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Digilent Analog Discovery and Bench-top Instruments: A Comparison

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Shaghayegh Abbasi University of San Diego

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Shaghayegh Abbasi received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Washington in 2011. In her thesis, titled ‘Integrating top-down and bottom-up nanomanufacturing: Controlling the growth and composition of seeded nanostructures’, an innovative nanomanufacturing method is explored and optimized. Upon graduation, she started her career as Senior System Design Engineer at Lumedyne Technologies. She worked on design, simulation, and testing of a Time Domain Switched (TDS) accelerometer.

Dr. Abbasi joined University of San Diego as an adjunct faculty for Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering in 2014. She is also doing collaborative research with Biomedical Engineering Department at University of California, San Diego on data analysis of glucose sensors for diabetic patients.

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Ernest M. Kim University of San Diego

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Ernie Kim received his BSEE from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and MSEE and PhD in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University. He has been an electronics engineer at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) at the Boulder CO labs where he performed research on precision optical fiber metrology, staff engineer with the Advanced Systems Group of Burroughs Corporation, Manager of Electro-Optics at Ipitek Corporation where he developed early fiber optic CATV systems. Dr. Kim has worked at a number of start-up companies in fiber optic transmission including All Optical Networks, and Lightwave Solutions in San Diego. He joined the University of San Diego Department of Electrical Engineering in 1990. Dr. Kim is a licensed Professional Engineer (EE), and regularly teaches FE and PE exam review courses.

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Thomas F. Schubert Jr. P.E. University of San Diego

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Thomas F. Schubert, Jr. received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently a Professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego, San Diego, CA and came there as a founding member of the engineering faculty in 1987. He previously served on the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Portland, and Portland State University, and on the engineering staff at Hughes Aircraft Company. Prof. Schubert is a member of ASEE and IEEE and is a registered professional engineer in Oregon. He is the 2012 winner of the ASEE Robert G. Quinn award for excellence in engineering education.

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The Digilent Analog Discovery 2™ is a multi-function instrument that allows users to measure, visualize, generate, record, and control mixed signal circuits of all kinds. This instrument offers many advantages to students, including portability, durability, and a wide range of tools. Since the user's computer acts as user input and display for the Analog Discovery system, collection and recording of measurement data is also more convenient than with many traditional benchtop configurations.

In this study, the use of Analog Discovery in an Introductory Electrical Circuits Laboratory is investigated as the primary tool for measurement and signal generation. Data is collected on student level of understanding, comfort, and successful use of the tool through a comprehensive survey. The goal of the study is to compare Analog Discovery device with benchtop instruments for signal measurement and generation. To this end, data is also collected on student level of understanding, comfort, and successful use of benchtop instruments with similar functionality, including an Agilent oscilloscope and a signal generator. Primary results suggest that students find Analog Discovery easier to use and more convenient in terms of data collection.

This paper provides a quantitative summary of student feedback on use of benchtop instruments as well as Analog Discovery, in an Introductory Electrical Circuits Laboratory. The advantages of Analog Discovery including portability and cost-efficiency, combined with students’ positive feedback, makes it a suitable tool as a replacement or a companion to benchtop devices for many signal generation and measurement applications.

Abbasi, S., & Kim, E. M., & Schubert, T. F. (2019, June), Digilent Analog Discovery and Bench-top Instruments: A Comparison Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32662

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