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Easy To Do Transmission Line Demonstrations Of Sinusoidal Standing Waves And Transient Pulse Reflections

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.567.1 - 12.567.18



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Paper Authors


Andrew Rusek Oakland University

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Andrew Rusek is a Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He received an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Warsaw Technical University in 1962, and a PhD. in Electrical Engineering from the same
university in 1972. His post-doctoral research involved sampling oscillography, and was completed at Aston University in Birmingham, England, in 1973-74. Dr. Rusek is very actively involved in the automotive industry with research in communication systems, high frequency electronics, and electromagnetic compatibility. He is the recipient of the 1995-
96 Oakland University Teaching Excellence Award.

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Barbara Oakley Oakland University

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Barbara Oakley is an Associate Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She received her B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature, as well as a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University was received in 1998. Her technical research involves biomedical applications and electromagnetic
compatibility. She is a recipient of the NSF FIE New Faculty Fellow Award, was designated an NSF New Century Scholar, and has received the John D. and Dortha J. Withrow Teaching Award and the Naim and Ferial Kheir Teaching Award.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Easy-to-Do Transmission Line Demonstrations of Sinusoidal Standing Waves and Transient Pulse Reflections Abstract

Junior, senior, and graduate level courses in electromagnetics often cover issues related to sinusoidal standing waves and transient pulses on transmission lines. This information is important for students because a theoretical understanding of such phenomena provides a concrete foundation for later study involving the general propagation of electromagnetic fields, and because transmission lines are critical in many different engineering applications. Unfortunately, however, the somewhat tedious mathematics underlying transmission line theory can cause students to snooze through lectures. This paper describes a simple set of classroom demonstrations that can enliven student interest in this important area. The phenomena demonstrated include:

• Time domain separation of input and output for the forward versus the return conductor. • The lossless or almost lossless character of the signal transfer through the transmission line. • Signal reflections and transmission line matching. • Time domain reflectometry applications, including characteristic impedance tests, terminating impedance tests, and losses.

The demonstrations discussed in this paper, which can be done using either two 2- channel or one 4-channel oscilloscope, are based on both sinusoidal and pulse excitations. Our experience has been that students become very enthusiastic as they clearly see the various types of standing wave patterns that are actively associated with different load and source impedances, and the various phenomena associated with transient pulse reflections.


Transmission lines first gained use in the mid-1800s to transfer Morse code over long distances. By the early 1900s, transmission lines had become an important means of transferring energy. Most recently, transmission lines have become inseparable components of high-speed electronic circuits and systems. Nowadays, typical applications of the transmission lines include:

• High voltage transmission lines • Telephone lines • Audio and TV cables, TV antenna cables • Computer network lines • Printed Circuit Board (PCB) connecting paths and interconnecting cables • Automotive control system interconnecting cables • Microwave communication systems, radars, etc.

Rusek, A., & Oakley, B. (2007, June), Easy To Do Transmission Line Demonstrations Of Sinusoidal Standing Waves And Transient Pulse Reflections Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1600

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