ECE 381 Lab Report Format

For nearly every lab, you will turn in a report documenting what you did to solve the assignment. The biggest factor in the grade of the lab report will be how easy it would be for another engineer to replicate your project using only your lab report. Imagine that at the start of the semester, future you, having just completed ECE 381, is allowed to magically send back all of the completed lab reports to present you. Present you is allowed to use these reports for all of the same labs we will do in the class this semester, as well as any quizzes given. What information would be useful to present you or any other engineer that future you could include?

I would argue that you would need at least the following:

  1. The report should have a complete statement of the problem being solved. Don’t assume the engineer handed your report has access to the class web site and can download the lab descriptions. Tell them what you did in your own words. Make sure to include all the requirements for the lab.
  2. The report needs a list of all parts with quantities used in the lab. You are given parts kits, however the engineer given your report may have to seek them out. Be kind to them and let them know what they need.
  3. All hardware should be properly diagrammed. This includes the connection of all pins of the PSoC that are being used. In combination with the parts list, this should be a complete diagram of what connects to what. The engineer might also want to know why some of the components are connected to each other, so make sure to give them a nice written summary of what the hardware does. This is especially true if the hardware includes any equations that impact its operation. Also, if sections of the datasheet of a component are relevant, put them in your report as well.
  4. The report should describe the complete configuration of the PSoC in full detail. This should include a legible screenshot (or multiple screenshots if many PSoC modules are used) of the schematic in PSoC Creator. This should also include the module parameters for any User Module included in the PSoC project. The mapping of any pins used in the lab should also be given. If there are equations for the module operation, this would be a good place to put them, and how your configuration affects them. Also, a screenshot of the Clock configuration tab would be nice as well. The main idea here is that the engineer can launch PSoC Creator, add the modules needed, configure them, route the pins accordingly, and make sure the global clocks and voltages are set correctly without having access to your project files.
  5. The report should include a decent, easy to follow description of the software. This could be a flowchart, pseudo-code, or just a nice narrative of your program logic. It should NOT just describe each line of code as its own sentence. You will include the code in the report, right? The engineer can look at that if they want a line-by-line telling. You want to just give them the higher level logic here.
  6. The report should describe how the lab was verified. If the engineer has followed your report up to this point, then you should give them some way to test that they’ve done what you told them to do. Cell phone pictures and oscilloscope screenshots would probably be nice here if applicable. Then they could compare what they would get with what you got. Your verification should reasonably try to cover as many test cases as possible here. That way, the engineer has decent chance of knowing if their design meets the stated requirements.
  7. Include the code in the appendix. The code should be well commented so that the engineer isn’t scratching their head trying to figure out what you did. Also, as a general rule for coding style, you might want to make the variable names meaningful for the engineer. It’s almost like commenting the code as you go along.

As a good example of what a comprehensive report looks like, take a look at some of the many PSoC application notes. These are essentially labs Cypress engineers come up with to show off what the PSoC can do. As such, they pretty much include all of the above.

As far as formatting the report, 1” margins all around with inline, numbered, captioned figures will work. Equations should be numbered too. Use a reasonable font like Arial, Times New Roman, Cambria, etc with 10 pts. as a minimum, 12 pts. as a maximum for the body text. You are graded on report completeness, NOT LENGTH, so don't feel the need to use a fixed-width font (except source code should always be formatted using a fixed width font). You can use whatever word processor you like (MS Word, LibreOffice, Google Docs, Office365, etc.) or LaTeX if you are feeling bold and want to learn it or already know it.

All reports should be e-mailed as PDF documents to me and CCed to the TA no later than midnight a week after the demo (ie. For a demo due Tues. Feb. 10, the report would be due by midnight Feb. 17).