Gas station without pumps

Circuits course: Table of Contents

This page collects all the blog posts for the development of my Applied Circuits for Bioengineers course.  The material distributed to the students in the course for the first offering of the course is on my University web pages:

The permanent web page for the course is

Because has an irrational prejudice against allowing oldest-first ordering of anything (or incompetent database programmers, which seems less likely), I’ve had to hand-create a table of contents for my posts about the Circuits Course. I would really love for them to have automatically generated “Table of Contents” summary pages for each category, giving the links to the posts and (optionally) the tags associated with the post.  Until they realize that not every reader and writer of blogs sees posts as being primarily valued by how recent they are, I’ll have to make do with this hand-generated table of contents (and remember to edit it every time I have a new post!).

I should probably annotate every listing with a sentence or two about what is in the post, as well as collecting posts into separate thematic groups below.  For now, the first couple hundred posts don’t have explanatory sentences.

  1. Changing teaching plans
  2. More on electronics course design
  3. Yet another project idea
  4. More musings on circuits course: temperature lab
  5. Buying parts for circuits course
  6. Oscilloscope practice lab
  7. Speakers and function generator
  8. Temperature lab, part2
  9. Temperature lab, part 3: voltage divider
  10. Op-amp lab
  11. Why teach circuits to bioengineers?
  12. What sensors for circuits class?
  13. Instrumentation amp lab
  14. Instrumentation amp, try 2
  15. Building a function generator kit
  16. Capacitive sensing
  17. Capacitive sensing, part 2
  18. Capacitive sensing with op amps
  19. Capacitive sensing with op amps, continued
  20. Phototransistor
  21. Synchronous demodulator
  22. EMG and EKG works
  23. Two-stage EKG
  24. EKG recording working
  25. Pulse detection with light
  26. Giving up on light-based pulse sensor
  27. More thoughts on EKG
  28. Looking at bioengineering measurements courses
  29. Cockroach electronics?
  30. Random thoughts on circuits labs
  31. EKG blinky
  32. Instrumentation amp protoboard
  33. Instrumentation amp protoboard rev2.1
  34. Trying to measure ionic current through small holes
  35. Medical Instrumentation, first 5 chapters
  36. Accelerometer for circuits course?
  37. Medical Instrumentation, chapter 6
  38. Conductivity of saline solution
  39. On stainless steel
  40. EKG blinky boards arrived
  41. More free textbooks
  42. Better measurement of conductivity of saline solution
  43. Measuring Ag/AgCl electrodes
  44. Order and topics for labs
    This post is a good one to start with, as it outlines the labs I’ve developed so far in the order we’ll probably do them and provides pointers to other posts about each lab.  There are no pointers to later posts, of course.
  45. EKG blinky boards work
  46. EKG blinky parts list and assembly instructions (Page, not Post)
  47. Instrumentation amp prototyping boards arrived
  48. Medical Instrumentation, Chapters 7 and 8
  49. Medical Instrumentation, Chapters 9–14
  50. Better electrode placement for EKG blinky
  51. Possible textbook, Horowitz and Hill
  52. EMG video
  53. All about circuits, a possible supplemental text
  54. Pressure sensing lab possibilities
  55. Wikipedia books, another approach for a free/cheap textbook
  56. PC board for pressure sensor
  57. Making Ag/AgCl electrodes
  58. Course approval forms
  59. Supplemental sheet for lab, draft 1 This post is obsolete, see draft 2 below.
  60. Supplemental sheet for lecture, draft 1
  61. Characterizing tactile transducer
  62. Characterizing tactile transducer again
  63. Bad news for circuits course
  64. Good news for circuits course
  65. New amplifier and shaker table
  66. Supplemental sheets, draft 2 This post provides an updated overview of the course, but no links to other posts.
  67. Filing the paperwork
  68. SBG and partner work in circuits class
  69. Circuits course as flipped Bloom’s
  70. Good and bad news for circuit course
  71. Pressure sensor assembly
  72. Pressure sensor miswired
  73. A way forward for circuit course
  74. Pressure sensor noise problems
  75. Rethinking the pressure sensor lab
  76. Thinking about PC boards and parts kits for circuits lab
  77. New PC board design for pressure sensor
  78. A different way forward for circuit course
  79. Notes for things to do on circuits course
  80. Capacitive sensing with Schmitt trigger
  81. Hysteresis lab
  82. Parts list for Applied Circuits W13, draft 1 (Page, not Post)
  83. New holder design for Ag/AgCl electrodes
  84. Holder for Ag/AgCl electrodes
  85. Updated things to do on circuits course
  86. Pressure sensor boards arrived
  87. Hysteresis board
  88. Small enrollment in circuits course
  89. Parts orders for Applied Circuits W13 (Page, not Post)
  90. Tested Python and Arduino installation
  91. Trying the oscilloscope practice lab
  92. FET threshold tests with Bitscope
  93. Disappointing power-amp lab
  94. Three lab handout drafts done
  95. Mic modeling lab too complicated
  96. Tools and parts list for Applied Circuits W13 (Page, not Post)  This page has the packing list (and prices) for the student tools-and-parts kit.  It looks like the kits will be $65 for Winter 2013.
  97. Parts packed, pressure sensors assembled, more thoughts on power amp
  98. Mic modeling lab rethought
  99. Data logging software for circuits course working
  100. FET modeling lab looking complicated
  101. Class D instead of class AB
  102. Class D works
  103. Parts and tools packaged today
  104. Updating to-do list
  105. More mess in the FET modeling lab
  106. Negative resistance oscillator
  107. First day of circuits class went ok
  108. More stuff bought for the circuits class
  109. Second day of circuits class
  110. First lab was too long
  111. Third day of circuits class
  112. Fourth day of circuits class
  113. Weekend work
  114. Fifth day of circuits class
  115. Second lab was smoother than the first
  116. Sixth day of circuits class
  117. Doing the hysteresis lab without a scope
  118. Seventh day of circuits class
  119. Electrode lab went well
  120. Eighth day of circuits class
  121. Virtual Community of Practice for circuits
  122. Ninth day of circuits class
  123. Teaching engineering thinking
  124. Formal reasoning in intro physics
  125. Tenth day of circuits class
  126. First soldering lab went fairly well
  127. Eleventh  day of circuits course
  128. Idea for phototransistor/FET lab
  129. Conjecture about gnuplot difficulties for students
  130. Quiz too long and too hard
  131. Positive moments
  132. Thirteenth day of circuit class and first op-amp lab
  133. Fourteenth day of circuits class
  134. Becoming engineers
  135. RC time constant lab
  136. Fifteenth day of circuits class
  137. Descaffolding
  138. Sixteenth day of circuits class
  139. Tinkering lab
  140. Seventeenth day of circuits class: inductors and gnuplot tutorial
  141. Teaching students to build and use models
  142. All weekend and handouts still not written
  143. Pressure-sensor lab handout written
  144. Eighteenth day of circuits class
  145. Sampling lab went ok
  146. Nineteenth day of circuits class
  147. Class D with LC filter works
  148. Tinkering lab reports show problems
  149. Twentieth day of circuits class
  150. Better model for loudspeaker
  151. Twenty-first day of circuits class
  152. Pressure-sensor lab went well
  153. Rethinking the power-amp lab again
  154. Rethinking the power-amp lab yet again
  155. Quiz 2, better than quiz 1
  156. Twenty-second day of circuits class (actually 23rd, I forgot to count the quiz day)
  157. Twenty-third day of circuits class  (actually 24th)
  158. Class-D power amp lab went smoothly
  159. Twenty-fifth day of circuits class
  160. Twenty-sixth day of circuits class
  161. Exploding electrolytic capacitors
  162. Tried EKG design on protoboard
  163. Action potential lecture and EKG lab
  164. Twenty-eighth day of circuits class
  165. Last day of circuits class
  166. Bar exam for circuits class

The next set of posts are all after the first offering of the course, and include thoughts on how things went and possible different labs to try.

  1. Student writing
  2. Triangle-wave oscillator
  3. Self-taught teacher
  4. Supplemental sheets, draft 3
  5. Showing is better than telling, but not by much
  6. Sounds like my course
  7. Teaching by hand
  8. Kemet tech reports on capacitors
  9. Pressure sensor with air pump
  10. Blinky EKG hard to debug
  11. Blinky EKG fixed
  12. Disseminating the applied circuits labs
  13. 2-op-amp instrumentation amp
  14. 3-op-amp instrumentation amp
  15. Common-mode noise in EKG
  16. Some failed designs
  17. Logarithmic amplifier
  18. Logarithmic amplifier again
  19. Still more on log amplifiers
  20. Precision rectifier
  21. Improved rectifier
  22. Improved rectifier with Schottky diodes
  23. Freedom KL25Z board
  24. Virtual ground circuits
  25. Optical pulse monitor with little electronics
  26. Digital filters for pulse monitor
  27. Failed attempt at pulse oximeter
  28. Microphone sensitivity exercise
  29. MPX2053DP pressure sensor being discontinued
  30. Service courses
  31. Towards automatic measurement of conductivity of saline solution
  32. Broken soldering iron
  33. More on automatic measurement of conductivity of saline solution looks at waveforms for square waves generated using PWM on the KL25Z board. In this post I found that 100kHz square waves would work well.
  34. Still more on automatic measurement of conductivity of saline solution looks at waveforms for bursts of square waves generated by an Arduino board. The bursts are limited to about 4kHz, but that may be good enough for a conductivity meter.
  35. Using KL25Z for measuring salinity shows a program on the KL25Z that averages readings during the last 10,000 pulses of a 50,000-pulse burst. It has Gaussian noise with a standard deviation of about 0.13mV on a 2.8v signal. Jostling the electrodes is visible in the traces.
  36. Range of conductivity measurements adds measurement of the applied voltage to the program (reducing the frequency to 65kHz) and checks the linearity of the conductance with concentration of NaCl, which is not very good on this simple 3-point measurement at 0M, 0.1M, and 1M NaCl.
  37. Designing courses to teach design has notes for a lightning talk I need to give next week about the creation of this course (among other things).
  38. Designing courses to teach design—draft 2 gives a complete draft for the lightning talk (a couple days in advance of the talk itself).
  39. Wire loop vs. twisted pair try 1 discusses trying to detect the difference between a twisted pair and a loose loop, but goes about it the wrong way, detecting capacitive rather than inductive coupling.
  40. Tools and parts list for Applied Circuits S2014 lists all the parts and prices (without tax and shipping charges) for Spring 2014 course.
  41. Lying to my students is about errors I’ve made in presenting photodiodes to the freshman design seminar.  Some of the errors were intentional simplifications, but some were just errors.
  42. More on loudness circuits puts together a preamp, a peak detector, and a log amplifier to make a loudness sensor.  I’ve not tried building the circuit yet, so it is just a theoretical design.
  43. Better I-V plot for Schottky diodes fixes the plot from the “More on loudness circuits” post and fits the theoretical model for over 120dB range of current.
  44. I-vs-V plots for base-emitter diodes provides voltage-vs-current plots for the base-emitter diodes of S9012 PNP and S9013 NPN transistors.
  45. Still better I-V plot for Schottky diodes uses the 16-bit ADC in the KL25Z and a couple of circuit tricks to get much cleaner I-V plots for the Schottky diodes from 1nA t0 10mA.
  46. Diode-connected nFET characteristics tests the AOI518 nFETs that we’ll be using this year using the KL25Z. I tested the flyback diode also, up to 1A.
  47. Soldering headers on a Freedom board is a tutorial on soldering headers onto a KL25Z (or KL26Z) board.  It is needed for the new first day of lab.
  48. Plan for rearranged circuits labs is a tentative schedule for the labs for the Spring 2014 offering of the course
  49. Updates on some earlier lessons updates the lessons at the end of Still better I-V plot for Schottky diodes.
  50. New phototransistor lab is a re-examination of an optical pulse monitor.  It looks doable, but only as a 2-day lab, which will mean rescheduling.
  51. Revised plan for circuits labs is a rework of the schedule to accommodate the longer, more complicated phototransistor lab.
  52. What makes teaching programming difficult? discusses the problem of teaching problem decomposition and debugging, with some ideas for how to improve it in both the freshman design seminar and the applied circuits course.
  53. Panicking about circuits class discusses what I’ve done and have left to do before classes start tomorrow.
  54. New modeling lab for electret microphone shows how I’m changing the first microphone lab to adapt it for the KL25Z boards.
  55. First day of S14 circuits class went ok talks about the first day of the circuits course—panic mode is still firmly in place.
  56. Thermistor lab 1 stressful, but successful talks about the first lab of the quarter.  It ended up OK, but was a bit stressful for me.
  57. Gnuplot demo describes the first gnuplot tutorial.
  58. Thermistor lab second half took too long talks about the Thursday lab running 5.5 hours, instead of 3, and what I think I can do next year to fix the problem.
  59. Third day of circuits class was low key talks about getting the students back to equilibrium after the too-long lab.
  60. Hysteresis lab on KL25Z describes new KL25Z code for looking at the frequency changes of a relaxation oscillator used in the hysteresis lab.
  61. Feedback on first lab report mainly talks about the problems I saw in the first design reports from this year’s class.
  62. First mic lab slightly too long talks about the first microphone lab (DC characterization of the mic).
  63. Protein essentials and second gnuplot demo talks about two different lectures: a guest lecture in another class on protein structure and the second gnuplot demo in the applied circuits class. I also had some metacognition material on the zone of proximal development and imposter syndrome.
  64. Second mic lab went well sums up the second half of the mic lab, in which students added a load resistor and looked at the mic output on the oscilloscope.
  65. Impedance, finally describes the chalkboard lecture on complex impedance, which went well.
  66. Designing courses to teach design—draft 3 is an updated version of my talk “Designing Courses to Teach Design”.
  67. Hysteresis lecture talks about the lesson on hysteresis.
  68. Hysteresis lab too long (do you detect a theme of labs running too long?)
  69. Between halves of the hysteresis lab talks about the lecture covering work students had already done.
  70. Hysteresis lab ended well talks about finishing up the hysteresis lab and the shortage of board holders for soldering.
  71. Voltage dividers, parallel impedance, scope probes covers the content of the lecture after the hysteresis lab.
  72. Designing courses to teach design—draft 4 is my 4th attempt at writing my talk “Designing Courses to Teach Design”.
  73. Electrodes and load lines lists the topics of the 10th lecture and briefly mentions my dilemma about whether to assign more homework.
  74. Stainless steel electrode lab went fairly well discusses the first half of the electrodes lab.
  75. Stainless steel electrode analysis talks about the gnuplot analysis of the stainless steel electrode data.
  76. Ag/AgCl electrode lab went fairly well describes the second half of the electrodes lab, and what should be done differently.
  77. As expected, students did poorly on the quiz analyzes the quiz results, which were just as bad as I expected, though I was hoping for better this year.
  78. Loudspeaker lab describes the lab for measuring the loudspeaker impedance as a function of frequency.
  79. Loudspeaker analysis describes the gnuplot analysis of the data collected in the loudspeaker lab, and a little on quantization of values and time.
  80. Sampling and aliasing lab describes that lab, and the weird data collected for one loudspeaker in the earlier loudspeaker lab.
  81. Video of Designing Courses talk gives the link to a video of my Designing Courses talk.
  82. First op amp lecture summarizes the points of the first lecture on the third main theme of the course: op amps.
  83. Block diagrams and audio amps talks about developing a block diagram for a simple audio amplifier using op amps.
  84. Audio amp lab talked about the audio amplifier lab (which turned out to be almost 100% prelab, since the students hadn’t done their work ahead of time).
  85. Quiz corrections covers the quiz results and redo as a homework assignment, also describing the multistep problem in the audio amp design.
  86. Low-power audio amp lab completed talks about finishing the simple audio amp lab, and some changes I should make for next year.
  87. Second op amp lecture describes a class covering virtual grounds, gain-bandwidth product, and transimpedance amplifiers—a bit too much for one class.
  88. Lecture for pulse monitor talks about the lecture before the pulse-monitor lab and my disappointment with how few students attempted the prelab assignment over the weekend.
  89. Answer getting talks about a mindset problem that a lot of my students suffer from.
  90. Phototransistor lab talks about the first half of the optical pulse detector lab.
  91. Mixed topics in lecture talks about active filters and the second stage of the optical pulse monitor, along with doing prelabs, answer-getting, tinkering, and other meta topics.
  92. Very long time in the lab talks about my longest time in the circuits lab so far: 2p.m.–9:30p.m.
  93. Problems rewriting the Class-D amplifier lab talks about the difficulties I’ve been having with rewriting the class-D power amp lab.
  94. Instrumentation amp lecture has very short notes about last Friday’s lecture.
  95. Long weekend talks about what I’m doing to fix the class-D amplifier lab, what I saw in the lab reports for the optical pulse detector, and what I covered in lecture today.
  96. Class-D lab revision didn’t work covers both halves of the pressure-sensor amp lab and the quiz between them—it also talks about my attempt to fix the class-D lab, which turned out to be worse than the original, which I am returning to.
  97. Class-D amplifier lecture 2 talks about a rather rushed lecture before Memorial Day weekend.
  98. Cardiac action potential talks about the only real “bio” lecture of the course.
  99. Class-D amplifier lab done, EKG block diagrams begun talks about the labs this week, today’s class, and possibility of turning my lab handouts into a textbook for the course.
  100. Grading big stack of “redo” assignments talks about near-end-of-term grading, and policy changes I plan for next year.
  101. Blood pressure monitor describes a possible modification to the pressure sensor lab next year.
  102. EKG lab not quite done talks about the first half of the EKG lab, where most students almost finished the whole lab.
  103. Random topics in class today has random topics from the penultimate lecture of the course.
  104. Very long lab time today talks about the last scheduled lab day of the quarter.
  105. Wrapping up Applied Circuits and PteroDAQ bug fix covers the last day of class as well as a bug fix that my son made to the PteroDAQ code this week.

The next group of posts will be preparing for and reporting on the third offering of the course:

  1. Digi-key end-of-life notification for IR emitter talks about changes in which LEDs will be used next year.
  2. Starting on book for circuits lab—scheduling labs talks about a possible schedule of labs for next year.
  3. Zeroth draft of book done reports on initial progress on the text book.
  4. Loudspeaker relaxation oscillator talks about using a loudspeaker as the feedback element in a Schmitt-trigger relaxation oscillator.
  5. Instrumentation amp from op amps still fails talks about the possibility of using the cheap op-amp chips instead of the more expensive instrumentation-amp chips for the pressure sensor lab.  Bottom line: No, but maybe for the EKG?
  6. Instrumentation amp from op amps fine for EKG shows the homemade inst amp from MCP6004 op amps working ok for the EKG.
  7. Faculty writing community reports on an idea for a faculty writing group that might have helped me get more writing done last summer.
  8. How big is a course? talks about how many hours a course should take up, both contact hours (lecture, lab, individual meetings) and homework.
  9. Tools and parts list for Applied Circuits S2015 lists the parts (with prices) that we’ll be using this year.
  10. First day of S15 circuits class: demo failure talks about the first day of class for Spring 2015.
  11. First lab for Spring describes the first lab (soldering) for S15.
  12. Second lecture in Spring 2015 electronics talks about the lecture on sampling and a bit about getting PteroDAQ to work on new machines.
  13. Moving sampling lab early was a good idea talks about having scheduled the sampling and aliasing lab much earlier this year.
  14. Third lecture: resistance and voltage dividers describes the main content of the first pure chalk talk of the quarter, and describes the cold calling I use.
  15. Temperature lab went well talks about smooth running of the first thermistor lab.
  16. Optimization and model fitting went well today talks about the optimization problem from the first homework and model fitting with gnuplot.
  17. Second half of temperature lab went well continues the trend of successful labs.
  18. Sinusoids and impedance lecture discusses the 6th lecture of Spring 2015, leading to the impedance of capacitors and RC filters.
  19. Too much prelab homework for microphone lab talks about grading the pre-lab homework for the microphone lab.
  20. Microphone labs went OK talks about the microphone lab and the lecture between halves of the lab
  21. Loudspeaker lab went well talks about the two lectures before the loudspeaker lab, and the 1-day loudspeaker lab itself.
  22. Very long couple of days talks about the lecture between the loudspeaker and hysteresis labs, the hysteresis lab, and a generally stressful few days.
  23. Email exchanges with the electronics class includes a couple of e-mail exchanges with the class, about due dates and about material that was asked in a question but not covered in the book or in class yet.
  24. Comments for class after grading talks about observations made after the latest round of grading (the loudspeaker and hysteresis lab design reports).
  25. Ideas for improving hysteresis lab talks about ideas for improving the hysteresis lab, but it’s not clear there is room in the schedule for expanding it back to a 2-day lab.
  26. More model fitting in lecture talks about modeling the stainless-steel electrodes, introducing a new “semicapacitor” model for the electrodes, but without showing the plots of the model fitting data.
  27. Welded welding rod shows a picture of a corrosion ring on one of the stainless-steel electrodes, that looks like the rods are welded together before being drawn down to 1/8″.
  28. Ag/AgCl electrode lab went ok talks about the second electrode lab, surprises from the substitution of a different brand of EKG electrode, and how voltmeter input impedance interferes with the impedance calculations we’ve been doing.
  29. First op-amp lab was quick talks about the lecture setting up the block diagram for the low-power audio amplifier and the first op-amp lab.
  30. Voltmeter impedance talks about measuring the input impedance of AC voltmeters.
  31. Lecture in middle of first op-amp lab talks about not giving a midterm quiz this year and about the second half of the first op-amp lab.
  32. First instrumentation-amp lecture talks about the first instrumentation-amplifier lecture (there will be more) for Spring 2015.
  33. Lecture on pressure sensors talks about the lecture on pressure sensors—actually more about some of the problems I saw in the audio-amplifier design reports.
  34. Checking on my pedagogy reports on how I think I’m doing against a checklist that Mark Guzdial provided for teaching programming to beginners.
  35. Blood pressure lab talks about the blood pressure lab and the lecture between the two halves of the lab. The students in the lab needed more scaffolding than I would like this late in the quarter.
  36. Blood pressure lab part 2 talks about the second half of the blood pressure lab, which took longer than I expected.
  37. Pulse monitor lecture and lab talks briefly about the one lecture I gave on transimpedance amplifiers and photodetectors, in preparation for the optical pulse monitor lab this week, then talks about the rather miserable lecture I gave on real power and pulse-width modulation, and the not very productive time in the first half of the pulse monitor lab.
  38. Pulse monitor lab part 2 and power-amp lecture talks about the second lecture on PWM and class-D power amps, and the second half of the pulse monitor lab, both of which were more successful than the first half of the week.
  39. Interesting observation with PteroDAQ has an interesting observation students made in class involving aliasing.
  40. Third power-amp lecture and first half of lab discusses the power amp lectures and lab, with some mention of Miller plateaus when switching FETs.
  41. Last power-amp lecture talks about choosing pull-up resistors for the comparators in the class-D amplifier lab, and suggests some material to add to the book.
  42. Power amps working talks a bit about the end of the power-amp lab with some ideas for future improvement. It also looks at Miller plateaus recorded by the Tektronix digital scopes.
  43. Two lectures: Jellyfish and EKG talks about the 2-op-amp instrumentation amp and EKG lecture (Jellyfish is in there from a different lecture earlier in the day).
  44. Reducing 60Hz interference talks about changing the filter limits for the pulse monitor to reduce 60Hz interference.
  45. Confidence and not opting out talks about confidence as a gender-related cause of different academic outcomes and about my frustration with not being able to reach students at the bottom of the class.
  46. Crude theremin talks about rescuing the EKG demo, and about a lecture on how theremins work.  I also give an example of a crude theremin design that doesn’t quite work.
  47. Last lab of Spring 2015 talks about my longest lab day yet (about 11 hours in the instructional lab today), and about what I plan to discuss in class tomorrow.

After Spring 2015, it is time once again to review all the labs and rewrite book chapters. I want to try to add more at-home labs, so that hobbyists can use the book without $1000s of equipment, and so that students can do some of the work in their dorm rooms and apartments.

  1. Bitscope jitter and nFET Miller plateau talks about a way to get much higher time resolution for repetitive signals using the Bitscope USB oscilloscope, applying it to the gate voltage of an nFET to show the Miller plateau.
  2. Update for nFET Miller plateau gives the test jig used for the Bitscope jitter post, and talks a bit about how I might change things for a plot for the book.
  3. More on nFET Miller plateau gives an improved test jig and the resulting plot for the book, but also expresses some concerns about the miscalibration of the offsets in the Bitscope BS10 USB oscilloscope.
  4. PteroDAQ bug fix talks about a bug fix for the PteroDAQ data acquisition software written for the course, where data was being corrupted at higher sampling rates.
  5. FG085 function generator talks about a new function generator kit I assembled—one that may be useful for an at-home hobbyist lab for the course.
  6. FG085 function generator output impedance measures the output impedance of the FG085, finding it to be just under 47Ω, rather than 50Ω.
  7. Pullup vs. transimpedance amplifier discusses the advantages of a transimpedance amplifier over a simple pull-up resistor (speed!).
  8. Measuring voltmeter input impedance measures the voltmeter impedance in a much simpler way than the Voltmeter impedance post.
  9. Testing nFET with function generator reports i-vs-v curves for the PSMN022-30PL nFET when it is diode-connected, and finds a negative dynamic resistance.
  10. Testing nFET body diode with function generator continues the previous post by characterizing the body diode of the PSMN022-30PL nFET.  It also discusses some limitations of the FG085 function generator.
  11. Negative resistance in nFETs provides a conjecture (not complete) about where the negative resistance in nFETs is coming from.
  12. Improving PteroDAQ looks at the multi-platform (KL25Z and Arduino) version of PteroDAQ that I hope to have ready for beta release by the end of summer.  It looks in particular at the sampling frequencies obtainable and the noise in unaveraged ADC reads on the KL25Z board.
  13. PteroDAQ v0.2b1 released! announces the new vastly improved version of the PteroDAQ data-acquisition system.
  14. PteroDAQ board calibration reports measurements of the accuracy of the bandgap voltage references on 5 boards used with the PteroDAQ system.
  15. FG085 function generator bugs reports bugs I’ve found in the FG085 function generator (including summarizing some from previous posts).
  16. Reworking electronics class for cheap equipment talks about plans to make more of the applied electronics course doable at home for students and autodidacts.
  17. DT-9205A voltmeter review is a review of the $10 DT-9205A digital multimeter, concluding that it is probably good enough for students to do all the labs in the course.
  18. Measuring BitScope BS-10 input impedance measures the input impedance of the BitScope BS-10 USB oscilloscope at 1MΩ || 10pF.
  19. Measuring PteroDAQ KL25Z input impedance summarizes the previous AC voltmeter measurements and measures the input impedance of the KL25Z single-ended ADC.
  20. More on measuring PteroDAQ KL25Z input impedance talks about some problems in measuring the KL25Z input impedance, having to do with using too high a source impedance.
  21. Noise from PteroDAQ KL25Z clears up the mess on PteroDAQ KL25Z input impedance by realizing that the limiting factor isn’t the impedance, but noise injected back into the circuit by the sample-and-hold circuitry.
  22. Getting KL25Z bootloader to work without Windows 7 talks about workarounds for the ridiculously bad Bootloader on the KL25Z boards, which only works with Windows 7. There are pointers to workarounds for WIndows 8 and for Linux, but I’ve yet to find one for Mac OS X.  The new v1.11 Bootloader from P&E Micro does not work with Mac OS X, despite their claims.
  23. Ordered first Windows computer I finally broke down and am buying a cheap WIndows 8.1 machine, just to test the PteroDAQ software and installation instructions on Windows 8.
  24. Lean publishing talks about a model close to self publication that I might try out for the textbook.
  25. Book draft available online announces the pre-release of book drafts on
  26. Draft book cover shows my first place-holder version of a cover for the book.
  27. Textbook should be on paper discusses the economics of producing a print-on-demand version of the book.  This does not look particularly feasible for the next year.
  28. PteroDAQ supports Teensy 3.1 describes releasing Teensy 3.1 support for the PteroDAQ data acquisition system.
  29. PteroDAQ boards shows a picture of the Teensy 3.1 beside other boards that PteroDAQ supports, and discusses the tradeoffs in deciding which board to require for the class.
  30. Leanpub is a very small publisher gives a few statistics about Leanpub, the company I’m distributing pre-releases of my book through.
  31. PteroDAQ will support Teensy LC mentions plans to support the Teensy LC and use it for the class.
  32. Teensy LC support for PteroDAQ written but not tested compares code sizes for the firmware for PteroDAQ on different platforms.
  33. Teensy LC support for PteroDAQ working, but it took me longer than I expected.
  34. Arduino-compatible software for FRDM-KL25Z board describes one project I found that does not do what I want for Arduino IDE support of the FRDM KL25Z board.
  35. Bitscope function generator review describes the Bitscope’s BS10 function generator—not very flatteringly.
  36. LED I-vs-V curves gives I-vs-V curves for several of the LEDs I have on hand.
  37. PteroDAQ frequency channels talks about the beginnings of frequency measurements for the PteroDAQ data acquisition system.
  38. PteroDAQ frequency channels on FRDM-KL25Z talks about refactoring the PteroDAQ GUI code and adding frequency channels for theFRDM-KL25Z boards.
  39. DMA counter for event counting on Freescale Kinetis processors discusses my frustration with trying to get longer than 15-bit counts for frequency channels on the Teensy 3.1 (K20 processor) in PteroDAQ.
  40. Book draft 2015 Aug 28 mentions the changes in the most recent draft book release, as well as listing some tasks I have to complete that will be competing for writing time.
  41. Pedagogy for bioinformatics teaching mainly talks about the bioinformatics course BME 205, but has some mention of teaching gnuplot in the electronics course.
  42. Softcover: another self-publishing house mentions another possible self-publishing house, as an alternative to Leanpub.  Currently, I plan to stick with Leanpub.
  43. Calibrating PteroDAQ frequency measurements talks about checking the accuracy of frequency measurements with PteroDAQ, determining that the FG085 function generator uses crummy crystals, but that the three boards tested all had crystals within ±30ppm. A bug fix for PteroDAQ frequency channels was suggested.
  44. Breath pressure measurements talks about my first attempts at breath-pressure measurement apparatus cheap enough for the lab.
  45. Microphone preamplifier shows a picture of a microphone preamp wired on the new op-amp prototyping board, together with PteroDAQ traces of the microphone, low-gain, and high-gain voltages.
  46. Gamifying a course talks about why I’ve not “gamified” the electronics course.
  47. Book draft 2015 Sep 7 lists the changes for the most recent release of the book.
  48. Class-D power amp lab revamp talks about changes I’m contemplating for the class-D amplifier lab, to simplify the design work and make it more easily done in a home lab.
  49. H-bridge Class-D works is just what it sounds like—I tried out the Class-D lab with a single-power-supply design and a cMOS H-bridge, and that approach works well. It should be much easier for the students to do than the thee power supplies, open-collector comparators, and resistor tweaking we’ve been doing.
  50. H-bridge Class-D hum problem solved explains the unexpected solution to the hum problem of the previous post.
  51. Teensy 3.2 available serves as a reminder to myself to update PteroDAQ to support the Teensy 3.2 board (same as Teensy 3.1, but with more current available from the 3.3V regulator).
  52. AOI514 nFET I-vs-V plots the measurements I made on the AOI514 nFET, but I decided the plot was too messy to include in the book.
  53. Considering splitting Applied Electronics course discusses a possible redesign from a 1-quarter 7-unit course to 2 4-unit courses.
  54. Meeting for teachers of writing to engineers is informal notes from an informal meeting I organized of people who teach engineering students writing.
  55. Resistor assortment box is a description and photo of the box I’m now using for keeping my resistor assortment sorted.
  56. Sabbatical plans for 2016–17 follows up on Considering splitting Applied Electronics course—I am going to split the course next year.
  57. Sabbatical leave application 2016 is my first musings on what I’ll put on the form for applying for sabbatical leave Fall 2016.
  58. Tools and parts list for Applied Electronics S2016 Page of parts and tools.
  59. New tools and parts list for applied electronics announcement on the blog of the new page of parts and tools.
  60. Small updates to book announces update for electrodes chapter and lab.
  61. Syllabi for splitting Applied Electronics into two courses provides the first drafts of the syllabi for the proposed split of the course that should start in Winter 2017.
  62. Counting pages discusses the page count of my textbook and compares it to a couple of other textbooks in different fields.
  63. Optical pulse monitor software discusses doing real-time software for an optical pulse monitor—most of the other discussions have talked only of the hardware with post-processing of PteroDAQ recordings.
  64. Oscilloscope tutorial video introduces an oscilloscope tutorial I filmed for the class.
  65. Class topic not what was planned discusses the second lecture of Spring 2016, where I gave a totally different lecture than what I had planned.
  66. Pep talk for students frustrated at the end of the first week talks about how Lab 2 ended up much more challenging than intended, and a bit about what I’m going to have to do to make sure the students don’t get too discouraged.
  67. PteroDAQ bug fixes talks about missing lunch to debug PteroDAQ in time for the second lab section.
  68. YouTube closed captions are awful provides the automatically generated closed captions for the oscilloscope video.  They are so bad, that they’re funny.
  69. Transfer of learning talks about the difficulty in teaching students to learn to solve problems different from the ones in class.
  70. Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire went well talks about my display at the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire, which showed off several of the projects from the course.
  71. Revised microphone pre-amp lab too long talks about my usual failure—a lab that took longer than I had planned.
  72. Miswiring errors continues a discussion started in the comments of the previous post.
  73. Revised pressure sensor lab went very well describes the success of the new variant of the pressure-sensor lab.
  74. Don’t put pulse monitor first talks about some difficulties with the transimpedance amplifier lab.
  75. 2016 T-shirts ordered shows the design for this year’s T-shirt and discusses the local T-shirt printing companies a little.
  76. Disappointing class-D amplifier reports talks about the design reports for the Class-D power amplifier lab, which had an 80% or higher redo rate.
  77. End of quarter feedback discusses feedback from the students at the end of the quarter.
  78. Teaching writing lab reports talks in general terms about writing problems in the stack of grading I’ve been slogging through, with pointers to a post by Greg Jacobs about grading AP Physics exams.
  79. Flipped Learning talks a bit about the small amount of “flipped learning” in the applied electronics course.
  80. Capacitance meter using touchRead() discusses using the touchRead() routine in Teensyduino to measure capacitance up to 1nF.
  81. Autoranging capacitance meter using TeensyLC gives the code for an autoranging capacitance meter using the TeensyLC to talk to a USB serial monitor.
  82. Possible new FET lab for electronics course describes drain-source resistance vs gate voltage plots for nFETs, as a possible addition to the class-D amplifier lab.
  83. pFET Ron_vs_Vgs completes Possible new FET lab for electronics course by measuring drain-source resistance vs gate voltage plots for pFETs.
  84. More thoughts on measuring FETs continues the analysis of the possible FET measurement lab.
  85. Measuring a high-voltage nFET gives Id-vs-Vgs and Power-vs-Vgs curves for an nFET we plan to use in theater lights.
  86. Why my nFET measurements were bad explains why the results in the previous 4 or 5 posts were bad—Vds has a minimum value!
  87. STM32F103C8T6 development board mentions a cheap new development board which I’m considering adding to the PteroDAQ family, but not planning to use for the course.
  88. The real reason my nFET measurements were bad corrects Why my nFET measurements were bad, which had an incorrect explanation of my bad measurements, and provides a circuit and clean Id-vs-Vds plots.
  89. Possible new lab order describes the new order I’m proposing for labs in changing the course to a 2-quarter sequence. (The order also makes sense for 1-quarter or 1-semester course, I think.)
  90. Digilent Analog Discovery 2 USB Oscilloscope provide pointers to a new USB oscilloscope that I’m considering getting.
  91. More thoughts on log-transimpedance for pulse monitor lab gives a different model for diodes than the standard one, which changes a log amplifier into an I amplifier.
  92. Transimpedance pulse monitor does need low-pass adds low-pass filters to the second and third stages of the log-transimpedance amplifier.
  93. Using nFET body diode for log-transimpedance has V-vs-I plots for a body diode of a power nFET (with very nice log behavior over 7.5 decades or more) and uses the body diode as the transimpedance feedback element.
  94. Using 4¢ diode for log-transimpedance has V-vs-I plots for a couple of general-purpose diodes and debugs a problem with using them in a log-transimpedance amplifier for a pulse monitor.
  95. Pulse monitor using log amplifier talks about some changes to the pulse monitor lab for the new lab order and checks the step response of the logarithmic light sensor. It includes pictures of wooden blocks for use with ambient light illumination and cis illumination (LED on same side of finger as phototransistor).
  96. Tools and parts list for Applied Electronics W2017 and S2017 gives the parts list for the 2017 offering of the course (as BME 51A and 51B).
  97. Release notes for book (Oct 2016) is the release notes for the latest draft of the book.
  98. Lego as LED holder talks about drilling Lego bricks to make the holder for cisillumination for a pulse monitor.
  99. Lego as LED holder revisited shows a better approach for using drilled Lego bricks for the optical pulse monitor.
  100. Electronics course over-enrolled expresses my surprise at the rapid enrollment growth in the course.
  101. Black Friday sale 2016 announces a sale on my book.
  102. Cyber Monday sale 2016 gives the results of the Black Friday sale and the continuation of the sale through Cyber Monday.
  103. Electret mic DC characterization with Analog Discovery 2 redoes the electret microphone DC characterization lab, using the Analog Discovery 2 oscilloscope and function generator.
  104. Two-electrode vs. four-electrode impedance spectroscopy looks at two ways of measuring bulk electrical properties of solutions, using the network analyzer of the Analog Discovery 2 oscilloscope.
  105. FET I-vs-V with Analog Discovery 2 again is another post in the series about the Analog Discovery 2 USB oscilloscope (not all of which are in this table of contents).  This one looks at DC characterization of nFETs, and the difficulty of doing this well with breadboard circuits.
  106. Headphone impedance with Analog Discovery 2 looks at headphone impedance and suggests that the audio preamplifier lab should be tested with earbud headphones as loads, rather than loudspeakers, as the headphones would be loud enough to hear distortion and other problems.


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