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Physics 124: Laboratory projects
••• Syllabus •••

Fall Term 2017

Class is scheduled for MWF 12:00 – 12:50 in CENTR 222.

The lab session formally meets Monday and Tuesday 2:00 to 5:50 pm in MHA 3544/3574.

See The UC San Diego Schedule of Classes for enrollment information.

Also see the Academic Calendar for information on class dates and holidays.

Professors Contact Info

Julio Barreiro
Mayer Hall Addition 4531
barreiro  /  ucsd   edu
Please always start the Subject: with “PHYS124: ” and always email from your ucsd account and include your student ID. However, usually your questions are of interest to the whole class so I recommend using Piazza for Physics 124 TBD
Office hours TBD: Mon 1:30-2:00 pm Tu 1:30-2:00 pm
Dine/Coffee with a Prof Program

[su_box title=”Teaching Assistants Contact Info”]
Darius Choksy
dchoksy / ucsd edu
Rudy Pei
yrpei / ucsd edu
Office: will use MHA 3544 as office
Office hours: Thursday and Friday

Course Description

ECE students:
ENG 10 – Fundamentals of engineering applications
ECE 5 – Introduction to Electrical Engineering: Making, Breaking, and Hacking Stuff

Catalog description:

A laboratory-lecture-project course featuring creation of an experimental apparatus in teams of about two. Emphasis is on electronic sensing of the physical environment and actuating physical responses. The course will use a computer interface such as the Arduino. Physics 124 was formerly numbered Physics 120B. Program or material fee may apply. Prerequisites: Physics 120. (W)

Expanded version:

The first five weeks of the course will familiarize students with the Arduino microcontroller package (indeed, as if we were still in the late 90’s), as well as various sensors and actuators. The second half of the quarter will focus on a creative project using many of these pieces. Weekly lab assignments in the first half will ensure that students are on track, and will account for a third of the grade. Midway through the quarter, a project proposal will be evaluated considering feasibility, appropriate level, and available resources. Discipline and steady progress (tortoise preferred over hare) will be important to seeing the project through, as well as good communication/coordination with partner. During the time scheduled for the final, a demonstration of all projects will take place, open to others in the department. Performance on the project will account for the remainder of the grade, with some consideration toward noted presence in lecture and lab.

Grading scheme Fall 2017, tentative:
4% participation/attendance of lecture/piazza
36% four structured labs (9% each)
10% midterm to demonstrate simple coding
50% creative project: proposal 10%, implementation 12%, successful demo 10%, live and video presentation (individually graded) 5%, final report 10%, workbench/Arduino box cleanup 3%, 5% extra credit for best project prices (2 prices)

Late labs (even by an hour) incur grade-point penalty.

The box should contain: Arduino, LCD shield, motor shield, keypad, USB cable, small breadboard(s), wire jumpers, 6+ LEDs in three colors, two tricolor LEDs, two photocells, a button switch, resistors, a servo motor, servo horns, a DC motor, a stepper motor. Quad-comparator chip (LM339 or two LM311), two phototransistors, proximity sensor!, all neatly fit in the provided two plastic boxes (leave open if neat means leaving it so).

Academic integrity

Please read UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and the Academic Integrity Office

Accommodation for a disability

Students requesting accommodations for this course due to a disability must provide a current Authorization for Accommodation (AFA) letter issued by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) which is located in University Center 202 behind Center Hall.  Students are required to present their AFA letters to Faculty (please make arrangements to contact me privately) and to the OSD Liaison in the department in advance so that accommodations may be arranged.

Contact the OSD for further information:

858.534.4382 (phone)


  • Content and material adapted from Tom Murphy’s PHYS124 course page
  • Cover image from arduino.cc, an early Arduino 316, with an RS-232 serial interface. The Arduino UNO R3 in your kit resembles this image from wikipedia: