Gas station without pumps

2013 January 7

First day of circuits class went ok

Filed under: Circuits course,Printed Circuit Boards — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:11
Tags: , , , ,

I went into the class with the following to-do list:

  1. Introduce teaching staff
  2. Go over syllabus, with the main points here:
    • Goal is not to make them EEs, but to bring them to electronics hobbyist levels, so they can design stuff that isn’t too tricky and talk with EEs about tricky designs.
    • Accepted as circuits course for BME, but not as prereq for other EE courses.
    • Lab centric—theory taught as needed for design labs.
    • Prelabs to be shown at beginning of Thursday labs. Oops, I forgot to mention this.
    • Lab demos to be done in Thursday labs. I forgot to mention lab demos also.
    • Post-lab writeup is major portion of grade (in both courses) due Mondays after labs. We talked quite a bit about the importance of engineering reports and who the audience for them is (not the professors!).
    • Parts kit to be sold Wednesday.
    • Free on-line books in place of hard-copy textbooks.
    • Rotating partners (prelab separately, postlab together or separate).
    • Academic integrity boilerplate.
    • Disability accomodations boilerplate. There wasn’t time for this, but I did mention in response to one question about allergies and sensitivities that we could try to work something out. The syllabus does have the needed info about requesting accommodation for disabilities.
  3. Demo of pressure sensor and EKG with Arduino data logger code.

The EKG board, which I checked over the weekend, refused to work for me in my tests before class, so I waved it around but didn’t demo it. I did demo the pressure sensor board, which worked fine. I used the v1.0.0b4 version of the Data Logger, (available from http://bitbucket.org/abe_k/arduino-data-logger/downloads under “tags”, which is the latest named version. The version currently installed in the labs is v1.0.0b2, I believe, and I have to decide whether to update before Thursday’s lab or not. The b2 version should work well enough, I think, but if students switch Arduinos between different versions without uploading again, they might have problems.

I’ve put an improved version of the parts list up on the class web site and told the lab-support staff about it, so that they can start figuring out how much the student lab fee will have to be next year.  This year, students are paying $30 for the Arduino and $65.50 for parts and tools, but I doubt that the lab fee will be less than $150 next year.

The board designs for the three PC boards used in the course have also been released (with an appropriate Creative Commons license—non-commercial, since I’ve not paid the Eagle license fee needed for commercial designs).

Finally, I’ve tentatively lined up a biologist to talk about excitable cells and action potentials towards the end of the quarter, before the EKG lab.

In other news, my son told me yesterday that his Christmas present to me (which he had told me he would get me later), was the Data Logger code. He couldn’t have given me a nicer present: it was something I wanted, that he put a lot of thought and effort into, that he made himself, that I couldn’t have bought in a store, and that would have been a lot of trouble to do for myself. OK, so we’re both geeks, seeing a software package for teaching a course as a good present, but it really was.

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