Course Syllabus

PHY 4802L Laboratory Physics 1

Covid-19 Statement:

While we are all tired of dealing with it, COVID-19 remains a serious concern. As of this writing (1/6/2023), in the USA, on average nearly 400 vulnerable people/day die as a consequence of the virus (CDC data tracker). Should you contract one of the highly infectious variants circulating, being vaccinated and boosted is known to greatly reduce your chances of death, but there is also long term COVID to worry about. This has a variety of symptoms that can continue to affect those who got the virus for long, indeterminate periods of time. The CDC COVID-19 About page provides a wealth of up-to-date information about COVID-19 from symptoms to testing to protecting yourself and others. Anyone wishing to follow their guidance and wear a mask when in class is welcome to do so. If you begin to experience symptoms, please be responsible and self isolate to keep others safe. You will have off-hours access to the lab so that you will be able to make-up any lab sessions that you missed.

Our class sessions may be recorded for enrolled students who are unable to attend live. Students who participate with their camera engaged or who utilize a profile image are agreeing to have their video or image recorded.  If you are unwilling to consent to have your profile or video image recorded, be sure to keep your camera off and do not use a profile image. Likewise, students who not mute during class and participate orally are agreeing to have their voices recorded.  If you are not willing to consent to have your voice recorded during class, you will need to keep your mute button activated and communicate exclusively using the "chat" feature, which allows students to type questions and comments live. The chat will not be recorded or shared.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a working knowledge of electronic circuitry and laboratory instrumentation. This course will be different from others you have taken in your major. This may be the first time you apply what you have learned in your courses to physical situations that you control. You will need to employ problem-solving techniques, common-sense, and an understanding of the underlying physics. 

The course is very time intensive. You should expect to spend several hours a week outside of class on the reading assignments, lab work, and lab reports. You might want to check out the tips on being a successful student. 

The course schedule is linked here (preliminary, subject to change).



(P2-P4) Dr. Xiao-Xiao Zhang - Office 2259 NPB, Phone: (352) 392-5711,
Office Hr.: Tu & Th 11:45am-12:35pm (P5) or by appointment.

(P5-P7) Prof. Andrew Rinzler - Office 2251 NPB, Phone: (352) 392-5656,
Office Hr.: Tu & Th 4:05pm-4:55pm (P9) or by appointment.

Required Texts

You are expected to read the material to be covered in each lab prior to coming to class. Time constraints limit the material that may be covered in each week's lecture. The lectures can not be and are not a substitute for the reading assignments.

  • Textbook: Basic Electronics for Scientists and Engineers, D. L. Eggleston
  • Supplementary Textbook: Practical Electronics for Inventors, P. Sherz & S. Monk
  • Lab Manual: PDFs uploaded by the instructor during the semester.
  • Lecture Notes: PDFs uploaded by the instructor during the semester.

Required Materials

You are encouraged to print the Lab Manual chapters and Lectures to have handy when needed. You should additionally bring:

  • Your laptop computer to run the instrumentation
  • a Lab Notebook

You should also read: How to keep a professional notebook prior to starting the labs. There is an instructional video online. You can watch this at home or if you decide to watch it during class, please bring headphones to avoid disturbing others.

The textbooks, lectures, lecture notes and Lab Manual will provide the necessary background information for understanding the Labs to be performed. You are strongly encouraged to read through the relevant Lab Manual section and book reading assignment before the dates established for working on the labs in the schedule below. 

Lab Safety

Emergency contacts:

  • Dr. DeSerio: NPB 1236, Phone: (352) 392-1690
  • Prof. Rinzler: NPB 2251, Phone: (352) 392-5656
  • Pro. Zhang: NPB 2259, Phone: (352) 392-5711
  • UF campus police: Phone: (352) 392-1111


Pay no attention to the grade calculation in the e-learning gradebook for this course. It does weird things. The component breakdown toward your course grade is as follows:

  • Lab Prep (includes Homework) 30%
  • Lab Reports: 30%
  • Final Project: 25%
  • Instructor evaluation of your effort and engagement 15%

Grading scale:

Points: Grade:

   95-100      A

 90-94.99  A-

 85-89.99   B+

 80-84.99     B

75-79.99     B-

70-74.99  C+

Points: Grade:

 65-69.99      C

 60-64.99  C-

 55-59.99 D+

 50-54.99  D

 45-49.99 D-

Note that a grade of A, signifying mastery of the material, requires a near perfect score on all components of the course.


The homework will consist of textbook exercises as occasionally assigned by the instructor. Another component of the "homework" (implemented as quizzes in Canvas) will consist of LTspice simulations of selected circuits that are due the night before the circuit is to be built in the lab. Due dates and assignments for these quizzes can be located from the "Quizzes" link or in the "Course Summary"  below. There may also be in-class quizzes on material that you should have internalized by the day of the quiz from the reading assignments and previous lectures. The textbook and the student manual have many practical examples which be might modified for quiz questions. 

Lab Work , Lab Notebook and Lab Reports

Among the important aspects of this course are learning how to work with electronic components and instrumentation to get from them what you want, how to take notes and maintain a notebook, and how to write good technical reports. The instructor will circulate in the lab room to provide help and evaluate your performance. They may also check your notebooks to provide advice on note keeping. See How to keep a professional notebook for further instructions.

General information about the lab and the content expected in the four Lab Reports due throughout the semester is linked here, an example report is linked here and notes about this example report that provides guidance for do's and don'ts in your report are linked here.

Assignment due dates will be strictly followed.  Late assignments will incur a severe penalty of up to 15% off per day late. After 4 days late the maximum grade for the assignment (assuming perfect work) will be 50%.

Because two minds are greater than one, to the extent possible, you will partner in groups of two, to collaborate on your circuit builds and measurements. That said, the prelab assignments, the homework, and the lab reports are to be individual efforts. Discussion with and help from your peers is encouraged, but copying of work is not. Both members in each team should participate in taking data and in the analyses. Exclusively dividing the lab work is strongly discouraged. Lab partners will typically be rotated with each new chapter of the Lab Manual.


Final Project

Rather than a final exam this course has a final ("Skunkworks") project to be worked on in teams of two in the weeks leading up to the end of the semester (see schedule). Partners are self selected by mutual agreement as the time approaches, so make note of with whom you worked well in doing the labs. Each project will be to build a circuit, having a complexity going well beyond those in the lab manual, meant to perform some stated function. The circuit/function can be devised by the team from scratch, or it can be a circuit identified from the literature or some combination of these. In either case it must be approved by the instructor before detailed work begins (see schedule). The completed circuit will be demonstrated for the class as part of a final PowerPoint-like presentation during finals week. This should detail how the elements of the circuit come together to perform its function. Considered in the grading will be circuit’s complexity (with designed circuits ranking higher than found circuits), the quality of the circuit's descriptions in the presentations (appropriately using principles learned throughout the course) and finally execution (did the circuit work, doing what was intended). You are responsible for ordering and purchasing any parts needed for your project that are not already available. Electronic components are fortunately not expensive but overnight shipping can greatly add to the cost. If you plan well in advance you should not need to resort to overnight shipping.  If you want to keep your project you will need to order breadboards and any needed components to take with you.


Equipment loaned

You may be loaned an equipment kit. Once all presentations are complete, you must return the loaned instrumentation and tools in the condition in which you received them. No grade will be given, potentially delaying your graduation and future plans, until you have done so. It is understood that electronic equipment can spontaneously fail and you will not be held responsible for such circumstance. If, however, it is determined  that the failure was due to misuse or neglect (e.g. you spilled your morning coffee on the powered Mk2, or you fried one of its power supplies by connection to the external supply without a fuse), you will be charged up to $300 replacement costs. Please be kind to future students taking this course and pass them the equipment in a condition as close as possible to how you received it.



Students are allowed to record video or audio of class lectures. However, the purposes for which these recordings may be used are strictly controlled. The only allowable purposes are (1) for personal educational use, (2) in connection with a complaint to the university, or (3) as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding. All other purposes are prohibited. Specifically, students may not publish recorded lectures without the written consent of the instructor.

A “class lecture” is an educational presentation intended to inform or teach enrolled students about a particular subject, including any instructor-led discussions that form part of the presentation, and delivered by any instructor hired or appointed by the University, or by a guest instructor, as part of a University of Florida course. A class lecture does not include lab sessions, student presentations, clinical presentations such as patient history, academic exercises involving solely student participation, assessments (quizzes, tests, exams), field trips, private conversations between students in the class or between a student and the faculty or lecturer during a class session.

Publication without permission of the instructor is prohibited. To “publish” means to share, transmit, circulate, distribute, or provide access to a recording, regardless of format or medium, to another person (or persons), including but not limited to another student within the same class section. Additionally, a recording, or transcript of a recording, is considered published if it is posted on or uploaded to, in whole or in part, any media platform, including but not limited to social media, book, magazine, newspaper, leaflet, or third party note/tutoring services. A student who publishes a recording without written consent may be subject to a civil cause of action instituted by a person injured by the publication and/or discipline under UF Regulation 4.040 Student Honor Code and Student Conduct Code.



Physics is practiced and advanced by a scientific community of individuals with diverse backgrounds and identities and is open and welcoming to everyone. We recognize the value in diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of this course. This includes, but is not limited to differences in race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religion and disability. Students may have opportunities to work together in this course. We expect respectful student collaborations such as attentive listening and responding to the contributions of all teammates. 


Physics, like all human endeavors, is something that is learned. Our aim is to foster an atmosphere of learning that is based on inclusion, transparency and respect for all participants.  We acknowledge the different needs and perspectives we bring to our common learning space and strive to provide everyone with equal access. All students meeting the course prerequisites belong here and are well positioned for success.



The Course Summary below lists the due-by times/dates of the various assignments for the class (subject to modification as may be needed). Apart from our first and second meeting this week (ignore the 12am that Canvas insists on using), not shown are the meeting dates/times for the lectures and lab meetings. Section 0786 meets 8:30am-11:30am (P2-P4) while Section 0787 meets 11:45am-2:45pm (P5-P7) on all Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning on Tue. Jan 10, 2023 through Tue. Apr. 25, 2023 (excluding the week of Spring Break). Section 0786 final presentations will take place on May 4th, while Section 0787 final presentations will take place on May 5th  Likely dates of the lectures are listed on the course schedule (subject to modification).

Course Summary:

Date Details Due