Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lab A4 Microcontroller

Lab A4 is to layout a simple microcontroller board. One possibility is a copy of the Arduino Micro, and you can find the schematic on their website. Other possibilities can be discussed with the staff.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lab A3 Teardown

Part 1:
  1. Get a toolkit (if you don't already have one).
  2. Review the some teardowns at iFixit and send me an email with a link to your favorite one, with a short explanation of why it's your favorite. Be sure to venture beyond the lists of "Recent" and "Popular". For some examples, see
  3. Watch the following video (a teardown of an Anritsu spectrum analyzer from Mike's Electric Stuff; see his YouTube channel for more videos).

Part 2:

Commercial Electronics Autopsy: Take apart a piece of commercial electronics (provided). Take pictures, study construction techniques, draw a block diagram, write a bill of materials of major parts (top ten), and find some data sheets, but don't draw a schematic. Make a list of the major components; the main integrated circuits are important, of course, but don't overlook interesting examples of passive components, sensors, connectors, switches (and other controls), internal cable assemblies, heat sinks, mechanical elements, etc. Deliverables (as a web page):
  • Link to service manual (if found)
  • Basic test results showing operation (or non-operation)
  • Pictures of the disassembly and the insides
  • Block diagram of the system
  • Bill of materials of ten major parts, with date codes and datasheets
  • Discussion of the mechanical design, including functional and decorative elements
  • Short presentation for informal show-and-tell session
If your item has an FCC ID code on it, be sure to check out if any of the FCC filings are public at
Extra credit for salvaging and reusing some interesting part from your autopsy (for example: motors, sensors, LEDs, switches, fans, etc.).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Course Schedule

Here is a (preliminary) schedule for the lab projects:
Labs 1 and 2: due by September 14
Lab 3: due September 24
Lab 4: layout files due October 8
Lab 5: due October 19
Lab 6: due October 29
For the design project, the rough schedule is:
Project proposal: October 22
Architecture design review: October 29
Schematic design review: November 5
Layout design review: November 12
Layout files due: November 19
Boards back by: November 30
Final presentations: December 10
For your own learning goals, the schedule is:
Initial statement of goals: September 17
Midterm downselect and revision: October 22
Final deliverables: December 10
Some of these dates may be flexible. Some of these dates are not (when the layout files are due). Completing the labs and the design project will require some multitasking (particularly around Labs 5 and 6).

September 14: Labs 1 and 2
September 17: Initial statement of goals
September 24: Lab 3
October 8: Lab 4 layout files due (no slip)
October 19: Lab 5
October 22: Goals revision and project proposal
October 29: Lab 6 and architecture design review
November 5: Schematic design review
November 12: Layout design review
November 19: Layout files due (no slip)
November 30: Boards back
December 10: Final deliverables and presentations

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Assessment and Grades

Your grade in EE Proto will be based on three key self assessments, of equal weight:
  1. Your performance on each of the first six labs (equally weighted).
  2. Your success on, effort in, and "lessons learned" from your design project.
  3. A start-of-term statement of your own learning goals for the course, a middle-of-term revision of these goals, and an end-of-term assessment thereof.
Your own learning goals, and your assessment thereof, will take the form of an evolving, written assignment that you will develop in collaboration with the teaching staff:
  • A first-draft statement of your learning goals (about half a page, due September 17). Create a Google document and share it with the professor (at his Gmail account). Write a list of three to five goals that you would like to achieve during this course. Your goals can take any form as long as they represent your own interests and learning objectives for this course. For each goal, briefly explain in three to four sentences, what you hope to do or learn, how you plan to achieve it, and how you will measure success.

    At least one of your goals should be a "service" goal, that is, an effort to make the course better in the future.  Some examples: a how-to guide or instruction manual, a new assignment or lab for the course, content for the blog or course website, a course wiki, a new (electronic) display for the AC hallway bulletin board, etc., etc.
  • Goals down-select and revision (one to two pages, due mid term after Lab 6). From your first draft, pick your three "final" goals for the course (including one or more service goals). You may clarify, revise, or change your goals at this point. For each of your final goals, add a detailed description of your final deliverables and assessment plan. 
  • Final deliverables, as described in your mid-term plan (due end of term).
Your grades on the labs, design project, and your own goals will be determined and assigned by you, in consultation with the teaching staff. Your final (letter) grade in the class will be determined by the average of these grades, plus an upward-adjustment-factor, based on your class participation and possible extra-credit work (as determined by the professor).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lab 1: Simulate and Fabricate

The assignment for Lab 1 is to get a jump start on simulating circuits and doing board layout. Here are the individual steps:
  1. Complete the first-day questionnaire.
  2. Install DipTrace on your laptop. See the Olin instructions here.
  3. Install the Windows version of LTSpice on your laptop. Download here.
  4. Get the DipTrace Tutorial PDF file.
  5. Complete the schematic and layout tutorial, pages 1 through 79.
  6. Complete a transient simulation of the "Astable Flip Flop" in LTSpice. Plot the current in the LEDs over a ten-second period.
  7. Complete a second layout of the "Astable Flip Flop" using the following surface-mount parts (on a two-layer board):
    • Transistors: ON Semiconductor MMBT3904LT1G (SOT23 package, double check pin assignments!)
    • Capacitors: 33uF TDK Corp C3216X5R1C336M160AB (1206 package)
    • LEDs: Lite-On LTST-C170GKT (0805 package)
    • Resistors R2 and R3: 680 ohms (0805 package)
    • Resistors R1 and R4: 34 kilohms (0805 package)
    • 9V battery connector (use same through-hole connector)
  8. Minimize the size of your PCB layout to save space. Less than two square-inches is the goal.
  9. Produce Gerber files for your design and submit them to OSH Park for fabrication.
This assignment is the whole class in a nutshell.

Note that the ground connection isn't strictly necessary, since this circuit is battery powered, but its inclusion will improve the convergence of your LTspice simulation.

Lab Assignment Tracks

This offering of EE Proto has three possible tracks of laboratory assignments. You should choose a track to complete based on your interests and background. The three tracks are listed below, along with the necessary course prerequisites.

TRACK A (Classic EE Proto, prereq: PoE)
  1. Flasher tutorial lab
  2. OSH Park submission
  3. Commercial product teardown lab
  4. Micro-controller board layout
  5. Commercial product reverse engineering
  6. Micro-controller board assembly
  7. Design project
TRACK B (Op-Amp Circuits, prereq: SigSys)
  1. Flasher tutorial lab
  2. Nonlinear oscillator lab
  3. Sine-wave oscillator lab
  4. Layout of oscillators
  5. Filters or analog-computer lab
  6. Oscillators assembly
  7. Sound-generating design project
TRACK C (Advanced Circuits, prereqs: Circuits and Controls)
  1. Op-amp analysis problem set
  2. Temperature probe design
  3. Amplitude stabilized oscillators
  4. Layout of probe and oscillator
  5. Transistor voltage clamp
  6. Capacitive-load lab or PLL lab
  7. 50-ohm driver design project

Note that due dates between the tracks will be synchronized (for example, everyone in the class is submitting a circuit layout for fabrication in Lab 4 on the same day), and will be announced in class. The first six labs will be assigned about one per week, and the design project will be completed during the second half of the term.

PS: If you have taken EE Proto previously and completed Track A, you can repeat the course (as a 2 or 4 credit Independent Study or OSS) and complete Track B or Track C. Ask the professor for details.

First-Day Questionnaire

Please answer the following questions in an email to the professor:
  1. Name? Major? Year?
  2. What other "EE-type" courses have you taken or are taking (beyond PoE)? SigSys? Circuits? MADVLSI? A/D Comms? Controls? Any other hardware-oriented courses or seminars?
  3. Have you previously designed and built any printed circuit boards?
  4. What course topics are you most interested in?
  5. What course topics are you least interested in?
  6. Which lab track(s) are you most interested in?
  7. Generally, what do you hope to learn in EE Proto?
  8. Do you play guitar or keyboards? Are you familiar with effects pedals such as distortion, overdrive, echo, reverb, chorus, phaser, and flanger?
  9. You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down, and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't, not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fall 2015

Tomorrow is the first day of classes!
  • New term (Fall instead of Spring)!
  • New course structure!
  • New laboratory assignments!
  • New grading and assessment system!
  • New love for the exclamation mark!
Stay tuned!