2009 Advanced Laboratories Conference Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: An Electronics Course for the Computer Age using Learning Cycle Pedagogy
Abstract: Low-cost data acquisition units (DAQs) coupled with LabVIEW have dramatically changed the way data is collected and experiments are controlled in both academic and industrial laboratories. My course focuses on a few sensors and limits the electronics to that necessary to interface these sensors to a DAQ (NI 6809) and to use the DAQ to control an experiment.

The Learning Cycle closely matches the way scientists learn. A topic starts with a reason why the material is useful. Experiments that explore the topic are followed by the explanation (theory). Additional experiments and explanations expand on the topic. Evaluation is done during the exploration and explanations and at the conclusion. The laboratory and classroom are integrated so that exploration and explanations can be linked closely in time. Three 50-minute lectures and a four-hour lab are replaced by two 3½ hour lecture/lab sessions per week.

The course emphasizes temperature, light, magnetic field, and force sensors that are prepared for the DAQ using linear ICs and instrumentation amplifiers. Digital inputs are conditioned by ICs to debounce switches and to count up to three for a start/stop/reset sequence. Analog and digital outputs are conditioned using discrete transistor amplifiers and a push-pull power amplifier. Analog-digital conversion uses a Schmitt trigger and an 8-bit DAC. The DAQ is introduced and an introduction LabVIEW taught. The analog and digital inputs and outputs are explored and students do a three-week long project of their choice.

A combination laboratory manual/textbook was written that is available to anyone who is interested in using or adapting the course.
Abstract Type: Contributed Presentation
Session: Session XVI - Teaching the Electronics Course

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Paul W. Zitzewitz
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd
Dearborn, MI 48128
Phone: 734-420-2746