Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Electrical Engineering

Graduate Analog Lab
(aka RF Project Laboratory)


This class was offered Spring 1997 as 6.971.


We intend to teach the unteachable in this class, namely, that elusive quantity called ``real world experience''. We have chosen a collection of projects that we believe represents a broad spectrum of modern analog circuits and subsystems, however, we believe that the same concepts could be presented by any well chosen collection of assignments. This is not a class about particular circuit topologies, it is a class about techniques for designing and building complicted systems that we believe can only be taught by example. Solid State Circuits (6.301) is not a class about transitors, but is really a class about circuit analysis and design techniques. The circuit analysis concepts, like open circuit time constants, taught in 6.301 could just as easily be taught in the context of MOSFETs or vacuum tubes as bipolar junction transitors. Likewise, the topics covered in Feedback Sytems (6.302), such as root locus, Nyquist and Bode, could just as easily be taught with hydralic systems as with motors and op amps. Thus, if there are additional or replacement topics that the class can reach concensus on, the staff is open to suggestions.

The format we will use involves discussing the ways that a particular function can be accomplished for a few class periods. These introductions are kept non-rigorous and informal (there is no need to prove anything --- we have history on our side!), with maximum ``round-table''-type participation. Following each discussion, a design problem is assigned in the form of a specification sheet. The objective is to complete a paper design and construction of a circuit that meets the specifications. The paper design should be detailed, neat, and in a form that a technician might reasonably be expected to work from. Unspecified component types or values are unacceptable. A description of the operation of the circuit, emphasizing its important features, and analysis demonstrating conformity with specifications are required.

This class is for motivated self starters. While we will be present in the laboratory, and meeting with you individually to discuss your designs, the staff is not available to help your troubleshoot your designs. ``Why doesn't my circuit work?'' is a question that we do not have an answer for. However, we can, and will, talk at length about ``How to find what is wrong with your circuit''. Likewise, successful completion of this course may require a significant amount of your time. We firmly believe that full immersion is the appropriate atmosphere for teaching these concepts.

Prerequisites: 6.301 and 6.302

Experience shows that the background provided by 6.301 and 6.302 is essential to successful participation in 6.RFL. No ``or equivalents'' seem to exist, thus these subjects must be firm prerequisites. The final grading of this course will be relatively generous, since we are looking for people who have mastered the concepts of 6.301 and 6.302. However, we do demand that you finish all of the assigned work in order to receive a passing grade.

The level of the material in the class is intended to be below the complexity and difficulty of the material and assignments introduced in Advanced Circuit Techniques (6.331), however the choice of topics covered in this class are such that this class and 6.331 may be taken in either order.


The class will meet for one or two ninety minute sessions each week to discuss the appropriate material for the current laboratory projects. Problem sets concentrating on modeling, feedback, and circuit techniques that provide background for creative design efforts will be occasionally assigned. However, as the main thrust of this class is laboratory work, students are expected to spend a considerable amount of time in the laboratory. 6.RFL is part of The Analog Way.
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Last updated: Tue Feb 5 07:16:53 EST 2002, by Kent Lundberg.