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Versatile, Low Cost Electronics Lab Protoboard

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Instrumentation in the Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1397.1 - 9.1397.8

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Paper Authors

author page

Timothy Scott

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



Timothy C. Scott, Kevin L. Knight

University of Virginia


Purchased equipment for teaching basic electronics can be expensive. It may also be delicate and, in the case of many prototyping circuit boards, so small that students have trouble visualizing the circuit before them and instructors cannot easily figure out what the student has done wrong when asked for help. This paper describes a versatile circuit board system that can be built for about $100 in parts. It contains its own DC power supply, voltmeters, and large blocks with which basic electronic components may be arranged and interconnected using large wires and banana plugs. Typical lab projects using the board involve DC and AC circuits, relays, diodes, op amps and other IC devices. These projects guide students through exercises using a combination of the actual circuit and a MultisimTM simulation. A web site is given from which lab manuals may be obtained.


As electronics becomes a part of seemingly every device and system, it has become essential for all engineering disciplines to have some exposure to this topic. Since few students have any physical contact with even the most basic electronic elements (resistors, capacitors, inductors), providing a hands-on experience must be part of the electronics instruction.

A number of commercial resources are available that allow one to build and test various circuits involving electronic components. In the best scenario, we would like each student to have a general electronics "kit" such as those available from the local electronics store to work with on their own. In practice, we are constrained to one or more electronics workstations in a laboratory setting with one or more dozen students and often one instructor or teaching assistant. In such an environment, some significant difficulties arise.

In Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, for many years we provided workstations using standard commercial circuit prototyping or "protoboards" for construction of various circuits involving op amps, transistors, and other basic components. The protoboard is a plastic block with rows of interconnected slots into which lead wires are inserted.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Scott, T. (2004, June), Versatile, Low Cost Electronics Lab Protoboard Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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