LED Scope Curriculum/Course Part 2: LED Array Oscilloscope Review by Debra Brinkman, Crew Administrator, The Old Schoolhouse® Homeschool Review Crew, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, January, 2017
Applied Inspirations, LLC
A few months ago, my teens were able to work through a basic electronics course from Applied Inspirations, LLC. That course was “Part 1” and I highly recommend you read it at this link (http://bit.ly/2jRGN2H) in order to understand the rest of the review.
Recently, we were privileged to be able to tackle the second part, where you make an LED Array Oscilloscope. If (like me) that means nothing to you, an oscilloscope is a tool that shows you how circuits are functioning, and this tool is used in designing and repairing electronic equipment.
It must be noted that you do need to go through Part 1 before tackling Part 2. In Part 1 you build the power supply that you will need for the oscilloscope, but you also build electronic knowledge that you will need to move through this project.
The kit comes in a handy box intended to be used to store your project as you are working on it. Inside the box, you have a three-ring binder that includes a few pages of information that is already printed out. Items like the handy reference card are in beautiful color, on heavy card stock. There are also four bags of parts (which do include some extras). A disk includes all of the texts, plus pdf versions of the already-printed materials, so you can reprint if necessary.
You will need the same tools that you needed in Part 1. Applied Inspirations, LLC does carry a “Quality Tool Set” if you do not already own such equipment.
The course is intended for ages 10+, but I have to say that my ten-year-old would not have the patience to work through this. My teens did great, and I believe my 12-year-old could use this successfully. I think 10 is a little young, unless they are very interested in electronics.
One of the complaints my teens had about Part 1 was that they had to work through a lot of information before they got to the “Learn Electronics by Doing” part of the course. In part 2, you spend one chapter learning what an oscilloscope is, but by chapter 2 you are getting hands-on. That made my kids happy.
Most chapters are set up so that the student can read the introductory materials, which include plenty of diagrams, and then they put what they learned into practice. The assembly instructions include clear photos and check boxes. The author encourages students to actually check off the steps as they are completed. I had to reiterate that throughout the course as well.
Each chapter is a separate PDF file on the disk, and we printed each out as we came to them. The teens could read the chapter themselves, and they knew just what to do. I appreciated that I don’t have to understand electronics for them to take an electronics course. The instructions are clear and methodical. “Don’t Just Build Something … Learn Something!” is printed on the box, and it is clearly the driving force behind this project.
For an idea as to the scope of this course, the chapters include:
0 – A brief introduction
1 – The Origins of the Oscilloscope
2 – The LED-Bar Test Display
3 – Analog to Digital Conversion
4 – The LED Array Display
5 – System Timing
6 – Shift Registers – Driving the X Axis
7 – Automatic Trace Initialization
8 – Input Attenuation
9 – Scope Input Test Leads Assembly
10 – Input Protection
11 – Input Amplification
12 – Y Axis Positioning
13 – Synchronization
14 – Trigger Delay
15 – External Triggering
16 – Basic Trouble-Shooting Techniques
17 – Review of Commercial Oscilloscopes
Each chapter gave us plenty of material for a week of class, so working through Part 1 and Part 2 is a full year course.
My bottom line is that this course truly teaches electronics, with quality materials, and gives plenty of hands-on practice. This is a class, not just a kit. You will learn real electronics, not just bits and pieces here and there. Learn Electronics by Doing is more than just a slogan.
MAGAZINE REVIEWS (Bold added for emphasis)
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Review of LED Scope Part 1: Basic Electronics,by Debra Brinkman, Crew Administrator, The Schoolhouse Review Crew
Applied Inspirations has put together some fascinating kits you can use to learn electronics. My teens have had a fair amount of experience with electronics kits in the past, so we thought we had a pretty good idea as to what to expect from the LED Scope Curriculum/Course Part 1.We were wrong.
Other kits we have used, or even classes we have taken, have featured some basic information about electronics, but mostly it was a lot like building a Lego kit. Follow the instructions, plug the right part into the correct spot, and in the end you would have a circuit that rings a bell, starts a fan, or whatever it was that you were supposed to be building.
The kids would understand a bit more about electronics from the process. In one class, they’d have gotten comfortable with soldering. Another kit would help them to understand a bit about what a resistor does. Bits here, and pieces there. This “kit” though? This kit really teaches electronics. In working through the materials, they can’t just plug and play. This is a class, not a mere kit.
Basic Electronics, intended for ages 10 and up, includes a binder with some introductory notes. Included in those notes are some schematics and charts printed on cardstock. The binder includes a 3-hole-punched pencil pouch filled with parts. There is also a 2-hole punched CD case that contains the text as PDF files. Also included are PDFs of all of the already printed materials; this is handy. In addition to the kit, you will need some tools. We already owned everything we needed, but a tool set is available for purchase at Applied Inspirations.
Basic Electronics is teaching just that: the basics. You learn what electricity is. You learn to read schematics. You learn about analog and digital circuits. You get plenty of opportunities to use a digital multimeter and to solder. You have plenty of opportunities to use math in the analysis of the circuits.
The course contains eighteen chapters in total, starting with chapter 0. Chapters 0-5 are chock full of information, with very little doing. Considering the meaning of the L.E.D. in their project name – Learn Electronics by Doing – those chapters did seem quite dry. My teens just wanted to get on with it and start doing something. We plugged along.
Once they hit chapter 6, where you started soldering, they were happier. From that point on, for most chapters, there was a fair amount of information in each chapter, followed by actual hands-on “doing.” The final step in most of the chapters is “Testing and Analysis.” I like that.
Each chapter is a separate PDF file on the disk, and we printed each out as we came to them. The teens could read the chapter themselves, and they knew just what to do. I appreciated that I don’t have to understand electronics for them to take an electronics course. Their father appreciated that they were getting solid electronics training without him having to draw out concepts from some simple projects.
For an idea as to the scope of this course, the chapters include:
0 – Introduction
1 – The Nature of Electricity
2 – Safety
3 – Reading Schematics
4 – Electronic Components and Digital Multimeter
5 – Electronics Construction
6 – How to Solder
7 – More Soldering
8 – How to Un-Solder
9 – Power Supply
10 – Diodes and Semiconductor Theory
11 – Capacitor Timing
12 – Variable Voltage Divider
13 – Transistors
14 – Transistor Amplifier
15 – Basic Flip-Flop
16 – Integrated Circuits
17 – Digital Logic
When my husband looked this kit over, one thing he noted that the included parts weren’t labeled or organized at all. However, in one of the early chapters, this was addressed. These parts were intentionally included this way in order to make it so the student has no choice but to work a bit more at identifying and testing them. You can’t skip that step, or you will not be able to go on. Brilliant!
My bottom line is that this course truly teaches electronics, with quality materials, and gives plenty of hands-on practice. Learn Electronics by Doing is more than just a slogan.
Home School Enrichment Magazine: Review of LED Scope Part 2: The LED Array Oscilloscope, Published: May/June 2015 Issue
About a year ago, I reviewed Part 1 of the impressive LED-Scope electronics “kit” by Applied Inspirations, LLC. Now, Part 2 will help your budding young electrician delve deeper into this fascinating world!
The first thing to note about Part 2 is that you will need to start with Part 1. I described that course in detail in the March/April 2014 issue of Home School Enrichment, so I won’t take time to do so again here. Suffice to say, I was highly impressed not only by the depth of information about electronics, but also the astounding clarity with which it was presented. I am happy to say that Part 2 continues this important tradition.
Obviously, Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off. You’ll be taking your new skills further with four additional modules that come together to finish the LED-Scope you began in Part 1. All the parts you’ll need are included – even some extras, in case of accidents. You’ll need the same basic tools you used in Part 1(which are available for separate purchase from Applied Inspirations). Please note that soldering is required, so you’ll also need a safe place to work. Thorough safety instructions for using a soldering iron are included.
As in Part 1, the principles you’ll be learning are masterfully explained by author Peter T. Miller. I actually would not have believed that electronics could be explained so clearly! The lessons are contained on a CD in PDF format, so you can view them on a computer or print them out if you prefer. The schematics and a reference sheet are included on thick card-stock for easy benchside use.
I said it when I reviewed Part 1, and I’ll say it again about Part 2: Calling these courses “kits” is an injustice to the material, as you get so much more real-world knowledge of electronics than any mere kit could provide. The sequential approach to seemingly-complicated electronics instruction is easy to follow and learn from. And make no mistake: You will learn from this course. It’s not just putting together a bunch of parts to look at some pretty lights; this is high-quality, real-world electronics knowledge.
If you bought Part 1 of the LED-Scope, do yourself a favor and buy Part 2 now. And if you haven’t used either curriculum/course, and have a student interested in really learning the “nuts and bolts” of how electronics work, then go buy both Part 1 and 2 today – because having done Part 1, your student will be eager to do Part 2 as well!
Home School Enrichment Magazine: Review of LED Scope Part 1: Basic Electronics, Published: March/April 2014 issue
Part 1 of the LED-Scope Kit from Applied Inspirations, LLC looks unassuming enough at first glance. But upon closer examination, it suddenly seems like a steal. You don’t find this quality of instruction just anywhere. This kit is truly one of a kind.
To begin with, the word “Kit” in the title is a bit of an understatement. To be sure, you get a printed circuit board and all the electric components you’ll need to get some hands-on experience building circuits, and if it were really just a kit, it would add an instruction sheet and that would be it.
But, in this case, you get far more. Instead of just a pile of components and some instructions, you’re actually getting an entire course on electronics. You’ll certainly get your share of hands-on experience, but the knowledge you’ll gain goes far, far beyond this one project.
The course, as I’ll call it from now on, assumes zero knowledge of electricity to begin with. Concepts are described one at a time in an easy to follow, sequential style. Seemingly-complicated principles, terminology, and schematics will seem simple in a surprisingly short time. It’s clear that an in-depth, real-world knowledge of electronics has gone into creating this course, and author Peter T. Miller has an obvious gift for teaching it.
The kit portion of the course includes everything you’ll need to build the circuits described, except for a few inexpensive tools which you can purchase separately at www.LearnByDoingKits.com if you don’t already have them. Then you’ll be ready to sit down and get to work.
The course portion is a series of PDF files containing 17 detailed chapters of electronics instruction, along with some supplementary information (such as safety precautions, etc.) Illustrations and diagrams are abundant throughout the course, and, as I’ve said, everything is explained in a simple, step-by-step manner for easy mastery.
This is a completely self-teaching course. Your student only needs to know how to read. The course provides all necessary instruction directly to the student, requiring no teacher preparation.
I could say more, but it would just be belaboring the point that this course is an excellent way to build a solid base in electronics. If you have a child interested in electronics and have been wondering where to begin, look no further – theBasic Electronics LED-Scope Kit from Applied Inspirations, LLC is exactly what you’re looking for!