Last week, we finished up with analyzing operational amplifier for ECE 123. We are moving to diode. Diode shows a direction where currents in a circuits supposed to flow. For the lab I did on Monday, we used Zener Diode and regular diode to construct circuit and analyze the special characteristics of a diode.
The machine you saw is a curve tracer. Once you put a component in, the curve tracer will give you the I-V characteristics of this component. This is a very powerful machine. There are a lot of circuit components in the lab, only resistors have a linear I-V characteristics. For the nonlinear component, we can always use a curve tracer to simplify a circuit. The school purchased this curve tracer around 1970s. My professor told me that this curve tracer was in the school while he was a student at Lehigh. I love those machines in the lab, and I enjoy playing with them.