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, DER.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 1.3 A Counting Circuit

This final activity provides 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 DER will clearly present the role played by each.

Start your DER 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 eight subsections (A-H) described below. For the first section, Analog Input, include, as a graphic, that part of the schematic that it pertains to. The next five sections (B-F) subsections should include a Reference Section that includes the respective live hyperlink appearing below:

Following the Reference Subsection within each of the five areas, include a Purpose section (this one could go before the Reference 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 subsections include Media (captioned photos and video) and Reflection sections.

A. Button 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

G. A Counting Circuit PCB

Once the prototype media has been obtained for your DER (photos and video), ACES wishing to extend their engineering skills are encouraged to convert their breadboard prototype to a more permanent device. A custom printed circuit board was designed and manufactured expressly for the use by Jr. ACES for this purpose. Interested ACES should present their working prototype to Mr. D'Arcy at least TWO days prior to the DER due date in order to receive their PCB. Receipt of such a board comes with the expectation that components will be soldered, the circuit tested, and summarized in text, photos, and video as part of the DER summary for this Counting Circuit project.

H. A Counting Circuit PCB Case

Congratulations on reaching the final stage (8) of our marathon Counting Circuit project! Students that have successfully soldered their PCBs that demonstrate forward (and backwards) counting on the seven-segment display are invited to present their circuit to Mr. D. to receive a custom case designed and printed in the DES by J. Dolgin (ACES '20) into which their device can be mounted. A similar two-colour case was printed on the Ultimaker 3 in 2018 by K. Fiset-Algarvio (ACES '19). Click the image below to view a short time-lapse video of the case being printed,

Power for the device is sourced from a 9V battery inside a compartment within the interior of the case. The leads of a battery snap can be soldered to the correct pads in lieu of an external DC Jack. Be sure to place electrical tape across the battery to insulate it from the bottom of your PCB to prevent the possibility of shorting. Finally, screw the assembly together and fully test, prior to capturing the final frames of your project video.

Finally, be sure to address ALL issues from previous submissions and update your Table of Contents before attaching DER.docx to an email to handin under the Subject Line: A Counting Circuit

Project 1.2 The Half Adder or The Full Adder or The Two-Bit Adder (pick one)

Students can elect to complete either the Basic or Advanced task described below. Some of you have struggled with the challenges of this course but this Basic task is quite doable if you are organized, start early, and take advantage of the wide support offered you.

Those of you intending to continue on into our Grade 11 course should consider completing the Advanced assignment for the extended prototyping practice and deeper conceptual understanding.

The ? Adder

Our recently-completed session introduced you to the digital logic gates. These are the computer's primary operators in much the same way as addition and multiplication are the primary mathematical operators. One of many useful circuits involving logic gates is the circuit that allows computers to perform addition of binary (base 2) numbers.

The graphic to the right is meant to reveal how the computer 'sees' the addition of 74 and 7, packaged as 8-bit numbers. Similar to humans, the computer proceeds from right-to-left, adding pairs of binary numbers (0 and 1). For the first addition (green) there is no 'carry in' number from a previous addition. This requires a circuit known as a half-adder. For each of the remaining seven additions (red), the computer must add the two binary operands (A and B) but must also add in the binary number carried from the previous addition (C). A circuit that performs this is referred to as a full adder.


Although many of you likely could, Grade 10 students are not expected to have come up with the circuit designs for the half and full adder circuits, but a good grasp of why they work and the correct outcomes they produce provide deep mental satisfaction. To this end, you are encouraged to spend time interacting with the relevant combinational example provided as Falstad simulations,

  1. Half Adder: https://tinyurl.com/yehzn8gc
  2. Full Adder: https://tinyurl.com/ydomt5mp


  1. Jr. ACES are required to develop the breadboard prototype for an adder circuit that best satisfies their interest and ability as follows,
    1. The Half Adder (Basic)
    2. The Full Adder (Advanced)
    3. The Two-Bit Adder (Enriched)
    These require a mimumum of two (A, B) or three (A, B, C) input buttons and two output LEDs indicating the Sum and Carry bits, as well as the 'Processor' consisting of the wired-up logic gates.
  2. Again, using the DER returned to you that hassince been editted and corrected, and taking into account the personal and general feedback comments you have been provided with, start this report on first new page, after your Project 1.1 Voltage- H-Bridge summary. Add the new Project name in Heading 1 Style and complete sections under the subheadings: Purpose, Reference, 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.
  3. Students should note that the mark you receive for this submission will be based on the clarity of your circuit presentations and quality of your DER based on your response to the expectations, feedback, and support provided you.
  4. Attach your DER to an email to handin with the Subject: The ? Adder where ? is replaced with either Half, Full or Two-Bit by Saturday November 20 at midnight.

The Two-Bit Adder (Enriched)


  1. After sufficiently researching the half- and full-adder circuits, you are to wire up a prototype on a breadboard that demonstrates a Two-Bit Adder. This would demonstrate the limited sum of two operands, each from 0 to 3, for a sum over the range from 0 to 6.
  2. Parts will include 4 push buttons (or slide switches) for inputs A and B input pairs, three LEDs for outputs, and the required CMOS ICs as the processor that integrates both a half and full adder.
  3. There are many ways to demonstrate both your knowledge and your passion for this material. Utilities such as Fritzing, TinkerCAD Circuits, Falstad, etc. all offer ways to enhance you reader's experience. You do not need to include all of them as creating a strong report is NOT about checking all the boxes possible. Pick one or two you are drawn to and exploit their capabilities to teach the reader about how digital logic gates can be combined to perform the addition of a pair of two-bit binary operands.
  4. Attach your DER to an email to handin with the Subject: The Two-Bit Adder by Saturday November 20 at midnight.


Optional Project. 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 DER project summary due Saturday November 16.
  2. This project will test your organizational abilities as much as your nascent electronics' knowledge and skills. Part of the task includes thinking deeply about what you're doing.
  3. After studying the schematic of the Analog Oscillator below left undertake your prototype (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

  5. Once you have obtained your media, you can request the additional parts that include a printed circuit board (PCB) and three terminal blocks. 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 a temporary DC Power Jack should yield the desired outcome: a pair of blinking LEDS. 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. Once everything is as it should, present a working circuit to Mr. D. to get your Power Jack. Assemble it as you did for your Capacitor Visualizer.
  9. Finally, present both for your Analog Oscillator case and screws for final assembly.
  10. DER. 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.
  11. Attach your DER to an email to handin with the Subject: The Analog Oscillator (aka Astable Multivibrator) by the deadline.

In-Class Project. 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 as is required) 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 results. Perform at least three trials with the first Resistor-Capacitor pair and record the average.
  5. For your DER, 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 2 RC pairs in the table. Again, perform a number of trials with each pair and record the average.
  7. For your DER 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 device on the PCB provided. Be sure to watch the Instructional video, prior to soldering. Finally, demonstrate a WORKING version of your soldered PCB to me by Thursday October 31 to obtain a custom case for your device.
  8. In your DER, be sure to include the required sections listed above. You are to provide your own Fritzing schematic 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 above is large enough to be center-aligned on your page.
  9. Attach your (corrected) DER to an email to handin under the Subject Line: The Capacitor Visualizer by the deadline.

Project 1.1 Voltage H-Bridge

One of the most important skills an Engineer must possess is the ability to communicate. Modes of communication include spoken word, written text, and, increasingly, media presentation, in a highly structured and detailed format. Developing these skills takes much practice and this is precisely why the Design Engineering Report plays such a crucial role in our program, your mark, and your future.

With the skills gained over the past few classes, you are ready to prepare your first Design Engineering Report (DER) submission. Furthermore, 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.

The Voltage H-Bridge circuit provides a vivid reflection of the fundamental voltage, current and resistance concepts we explored and analyzed over the first dozen classes. A schematic of the circuit appears to the right. The letter H is clearly visible in the depiction as the crossbar spans two voltage dividers (one variable and the other, fixed).


  1. Create the Word document, DER.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, be sure the page numbering starts at page (Arabic) 1, and place Project 1.1 Voltage H-Bridge in Heading 1 Style at the top of the page. Subsections, styled as Heading 2, must include,
    1. Purpose one or two short, well-constructed sentences that underscore the precise concept(s) being highlighted 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, and how the entire circuit works. include a complete, 2-column (asymmteric column widths), 3" wide, background-shaded, right aligned, Parts Table.
    4. Support your Procedure discussion with a copy of the schematic above right, 3" wide, right-aligned on the page, and top-aligned with a paragraph.
    5. Media formatted and captioned photos and (no more than) 2 minute video uploaded from your personal YouTube channel. By personal, I mean you do NOT use your RSGC email or other credentials to create this channel as your material will disappear after graduation. You can't afford to lose this work.
    6. Reflection this is the only segment written in the first person and includes any comments you have about the concepts, the build process, any challenges you overcame and personal time-management issues you were pleased with or need to address in the future.
  4. Technical writing is done on the present, active voice, NOT presented in the first, second or third person. See these do and don't examples.
  5. Create a short (1-2 minute) video of your circuit with accompanying explanations and annotations of the components. Upload to YouTube within your own personal channel (preferably not RSGC's) and include a full URL link in the Media section. Some of our best videos appear on our ACES' home page carousel.
  6. Update your Table of Contents.
  7. Attach your Design Engineering Report (DER.docx) to an email to handin with the Subject: Voltage H-Bridge by the required deadline.

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