Physics 440 – Fall 2013

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Michigan State University

Web Site: http://www.pa.msu.edu/courses/2013fall/PHY440/

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 electronic circuits will be discussed, and a three-hour lab where students will get hands-on experience with electronic circuits and related instrumentation such as digital multimeters, oscilloscopes, power supplies and pulse generators etc.  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).


Please remember to fill out the SIRS form for this course.


· Matt Comstock, Professor, 4216 BPS, 884-5645, comstock@pa.msu.edu

· Joseph Glick, TA, lab sections 1 and 2, glickjos@msu.edu

· Kenneth Whitmore, TA, lab sections 3 and 4, whitmo44@msu.edu

Weekly schedule

· Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 am – 9:50 am, 1300 BPS

· Labs: Room 1254 BPS   Labs start in week 3 (September 10)!
Section 1: Tuesday 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, Glick
Section 2: Tuesday 3 pm - 5:50 pm, Glick
Section 3: Thursday 3 pm - 5:50 pm, Whitmore
Section 4: Thursday 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, Whitmore

· Comstock office hour: Wednesday, 2pm – 3pm, 4216 BPS

· Glick office hour: Tuesday 10:30 am – 11:30 am, 1254 BPS

· Whitmore office hour: Thursday 10:30 am – 11:30 am, 1254 BPS

Course Schedule

The schedule of lectures, homework and labs including links to the lab manuals and other handouts is at



Required text:
Martin Plonus, Electronics and Communications for Scientists and Engineers, Harcourt/Academic Press, 2001, ISBN-10: 0-12-533084-7, ISBN-13: 978-0125330848. Corrections for typos in the book are here.

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.

Optional References:
Nigel P. Cook: Electronics A Complete Course, Second Ed., Person Prentice Hall, 2004, ISBN-10: 0-13-111066-7, ISBN-13: 978-0131110663. This book is very detailed and easy to follow but doesn't cover all of the material.
A. J. Diefenderfer and B. E. Holton, Principles of Electronic Instrumentation, Third Ed., Thomson Brooks/Cole, 1994, ISBN-10: 0030747090, ISBN-13: 9780030747090. This book was previously used in this course, it is older but some of the descriptions/explanations are more detailed.

Clicker Questions

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

Homework and Quizzes

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

Laboratory Procedure and Notebook

The laboratory part of the course consists of a series of experiments that students will perform working alone.  Students will need to get the standard lab notebook (no carbon copies) into which they will enter all relevant information associated with an experiment.  The laboratory exercises will be performed during 2h 50min lab periods.  This time is fairly packed with activity.  Thus it is essential for the student to thoroughly prepare for the lab including: carefully reading the lab manual and related text, and completing pre-lab computations.  The data entered into the notebook will be left with a laboratory instructor, for grading.  No additional formal write up will be required, but students are cautioned to enter all relevant data and explanations clearly and succinctly so that the grader can easily follow the work done.  No erasures or page removal is allowed. (This follows standards for maintaining lab notebooks within research practice.)  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.


Your quiz, lab and homework scores will be available on Angel. You can also submit comments and questions through Angel.


The scores on the homework assignments, quizzes, and laboratory notebook will determine your Total Score.  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 in your favor.)  There will be no final exam.

Total Score % and Grade

Minimum %