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An Inexpensive Curve Tracer for Introductory Electronics Laboratory Courses

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 4

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.187.1 - 26.187.12



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Paper Authors


David M. Beams P.E. University of Texas, Tyler

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Dr. David Beams first became interested in electrical engineering through a passion for amateur radio in high school. He earned BSEE and MS degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1974 and 1977, respectively, with two years of industrial experience separating the two. He then spent over fourteen additional years in industry before returning to graduate study, receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. In 1997, he became one of the founding faculty of the new School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler. He has published numerous papers on engineering education and has presented several technical papers at national conferences on the subject of wireless power transfer. Dr. Beams holds or shares four patents and is a licensed professional engineer in Wisconsin.

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Hector A. Ochoa University of Texas, Tyler

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Hector A. Ochoa received his Ph.D. in computer engineering from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2007. He received his M.S. in Physical Sciences from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2004. He joined The University of Texas at Tyler as a visiting professor at the department of electrical engineering on Fall of 2007. In fall of 2008, he started working as an assistant professor at the same university. His research interests include: Radar Systems, Wireless Communications and Antennas.

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An Inexpensive Curve Tracer for Introductory Electronics Laboratory CoursesAmong the fundamental topics of introductory electronics courses are the I-V characteristics ofbasic electronic devices—diodes, MOSFETs, and BJTs. However, the expense of a dedicatedcurve tracer would not be justifiable in an introductory electronics laboratory. An easy-to-operate device capable of obtaining the I-V characteristics of basic electronic devices would behighly beneficial, especially if it were sufficiently inexpensive and easy to construct that a curvetracer could be made available for each bench. The device described herein meets theserequirements. Operating in conjunction with typical laboratory equipment (an oscilloscope withx-y display capability, a triangle-wave signal generator, and a triple-output dc power supply), it iscapable of displaying the I-V characteristics of diodes, PMOS and NMOS devices, and NPN andPNP devices at device currents up to ±30mA and voltages up to ±24V. It includes a voltage-controlled base-current generator capable of ±100μA for characterizing BJTs. Currents in thesemiconductor device under test are converted to voltages by means of a transresistanceamplifier. This paper will describe the circuit and its implementation as well as its curricularintegration. Sample results from student work using these curve tracers is included.

Beams, D. M., & Ochoa, H. A. (2015, June), An Inexpensive Curve Tracer for Introductory Electronics Laboratory Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23526

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