Measurement and observations inside a PC

Document Type

Journal Article


UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education


Computing, Health and Science


Computer and Information Science




Originally published as: Swan, G. I., Veal, D., & Maj, S. P. (2002). Measurement and observation inside a PC. Measurement, 1(1). Original article available here


At Edith Cowan University, a Computer Installation and Maintenance (CIM) unit was developed in response to employers’ expectations of computer science graduates and the students’ need to develop skills in this area. Previous studies have shown that these students typically lack sufficient physics and maths to properly support their learning in the CIM unit. As such, various practical workshop activities began to be trialed that were designed to improve the students’ physics and maths skills within a CIM context. These activities range from simple measurements of power plug DC voltages, to observing and measuring the period of clock pulses on an ISA bus and then calculating the frequency and bandwidth. Observations and measurements of the monitor synchronisation pulses also led to calculations. This approach is in line with the general philosophy of the CIM unit where both practical and theoretical exercises help to promote mutual reinforcement. Students are required to use a Cathode Ray Oscilloscope (CRO) to make these observations and measurements. Although almost all students had never used a CRO, they were able to obtain meaningful results after some brief orientation tasks.

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