Asee peer logo

Presenting Test Benches and Device Characteristics of Programmable Logic in an Introductory Logic Circuits Course

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Software and Programming

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1252.1 - 26.1252.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Krista M. Hill University of Hartford

visit author page

Dr. Krista M. Hill is an associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. PhD and MSEE from Worcester Polytechnic Inst. in Worcester, Mass., and previously a project engineer at Digital Equipment Corp. She instructs graduate and undergraduate computer engineering computer courses, directs graduate research, and performs research involving embedded microprocessor based systems. Her current projects involve small system design, signal processing, and intelligent instrumentation.

visit author page


Ying Yu University of Hartford

visit author page

Dr. Ying Yu received her B.Eng. from Fudan University, Shanghai, China, in 2000. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Brown University, R.I., USA, in 2003 and 2007, respectively. Currently, she is teaching as an associate professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Hartford. Her current research interests are audio and speech signal processing, acoustic scene classification, speaker identification and verification, promoting diversity and inclusion in the academic environment, and teaching with new educational methods, including peer instruction, personal response systems, video games, and state-of-the-art CAD tools.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Presenting Test Benches and Device Characteristics of Programmable Logic In An Introductory Logic Circuits CourseIn the fall semester of 2011, we introduced the complex programmable logic device (CPLD) inour introductory logic circuits course. We specifically chose to use a CPLD as it includes the useof modern CAD tools and logic devices, as well as hands-on activities and allows for theconsideration of device characteristics. This paper considers test benches as well as devicecharacteristics which are each important to students' learning experience in our use of CPLDs. Inour prior research we identified test benches as a critical aspect in the use of CAD tools. Thispaper first outlines our effort to better introduce students to test benches.In teaching with traditional TTL logic, the presentation of device characteristics, such as signalVoltage levels, device loading, and propagation delay was immediately available. With the movefrom such a hands-on, to a hands-off approach using a development board, the presentation ofdevice characteristics appears to have been missing from the curriculum. In using our CPLDmodule we are discovering new ways to reintroduce long standing basic concepts in the contextof CMOS devices, back into our introductory logic circuits course.Students in such an introductory course must be aware that they are dealing with real circuits andthat logic signals are represented with physically measurable quantities. The logic circuits labmust be tangible, demonstrating the connection between digital and analog concepts, such asVoltage and current. Our students take their first electric circuits course the same semester asintroductory logic circuits which means that these ideas are new to our students. As such we limitour discussion to presenting the device terminal characteristics of logic circuits.The device characteristics of CMOS gates differ from traditional TTL devices in severalimportant ways. Students discover that for CMOS the transition region between logic high andlogic low is extremely narrow which causes a gate to be sensitive to noise present in a slowlychanging input and makes it difficult to use a potentiometer and Voltmeter to direct measure theinput thresholds associated with logic-high and logic-low. This paper presents a feedback testcircuit that students use to investigate the device Voltage characteristic and use a Schmitt triggerto investigate how such capability reduces sensitivity to noise. Students also learn aboutpropagation delay and static loading. After each topic we outline a practical hands-on exercise.Our students use an oscilloscope to measure propagation delay and learn how to select a loadresistor for a device such as an LEDIn performing our research we assessed our students' learning experience with our newpresentation of test benches and assessed if device characteristics should be specifically includedamong the required course outcomes for our logic circuits course. We include results andanalysis from a student focus group, an anonymous exit survey, and include our ownobservations.

Hill, K. M., & Yu, Y. (2015, June), Presenting Test Benches and Device Characteristics of Programmable Logic in an Introductory Logic Circuits Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24589

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015