Physics 261, Laboratory Electronics I

Fall 2012

Instructor: Charles Kankelborg
EPS 260 C, 994-7853
Office Hours W/Th 3-5 pm
Grader and Lab TA: Harsh Bhatkar
EPS 212

Physics 261 is a laboratory course designed to give physics majors a practical background in analog electronics. The two credit course includes one hour of lecture and three hours of lab every week.

At the end of this first course you will be able to design, construct, and measure properties of simple dynamic linear circuits. You will also gain proficiency in the use of test instrumentation typically found in a science laboratory (power supply, digital multimeter, function generator and oscilloscope).

The second course in the sequence (Physics 262) focuses on filters, data acquisition and digital electronics.

Course Structure

Lectures are each Tuesday at 9AM in Roberts Hall 412. The lab meets in EPS 228 starting at either 8:00 AM or 12:10 PM on Thursdays, depending on your section. Lab will start the first week of class! The final exam will be 12:00-1:50pm Thursday, December 13, in our classroom. A regularly updated syllabus of labs, lectures and assignments is provided on the course web site.

You are responsible to be aware of the course assignments listed in the syllabus. The version posted on the web at class time is the official set of assignments for the week.

Required Materials

Faissler, William L., An Introduction to Modern Electronics, Wiley, 1991.

Two, 5x5 quadrille lab books with semi-hard cover and sewn binding. The MSU bookstore typically carries Roaring Spring and/or AMPAD brand for minimal cost (a few dollars each). At least one of these books must be with you at each laboratory meeting.

Optional Materials

Our text is rather brief, the number of examples is limited, and we have just one lecture per week. If you would like supplemental reading, try Tony Kuphaldt's Lessons in Electric Circuits, a free online textbook.


Grades will be awarded based on your performance on the lab exercises as evidenced in your lab journals, a final exam, scheduled exams and assigned homework.

You can learn only by doing your own work. You also have an ethical responsibility not to pass off the work of another student as your own. Although you will work in pairs while taking data in the lab, your writing must be your own words, written in your lab book in your own hand. Copied work will automatically earn a 0. Do not share lab data with a student who did not participate in the experiment. Please review the department policy on cheating and plagiarism.

Elements Contributing to Your Final Grade

Component Weight(%)
Lab Journal
Exam 1
Exam 2
Final Exam

Late Work

Late work, unless previously arranged with the instructor, will be accepted at a maximum of half credit. No late work will be accepted after the last Friday before finals week.


Please note the exam dates in the schedule and arrange to be present. There will be no make-up exams.


Homework problems must be turned in to the grader's box each Friday by 5pm.

Lab Journals

Your lab journal is due each week in your TA's drop box by Tuesday 5pm. Your lab books will be graded and returned in lab the following week. Your work on the lab exercise will be individually graded on a 20 point scale, as described in the lab scoring rubric.

If the grade you receive is such that you might earn more points by editing and resubmitting the lab, you are encouraged to do so. The maximum score attainable on a resubmission is 16 points. Edited labs must be resubmitted at the same time your next lab in that book is due, or it will be late. Late write-ups lose 4 additional points for each week they are late. The last lab write-up is due at the last scheduled lab meeting. No lab write-ups will be accepted after that date.

The following guidelines will help in submitting a passing lab write-up.

As is standard for the science laboratory, ink pens should be used for all entries in your book.

While you are expected to share data with your partner, content that is copied from another student's work will not be accepted. (See our departmental policy on cheating and plagiarism).

On the outside of your lab notebooks write your name and the date on which the books were first used.

Permanently attach loose pages such as computer output into your journal with tape or glue.

Leave a few blank pages in the beginning of each lab book so that you can enter table-of-content information there. Take time before the first lab to sequentially number every page in the books.

Begin each lab with the Name of the experiment, a brief statement of the Problem and the Equipment and components actually used. Leave some room in this section so you can make additions if needed. When you measure component values in the lab you should add these data to your component list. Follow the Equipment section with your Prelab calculations and Cadence output, if required. During the lab period enter your data, figures, sketches and observations directly into the Procedure section for this exercise. You may include analyses in this section as well. After you have completed the data collection portion of the lab, write a Conclusion. Summarize your results. Tell what you learned. Explain any deviations from what was expected. Be complete but succinct.

Be organized. Plan your experiment and do your calculations, computer-aided and theoretical analyses prior to coming to lab. This will greatly help in ensuring you can be finished on time.

Draw accurate sketches and neat schematics to aid in explaining your results. For data collected on the oscilloscope, it is best to print out the screen information and tape this sheet in your journal. Record all of your data, observations and calculations directly into your book. Not only does this save you the time it would take to re-copy the data, it also reduces the probability of an error.

Since the lab notebook must be completed in ink, you need to thoughtfully record your data, observations and analysis to ensure your notebook is neat and readable. If you make an error, draw a neat line through the error. You should still be able to read the "erroneous" data after you draw your line. If a whole page - or part of a page is wrong - draw a neat "X" through the information you wish to exclude. Never tear pages out of your book, or obliterate erred work. It later might prove to have been correct.

As effective written communication is essential to scientific work, your write-up will be graded for proper use of English and correct spelling. Excessive abuse of the English language will earn you a lower grade.

Use all of the tools available to you. Analyzing long strings of data by hand can be tedious and is prone to error. Use spreadsheet programs or math analysis programs when appropriate. In addition to taking the tedium out of an analysis, computer analysis programs can present your data in graphic form, saving you the need to generate plots by hand. You are expected to begin integrating the knowledge and tools you have learned in your other MSU courses. Rely on your depth of knowledge to assist you in analyzing these labs.

If you have a documented disability for which you wish to request accommodation you are encouraged to contact the instructor and the Disabled Student Services (994-2824) as soon as possible.

This course description may be updated at any time. The version on the web, rather than any printed copy, is the official version.