Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student achieves a good mastery and familiarity with the most common sensors and actuators used in computer science.
The course aims to give, in addition to the practical ones, also the basic information of the physical theory that is the basis of the functioning of the sensors.

We will also carry out some simple projects based on Arduino ireading  different sensors and examining the result of the measurements,  highlighting also the sources of noise that may disturb the measurement, the achievable precision and the operating limits of the sensor itself. The course will then give students the basis to understand the functioning of Resistive, Capacitive, Inductive and MEMS Sensors.

Course contents

Sillabus for the next AA(2019/2020)

Concepts of Electric Charge and Electric Current, Laws of Ohm and Kirchoff. Passive Components: Resisistances, Capacitors, Inductors. Component networks, Thevenin and Norton theorems.

Verification by Arduino of the exponential discharge trend of a capacitor and of the behaviour of DC resistor networks.

Difference between conductor, insulator and semiconductor material at the physical level. Doped semiconductors, majority and minority carriers. The PN junction. The junction diode, positive and negative polarization, the Zener diode. Experimental verification by Arduino of the characteristics of a silicon diode and a Zener diode. Logic ports obtained with diode circuits.

The BJT, NPN and PNP transistors. Basic circuits with a common base, a common emitter and a common collector. Characteristic curves of a BJT transistor, use as a switch and use as an amplifier. Constant current generator with a BJT. TTL logic ports.

Field effect transistors, differences with BJTs, applications, inverting logic port, CMOS logic.

Theoretical presentation of a BJT differential amplifier.

Operational amplifiers and their applications. Summers, Amplifiers, Supplements, Derivators, Oscillators.

Use of integrated circuits, read a datasheet. Applications of LM317, use of LM35.

Interfacing of sensors to ADC circuits. Thermistors as temperature sensors, the importance of SW calibration of a system.

Logic and analog multiplexers, realization of a simple DAC via resistive network and multiplexers. Use of the DAC808.

Use of measuring instruments, oscilloscope and digital multimeter. Use of function generator.

Discussion and practical testing of projects according to the topics discussed.

The LabView visual programming language will also be illustrated. Although not in detail, the advantages of this language in terms of interfacing and data acquisition from electronic devices will be highlighted.


During the lessons many sources of information are proposed, which can also be found online. The basic concepts can be found in many electronic books but a practical ability is also required in making simple circuits on breadboards.

Teaching methods

Frontal lesson with practical exercises. Given the intensive presence of applications and practical tests for each topic presented, this course can be defined as experimental in the sense that it leads the student to understand the laws presented through experiments.

Attendance is therefore also very important in order to prepare the final design for the exam.

Assessment methods

Discussion of a practical student project based on the topics presented during the course. The student is free if he also wants to present extensions or insights. It is necessary for the student to know the circuit presented in depth.

Teaching tools

Arduino UNO and sensors connected to it.

Office hours

See the website of Giuseppe Levi