Electronics in Installations 1
Basic Electronic Theory & Construction, Fall 2003, Course # SCD-3201-A

The School of Visual Arts, NYC

Jewelry Room, 13C (basement), W.21st Street Building
09/03/03 - 12/10/03

Prof: Jason Ditmars
email: jditmars@jditmars.net

In this class you will learn to construct electronics projects that can control installation artworks.  You will master the techniques of wiring and soldering.  You will gain understanding of the basic concepts of electronics such as the circuit loop.  You will discover many different IC (Integrated Circuit) chips, including the 555 timing chip and the 74xx decision making series.  You will learn binary logic, binary counting, and the binary representation of numbers.  You will become fluent in applying various electrical devices, such as resistors, capacitors, diodes, and transistors.  You will build your own regulated 5V power supply.  You will have the opportunity to experiment with various input devices; such as switches & buttons, photoresistors, potentiometers (volume knobs), optical encoders, and contact mics, as well as output devices; such as LEDs, incandescent lights, relays, solenoids, and motors.

Students will design and develop independent projects that utilize these new skills.  This class is a primer for “Electronics in Installations II" (Microcontrollers), which will introduce you to miniature stand-alone computers that are programmable in BASIC or C.  These microcontrollers could become the most powerful art-making tool in your arsenal!

We will do some reading about contemporary culture and the new breed of artists that exploit the power of electronics in their work.  We may go on a field trip or two.

Although the lab has been outfitted with a set of tools and many electronics components, you will be required to purchase your own set of tools, as well as any excessive electronic components that you use.  These can be found at Radio Shack, or can be ordered from one of the various catalogs that are in the lab.  Students are encouraged to collaborate their orders to save money on postage and handling.


You will be graded primarily on the quality of your completed projects.  I will give you a letter grade on each of 5 projects that will be determined by these factors:  how well it works, how well it was designed, how well it was constructed, how well you are mastering the techniques, and promptness.  On the final project, concept as an artwork will also factor in to your grade.  Projects that are completed late will lose one fraction of a grade per week (for example, a B+ project turned in one week late will be given a B).  Other factors in your final grade include attendance, participation, and homework.  There may be a pop quiz (be warned!).

*** You should pick a LOCKER and call 592-2214 to tell Jess what locker number you have selected.


· Getting Started in Electronics; By Forrest Mims; Paperback;

You must purchase this book from a Radio Shack by the second week of classes.


· ** Basic Electronics Theory; By Delton T. Horn; Paperback;

· Beginning Electronics Through Projects; By Andrew Singmin; Paperback;

· TTL Cookbook,; By Donald E. Lancaster, Don Lancaster; Paperback;

· Electronic Circuit Guidebook : Sensors; By Joseph J. Carr, Joe Carr; Paperback;

· The Art of Electronics; By Paul Horowitz, Winfield Hill (Contributor); Hardcover;

Good magazines to read: ARTBYTE, Leonardo, Art in America, ArtForum
A good place to see Electronic Art: Postmasters Gallery, 19th Street, just East of 10th Avenue, Chelsea

Fine web resources (I strongly urge you to scope out both of these sites):
Technical -- http://www.bc1.com/users/sgl/html/jo4.htm
Artistic -- http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~infoarts/links/wilson.artlinks2.html


Week 1: Lecture: Introduction to Basic Electronics: The power loop, AC/DC, voltage, amperage, Ohm's
  law, resistors, capicitors, diodes, L.E.D.s, 5V Power supply circuit
  Homework:  Purchase tool set, Mims book, and copper printed circuit board at Radio Shack.
  Read introductory chapters in Mims
Week 2: Lecture: Physical techniques - soldering, de-soldering, wiring
  Workshop:  Construct 5V power Supply circuit
  Homework: Finish 5V power Supply
Week 3: Workshop: 5V power supply DUE, grading
  Lecture:  The 555 Chip.  A-Stable 555 timer design, breadboarding.
  Workshop: Breadboard A-Stable 555 timer
  Homework: Design transfer of breadboard to circuit board, begin construction
Week 4: Lecture: tips on IC circuit construction
Workshop: Transfer 555 timer to circuit board
Homework: Finish 555 timer on circuit board, Purchase AC socket and bulb
Week 5: Workshop: 555 timer DUE, grading
  Lecture: Transistors, Relays, Potentiometers, AC loops.  AC relay circuit w/ Lightbulb
Workshop:  Use clip leads to try out AC relay circuit, modify 555 to include Pots
Week 6: Workshop: Complete AC relay circuit, testing
Homework: Finish AC relay circuit
Week 7: Workshop: AC relay circuit DUE, grading
Lecture: 74xx IC chips, 8-segment Counter circuit design
Homework: Purchase any needed components for Counter circuit
Week 8:  Lecture: Introduction  to decision making 74xx chips, written logic assignment

Workshop: Breadboard Counter circuit (w/partner), begin construction
Homework: Written assignment, and finish breadboard if not yet completed
Week 9: Workshop: Turn in written homework, Construct and Debug Counter circuit on circuit board
Homework: Finish Counter circuit
Week 10: Workshop: Counter circuit DUE, grading
Homework: Brainstorm ideas for final project, write proposal
Week 11: Workshop: Discuss final project ideas.  Possible field trip to Chelsea galleries
Homework: Purchase supplies for final project
Week 12: Final project lab
Week 13: Final project lab
Week 14: Final project should be COMPLETED here.  Debugging.
Workshop: Create schedule for Final project critique
Homework: Prepare display of Final project
Week 15: Final project class critique and grading
As you can see, there is NO room for LATE final projects.
Incomplete projects will suffer poor grades!