PHY440 - Spring 2011

Department of Physics & Astronomy

Michigan State University

The aim of this course is to give students a practical introduction to modern electronic circuits. It consists of two weekly lectures where the theory and principles of electronics circuits will be discussed, and a three hour lab where students will get some hands-on experience with electronic circuits and a variety of instrumentation such as oscilloscopes, pulsers, power supplies and digital multimeters. The topics covered in the course will start with simple DC circuits and end in computer design of programmable logic devices (PLD's). In between we will study AC circuits, filters, diodes, bipolar transistors, FET's, operational amplifiers and a variety of digital circuits. Where possible we will make use of computer programs such as LabView and software from the Xilinx corporation to program field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA's).


  • Reinhard Schwienhorst, Professor, 3241BPS, 884-5566, schwier AT msu.edu
  • Richard Hallstein, Lab coordinator, 1253BPS, 884-5509, hallstein AT pa.msu.edu
  • Sean Wagner, TA, sections 1 and 3, wagner93 AT msu.edu
  • Kurt Boden, TA, sections 2 and 4, bodenkur AT msu.edu
  • Weekly schedule

  • Lectures: MWF 3pm - 3:50pm, 1308BPS
  • Labs: Room 1254 BPS Labs start in week 3!
    Section 1: Tuesday 11:30am - 2:20pm, Wagner
    Section 2: Tuesday 6pm - 8:50pm, Boden
    Section 3: Thursday 11:30am - 2:20pm, Wagner
    Section 4: Thursday 6pm - 8:50pm, Boden
  • Schwienhorst office hour: Monday, 4pm - 5pm, 1308BPS/3241BPS
  • Wagner office hour: Thu 10am - 11am, 1254 BPS
  • Boden office hour: Tue 4:30pm - 5:30pm, 1254 BPS
  • Course Schedule

    The schedule of lectures and labs is at


    Required text:
    A. J. Diefenderfer and B. E. Holton, Principles of Electronic Instrumentation, Third Ed., Thomson Brooks/Cole, 1994, ISBN-10: 0030747090, ISBN-13: 9780030747090.
    Suggested Reference:
    P. Horowitz and W. Hill: The Art of Electronics, Second Ed., Cambridge University Press, 1995, ISBN-10: 0521370957, ISBN-13: 978-0521370950.
    This book is an excellent reference and students planning to continue with electronics in future years should consider acquiring it.

    Clicker Questions

    We will have clicker questions during the lecture. Remember to bring your i-Clicker to each lecture.

    Homeworks and Quizzes

    There will be weekly homework assignments, due at the beginning of class on Fridays. Quizzes will be given during lecture; there will be roughly thirteen quizzes throughout the semester. Calculators are required for the quizzes, therefore please bring a calculator to each lecture.

    Laboratory Procedure and Notbook

    The laboratory part of the course consists of a series of experiments that students will perform working alone. Students will be provided with a lab notebook into which all relevant information associated with an experiment will be recorded. The laboratory exercises will be performed during the 2:50 hour lab period. The data entered into the notebook will be left with the TA for grading. No formal write up will be required but students are cautioned to enter all relevant data and explanations clearly and succinctly so that the TA can easily follow the work done. No erasures or page removal is allowed. If an error is made it should be neatly crossed out and the corrected data re-entered. In general there are no make-up labs (rare exceptions can be made with advance notice).
    More laboratory procedure tips.
    An example lab report (incomplete and with some parts removed, but hopefully you get the idea) is here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
    Several questions in the lab instructions ask you to compare your predicted value with your measured value. This comparison is to test whether the two values agree within their uncertainties. Here is information on uncertainties.


    Your Total Score will be determined by the scores on the homework assignments, quizzes, and laboratory notebook. The Total Score is weighted as follows: 20%-Homework, 30%-Quizzes, 50%-Laboratory. Grade assignments at the end of the term will be taken from the table below. (It may be shifted slightly.)
    Total Score % and Grade
    Minimum % Grade
    80 4.0
    75 3.5
    70 3.0
    65 2.5
    60 2.0
    55 1.5
    40 1.0
    <40 0.0
    Your quiz and homework scores will also be available on lon-capa.
    MSU statement on academic integrity.

    Last updated January 31, 2011