26 October 2012

EE Prototyping 4

Design of the "EE Prototyping" course moves steadily forward.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot to blog about because the topics we've been discussing have been mostly formalities:
  1. How often should the course meet? Twice a week? Three times a week? What is the balance between lecture time and laboratory time for this course? Should we use afternoon lectures and evening labs (like some other courses at Olin)? How long should the class/lab sessions be?
  2. Should the course satisfy "Graduation Requirement A" or "Graduation Requirement B" or both? What are the necessary attributes of a course that satisfies "Graduation Requirement B"?
  3. What topics should be covered in lecture?
  4. How should the reading assignments be ordered and structured?
Some of these issues are settled, and some are still in flux.  We did come to a good, workable decision on the class schedule, inspired by other lab classes and the sophomore design course.  One of the standard time slots at Olin is twice-a-week at 3:20pm to 5:00pm, but some courses use an extended slot of 3:20pm to 6:00pm. This course will be scheduled for the extended slot.  On lecture days, we'll wrap up by 5pm, on laboratory days, the students can stay until 6pm if they need to. Several times during the term, we'll have in-class team design reviews, and we'll use the full period those weeks.

We've also been brainstorming about lecture topics for a few weeks.  Some of the suggested topics include:
  1. Schematic dos and don'ts
  2. Grounding: analog versus digital, ground planes, stars, and the chassis
  3. What's so special about 50 ohms?
  4. Noise and non-noise
  5. Proper use of oscilloscopes and probes
  6. Op-amp applications and nonidealities
  7. Care and feeding of A/D converters
  8. The wonderful (horrible) world of capacitors
  9. Heat sinks and thermal problems
  10. Power supply design
There are many other topics that have been suggested. This list just includes the "bite-sized" ones.  Some of the other suggestions could be entire courses in their own right (like analog filter design, phase-lock loops, power converters, and motor drivers). We plan to start narrowing this list down to a reasonable syllabus in the next few weeks.

The seminar did work on a little class project that I'll talk about next week, but here's a hint:

The reading assignment last week was two chapters in Jim Williams' 1995 book: Chapter 1, "The importance of fixing" (that's another hint!) and Chapter 17, "There's no place like home".  This week, the reading assignment is to start reading Bob Pease's book, Troubleshooting Analog Circuits.


zebonaut said...

When your device stops booting, you may want to examine the real time controller (DS1742W-120) with an X-ray microscope (or a dremel tool) and connect a new battery in a fashion simliar to this. I happily followed the instructions yesterday and fixed an old mainboard.

Quoting the data sheet, without a modification like the one mentioned above, I assume your board as a best before date and is protected from ever becoming vintage: "Totally Nonvolatile with Over 10 Years of Operation in the Absence of Power" The next gotcha will come a bit later: "BCD Coded Century, Year, Month, Date, Day, Hours, Minutes, and Seconds with Automatic Leap Year Compensation Valid Up to the year 2100"

Marcel Geleijnse said...

What material do you use to lecture grounding? I am trying to teach our engineers how to diagnose if a problem is caused by noise or "ground loops". Most of the time I might as well not have bothered