of Wisconsin-Madison Skip
                navigationDepartment of PhysicsSearchSite MapUW Home


UW Home


News & Events

Colloquia & Seminars

Research Groups


Prospective Students

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Students


Physics Library

For the Public





Find Us

Contact Us


Department of Physics
Undergraduate Courses

Physics 321 —  Fall 2013
  Electric Circuits and Electronics

    Please press "reload" to be sure
       you see the current version.

Lecture:                                            Labs:
TR 11:00am-12:15pm,  2223 Chamberlin   301:Tu 2:25PM – 5:25PM, 4128 Ch.
                                                                    302:Tu 7:00PM –10:00PM, 4128 Ch.
                                                                      304:R   2:25PM – 5:25PM, 4128 Ch.

Text:   "Introduction to Modern Electronics"   J.C. Sprott

Exams: 6-weeks Oct. 8 (in class); 12-weeks Nov. 12 (in class);
             Final  Dec. 17, 2:45 pm

Course Instructor:                               Lab Instructor:
Dan McCammon                                   Takashi Nishizawa
6207 Chamberlin Hall – 262-5916      2308 Chamberlin  
Office Hours: 10:30–11:30am Fri.      Office Hours: 
   (also by appointment, by email,          4 – 5pm Mondays
     through random attempts . . .)
            10 – 11am Thursdays    

Resources :

Syllabus — 2013


    Laboratory Experiments

Prelab Worksheets

Tektronix Oscilloscope Detailed Manual

Homework Problem Sets

Fourier Transforms Cheatsheet

Practice Exams

    Course Reference Page

On-line introductory circuits textbook
(pretty good, lots of diagrams):





Lecture Topics



Sept. 3,5

Voltage, Current, Ohm’s Law, Meters



Sept. 10,12

Sources; Circuit Theorems



Sept. 17,19

Oscilloscopes; Inductors, Capacitors

2.5-2.7, 3.1-3.5


Sept. 24,26

AC Time Domain; Transient Analysis

3.6-3.8, 4.1-4.2


Oct.  1,3

AC Frequency Domain Analysis



Oct.  8,10

Midterm Exam I; Fourier Analysis ;



Oct. 15,17

Fourier Analysis



Oct. 22,24

Intro. to p-n Junctions; Diode Applications



Oct. 29,31

Vacuum tubes & JFETs; Bipolar Transistors

7.1-7.2, 7.7-7.9,8.1-8.2


Nov.  5,7

Amplifiers; Transistor Amplifiers



Nov. 12,14

Midterm Exam II;  Operational Amplifiers

8.7-8.9, 9.1-9.2


Nov. 19,21

Negative Feedback; Op-Amp Circuits



Nov. 26

Positive Feedback & Oscillators


Dec.  3,5

Boolean Algebra, Logic Circuits



Dec. 10,12

Flip Flops, Counters, Shift Registers, Applications

11.5-11.8, Handouts


Dec. 17 

Final Exam:  Tuesday  2:45 – 4:45 pm






Laboratory Syllabus


The lab part of the course consists of thirteen laboratory experiments. The experiments are done one per week in a three hour laboratory period.


You will need a bound lab notebook for recording and analyzing your experimental results.  The recommended lab book is a spiral-bound, quad-ruled 8-1/2”  x 11” or larger notebook with at least 70 sheets. Your name and laboratory section should be written on the front cover. Leave a few pages blank for an index. Sketches, diagrams, and simple graphs may be drawn directly in the notebook. However, for more detailed graphs you could plot them using a computer, and then tape, glue or staple the printed graphs into your notebook. You will also need a calculator.


You are expected to do the lab work during your scheduled lab period, handing in your completed lab notebook at the end of the period. Only under very special circumstances, say an illness, will you be allowed to do the lab at a time different from your scheduled time.  You should email your TA to make arrangements for an alternate time to do the lab. Except in case of illness, this email should be sent prior to the scheduled lab period.


Make sure you come into the lab with a copy of the lab writeup. The lab writeup should be read and studied before you come into the lab.  Most weeks there will be a worksheet that you must complete prior to the laboratory period and turn in at the beginning of the laboratory.   This will be graded as part of your lab.



                                        Laboratory Schedule


   Week of                                                     Experiment

September 3                               Introduction

September 10                             Lab 1: DC Instruments and Measurements

September 17                             Lab 2: Oscilloscopes and AC Measurements

September 24                             Lab 3: DC Circuit Theorems

October 1                                   Lab 4: RC, LC, and RLC Filter Circuits

October 8                                   Lab 5: DC and AC Bridge Circuits

October 15                                 Lab 6: Transient Response of a Series RLC

October 22                                 Lab 7: Fourier Analysis of a Square Wave

October 29                                 Lab 8: Diode Characteristics and Circuits

November 5                               Lab 9: Bipolar and Field Effect Transistors

November 12                             Lab 10: Single Transistor Amplifiers

November 19                             Lab 11: Linear Op-Amp Circuits

November 26                             Thanksgiving — no lab

December 7                                Lab 12: Nonlinear Op-Amp Circuits

December 14                              Lab 13: Digital Logic Circuits

Lab Notebooks and Grading


Lab notebooks need not be elaborate, but several points are worth noting:


1.     Your lab notebook should be organized and well maintained.  The lab notebook should be self-contained.

2.     In other words, it should be possible for another person to read your notebook and be able to understand what you did, without reference to the experiment writeup.

3.     The notebook should contain a brief header on each section that says what you’re trying to do below.  All circuit diagrams relevant to a particular part of the experiment should be neatly drawn, with all necessary calculations shown.

4.     It is important to draw circuit diagrams before building the circuit.  You can label points on the diagram where voltages or currents are measured and use these labels to easily and accurately identify recorded data.

5.     Be sure, at least once on each page, to have a short sentence stating what you are trying to do in the following section.

6.     Read and follow the suggestions on tabulating data and plotting graphs which are given in the appendix. Make sure you tape, glue or staple all the graphs, relevant to a part of the experiment to the page that contains work for that part.  If this is not possible, provide page references in both directions.  Pages must be numbered.


Each lab will be graded out of 10 points. In grading the lab books, the following factors will be taken into account:


1.     Is the lab writeup neat, well organized, and well written?

2.     How much of the lab been completed?

3.     Is the lab writeup clear and understandable?

4.     Were the measurements done carefully, and are the results reasonably accurate?

5.     Are the tables and graphs well organized, and do they contain all the relevant information?

6.     Have you explained how the various quantities were measured and shown how the analysis was done?

7.     Are the conclusions briefly but clearly stated?


Keep in mind that your overall understanding of the material in the lab is of equal importance to your lab notebook: try to learn something. I will help you learn and understand.  Most of all, don’t worry too much about the grades (unless you are losing more than 50% of the grade).  Labs are designed for interactive learning. You will have as much opportunity as you need to ask questions and receive help.  Finally, enjoy the labs! Physics is an experimental science: make it yours.  Suggestions for improving the labs are always welcome.



1.     Don't write too much. You don't need to put in extensive discussions of the theory or "purpose'' of the experiment. Equipment lists are not required in this lab. Fewer words — More Pictures!

2.     Don't write anything on scrap paper. Do scratch calculations in your notebook. You can cross them out later (or reserve the left hand page everywhere for scratch calculations etc.).  If you bring in some work you prepared outside (eg  derivation of an equation, circuit diagram etc ), then tape it in your notebook as soon as your get to lab.

3.     You should always  always ALWAYS have a circuit diagram of the circuit you are working on. (If you wish you can Xerox the one from the write-up and tape it in.) You should always get the circuit diagram in your notebook first, then build the circuit — following the diagram. (If you are using Integrated Circuits ("ICs''), then put the IC pin numbers on the diagram before wiring the circuit.)

4.     Ask about circuit symbols you don't recognize. Measuring instruments are not usually shown. (It is assumed that you are close enough to the ideal case where the instrument does not perturb the circuit - make careful note of what you did when this is not the case.)  You can show the point where a meter or scope is connected — see 7. below.

5.     Signals go generally left to right. Power supply line at the top, ground at the bottom (except for push-pull circuits, where ground is in center, positive supply at the top and negative supply at the bottom). Wires are just lines. Crossing lines do not imply an electrical connection unless the intersection is enhanced by a large solid dot. 

6.     Typical Ground Symbols: 


Sophisticated circuits often have more than one kind of ground — then the distinction between these may be important. Until then — don't worry about it.

7.     If you wish to refer to the voltage at a particular point in the circuit, then just label it. Then you need only use the label. Note that the voltages are always potential differences between two points.  Whenever there is a reference to the "voltage at a point'', it is implied that this is the potential difference from the circuit ground, which is usually marked with one of the above symbols.

8.     When plotting graphs, be sure to label the axes appropriately, to put the measurements on the graph as discrete data points (do not “connect the dots”), and to plot a theoretical or notional fit, where applicable, as a continuous line.  (The idea is that you only know the measurements where you took them, but in principle you could calculate the model for any point — even if you actually only calculated it at a few discrete points, you know from the formula that it will go smoothly between them.)




Last updated: 9/09/2013

  © 2004-2005 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Top of Page