Physics 440 – Electronics – Spring 2019


The aim of this course is to give students a practical introduction to modern electronic circuits. It consists of three weekly lectures where the theory and principles of electronic 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 microcontrollers. In between we will study AC circuits, filters, diodes, bipolar transistors, FET's, operational amplifiers and a variety of digital circuits including Arduino devices.  Where possible we will make use of computer programs such as LabView in the data acquisition.


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


Weekly schedule

Office Hours

Course Schedule

The schedule of lectures and labs 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 Reference:
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 clicker questions during the lecture. Remember to bring your i-Clicker to each lecture.


Quizzes will be given during lecture; there will be roughly six 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 purchase a lab notebook into which they will enter all relevant information associated with an experiment. The laboratory exercises will be performed during 2h 50min lab periods. The data entered into the notebook will be left with a laboratory instructor, 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 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.

The lab notebook should be a soft-sided 9"x12" 'Computation Notebook', which is available from University Stores in the Angell Building at 166 Service Rd., Room 101 (item number 14042680), or from the Spartan Bookstore (with slightly higher price).

Labs will be scored on a 40 point scale. There are 35 points for the lab notebook and 5 points for a pre-lab quiz. Five short quiz questions will be read by the instructor at the beginning of lab. Prepare for the quiz (and the lab) by reading the lab write-up before the lab.

Tier II Writing Requirement

Because this course can partially fulfill the Tier II Writing requirement for physics majors, there will be a 5-10 page research paper written as a journal article due near the end of the semester. Your score on the research paper will weight 8% in the final grade.


Your quiz, lab, homework, and research paper scores will be available on D2L. You can also access homework solutions through D2L.


Course grades will be based on performance weighted as follows:

8%-Research Paper, 24%-Homework, 18%-Quizzes, 50%-Laboratory.