Teaching basic Analog and Digital Electronics at undergraduate level consists of theory classes with hands-on-training conducted in an electronics laboratory equipped with Oscilloscopes, Function Generators and Regulated Power Supplies. Students are taught the characteristics of basic components like diodes, BJTs, FETs, OPAMPs and Digital devices.

Carrying out practical laboratory experiments by students reinforces classroom teaching of theory. Standard laboratory equipment is often beyond the reach of several educational institutions worldwide because of the large cost element involved. Practical laboratory experimentation is therefore curtailed. 

To overcome this drawback I set about the task of building a low cost teaching aid for basic analog / digital electronics. This would enhance the availability  of laboratory test equipment to educational establishments and the student community.

My primary goals were the following:
  • Should be a stand-alone system
  • Keep the hardware cost to less than $40.
  • Use readily available components
  • Keep the fabrication simple so that students could fabricate it themselves.
  • Cover all experiments related to basic components like diodes, BJTs, FETs, OPAMPs and Digital devices.
What has emerged is an Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) system with the following features:
  • Hardware built around a dsPIC30f4011 micro-controller
  • Serial interface to a host PC
  • Six ±10V, 10Bit analog input channels with an input impedance of typically 1MΩ and a maximum  sampling rate is 2 mega-samples/sec.
  • Three ±10V, 10Bit, analog output channels with a throughput rate is 20 kHz, two with a drive capability of ±10mA and the  third power amplified to provide a drive of ±200mA.
  • Four buffered digital I/O channels
  • For ease of availability and in order to provide power to the circuits under test, a standard PC SMPS used as the power supply.
  • Micro-controller operations commanded by a Host PC using a GUI developed in Visual Basic. With the database manipulation and graphing properties of .Net 2 being fully exploited.
  • The hardware cost was $35.
The  ATE system fulfills the requirements as an analog / digital laboratory teaching aid. Effectively a combination of a power supply, programmable signal generator and digital oscilloscope it would also meet the requirements of hobbyists and electronic enthusiasts.

By providing technical data and executable software free for non-commercial use I wish to encourage the computer aided teaching of basic electronics.

View a demonstration of one of the electronic experiments:

I look forward to any questions or feedback, contact me at:

Email: ajoyraman@gmail.com
Webpage: http://www.ajoyraman.in
kbaake2 years ago
First of all: Thanks for this great project,...

but I would recommend an "upgrade":

It gets harder these days to get a PC with serial interfaces,.... by using the FTDI FT232 u could build this to be USB-ready.

BTW: When it´s come to the question which microcontroller to use, I would prefer an arduino-style atmel (ATMega-series), which is much easier to programm and offers a great range of functions.
ajoyraman (author)  kbaake2 years ago
Thanks for your valuable comments !

I chose the dSPic for the fast clock rate 96 Mhz which could go up to 120 Mhz this is very important for the waveform capture DSO mode and currently permits capture of signals up to 50 kHz.

I considered the arduino-uno as easily available with a good programming IDE, unfortunately it operates only at 16 Mhz. The recently released arduino-due running at 84 MHz could be a possibility now. I am considering this.

Regarding the 232 interface I am currently using a USB-serial converter and it works well. It possibly contains the FDTI chip.

The feedback from you is very sensible as the arduino-type is more readily available. Possibly addition of a suitable shield would suffice.

I will keep this in mind.

Best Regards
subinznz2 years ago
where and when can i buy one im in NZ
ajoyraman (author)  subinznz2 years ago
Thanks for your inquiry. I built it as a DIY system and have given all details to build one yourself. Would be wonderful if you do it !
Great 'bile! Can this be run on a Mac?
ajoyraman (author)  bricabracwizard2 years ago
Thanks for the 'short & sweet' great comment.
No ! Wrote it for Windows. Thinking of a QT version.
Elsuerte2 years ago
really well done project! have you had a chance to run a class with this yet?
ajoyraman (author)  amandaghassaei2 years ago
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I do not teach. However, I am trying to contact local colleges to get them interested in this system. I would appreciate any help in spreading the word around in your part of the world.
Great Job. Missing all the fun that we used to have in ADE. I will try to do my piece in spreading the word.
msuzuki7772 years ago
Well done. It is nice to see a professionally written Electronics Instructable.

ajoyraman (author)  msuzuki7772 years ago
Many Thanks to msuzuki77 and ASCAS for your encouragement , this makes my effort worthwhile.
ASCAS2 years ago
This is great. This should get featured, you made a great effort on making an instructable like this. Posting complicated instructables is something I am lazy in doing.

Great job!
ajoyraman (author) 2 years ago
A retired electronics professional this submission aims at giving something back to the electronics community, particularly students.

Kindly add your valuable vote to my Hack It! contest entry.
An innovative piece of work especially for student community. It can be taken up further.
Sir, you got my vote!
womai2 years ago
This is an extremely well-made, professionally executed design. I really like the attention to detail - fuses for the power supply, trimmers to fine-adjust the input attenuators, and so on. The software is well thought out as well. I really hope this will see adoption in classrooms.
ajoyraman (author)  womai2 years ago
Thank You very much.

I appreciate your valuable comments.
bkp19712 years ago
Really worth it. Looking at the number of lab equipments and the manual effort i put to do these experiments during my college days.