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PHYS 334 A: Electric Circuits Laboratory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 12:20pm
PAA A102
David Pengra

Syllabus Description:

Physics 334 - Winter 2019
Electric Circuits Laboratory 1
Analog Electronics


David B. Pengra
Office: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room B256A
Phone: 543-4783
Office Hours: Wednesday & Friday, 11:30-12:20 or by appointment

Teaching Assistants

Jesse Ashworth
Roland Farrell
Ryan Hufschmid
Lisa Pellerin
Shifeng Zhu

Technical Supervisor

Jason Alferness (, Room B256.

Class Hours

Lecture: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room A102, Tuesday & Thursday, 11:30–12:20.
Labs: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room B280

Tuesday (AB) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Tuesday (AG) 6:00 pm - 8:50pm
Wednesday (AC) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Wednesday (AH) 6:00 pm - 8:50 pm
Thursday (AD) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Friday (AE) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm


The Art of Electronics, 3e, Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015). Required.

Learning the Art of Electronics: A Hands-On Lab Course, Thomas C. Hayes (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016).  Recommended.  The "Learning" book has lots of practical advice and examples.

Note: The second edition of The Art of Electronics is also acceptable for physics 334 and may be easier to find on the used market.  Students planning on taking physics 335 should get the latest (3rd) edition.


This is a combined lecture/laboratory course, with the emphasis on the laboratory aspects. The goal is to provide you with skills in electronics and an understanding of electronic instrumentation that can be used in modern research. This course is intensive: you must be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class in order to complete the assignments. Do not allow yourself to get behind; lab work takes time and the work cannot be easily made up later, since the lab itself is used for other sections and courses.

Course Structure

Attendance at all regularly scheduled class hours is mandatory. Homework will be collected online, generally due Wednesdays at noon.  On lab days plan on being in the lab the entire 2 hour 50 minute period. You may, of course, leave early if you and your partner finish early.

Hardware Labs and Reports

Hardware Lab meetings start the second week of the term (Jan. 15) and will run through the second-to-last week of class (March 8). Lab groups will usually consist of two persons. Three person groups will only be allowed only if there is no other option. You may work alone if space allows.

Instructions, notes, and videos for the labs will be posted on the class website. You should read view the videos and read all relevant material before coming to lab since time is limited. Simple lab reports are required and will be uploaded to Canvas for grading. Each report is due shortly after the end of the lab session (i.e., within 1/2 hour).

Your reports will be completed online using Microsoft OneNote according to these criteria:

  • Use the physics 334 "Lab Template" for your first lab in OneNote.  It will show you roughly what a lab report should look like. It is available in the "Content Library" in the OneNote Class Notebook, or it may already be one of the pages you see in your personal space.
  • Make sure the names of all partners and lab section or day is recorded on the first page.
  • For each exercise (e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.), create a new heading. 
  • For every new circuit you build, take a picture of your completed breadboard and upload it to your OneNote lab notebook.  (Small alterations, like changing one part, do not need to be photographed.)
  • Oscilloscope traces, where needed or requested, should be photographed and uploaded.
  • Record data in tables (if appropriate), and show all calculations.  Simple tables may be created within OneNote or with Excel and then imported into OneNote.  The second option is best if you want to use Excel to make a plot or run a calculation.
  • Answer the specific questions raised in the text of the lab instructions with one or two sentences. Don’t get carried away—concise is best here. Remember: you want to finish the lab by the end of the period.

Each 2-person group must turn in one lab report.  Lab reports may not include more than two persons. If the group happens to have 3 or more persons (due to unforeseen circumstances), then the extra person(s) must turn in a separate report.  One-person groups (and reports) are acceptable

The hardware lab reports will count for 40% of the final grade.

Each report will be graded by the TA using an overall 10 point scale with about half the grading weight given to the criterion of completeness: every section has been honestly attempted with all data taken and all questions answered, and about half the grading weight given to correctness: the work shown does not have (significant) mistakes. Note that work not done can not be correct!

Hardware Lab attendance & Make-up labs

Each set of lab topics build on those that are explored in previous labs. Especially those that are labeled [CORE] are absolutely required to be done in sequence. Because of this, it is not reasonable to make up an earlier lab later in the term. If you miss a lab, you must complete the [CORE] sections in that lab before moving on to new exercises.

THERE ARE NO "MAKE-UP" LABS.  You will not be allowed to attend any lab session that you are not registered for without express prior permission from the instructor, David Pengra.

If you need to catch up, you may use your regular lab section to do so, or contact the instructor to gain access to the lab room outside of normal class hours.  Please note: the room may also be used by another course.

Theory Lab: In-Class Participation

The "lecture" period will be structured as a large "theory lab."  What this means is (1) your presence in the classroom will be needed in order for participation credit to be awarded; (2) You will work with other members of your lab section on problems that will be uploaded to Canvas or OneNote for grading.  These problems will concern theoretical topics, design or analysis problems, simulations or discussion questions.   Grading of these parts will mainly be on participation: it is OK to get it wrong, your grade will only depend on evidence of effort. Bottom line: credit for theory lab means you showed up and you tried.

You must have an internet-connected device, like a smart phone or tablet or laptop to participate.  If you do not own such a device, you may borrow one from the University through their Student Technology Loan Program. Missed theory lab participation will not be "made-up."  Please contact the instructor if you believe a missed credit should be excused.

Homework Assignments

There will be two types of homework assignments: Videos and Problem Sets.

Problem sets will be assigned throughout the term, on a roughly weekly basis.  They will be turned in online through Canvas, and generally due Wednesdays at noon (11:59 am).  See How to Submit Work Online for details about preparing and uploading assignments.

The problem sets will be graded cursorily: “0” means nothing was turned in or less than half of the assigned problems were attempted (or what was turned in is basically blank). “1” means an honest attempt was made to do at least half of the homework. “2” means an honest attempt was made to do all assigned problems. “3” means all problems were attempted, and it appears that at least most are done correctly. Apart from the score, there will be no comments on the homework. If you have questions about the homework problems, you should meet with the TA or the instructor to get your questions answered.

Homework should be neatly done on engineering or plain white paper (or a computerized version of the same). Don't crowd your work. Remember, it is your job to make the solutions easy to follow and grade; illegible or unclear solutions will receive low marks, even if you “did the problem right.”

Videos will cover theoretical topics relevant to the hardware and theory labs.  Generally there will be between 3 and 4 theory videos you should watch each week.  Links will be posted on the main course page to these.  Copies of notes used in the videos (in PDF form) will also be posted.  You should study the videos and related textbook material before the theory lab (i.e., "lecture") meets. 

Credit for the videos will be through an online submission of a question you want answered or a topic you would like to hear or learn more about.  Details about how to do this and how much credit will be awarded will be discussed in class.

The homework (problem sets plus video-viewing/comment-submission) will count for 10% of the final grade.


Exam dates: Thursday, February 14 and Thursday March 14.

There will be two exams, each worth 20% of the final grade weight. The first exam will be given about midway through the term, shortly after we begin the labs on transistors and it will cover lecture material up to that point. The second exam will be given on the last lecture day of the term, and cover the remainder of the lecture topics.

Exams will be closed book and notes; the only items you will be allowed to have with you during an exam are a pencil and an eraser and calculator. The exams will cover the theoretical parts of course, and draw heavily from the problem sets and theory-lab questions. There may also be qualitative questions which will depend on your understanding of the laboratory exercises.

A study sheet with representative questions, important formulas to commit to memory and study advice will be provided a week before each exam and posted on the course website.

Make-up exams will not normally be allowed, except in justifiable circumstances beyond your control. Should a make-up exam be given, it will be an oral exam. The student will make an appointment to visit the instructor, David Pengra, who will ask various questions on the material until he is satisfied that he knows the student's level of mastery.

There is no final exam.


You will be assigned a work station which is equipped with all the necessary parts and tools. Please follow the lab instructor’s instructions regarding care of parts and equipment. Remember that people in another section also use the same gear, so you must keep it in order. It is very easy for the parts to become disorganized.


The grades are figured as follows:

Hardware Lab (reports) 40 %
Theory Lab (participation) 10 %
Homework (problems & videos) 10 %
Exams (20% each) 40 %
Total 100%

In addition to the above, in order to pass physics 334, you must

  1. Earn a non-zero score for at least 80% of the [CORE] lab exercises.
  2. Earn at least 30 raw points on one exam.

Final grades are calculated according to the following scheme:

  • The percent score on all parts will be calculated.
  • Exam scores will not be curved unless the class average is below 70%. (No other scores will be curved.)
  • The final percent grade will equal the weighted average of each component.
  • The final 4.0 scale grade will be given by the formula

(grade) = 4.2 * (percent) / 100

Catalog Description: 
Basic elements of DC, AC, and transient circuits; electronic devices; electrical measurements. Prerequisite: minimum 2.0 grade in PHYS 123. Offered: WS.
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:01pm