This week I've enjoyed introducing an innovative new oscilloscope to my undergraduate students, thanks to element14 and Tektronix. The TBS 1202B-EDU is a specialist educational oscilloscope and, as well as the hallmarks of Tektronix design, brings with it access to an expansive educational "ecosystem".

 

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Here at Leeds Metropolitan University we are building up to the start of a new BSc(Hons) Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree recruiting for September this year. Colleagues and I have been comparing options for off-the-peg teaching materials, particularly for our first year intake. The idea of an integrated suite of teaching materials centred on an oscilloscope is an interesting alternative to explore. Our new BSc has a strong emphasis on hands-on projects - learning through doing - and a key priority is to develop authentic practical activities based on industry standard equipment. The TBS1000B-EDU series is directly related to the general-purpose TBS1000B series, and the user interface is based on the industry-leading Tektronix MSO/DPO ranges. So for authentic, hands-on experience this provides a genuine entry level, and affordable, instrument that also paves the way for students to develop skills that will help them get the best from higher end oscilloscopes later in their careers. (The TBS 1202B-EDU model I'm looking at here is 200MHz, 2Gs/s.)

 

In September our first year E&E students will be using NI Multisim (formerly Electronics Workbench) to explore analog and digital circuit design principles. Our current version of Multisim has a virtual TDS 2024 for use in circuit simulation (screenshot below). I am a firm believer that we need to optimise learning through a complementary blend of practical engineering laboratories and engagement in virtual environments. So I'm keen that students should gain confidence with a real Tektronix scope before encountering the virtual one. A word I've come across in connection with Tektronix front panel design is "intuitive" and yes, I'd mostly agree. But I'm interested in how students gain this intuition in the first place, and I'll be reflecting on the TBS 1202B-EDU from that viewpoint in later blogs.

 

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So far I've only taken a quick look at the courseware resources in the Tektronix "ecosystem". Colleagues and I will review some of these over the next few weeks, so please watch this space. But the resource I plan to try out over the Easter break is the Tektronix PC Courseware Editor. This platform allows you to create your own lab courseware which can then be exported via a USB drive to the oscilloscope. I've selected a laboratory session from our BSc Music Technology second year where I hope to introduce some useful interactive oscilloscope measurements.

 

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The laboratory I've chosen uses a Bruel and Kjaer head and torso simulator (HATS) to explore psychoacoustic binaural cues. Students analyse sounds picked up by the two microphones within the HATS left and right ear canal. They can use headphones to listen through the HATS' ears and evaluate different aspects of auditory spatial perception.

 

Theory is reinforced with the help of binaural signals captured on the oscilloscope. We currently use a TDS 3000 series scope (in the foreground) and I'm wondering whether the TBS 1202B-EDU (on the windowsill) will provide some real advantages for students to engage with the analytical section of the laboratory.

 

We are just in our final week now before students disappear for the Easter break. But I managed to catch a couple of groups carrying out the lab on Monday and we used the TBS 1202B-EDU to observe binaural signals alongside our original scope. At this stage I was just using the TBS 1202B-EDU as a standard storage scope in single shot mode. One feature that compared really favourably was the excellent quality of the display. In spite of its small size the TBS 1202B-EDU has a high definition 7-inch LCD display and this was fine to illustrate the binaural waveforms within the context of a small group experiment and discussion. Lightweight, easily portable and with a small footprint the TBS 1202B-EDU fitted in easily with our experimental setup. 

 

So my next task is to find out whether I can convert relevant sections of my existing labsheet into an interactive lab for the TBS 1202B-EDU using the new Tektronix PC Courseware Editor. I'll post some reflections as I find my way around the editor and I'll keep you updated with progress. All being well, I can try out the results when students return after Easter........ And in the meantime colleagues and I will also take a look some other practical activities where we may have potential to exploit key features of the TBS 1202B-EDU.