For ASU’s EEE 120 – Digital Design Fundamentals course during the Spring Session A of 2016 there were 10 lab assignments. 5 Hardware and 5 Software Simulation labs. Initially, the labs started off walking students step by step through the various tasks and there was a lot of hand holding. By both hardware and software lab 3, students were expected to be able to more on his or her own.
In addition on the first labs there were videos as well to walk through setting up your breadboard, Digilent Analog Discovery Kit and Logisim as well.
A few weeks prior to the start of the course the professor sent out an email with a shopping list of parts that we’d need to pick up.
- Digilent Analog Discovery
- Breadboard Wiring Bundle
- 74LS00 (Quad NAND)
- 74LS02 (Quad NOR)
- 74LS04 (Hex Inverter)
- 74LS05 (Hex Inverter O.C.)
- 74LS08 (Quad AND)
- 74LS11 (3-input AND)
- 74LS32 (Quad OR)
- 74LS74 (D flip flop)
- 74LS112 (J-K flip flop)
- 74LS126 (3-state buffer)
- 74LS175 (Quad D Register)
- 1K Ohm resistors
Throughout the labs we used just about every single type of part but a few extras were included in case you accidently released the magic blue smoke. I think I ended up ordering everything from Digikey.com but the part numbers were provided for Digikey and a couple of other online vendors. I did order the Analog Discovery kit from Digilent directly. Back in December, they had a student special where you could get a parts kit for free saving I think close to $45 dollars. I didn’t use much from that parts kit this course, but looks like it is used for the EEE 202 – Circuits I course I’ll be taking in the Fall of ’16.
Overall the labs comprised 440/1000 points so were a pretty big part of the overall course grade. The earlier labs that were less involved were worth less and as they got more complicated increased in value. Additionally, each lab had a couple of extra credit points possible for answering a feedback form.
I would definitely recommend starting early on the labs. Hardware problems happen sometimes. In my case, my Surface Pro 3 died so I lost two days waiting on Microsoft to replace (which they did). In addition, on one of the labs, I was getting some very bizarre readings and it took time to figure out what was going on over the course of day.
The TAs and professor were very quick to respond to lab questions and responses were usually received well under four hours. Often times within a few minutes of posting.
The five hardware labs were as follows:
Hardware Lab 0 – Using a Prototype Breadboard and Checking Logic Circuits using a Voltmeter
This lab walked us through getting the software for our Digilent Analog Discovery Kit (ADK) setup. Explained a breadboard, how to connect an integrated circuit and how to power it up and check the voltage at each pin.
Hardware Lab 1 – Building a Half and Full Adder
In the second lab, we built a 1 bit half and full adder on our breadboards. Each step was pretty well spelled out.
Hardware Lab 2 – TTL Characteristics, Open Collectors and Three State Buffers
No more training wheels so to speak here! A little bit in the first part of the lab, but this lab had experiement a bit more to figure out how the Open Collectors and Three State Buffers worked. This was the only lab I messed up on by thinking I could rush through. Definitely take your time and read through all the fine print!
Hardware Lab 3 – Latches, Flip Flops and Counters
Up until now, the labs were very straightforward, but latches, flip flops and counters take a little bit to get used to. In addition, ideas like Active Low come into play. Definitely start early on this lab. At the end of the lab, we did built a counter which was pretty neat.
Hardware Lab 4 – Capstone Design Project
Hardware lab 4 gave us a problem to solve and we were to come up two different solutions, determine which would be the “best” and then build one solution in hardware. Basically we had to design a Moore and Mealy machine to solve a Gas Pump Controller problem.
The problem we were given was that a client wanted a gas pump controller that would shut off after two over pressure conditions. Once in the shut off state, a gas station attendant would be required to reset the pump.
We were able to use any of the parts we had ordered initially to solve this problem.
The problem statement was a bit vague so we had to document our assumptions. As part of the design, state definition tables were put together, state transition diagrams, state transition tables, Karnaugh Maps to minimize the equations and Logisim simulations were done.
This lab pulled together just about everything we had done to come up with a working solution and really pushed students to think and analyze a problem. I can’t stress how important it is to start early. I had some trouble when building my solution where the JK Flip flops I was using weren’t working properly. After rebuilding once and taking voltage measurements at each pin, I finally figured out that I needed to wire the preset inputs to +5 volts. Once I did that, the circuit worked properly, but it took a few hours to troubleshoot. Had I waited until the last minute, I might not have made the deadline.