Basic Electronics at CCA Spring 2012

SCNCE-200-07 (602) Basic Electronics
Instructor: Michael Shiloh
01/17/2012-05/03/2012 Lecture Tuesday, Thursday 09:30AM – 11:00AM, Founder’s Hall, Room 304

Prerequisite: high school algebra

Class Blog (this page):
Join the class Wiki:
Join the class mailing list

Textbook and other Materials:

  • Discover Electronics Kit Version 2 from AdaFruit Industries (Maker Shed is closed until Thursday – please order your kit today from Adafruit or elsewhere!) $49.99
  • Practical Electronics for Inventors 2/E by Paul Scherz $23.54
  • There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings by Kenn Amdahl $8.49

Depending on choices you make regarding your projects, you may require materials and parts beyond these provided materials. While I will do my best to guide you towards inexpensive solutions, some parts and tools in this field can be quite expensive. Furthermore, it is common for plans to change, leaving you with unused parts for future projects.

Class Orientation

This class is based on lecture, hands-on lab exercises, and a final project.

Lab Exercises

The purpose of each lab is to discover electrical principles and get a feel for the behavior of certain components, values, and quantities. Each lab exercise ends with short, individual written reports, to include observations, conclusions (or guesses), and ideas for further learning


Your project may require you to research and learn concepts beyond what is taught in class. This is encouraged and supported. Projects will be displayed in an end-of-semester show.

Homework and tools

Homework includes exercises and projects. An adequate project will require substantial work outside of class. If you lack the tools at home, you may be able to do all the work requiring tools during class, and save all other work for outside of class. You may also elect to purchase some of these tools. I am happy to offer guidance.

Complexity and time estimates

Unless you have a fair bit of experience working with these materials and mechanisms, you may find that physical implementations often don’t behave the way you imagined they would. Furthermore, you may find that work takes a lot longer than you expected. Even professionals in this field often underestimate these issues. I strongly encourage you to prototype early and often.

Helping each other

I am always looking for evidence of your understanding and comprehension. You are encouraged to answer each others’ questions in class and in general to help each other, to demonstrate, test, and deepen your understanding.

Rough Schedule

Week 1: Experiment

Lab: Resistors strings, measure voltage and sums, document observations

Homework for students:

  1. Review basic algebra, especially solving equations for unknowns and working with fractions. Find your own source in books or on the Internet
  2. Review scientific notation here
  3. Buy books and kits today so we have them next week
  4. Bring unneeded power supplies to class
  5. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I let you out too early today? Class ends at 11, not 10:30!

Homework for teacher:

  1. Bring power supplies to class


  1. Who ordered book? Kit?
  2. basic circuit theory
  3. Lab (if time): measure voltage, calculate current

Week 2 Voltage and KVL

Lab: LED

Week 3 Current

Lab: Dimming LED

Week 4 Ohm’s law and power

Lab: Measure Voltage, Current

Week 5 Heat damage and protecting LEDs

Lab: Catastrophic failure

Week 6: Transistors

Lab: Transistors switch and amplifier

Week 7: Capacitors and Regulators

Lab: Power supplies

Week 8: Timers

Lab: Blinking LED


Week 9: Sound

Lab: Atari Punk Console

Project introduction

Week 10: Comparators.

Lab: Relays

Project brainstorming

Week 11: Project details

Lab: Prototype riskiest part of your project

Week 12: Topic as needed by projects

Lab: Work on projects

Week 13: Topic as needed by projects

Lab: Work on projects

Week 14: Topic as needed by projects

Lab: Work on projects

Week 15: Topic as needed by projects

Lab: Work on projects

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