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Laboratory Design Projects For A Freshman Digital Electronics Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.670.1 - 6.670.8

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Paper Authors

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Gerard Foster

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

Session 2526

Laboratory Design Projects for a Freshman Digital Electronics Course Gerard N. Foster Purdue University, School of Technology, Kokomo, Indiana


This paper discusses a set of laboratory projects that the author created for a second semester freshman digital electronics course. The following projects have been developed: • Stepper motor feedback control to allow positioning of motor shaft. • State machine with PLD to setup smart dot-matrix display. • Shift register circuit with communication to microcontroller SCI. • Digital play/record circuit o Simple function generator capture and replay o Voice recorder and playback o Digital organ

Block diagrams are used in presenting the design of systems. Students are divided into groups. They are asked to develop overall concepts and then to set up design procedures for individual blocks. Students are asked to work as a group and then to implement testable sections as individuals or in small groups. Students gain knowledge of memory-mapped systems, microcontroller serial communication interfaces, “smart” displays and PLDs as digital control blocks. Good group dynamics and the ability to switch to a design mode of thinking are important in the success of the implementations. By providing structure when needed, the instructor helps the students raise their level of competence.


In the Electrical Engineering Technology curriculum at Purdue, most EET courses have two or three hour laboratories along with the regular classroom periods. Time and again, our students tell us that they like this commitment to hands-on learning. It is in “lab” that the students come to a better understanding of the technical material. It is through laboratory exercises that students develop their writing skills by writing laboratory reports. It is through laboratory exercises and project that students practice troubleshooting and design. It is there that they learn to work in groups to solve technical problems. It is also in lab where students can seize the complexity of a problem such as finally realizing that a filter or a different grounding scheme may solve a real world problem of noise.

Introductory digital electronics laboratory exercises can become limited and cookbook-like. This rote, by-the-numbers approach is not all bad to start the novice learning in a step-by-step fashion. However, there comes a time when introducing design elements into laboratory exercises can stretch the student to use and to more firmly establish previous learning. And, there comes a time when a laboratory exercise can become a bridge to future applications. The following laboratory exercises and projects were developed for freshman students in the last half of a

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Foster, G. (2001, June), Laboratory Design Projects For A Freshman Digital Electronics Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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