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DC/AC Circuits: Course Materials

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Traditional View

Courses in DC and AC circuits, alternately called Circuit Analysis I and II, are traditionally the first courses that a student in an AAS degree electronics technology program takes. What is typically missing in such courses is some perspective with regard as to why this theory is being taught and how it fits in with every-day electronic applications. The relevance commonly escapes students thereby leaving them wondering about the context of the material.

Most electronic technology degree programs were established in the 1970 and 1980s and targeted towards filling engineering technician jobs. Such jobs are no longer widely available because of the major changes that have occurred in electronic design and how equipment is implemented today. Electronics technicians’ no longer design and prototype electrical components, engineers now develop computer simulations, which serve that purpose. Hence, the heavy math analysis and design approach of most DC/AC Circuit courses today is less relevant and out of touch with current industry needs.

Systems View

Most modern electronics technician work involves one or more of the following: installation, testing, manufacturing, operation, maintenance, service, troubleshooting, and repair, of the equipment making up a system. While there are some discrete transistor, resistor, capacitor, diode circuits in use, ICs are used predominately. It is not possible to access individual components or even circuits within the larger ICs. Further, most ICs are far too large and complex for even the most experienced engineer to understand.

It has become more economical and faster for technicians to discard defective circuits and modules, replacing them with new ones. Since the technician has only access to IC or module inputs, outputs, and DC power, rarely is troubleshooting and repair to the component level even attempted. As a result, technicians no longer need to know about intimate circuit details. It is more important for technicians to know systems specifications, operation, interfaces, and the input/output signals involved.

The modern technician works with a wide variety of electronic interfaces used to connect one circuit or piece of equipment to another. It is essential that they know how to test and measure a unit’s operation and specifications correctly, according to the systems’ standards. The systems approach recommends additions to and deletions from traditional DC/AC courses in order to bring them more in line with current industry requirements. The emphasis should be on testing, measuring and troubleshooting, as it applies to a wide range of industries making and using electronics.

DC/AC Instructional Materials List
Last Update: June 27, 2013

Click on the desired materials to download. By downloading, you agree to the terms of use of eSyst.

  1. Instructor Presentation: Introduction to Electronic System Power Supply
    This PowerPoint presentation discusses that every piece of electronic equipment has a power supply and that power supply is a key sub-system in every other product or system. Typical examples are given in block diagram form. All major components and circuits are identified and explained.
    * An Electronic System Power Supply Assessment

  2. Instructor Presentation: Introduction to Semiconductor Devices
    This PowerPoint presentation defines semiconductors and shows basic atomic structures. It summarizes types of semiconductor materials. Introduces PN junctions and diodes. Gives an overview of the concept of a transistor and how it is used in electronics. Also a brief introduction to integrated circuits.
    * Semiconductor Devices Assessment

  3. Instructor Presentation: Introduction to Semiconductor Materials
    This PowerPoint presentation provides an early introduction to semiconductor devices prior to a formal course to reinforce their importance and their total dominance of electronics hardware. It defines semiconductors and shows basic atomic structures. It summarizes types of semiconductor materials and introduces PN junctions and diodes. Gives an overview of the concept of a transistor and how it is used in electronics. Also included is a brief introduction to integrated circuits.
    * Semiconductor Materials Assessment

  4. Instructor Presentation: An Introduction to AC Power Distribution System
    In today's modern electronics systems a technician must be prepared to work with AC power systems such as AC power wiring to equipment, AC to DC power supplies, or AC distribution systems with circuit breakers or fuses. This presentation covers AC power generation, distribution, and usage in today's homes and electronics systems.

  5. Student Guide: Agilent U3000 Power Supply Lab Activity Part 1
    This lab activity introduces you to the basic theory and operation of a lab power supply. The lab is focused on using the power supply as a tool to power electronic systems. Power supply theory, terminology, and operation are stressed. Since all systems require a power supply, a technician needs to understand the basic theory of operation, the common terminology used with all power supplies, and, ultimately, their efficient use. Technicians setup, use, and test power supplies in virtually all job classifications. Therefore, power supply functionally becomes a required skill of the job.

  6. Student Guide: Agilent U3000 Digital Multimeter Lab Activity Part 2
    This lab activity introduces you to the basic theory and operation of a lab digital multimeter (DMM). The lab is focused on using the DMM as a tool to measure voltage, current, and resistance. DMM measurement theory, terminology, and operation are stressed. Since all system tests require a DMM, a technician needs to understand the basic theory of operation, the common terminology used with all DMMs, and, ultimately, their efficient use. Technicians setup and use DMMs in virtually all job classifications. Therefore, DMM operation becomes a required skill of the job.

  7. Student Guide: Agilent U3000 Oscilloscope Lab Activity Part 3
    This lab activity introduces you to the basic theory and operation of a lab oscilloscope. The lab is focused on using the oscilloscope as a tool to measure voltage, time, and frequency. Oscilloscope measurement theory, terminology, and operation are stressed. Since most all system tests require a oscilloscope for complex signal measurement, a technician needs to understand the basic theory of operation, the common terminology used with all oscilloscopes, and, ultimately, their efficient use. Technicians setup and use oscilloscopes in virtually all job classifications. Therefore, oscilloscope operation becomes a required skill of the job.

  8. Student Guide: Amp Meter System and Design Testing Lab
    This lab activity brings together all the principles and laws of parallel circuits. The primary purpose of the lab is to design, construct, and test a multi-range ammeter. In the process of doing this lab activity, the principles of Ohm's Law, Watt's Law, Kirchhoff's Parallel Circuit Laws, and the basic operation of an analog and a digital meter movement will be reviewed and emphasized. The interrelationships between various parts will be highlighted and a basic amperage measurement system will be constructed and tested.

  9. Student Guide: Volt Meter System and Design Testing Lab
    The purpose of this lab is to bring together all the principles and laws of series circuits. In this lab you will design, construct, and test a multi-range voltmeter. In the process of doing this lab activity, the principles of Ohm's Law, Watt's Law, Kirchhoff's Series Circuit Laws, and the basic operation of an analog and a digital meter movement will be reviewed and emphasized. The interrelationships between various parts will be highlighted and a basic voltage measurement system will be constructed and tested.

  10. Student Guide: Solar Energy Power System Lab
    The purpose of this lab is to be able to measure and calculate basic values such as voltage, current, power, and efficiencies for a power system. Alternative energy is a hot topic these days and much emphasis is being placed on being "green." A "green" system is one that was intentionally designed with high-energy efficiency in mind and also that it be more environmental friendly that previous systems. As time passes more and more alternative energy systems will be placed "on-line." A technician must have the skills to measure such systems and determine if components are in need of replacement and if the systems are operating within operating specifications.

  11. Student Guide: System Temperature Monitor Lab
    The purpose of this lab is to apply voltage divider in thermal management system and to observe the relationship between temperature, resistor, and voltage.

  12. Student Guide: Wire and Cable Characteristics Lab
    The purpose of this lab is to collect data on measurements, observe skin effect in wires and propagation delay in a cable, and summarize your findings.

  13. Student Guide: R2R Ladder Network
    R2R Ladder Networks provide a simple and inexpensive method of converting digital information to an analog signal.

  14. * Instructors should contact , eSyst Director, for an answer key.

Student Learning Outcomes

Toggle the arrows to view the SLOs. New student learning outcomes (SLOs) are listed in red.

DC Circuits or Circuit Analysis I
  1. Name the four major segments of the electronics industry, explain the organization and operation of the electronics industry and identify career opportunities for technicians in industry.

  2. Define systems as it applies to electronics, list and explain the operation of the main building blocks and circuits of electronics systems.

  3. Define basic electrical quantities and terms including current, voltage, power, resistance, and efficiency.

  4. Define conductor, insulator and semiconductor materials.

  5. Determine resistance from color code and surface mount component codes and labels.

  6. Apply Ohm’s and Kirchhoff’s laws to solve series, parallel, and series-parallel circuit problems as well as loaded and unloaded voltage divider problems.

  7. Identify and calculate a bridge circuit.

  8. Describe the properties of magnetic fields and materials, explain electromagnetism, electromagnetic induction and relate to the operation of common magnetic devices.

  9. Make common circuit measurements such as voltage, current and resistance with a multimeter.

  10. Explain meter loading and define precision and accuracy, and calculate accuracy and error.
AC Circuits or Circuit Analysis II
  1. Define and identify a sine wave and determine frequency, period, peak, peak-to-peak (pp) and root mean square (rms) values of a sine wave.

  2. Define capacitance and capacitance units, identify capacitors, calculate series and parallel combinations of capacitors.

  3. Explain the operation of a capacitor with both DC and AC.

  4. Define inductance, inductive units, identify inductors, calculate series and parallel combinations of inductors.

  5. Analyze, explain and calculate the DC transient behavior of resistor-capacitor (RC) and resistor-inductor (RL) circuits.

  6. Define, calculate and explain the effect of capacitive and inductive reactance.

  7. Define and calculate impedance in series and parallel RL, RC and RLC circuits.

  8. Define phase shift and calculate voltages, currents, impedance and phase angle in RC, RL and RLC circuits using phasors.

  9. Define and calculate resonance, Q and bandwidth in series and parallel RLC circuits.

  10. Name the four basic kinds of filters, show their response curves and make basic calculations of cut-off frequency with RC and LC filters.

  11. Explain the construction and operation of a transformer and make transformer calculations of voltage step-up/down and impedance.

  12. Explain the operation of a diode and state its most common applications.

  13. Draw a block diagram of a basic linear power supply identifying each major section or component and explaining its need and operation.

  14. Measure AC voltage, current, impedance, frequency, period, duty cycle, rise/fall time, pulse width and phase angle with an oscilloscope and function generator.

  15. Name the most common types of wire and cable, state where each is used, and make basic wire/cable tests and measurements.

  16. State a basic method and procedure to troubleshooting and perform troubleshooting on basic DC and AC circuits




New Systems Topics Related Materials
1. Define systems and the concept of signal flow, in block diagrams of equipment and systems. Work-Ready Electronics (WRE) modules:
2. Define the function of the most common electronic circuits and assemblies (amplifiers, power supplies, filters, oscillators, embedded controllers, etc.). WRE module: eSyst Presentation: *eSyst Assessment:
3. Define and explain semiconductors. eSyst Presentation: *eSyst Assessments:
4. Include a greater emphasis on the higher frequencies (through GHz) and their effect on components and circuits (residuals in components and stray/distributed inductance and capacitance). eSyst Lab:
5. Emphasize surface mount components over the older traditional components. Use current textbook for this material.
6. Teach the operational principles of diodes and their basic applications, including basic linear power supplies. eSyst Presentation:
*eSyst Assessments:
7. Stress more testing, measurement principles, and applications. eSyst Labs:
8. Add coverage of wiring and cables. WRE module: eSyst Lab:
9. Explain the make-up of the electronic industry and industries that employ electronics technicians.  Describe the flow of materials through the industry. Name the most commonly available jobs. WRE module:

*Instructors should contact , eSyst Director, for an answer key.

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Detailed Course Outline

Toggle the arrows to view the outlines. New topics are listed below in red.

DC Circuits or Circuit Analysis I
  1. Introduction to the Electronics Industry and careers
    a. Segments of the electronics industry
    b. How the industry works
    c. Jobs and careers

  2. Introduction to systems
    a. Systems defined
    b. Elements of a system
    c. System examples

  3. Introduction to Electricity (Voltage, Current, and Resistance)
    a. Atomic Structure
    b. Electrical Charge
    c. Current
    d. Voltage
    e. Resistance
    f. Electrical Circuits
    g. Basic Circuit Measurements

  4. Ohm’s Law
    a. Current Calculations
    b. Voltage Calculations
    c. Resistance Calculations
    d. The Current, Voltage, Resistance Relations

  5. Power and Energy
    a. Power in Electric Circuits
    b. Resistor Power Ratings
    c. Energy Loss and Voltage Drop in Resistance

  6. DC Series Resistive Circuits
    a. Resistors in Series
    b. Rules and Laws for Series Circuits
    c. Voltage Dividers
    d. Ground
    e. Troubleshooting Series Circuits

  7. DC Parallel Resistive Circuits
    a. Resistors in Parallel
    b. Rules and Laws for Parallel Circuits
    c. Current Sources
    d. Current Dividers and Applications
    e. Troubleshooting Parallel Circuits

  8. DC Series Parallel Circuits
    a. Series-parallel Relationships
    b. Analysis of Series-Parallel Circuits
    c. Loaded Voltage Dividers
    d. Ladder Networks and the Wheatstone Bridge
    e. Troubleshooting

  9. Magnetism and Electromagnetism
    a. Magnetic Fields
    b. Electromagnetism
    c. Hysteresis
    d. Induction
    e. Applications of Electromagnetism and Induction

  10. Introduction to semiconductors and basic systems
    a. Semiconductors defined
    b. Diodes and how they work
    c. Rectifiers
    d. Introduction to transistors and ICs
    e. The basic power supply as a system
AC Circuits or Circuit Analysis II
  1. Introduction to Alternating Current and Voltage
    a. Sine waves
    b. Non-sinusoidal Waveforms
    c. Voltage measures, frequency, period.

  2. Capacitance and Inductance
    a. Definition, units of measure and physical properties
    b. Circuit configurations, total capacitance and inductance
    c. DC and transient analysis of RC and RL circuits
    d. Capacitance and inductance in AC Circuits

  3. Transformers
    a. Step up/step down
    b. Loading and Reflected Load
    c. Impedance Matching

  4. RC Circuits
    a. Typical Circuit Configurations and Total Impedance
    b. Power in RC Circuits

  5. RL Circuits
    a. Circuit Configurations and Total Impedance
    b. Power in RL Circuits

  6. RLC Circuits
    a. Circuit Configurations and Total Impedance
    b. Power in RLC Circuits
    c. Resonance
    d. Filters

  7. Circuit Theorems
    a. Voltage and Current Sources
    b. Thevenin’s Theorem
    c. Maximum Power Theorem

  8. Wire and cable
    a. Types and sizes of wire
    b. Types of cable
    c. Cable characteristics
    d. Introduction to transmission lines

  9. Test equipment
    a. Operation and use of the oscilloscope
    b. Operation and use of the function generator

  10. Troubleshooting
    a. An approach to troubleshooting
    b. Troubleshooting methods for DC/AC circuits




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