Gas station without pumps

2012 November 20

Updated things to do on circuits course

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:51
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On 2012 Nov 1, I posted a to-do list for the course.  How many things have I checked off, and what has been added?

  • Schedule the lecture.
  • Schedule the lab.  I’ve asked for the slot, but not heard back yet.
  • Advertise the course. I’ve sent e-mail to all the bioengineering students and made a few flyers to put up around campus. I’ll make a few more to post next week. Here are the two ads as PDF file: ad1 and ad2.
  • Make a template for the lab handouts.  I started on this, but have not gotten very far.
  • Start making lab handouts. This has made even less progress than the template.
  • Get a university credit card for ordering parts and tools for the student kits that the students will have to buy. Can’t be done. Lab fees would have had to been approved last Spring, no “Pro cards” are available, and any orders would have to go through Purchasing anyway, who will be closed for a couple of weeks in December, right when I need to order. (Plus several of the vendors I plan to use are not “qualified” vendors, and getting the paperwork done for that can take weeks.)  I’ll have to buy all the parts out of my own pocket and sell (at cost) directly to the students.  I’ll probably end up losing some money on the deal, and being left with some extra parts.  That’s probably less painful than dealing with Purchasing, though.
  • Make the parts list and tool list for the student kits.  See the draft. I’ve also pretty much decided that the pressure sensors should be treated as lab equipment and loaned out rather than having the students buy their own.
  • Start finding sources for the parts and tools. See the draft.
  • Try out the modified pressure sensor lab.  Still waiting for the breakout boards to be shipped from China.
  • Redesign the instrumentation amp protoboard. I had hoped to do this last weekend, but am now aiming for Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Decide whether to include a transistor lab and what it should be.  I talked with my co-instructor and he likes the idea of a power output for an op amp to drive a loudspeaker.  We discussed bipolar vs. FET—he’s happy with either, but I favor a cMOS design that can go rail-to-rail, especially as the biasing is just voltage-based, with no need to worry about base currents. We’ll also include an electrolytic DC-blocking capacitor, so that we can still use a single-rail power-supply. I’ve not selected the transistors or prototyped the circuit yet. I spent some time today looking at prices and spec sheets for nFETs and pFETs.  They’ll cost a bit more than bipolars, since the only ones I can find are much beefier than we really need, but this means something like 84¢ for the pair of transistors, rather than 42¢, so the difference is pretty trivial.
  • Come up with a photodetector lab.  Still no good ideas here.
  • Try to line up a biologist who can give a guest lecture on excitable cells and action potentials before the EKG lab.  Not even looked for possible candidates yet, but we need the lecturer near the end of the quarter, so there is time still.
  • Figure out how much to teach about volume conduction for the EKG lab, and how to teach it.
  • Get lab tech staff to install gnuplot, Arduino, and Python 2.7 on lab computers (unless they are already installed). They’ve agreed to do so as soon as Fall quarter ends.
  • Get son to finish his rewrite of data logger code and test on the lab computers (will require getting him access to the lab over break). He’s made progress on the old version (fixing some minor bugs and adding features), but he wanted to do a full refactoring and has not finished that yet. I’ve not gotten lab access for us yet.

I’ve added some extra tasks to the list since then:

  • I’ve bought the Adafruit data logger shield (they were out of stock, so I bought it from the Maker Store, though I’d rather deal directly with Adafruit).  I plan to assemble the shield and experiment with using it instead of relying on USB connections to a laptop.  I don’t think we’ll want to use the data logger in the course (it adds $16.50 to the parts cost)—but I’ll want to play with it to see whether I change my mind.
  • Assemble pressure sensor boards.  I’ll have to do another order once the first set arrive, since that order will only have 10, not 12, and one of them will be my personal one. I don’t want to order more until the first set get here, though, in case I goofed and need to redesign.  Since these are not being sold to the students and aren’t needed until the middle of the quarter, there is time to do this without needing express shipping.
  • Order parts and determine price for parts kits.
  • Make up part kits to sell to students.
  • Think about a simpler first soldering project for the students.  Currently their first soldering would be for the instrumentation amp for the pressure sensors.  Should I have them do a traditional blinky first?
  • Cut out a dozen wire holders for the Ag/AgCl electrodes.
  • Cut and assemble a dozen stainless-steel electrode pairs.

1 Comment »

  1. […] for the circuits class: Notes for things to do on circuits course, and on 2012 Nov 20 I updated it: Updated things to do on circuits course.  The time has come for me to check that list and see how much of it I’ve gotten done, now […]

    Pingback by Updating to-do list « Gas station without pumps — 2013 January 5 @ 21:40 | Reply


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