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Biophysics 586N: Introduction to Neuromorphic Engineering


The goal of this lab is to become familiar with the small set of electronics tools we will need this semester for our projects. You won't be expert in electronics after this lab, but you'll be able to find your way around the lab and know what every part I am giving you does for a living. Thus, all exercises are very, very basic. Very basic. You'll see how basic this information is just by following the links below. It's because my goal is simply to become acquainted with the tools you'll need. If you are already fairly familiar with electronics, I expect you will be able to do all exercises in 20-30 minutes. If you are not familiar with electronics, we will spend this lab learning the small subset you'll need for this class. I decided against reinventing the wheel and instead of designing our own exercises, found a bunch online.

Parts you'll be working with:
* breadboards
* signal generator
* oscilloscope
* LEDs. For more explanation of the mechanism of operation, see here
* resistors and capacitors
* inverters
* buffers I was not able to find a good description of a buffer... I am guessing because it's function is trivial. So I suggest you take a look at the manual. If the manual looks intimidating, fear not: you only need the first 2 pages. Ask me for help if necessary.
* operational amplifiers:
simple definition, a longer description if you're really curious, and finally what we'll be using them for

If you are not comfortable with electronics parts, I highly recommend you visit this page because it has very simple definitions and exercises that should get you going with the basics.

Items on the to-do list for the lab:
  1. Make an LED flash by connecting it in series with a small resistor (see how to calculate resistor value) and powering it with a signal generator producing either square pulses or sinusoidal oscillations. Observe signal output from the generator on oscilloscope.
  2. You can make it flash dimmer if you connect it to a voltage divider.
  3. You can make it flash out of phase with the signal generator if you insert an inverter between them.
  4. Now add a capacitor between those two resistors in the voltage divider as shown here and here, and you have a serial RC circuit. Congratulations - you have just made the most primitive discreet component model of a neuronal membrane!
  5. The only use I've had for an operational amplifier so far has been as a unity-gain buffer. But, to understand how an op-amp works, read this basic description of its function and uses and then follow a lesson outline for an inverting circuit. Skip the calculations and after reading the basics, jump straight to the connectivity.