3. instructor name (e.g., "Instructor: Jane Engineer")
      4. names of all members of group (grades are given to these members)
      5. your table number (posted within each cubicle)

    • Lab reports must be typed and pages must be numbered.
      • If you must use hand-drawn figures or hand-written calculations, use engineering graph paper. Include them either as attachments to the end of the report or paste or photocopy them into the body of the report.

    • Tables and figures should be numbered and have descriptive captions. Because these items naturally float to the best location on the page, they should be referred to by their name and not be their relative position (e.g., refer to "Table 1" and not "the table below").

    • Lab reports are due at the beginning of the next lab session and will be penalized 10% per day late (instructor policy takes precedence).

    • Lab report grading (instructor policy takes precedence):

      • Lab work (30%) – evidence of having successfully completed the lab tasks.
      • Figures/Tables/Equations (20%) – the main technical details of the report
      • Discussion (50%) – usually divided (depending on lab) into:
        • Purpose – the purpose of the lab
        • Procedures – how the lab was done
        • Theoretical results – expected results
        • Measurement results – actual results
        • Conclusions – explanation of actual results

    • Again, see the lab report writing resources for more information about the contents of a good lab report.
  6. Attendance (instructor policy takes precedence):
    Students must attend all labs. If a lab needs to be missed, arrangements should be made with the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the lab so that the lab work can be made up. The instructor reserves the right to determine when make-up work is allowed. Students are responsible for all assignments, change of assignments, announcements, and other course-related materials.
  7. Late policy (instructor policy takes precedence):
    Late lab reports will not be accepted unless prior (i.e., at least 24 hours in advance) arrangements have been made with the instructor.
  8. Honor code:

    Although groups may work together outside of class when deciphering their results, all handed-in material must be unique. That is, each group should actually compose their lab reports separately.

    Likewise, students may help each other outside of class when completing the pre-lab assignments, but the assignment submissions should reflect individual work and not any sort of collaboration.

    Any written material turned in to the instructor (lab reports, pre-labs, exams, etc.) falls under the purview of the University and the ECE Honor System rules. If a lab report does not represent a group’s understanding of the material or a pre-lab or exam does not represent an individual’s understanding of the material, it will be considered to be an honor code violation. In these cases, the incident must be reported to the ECE department.

  9. Disability services:
    Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs.
    The Office for Disability Services
    150 Pomerene Hall
    1760 Neil Avenue
    Telephone: 614-292-3307, TDD: 614-292-0901

Course Information

From ECE Department ABET Syllabus for ECE 209 (as of 2010):
Course supervisor: Professor Steven B. Bibyk

Catalog Description:

Circuits and electronics lab covering basic electronics and principles of electrical measurements, signal conditioning, and instrumentation.

Course Prerequisities: 205, Math 415
Course Prerequisities or Concurring: 301, acceptance in ECE or Engineering Physics major

Courses that require 209 as prerequisite: 327

Prerequisites by Topic:

Course Objectives:

  1. Apply math and science and be able to use the laws of electrical circuits. (Criterion 3(a))
  2. Conduct experiments to measure the behavior of electrical circuits. (Criterion 3(b))
  3. Ability to design a system of components to meet the needs of frequency filtering of signals received from a function generator. (Criterion 3(c))
  4. Work in teams at a lab bench. (Criterion 3(d))
  5. Identify, formulate, and solve electrical circuit problems. (Criterion 3(e))

Topics and (# of Lectures)

Class Meeting Pattern

Related Courses

A good follow-up circuits lab: ECE 327 [OSU ECE's ABET Syllabus, sample course web page]

[ Contents | Top ]

Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 3.0 License
Website and original documents
Copyright © 2007–2010 by Theodore P. Pavlic
Licensed under a CC-BY-NC 3.0 License
Checked by Tidy Created with Vim (Vi IMproved)
Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional