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An A.M. Radio Project in a Lower-level ECE Class

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Projects in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.147.1 - 25.147.14



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Paper Authors


Sheila Patricia Werth Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Sheila Werth is a junior ECE major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her concentration is RF.

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Kaung Myat Win Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Sergey N. Makarov Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Sergey N. Makarov earned his B.S./M.S./Ph.D./D.Sci. degrees at St. Petersburg (Leningrad) State University, Russian Federation from the faculty of mathematics and mechanics. Makarov joined the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics at State St. Petersburg University in 1986 as a researcher and then joined the faculty of State St. Petersburg University, where he became a Full Professor (youngest Full Professor of the faculty) in 1996. In 2000, he joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Mass., where he became a Full Professor and director of the Center for Electromagnetic Modeling and Design in 2008. His current research interests include WBANs, applied antenna design, and computational electromagnetics.

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An AM radio project in a lower level ECE classBuilding a radio in an introductory ECE class presents a number of challenges. The major challenge isthe uncertainty associated with the proto-board design. Proto-boards have a high propensity forcapacitive coupling. Furthermore, the subject matter behind radio design is more complicated thanintroductory ECE students will be used to. For this reason, the design must be simplified andcompartmentalized as much as possible and presented carefully to students. An AM radio laboratoryproject is an opportunity to inspire students with real world applications of electrical engineering, but forany project to be successful in an introductory laboratory class, it must be simple and reliable.In this study, we present a simple yet reliable AM radio design which can be used as a laboratory projectwith students’ proto-boards. To address the capacitive coupling problems associated with the proto-board,a unique front end is used. Rather than the traditional tank circuit, series resonance is used followed byan inverting operational amplifier. In this configuration, we significantly reduce the amount ofcapacitively coupled positive feedback. A standard Schottky diode peak detector is used to demodulatethe AM signal which can be followed by a high-impedance earpiece or audio amplifier.The proto-board circuit design was presented to students in lab with corresponding learning materialsintroduced in lecture and incorporated into a chapter of the custom class textbook. Each section in thechapter addresses a specific part of the circuit in depth using theory and examples. The chapter includessections on the following: 1. Radio Propagation Model 2. Matching Circuit Model 3. Circuit Noise Model 4. Demodulation Circuit ModelWe shall describe our experience with this scenario in an introductory course offered during Fall2011/Spring 2012 (about 250 students total), and the corresponding assessment results. The currentassessment strategy and its follow-up modification (including critical alumni survey based on theweighted response to the subject matter) will be described.

Werth, S. P., & Win, K. M., & Makarov, S. N. (2012, June), An A.M. Radio Project in a Lower-level ECE Class Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20907

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