There are no quizzes, tests, or exams in our ACES program. Put another way, you are NEVER put into the position of having a dramatically limited amount of time to demonstrate the skills you have acquired. You can invest as much (or as little) time into your reports as you choose. In return for being granted complete control over the depth and quality of your submissions I can place a premium on detail, precision, and the pursuit of perfection. So, my advice to you if you want to become exceptional is to follow the written and oral instructions carefully and, beyond the required elements of each report, demonstrate tasteful and appropriate creativity and imagination to distinguish yourself from the mediocre. Good luck and, remember, the race is long but it's over quickly.

Reports: Required Elements

If you do not submit your report by the deadline specified, you receive a mark of 0. This is done as a favour to you to help you appreciate that the real world will dismiss you if you can not demonstrate responsibility and accountability. You are to archive ALL of your reports in the single Word document, ER.docx. The first page is your Title page, followed by a multi-page Table of Contents, after which your reports begin. EACH report will start at the top of the next new page and, unless otherwise specified, consist of the following sections, in the order listed,






The vast majority of us can tell the difference between quality and rubbish in an instant. As a young scholar you have to decide what your name will stand for. It should matter very little whether you enjoy a task or not; if you're going to attach your name to something it is a direct reflection of who you are.

Project 4. A Counting Circuit

This final activity introduced a simple introduction to fundamental capabilities of many digital devices: counting and display. There are a number of stages or subcircuits in this system and your ER will clearly present the role played by each.

Start your ER with a big picture Theory section, written in your own words that mentions, generally, the input to the system, the generation of a clock signal consisting of pulses having both a duration and a frequency, culminating in the presentation of the pulse count on the display device. This would an ideal place to present a detailed, margin-to-margin Fritzing diagram, breadboard or (organized) schematic view, to introduce your readers to the full prototype you are about to describe and discuss in three pages that follow.

A Note on Graphics. Graphics should support the text they are illuminating. Poorly composed photos, sloppy and inconsistent choices for diagrams like pinouts and schematics work against you as they can confuse your readers and leave them with a sense that the author doesn't care about his presentation so why should they?

Follow the Theory Section with the six subsections described below. For the first section, Analog Input, include, as a graphic, that part of the schematic that it pertains to. The latter five subsection should start with their own Reference Section that include the respective live hyperlink appearing below for your convenience:

Following the Reference subsection within each of the five areas, include a Purpose section describing in detail, how each stage contributes to the sequence. Be sure to clearly present the input, processing, and output of each stage, supported by informative, attractive, and well-formatted graphics.

Following the final subsection include Media (captioned photos and video) and Reflection sections.

A. Analog Input

B. NAND Gate Oscillator (4011)

C. Decade Counter (4017)

D. Decimal Counting Binary Up/Down Counter (4510)

E. Binary Counting Decimal Decoder (4511)

F. Seven-Segment Display

Be sure to address ALL issues from previous submissions and update your Table of Contents before attaching ER.docx to an email to handin under the Subject Line: A Counting Circuit (Complete)

Project 3. The Analog Oscillator (aka Astable Multivibrator)

The Square Wave, a highly orchestrated sequence of alternating high and low durations, is the backbone of modern, digital, communication. The purpose of this project is to introduce you to the transistor and to demonstrate how it can be combined with other familiar analog components to produce an oscillating signal with properties similar to the digital square wave.


  1. Clean the lens of your phone's camera, as you will be gathering media (photos and videos) throughout this project, from start to finish, in support of your ER project summary due Saturday November 17.
  2. This project will test your organizational abilities as much as your nascent electronics' knowledge and skills. You have been supplied with a bag containing the necessary parts to prototype this circuit. Part of the task includes thinking deeply about what you're doing. In support of this aim please be aware that replacement parts will not be supplied by me.
  3. After studying the schematic of this oscillator circuit below (also found on page 39 of our workbook), and reviewing the parts in the distributed kit, undertake your prototype of the analog oscillator (aka, blinker, Astable Multivibrator) on your breadboard. When you are confident the circuit has a chance of functioning, apply 9V power. Debug as necessary and document the results with your phone's camera. You may wish to experiment with the rate at which the LEDs are flashing by adjusting the sizes of the resistors.

  4. Analog Oscillator Schematic PCB: Dry Fit
    The Analog Oscillator PCB (Front) The Analog Oscillator PCB (Back)

  5. Once you have obtained your media, you can request the additional parts that include a printed circuit board (PCB), a DC power jack, two pairs of male header pins, two 7" paired wires and a pair of 10mm orange LEDs. Disassemble your prototype and 'dry fit' the parts on your PCB (above right) in a manner similar to the image to the right (click to enlarge). This is an important step to appreciate the full scope of the task that lies ahead and to avoid the risk of soldering parts incorrectly that can be difficult, or near imposssible, to repair.
  6. With your soldering area fully equipped with easy access to the required tools and conscious of the soldering techniques and strategies discussed in class and in this soldering video, you may begin the soldering stage. Remember,
  7. If you have invested care and thought into your efforts, plugging your 9V adapter into the DC Power Jack should yield the desired outcome: a pair of blinking lights. If it doesn't function as expected, prepare yourself for the best part: debugging. Seriously, few activities are as satisfying as analyzing and repairing a faulty system. Use the large illuminated magnifying glass to check all your solder joints. Confirm your polarized parts are in the correct way. Use the DMM to to perform continuity, voltage, and integrity inspections. You WILL find the problem without the need to ask for my intervention.
  8. ER. Starting on a new page, add the Project name and complete sections under the subheading: Purpose, Reference, Theory, Procedure, Media, and Reflection. Text is developed in accordance with the recommendations for Technical Writing and reflective of your much-improved formatting abilities. Graphic manipulation is undertaken according to the specifications laid out in the Engineering Report General Guidelines.
  9. Attach your ER to an email to handin with the Subject: Analog Oscillator by the deadline.

Project 2. The Capacitor Visualizer

Along with resistors, capacitors belong to a family of components known as passives in that they do not introduce a new source of energy into a circuit. Capacitors serve a number of useful functions in both DC and AC circuits. In completing this project you will strengthen your understanding that the capacitor (in series with a resistor), plays in the timing aspects of analog DC circuitry.

This project takes time to undertake properly, so be patient, and start early.

The schematic, below left, is of a straightforward test circuit that, in my view, best illustrates of the functional behaviour of an electrolytic capacitor in a DC circuit. You are familiar with the concept of a voltage divider from your first project. Looking at the junction (node) between S1, R1 and R2, we introduce the notion of a current divider as the current splits into two branches due to their parallel configuration.

We have discussed the charging of an empty capacitor and the effect this has on the capacitor in terms of its resistance (in AC circuits this property is referred to as reactance). In a DC circuit, a single RC Time Constant, denoted τ, can be expressed simply as,


where τ is measured in seconds, R is measured in Ω, and C is measured in F. Also discussed in class (p. 33) is the expectation that after 5 RC time constants the capacitor is virtually fully charged (5τ~99%). One of the objectives of this project is to observe and confirm the expected results.

Schematic Printed Circuit Board


  1. To achieve the best results for each of the numerous trials, the capacitor should be fully drained. In the Procedure section of your report, explain how this is achieved in the circuit to the right.
  2. On a breadboard, prototype the circuit above left as neatly as you can using the first pair of resistor-capacitor values in the table below. Connect the longer lead of the bicolor LED to the capacitor and the shorter lead to ground. This ensures the orientation that agrees with the schematic. Note: Be sure to drain the capacitor and measure the voltage with your DMM to be sure. Explain this step in your Procedure and explain any related issues you have in achieving this.
  3. Once connected, hold the momentary button down for at least 10 seconds before releasing it. Note the behaviour of the LEDs in particular, and try to explain what electrical behaviour at work, throughout. Do this a number of times until you feel you understand the principles.
  4. Now, more formally, using the timer on your phone, and through observation, record the approximate charging time for a fully discharged state until your eyes can no longer detect a visible state change in the red LED. A DMM can be used for more accurate reults. Perform at least three trials with the first Resistor-Capacitor pair and record the average.
  5. For your ER, you are asked to duplicate the table that appears below. In the third column determine and enter the theoretical (expected) time to fill. In the fourth column, enter your observed result.

  6. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for each of the remaining 5 RC pairs in the table. Again, perform a number of trials with each pair and record the average. Note: You may have to use a pair of the same component in series or parallel to achieve the expected rating for the respective component!
  7. For your ER summary of this Project, you MUST remember to obtain media of your prototype (both still images and video), before you dismantle it to solder together your completed devie on the PCB provided.
  8. In your ER, be sure to include the required sections listed above. It is up to you to decide the supporting images and graphics that engage your readers and leave them with a solid understanding of the concepts. The table below is large enough to be center-aligned on your page. Be sure to insert the correct formula in the third column that will correctly and dynamically evaluate the values in the first two columns of same row.
  9. Attach your (corrected) ER to an email to handin under the Subject Line: The Capacitor Visualizer by the deadline.

Project 1. Voltage Division

One of the most important skills an Engineer must possess is the ability to communicate, both in spoken word and in written form in a highly structured format. Developing this skill takes much practice and this is precisely why the Engineering Report plays such a crucial role in our program, your mark and your future.

For your first Engineering Report (ER) submission, you are to present your version of the Voltage Divider circuit described in schematic form to the right and discussed in class. You are required to be familiar with the Guide for Technical Writing and through practice and regular editing your sentence structure will improve. Poor grammar and spelling skills detract from your presentation.


  1. Create the Word document, ER.docx that includes a Title page, Table of Contents and headers and footers as discussed and developed in class.
  2. Each Project writeup in your ACES career starts on a new page.
  3. For this project, start a new page, change the page numbering to start at page 1, and place Project 1. Voltage Division in Heading 1 Style at the top of the page. Subsections, styled as Heading 3, must include,
    1. Purpose one or two short sentences that strike to exact concept being highligted in his project
    2. Reference include a hyperlink pointing to the URL of this project description and any other online resource(s) you explored with advantage
    3. Procedure discuss the concept of a voltage divider in general, how it is employed in this circuit, what purpose it serves, how the entire circuit works. As well, discuss the role and purpose of the pull down resistor arrangement. Finally, include a complete, background-shaded, Parts Table, and a copy of the schematic above, right-aligned
    4. Media captioned and formatted photos and YouTube video
    5. Reflection written in the first person and includes any comments you have about the build process, any challenges you overcame and time-management issues, for example.
  4. Technical writing is NOT presented in the first or second person. Text should employ either the active or passive voice.
  5. Develop your own Fritzing breadboard and schematic images for inclusion in your submission and store them in your images folder. Include them in a Media subsection together with high resolution, well-composed, and formatted photos.
  6. Create a short (~1 min) video of your circuit with accompanying explanations and annotations of the components. Upload to YouTube and include a link in the Media section. Review some of the best student videos on our ACES' home page to get an idea of what is expected.
  7. Update your Table of Contents.
  8. Attach your Engineering Report (ER.docx) to an email to handin with the Subject: Voltage Division by the required due date.

Remember, your text should be developed in accordance with the recommendations for Technical Writing.