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Physics 116C, Spring, 2011

Lecture: MWF 1:10-2:00 PM, Rm.185 Physics (in Physics atrium area, west side).

Lab: Wed. 3:10-6 PM Rm. 152 Roessler.

Instructor: Prof. David E. Pellett, 337 Physics, (530) 752-1783.

Office hours: normally Tue. 3:10-4 in 152 Roessler (subject to change), or by appointment.

E-mail: pellett (at) physics (dot) ucdavis (dot) edu

TA: Mark Triplett

Office hours: TBA in Physics 116 Lab

E-mail: mttriplett (at) ucdavis (dot) edu

Prospectus | Assignments | Announcements | Links

Last updated Sat, May 28, 2011


Physics 116C introduces techniques for making physical measurements using computer-based instrumentation. We use the LabVIEW programming system, which finds wide application in physics (and other) labs. The course will also cover experimental techniques, statistical analysis of data, the sampling theorem, finite Fourier transform techniques, noise spectra and other issues beyond the programming language itself in a series of lectures (see outline below). A brief overview of other approaches to data acquisition and experiment control will also be provided.

Physics experiments at the level of Physics 122 are a key component of the course. These will require complete reports.

The text by Essick is essentially a series of well-illustrated exercises and experiments for learning the LabVIEW language and applying it to mathematical problems as well as to data acquisition. This will be the focus of the first 6 weeks of the course (supplemented with related lectures and the Geiger counter and muon lifetime experiments). You should obtain the student edition of LabVIEW so you can work outside of the lab times to complete these assignments on your own computer (let me know if you have a problem here).You will need to upload your work on the assigned exercises in Essick to your SmartSite dropbox so they can be checked by the TA. This will be considered as part of your lab work. The initial labs will provide some time to work on the assigned Essick exercises.

Prerequisites: Physics 9D, 116B, Math 22AB or consent of department
Web pages from other courses in sequence: Physics 116A, Physics 116B

Preliminary Physics 116C Spring 2011 Outline
Week Monday Topics Lab plus Essick assignment for week
1 March 28 First day of class is Mon., March 28
Overview, LabVIEW, Statistics Intro.
March 30 (first lab):
Self-study exercises in Essick, Ch. 1,2
(see Assignment 1 for details).
2 April 4 Introduction to Statistics
(Notes in SmartSite Resources)
Apr. 6: Essick self-study exercises Ch. 3,5
(see Assignment 2 for details).
3 April 11 Distributions; radioactive decay,
Basic DAQ with Express VI
Chi-square test, parameter estimation.
Apr. 13: LabVIEW Express DAQ
Do Essick self-study exercises Ch 4,6
4 April 18 Statistics; particle detectors
(Quiz postponed until Monday)
Apr. 20: Geiger counter; counting statistics
(See information in SmartSite)
5 April 25 25 min. Quiz 1 Monday, April 25
Muon lifetime (other DAQ system);
Linear and nonlinear least squares fit (see Bevington, Ch. 6-8)
Apr. 27: Finish Geiger counter statistics
Muon Lifetime (see Essick, Ch. 9, information in SmartSite)
6 May 2 Sampling theorem, Fourier transform, frequency spectra
(Notes in SmartSite Resources)
May 4: Essick, Ch. 10 (FFT)
Freq. spectra, windowing
7 May 9 FFT, windowing, power spectrum measurement; Noise spectra; Johnson noise (Notes below and in SmartSite Resources)
(Midterm exam moved to Monday)
May 11: Johnson noise experiment
Essick Ch. 11 DAQmx VI (example)
8 May 16 MT Exam Monday, May 16
Transmission lines
Signal sources, grounding, shielding
(Notes in SmartSite Resources)
May 18: Johnson noise (concluded)
Linear least squares fits with errors
(Essick Ch. 9, SmartSite wiki for error calc.)
9 May 23 Control systems
25 min. Quiz 2 Fri., May 27
May 25: PID temperature controller
(Essick, Ch. 12)
10 May 30 Memorial Day holiday on Monday
GPIB and instrument control (Ch. 13)
Last 116C class is Wed., June 1
Jun. 1: PID temperature controller
Final Exam Thursday, June 9
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM



References for Technical Writing:


Other references (here or on the web):

Grading: 7% Quiz 1, 14% MT, 7% Quiz 2, 38% Lab, 10% HW, 24% Final.


Assignment 1 (corresponds to Week 1 in the Outline, etc.): See SmartSite Assignments.

Assignment 2 (see also SmartSite Assignments)

Assignment 3 (see also SmartSite Assignments)

Assignment 4 (see also SmartSite Assignments)

Quiz 1 Information:

Assignment 5

Assignment 6

For further assignments, see Essick reading assignments in the course outline "Lab" column (above) and SmartSite Assignments. Also,

Quiz 2 Information:

  • 25 min. quiz at beginning of class on May 27.
  • You may bring and refer to the texts by Bevington and by Essick
  • You may bring two 8.5" x 11" pages of notes
  • Quiz will emphasize the recent class notes and material (especially sampling, FFT, noise, interference, transmission lines and Homework Assignment 3)
    • Bring a calculator
  • A sample quiz from last year is in SmartSite Resources.

Some instructions for later labs (preliminary and subject to change). Also see SmartSite.


See announcements on SmartSite (to prevent duplication)

Links to topics relevant to class/lab

  • Boltzmann, Boltzmann's entropy formula (logarithmic connection between entropy and probability), entropy, information theory.

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