Electronics is an all pervasive discipline, being used in so many objects of common use, from the smallest items consuming a few microwatts of power to the ubiquitous computer to the control of multi-megawatt machines. Electronics simply cannot be viewed in isolation from the rest of the curriculum, it is used in every sphere of Electrical Engineering.
This course has been designed to give the student a good basic understanding of what electronics is all about, what its limitations, strengths and weaknesses are, and to instill a proper design approach to electronic systems.
By its very nature, much of the emphasis of the course has to be on the physical devices, and their basic modes of operation-hence this course is quite dependant on the technology which drives the present electronics scene.
Thus a larger emphasis will be placed on Operational Amplifiers, for instance, as opposed to the more traditional emphasis on transistors, etc. Except in rather specialised situations, todays engineer reaches for a pre-packaged (perhaps special-purpose) Op-Amp, or even a pre-packaged Instrumentation Amplifier, rather than actually designing an amplifier using discrete components. In many ways, the main role of the discrete transistor seems to have been relegated to that of a simple switch!
In a similar way, microcontrollers and Field Programmable Gate Arrays are taking over from much of the traditional combinational and sequential logic (although, of course, an FPGA or a mC is simply a collection of combinational and sequential logic!)
After successful completion of the course students should be ``electronics literate''. They should be able to understand basic electronic circuits, be able to design a concrete electronic circuit from a perhaps vague specification, and be able to avoid many of the design pitfalls that exist.
In particular, on successfully completing this course, students should:
Circuits I, with special emphasis on a modular approach to design. The student needs to be able to analyse a complex circuit by breaking it up into logical modules, and then determine the effect of each module on the next.
Although it sounds rather facetious, the student must have a thorough understanding of exactly what voltage and current are! It is important to know the limitations of a circuit model, and to know the difference between a supply and a signal!
For the project component, the circuit design, simulation, prototyping, neatness and soldering ability is assessed, as well as the communication of the design in the report.
The examination will be of 3 hours duration and will cover all material covered in the course. It will be a closed book exam, allowing a type 2 calculator (ie an engineering calculator) and an A4 handwritten information sheet. The standard statement on these sheets follows:
An A4 information sheet may be brought into the examination. Both sides of the sheet may be used for text, figures and equations, but it must be hand-written. No printed or photostatic copies are allowed. No additional reading aids are allowed.
Obviously, the test is under similar jurisdiction.
The prescribed text book represents the course notes. Frequent use will be made of it, and references to sections will be given.
One negative consequence of an interactive lecturing style (as opposed to a transfer of notes style), is that the student actually gains an understanding in the lecture. If it assumed that this initial understanding is all that is required, disaster occurs. Learning is an iterative exercise, and requires constant re-inforcement. My lecturing style can thus lead to a complacency which is rudely interrupted at examination time. HENCE:
Tutorial exercises are designed to complement and probe material currently being taught. They are not necessarily designed as examination questions. Doing these exercises only just before the exams will not help. They are to be done concurrently with the taught material.
Students who have not done the lab preparations will be asked to leave the laboratory.
The class will be split into two groups, thus a student has a lab every other week. Students are strongly encouraged to attend the lab on their ``off'' week to consolidate the previous week's lab, especially the weaker students, or those who could not finish in time. There are now enough lab stations to allow this.
Students are expected to bring a pair of side-cutters, and not to use their teeth on hook-up wire!!!
Students are required to attend all labs; failure to do so will result in a Due Performance refusal.
The Mezzanine in the Genmin Power Workshop will be made available to students to work on their projects. Basic function generators, oscilloscopes, and soldering stations will be available. This facility WILL NOT be available during lecture times.
The School's policy on timely submission of projects will be enforced and must be read by the student. A late hand-in will attract a FAIL-ABSENT mark (0%).
This text will also be used in Electronics II.
There are no notes handed out for this course. The text books consitute the notes, and will be followed closely. The one exception is the digital logic section. There are plenty of digital books in the library!
In addition, there are some excellent Hobby magazines that are available:
For users of the Linux operating system, free and unrestricted schematic and printed circuit board layout programs exist, visit my site for details-generally speaking, these are not available for users of MsLoss, and its derivatives.
I have what I call a ``Modified Open Door'' policy. You can come and see me at any time, but only in groups! I have a great regard for the peer-support system; you only really understand something if you can explain it to your peers. I have long ago forgotten the particular difficulties I had with some of the concepts taught in this course, they now appear to me as ``obvious''; peers do not have this myopia.
The preferred method of contact, however, is email.
The Second Year notice board may be used for any course announcements.
The online version is http://ytdp.ee.wits.ac.za/elen224outline.html
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