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PHYS 335 A: Advanced Laboratory: Digital Electronics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 11:20am
PAA A118
David Pengra

Syllabus Description:

Physics 335 - Spring 2022
Advanced Laboratory: Digital Electronics


David B. Pengra
Office: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room B256A
Phone: 543-4783
Office Hours: Wednesday 10:30-11:20 & Friday 11:30-12:20, or by appointment

Class Hours

Lecture: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room A118, Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30–11:20.
Labs: Physics/Astronomy Building, Room B280

Tuesday (AB) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Wednesday (AC) 2:30 pm - 5:20 pm
Thursday (AD) 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm
Friday (AE) 2:30 pm - 5:20 pm

University Policies - A number of UW policies affect this course


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.


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.

Learning Goals

"Learning goals" are the most important skills and understanding you should expect to learn by taking this course.  At the end of this Digital Electronics Laboratory course, you should be able to

  • Describe and draw diagrams of basic digital electronics circuits, such as transistor-based logic gates;
  • Use symbolic gates (AND, OR, etc) to construct logical diagrams of more complex circuits, such as functional blocks, registers and counters;
  • Be able to tell the story of how transistor switches can be combined to create the basic form an function of a simple digital computer;
  • Be able to formulate and program a microprocessor using assembly-language coding;
  • Explain the concepts of program memory, data memory, data busses, and interrupts in microprocessor operation and design;
  • Operate test equipment such as oscilloscopes, logic probes, function generators and power supplies to study the operation of digital electronic circuits.


The following are rules. The first two are safety rules and are required by University policy and Washington State law.

  • No food or drink may be consumed in the lab. Washington State Law forbids the consumption of food or drink in these labs because they are officially "radiation laboratories:" there are radioactive substances in the lab.
  • No students may work in the lab without the presence of lab staff.

The next two concern your participation and what is expected of you in the course. These may be subject to modification by the instructor, depending on circumstance.

  • Experimental groups are limited to two persons. A three person group will be allowed, but one person in such a group will need to prepare and submit their own lab report. 
  • Four person groups are not allowed. There is not enough to do to keep everyone busy.

Every person is welcome in this course.  Instances of discrimination (e.g., shunning, belittling, bullying, harassment) for any reason (e.g., ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, different-ability, or political beliefs) will incur thorough investigation and possible sanction through University approved processes.  If you believe you have been subject to such discrimination, please contact the instructor directly, or see University Policies for information on how to contact University officials.

Course Structure

Attendance at all regularly scheduled class hours is expected.  Lectures will include graded participation activities. Most labs will require the entire 2 hour 50 minute period to complete. (You may, of course, leave early if you and your partner finish early.) Submitted work: homework and labs, will be collected online. There are also two exams: one given halfway through the term and one on the last lecture day.

There is no Final Exam.

Labs and Lab Reports

There are 8 labs. Lab meetings start the second week of the term and will run through the second-to-last week of class meetings. 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 other material for the labs will be posted on the class website. You should 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 online tools such as Office 365 or Google Docs according to these criteria:

  • Use the "Lab Template" for your first lab.  It will show you roughly what a lab report should look like. A link to this template is on the home page.
  • 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 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 the document or with Excel and then imported into it.  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 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!

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 during morning hours.

In-Class Participation

The lecture period will include "active learning" exercises with answers recorded by the Poll Everywhere system.  Your presence in the classroom will be needed in order for participation credit to be awarded.  Grading of in-class work will depend only on participation: it is OK to get it wrong, your grade will only depend on effort.

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 in-class participation will not be "made-up."  Please contact the instructor if you believe a missed credit should be excused.

Homework Assignments

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

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.

Problem sets 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.”

The homework will count for 10% of the final grade.


Exam dates: Thursday, May 5 and Thursday, June 2.  Exams will be given in the lecture hall during the scheduled lecture period.

There will be two exams, each worth 20% of the final grade weight. The first exam will will cover lecture and lab material up through the week prior. The second exam will be given on the last lecture day of the term, and cover the remainder of the course.

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 draw heavily from the problem sets, in-class questions, and concepts important to 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.


No PPE (personal protective equipment) is required in the lab for this course.  You will not handle hazardous substances or carry out potentially dangerous operations (like soldering).  You should be aware of the fire extinguisher located near the entrance to B280.  You are expected to obey the TA or instructor in case of emergency evacuation of the building.

COVID PRECAUTIONS: Because of the continuing prevalence of coronavirus infection, you are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to wear a tight-fitting, high-filtration mask (N95, KN95 or similar) when you work in the lab.  You will be sitting very close to your lab partner(s) for a full three hours during your lab session.  An air purifier will be used in the room, and air flow in the Physics/Astronomy building is one of the highest on campus, but it is not possible to enact 6 foot separations between persons in the lab.


The grades are figured as follows:

Lab reports 40 %
Lecture participation 10 %
Homework 10 %
Exams (20% each) 40 %
Total 100%

In addition to the above, in order to pass physics 335, you must

  1. Earn a non-zero score for at least 80% of the [CORE] lab exercises.
  2. Pass at least one of the two exams.

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: 
Principles of digital electronics: switching circuits, logic gates and sequential logic, memory, analog/digital conversion, microprocessor operation and programming. Prerequisite: a minimum grade of 2.0 in PHYS 334. Offered: Sp.
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
March 26, 2022 - 12:35am