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Teaching Circuits and Electronics Labs With the ALM1000

Blog Post created by dmercer Employee on Dec 22, 2015

Surveying the ECE curriculum landscape of circuits and electronics courses with some hands-on lab content it becomes apparent that every school teaches more or less the same basic core concepts. How they differ is in the way the curriculum committee has decided to divide up the material across 2 or 3 semesters and what they name the courses. Depending on how fast the committee feels their students can cover the material some schools divide the material into just two courses usually called something like Circuits and Introduction to Electronics. Others spread the material into something like Circuits I and II where part of Circuits II covers material often in the first half of an introductory Electronics course with the rest in an Electronics I course. As I said it is generally all the same core concepts just that the faculty at each school approaches teaching it differently. With these variations in approach to circuits and electronics Lab courses it is difficult for ADI to provide a set of one size fits all lab activities written specifically around the ALM1000.

 

It's been around 9 months now since we announced the ADALM1000 Active Learning Module back in March of 2015. At that time there was not much available in the way of ALM1000 specific lab course material and accompanying software. Nine months later the situation is considerably better.

 

The offered lab activities are intended to teach the teacher how to use the ALM1000 as much as to provide ready made labs faculty can use in their classes. The idea is to provide a selection of lab activity write-ups that instructors can choose from to mix and match and/or customize to best fit their specific teaching approach.

 

We now have ALM1000 specific example lab activities and accompanying software tools covering topics typically covered in Circuit I and II through Electronics I and II or even more advanced topics in some areas. Also included are a few Python programming tutorials so students can learn how to customize their own code to capture data as part of a design project.

 

The course materials and software user's guides are available through the ADI Wiki site by accessing the ADALM1000 Overview page. Here is a listing of the example lab topics available so far ( some are duplicated under Circuits II and Electronics I to accommodate alternate curriculum approaches ):

 

Lab Activities

 

Circuits I

    Kirchhoff's Voltage and Current Laws

    Voltage and Current Division

    Proportionality and Superposition

    Thévenin Equivalent Circuit and Maximum Power Transfer

    Transient Response of an RC Circuit

    Transient Response of an RL Circuit

    Resonance in RLC Circuits

    Low Pass and High Pass Filters

    Band Pass Filters

    Impedance Measurement - Frequency Effects

    Measuring Loudspeaker Impedance Profile

 

Circuits II

    Basic OP Amp Configurations,

    PN Diode I/V curves

    BJT as a diode (Vbe vs Ic), MOS as a diode (Vgs vs Id)

    BJT and MOS device I/V curves,

    BJT and MOS transistors as a switch

    Common Emitter Amplifier, Common Source Amplifier

    DC-DC Converters ( inductors )

 

Electronics I

    Basic OP Amp Configurations,

    PN Diode I/V curves

    BJT as a diode (Vbe vs Ic), MOS as a diode (Vgs vs Id)

    BJT and MOS device I/V curves,

    BJT and MOS transistors as a switch

    Common Emitter Amplifier, Common Source Amplifier

    Common Base Amplifier, Common Gate Amplifier

    Folded Cascode Amplifier

    BJT Current Mirror, MOS Current Mirror

    BJT Zero Gain Amplifier, MOS Zero Gain Amplifier

    BJT Stabilized current source, MOS Stabilized current source

    Regulated Voltage Reference

    Shunt Voltage Regulator

    BJT Emitter Follower, MOS Source Follower

    BJT Differential Pair, MOS Differential Pair

    Amplifier Output Stages

 

Electronics II

    CMOS Amplifier

    Two stage CMOS OTA

    CMOS LC Oscillator

    Light Controlled RC Oscillator

    Voltage Controlled RC Oscillator

    Silicon Controlled Rectifiers

    DC-DC Converters ( inductors )

    Multivibrators, NPN and NMOS

    TTL inverter and NAND gate

    CMOS Logic Functions Using CD4007 Array

    CMOS Logic Circuits, Transmission Gate XOR

    CMOS Logic Circuits, D Type Latch

 

Miscellaneous Lab Activities

    Real voltage sources

    LED as light sensor

    Photo Voltaic Solar Cells

    Electret microphone preamplifier

 

Here is a listing of the supporting software:

 

Software Tools

 

1. ADALM1000 DC Voltmeter: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

The two analog channels of the ALM1000 along with the Volt Meter software tool can be used to measure DC voltage. It is targeted for use in labs exploring nodal analysis, voltage dividers, KVL, superposition. This simple two input DC volt meter can read two node voltages ( WRT ground ) at the same time and display the differential voltage between them and is a good place to start learning about DC circuits and how to use the ALM1000.

volt-meter-screen-1.png

Volt Meter tool screen.

 

2.ADALM1000 DC Meter-Source User's Guide: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

Along with the ability to measure voltages the analog channels of the ALM1000 can source either voltage or current. There is also the capability to measure current while sourcing voltage or measure voltage while sourcing current. The Meter-Source software tool provides a simple interface to make DC measurements while sourcing DC voltage or current. It is targeted for use in labs exploring current dividers, KCL, an as an Ammeter.

meter-source-screen-1.png

Meter-Source tool screen.

 

3.ADALM1000 DC Ohmmeter: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

The two analog input and output channels of the ALM1000 along with the Ohmmeter software tool can be used to measure DC resistance. It is targeted for use in labs exploring Ohms Law, series, parallel resistor combinations and for checking component values.

ohm-meter-screen-4.png

Ohmmeter tool screen.

 

4. ADALM1000 Strip Chart Recorder: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

It is targeted for use in labs exploring Long time constant transients, and data logging slow moving sensor measurements over time.

strip-chart-screen-1.png

Strip-Chart Recorder tool screen.

 

5. Active Learning Interface (for) Circuits (and) Electronics: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

This is a more or less full up Oscilloscope interface including controls to configure the analog output signal generators and static digital I/O pins. It is targeted for use in labs exploring things like the transient response of RC, RL and RLC circuits, XY plotting volts vs volts, volts vs current or current vs current, two and three lead component I V plots ( diode, transistor ).

alm-cir-lab5-screen1.png

ALICE Oscilloscope screen.

 

6. ALICE Spectrum Analyzer: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

This is a more or less full up Spectrum Analyzer interface including controls to configure the analog output signal generators and also sweep the generators for frequency response and bode plots. It is targeted for use in labs exploring things like harmonic distortion, frequency response, bode plots for RC, RL, RLC circuits, active and passive filters.

alm-cir-lab7-screen1.png

ALICE Spectrum Analyzer screen (bode plot).

 

7. ALICE Vector Voltmeter - Impedance Analyzer - RLC Meter: [Analog Devices Wiki]

 

This is an interface to measure certain circuit characteristics at a fixed frequency, An AC version of the DC Ohmmeter tool in a way. It including controls to configure one analog output ( channel A ) that can be used to stimulate the circuit being tested. The second input channel ( channel B ) is used to measure the output response. The software measures relative Gain-Phase like a vector voltmeter as well as the impedance magnitude along with the real resistance and imaginary reactance components. The effective series inductance or capacitance is also calculated from these measurements. It is targeted for use in labs exploring things like circuit or network Gain, Phase measurements, complex impedance measurements, resonate circuits, as a RLC meter.

alice-vvm-screen-1.png

ALICE Vector Voltmeter screen.

 

It has taken a few months of development work but ALM1000 specific materials and a supporting software suite are now available to teach circuits and electronics labs using the ALM1000 hardware. Enhancements to the software and additional labs may be added over time so check the Wiki pages often for the most up to date versions of everything.

 

As always I welcome comments and suggestions from the user community out there.

 

Doug

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