ECE Undergraduate Laboratories
ECE 394 - Digital Systems Laboratory

Lab 2: Combinational Circuits

1.    Introduction

 Logic circuits for digital systems can generally be classified into two categories.  One is combinational logic circuits, the other is sequential logic circuits.  A combinational logic circuit consists of logic gates whose outputs at any time are determined directly from the present combination of inputs without regard to previous inputs.  In other words, the combinational logic circuits do not have the ability to memorize their past.  On the other hand, a sequential logic circuit consists of not only logic gates but also memory elements.  Therefore, the outputs of sequential logic circuits depend not only on the present values of the inputs but also on the input's previous values.  In other words, the outputs of a sequential logic circuit are functions of its present inputs and the previous state of its memory elements.  Sequential logic circuits will be the topic of your next lab.

No matter how complex a combinational logic circuit might possibly be, it will always be comprised of basic logic gates such as NAND gates, NOR gates, inverters and so on.  The logic function that a combinational logic circuit represents is usually expressed using a Boolean function, or a set of Boolean functions.  Quite often, the given Boolean functions to be implemented in combinational logic circuits are not simplified (minimized).  In order to keep the number of the logic gates that implement the Boolean functions minimum, these Boolean functions must be simplified before they are implemented in discrete logic circuits.  In VLSI design other criteria such as propagation delay and interconnect regularity may lead to designs which do not minimize total gates.

 There are two ways of simplifying a Boolean function.  One is to use a Karnaugh map.  Detailed descriptions on how to use Karnaugh mapping to simplify Boolean functions can be found in Chapter 2, Contemporary Logic Design .  The other method used to simplify Boolean functions is the basic laws and relations in Boolean algebra.  These laws and relations are effective in simplifying Boolean functions because there is no need to have the truth tables of the functions.  Some commonly used laws and relations are listed in Table 1 below.

Table 1
Idempotency X + X = X          X • X = X
Zero and one 0X = 0          1X = X

0 + X = X          1 + X = 1
Double negation X = X
Complementation laws X + X = 1     X • X = 0
Associative laws X + (Y + Z) = (X + Y) + Z = (X + Z) + Y

X(YZ) = (XY)Z = (XZ)Y
Distributive laws X (Y + Z) = XY + XZ

X + YZ = (X + Y) (X + Z)
Absorption X + XY = X X(X + Y) = X
DeMorgan's theorem (X1 + X2 + X3.....) = X1X2X3.......

(X1 • X2 • X3.....) = X1 + X2 + X3.......

2.    Objectives

Combinational logic is a very important part of digital systems.  This lab is designed to enable students to design and analyze combinational logic circuits.  Some basic, commonly used logic circuits, such as multiplexer (MUX), demultiplexer (DEMUX), and adder, are introduced. Students are required to use Karnaugh map and Boolean algebra techniques to simplify the given Boolean functions prior to implementing them. Students are also expected to have experience with gate delay and effect of fan-out on the speed of digital circuits.

3.     Experiments

The logic probe is an invaluable tool that greatly simplifies the testing and debugging of digital logic circuits.  If you need a refresher on how to use a logic probe, see the description in the FED 101 manual, available on the ECE Department Laboratory web page,

3.1.  Exclusive OR

Fig. 1 shows an exclusive OR circuit.  Construct this circuit using a CMOS inverter (4069) and CMOS NAND gates (4011). Verify its function by drawing the truth table. Fig. 2 shows another exclusive OR circuit. Try it out as well and verify its function using the truth table.  Now derive the Boolean equations of Q in terms of its inputs A and B for both circuits, and use the relations in Boolean algebra to simplify them.  Do they end up with the same XOR function?

Fig. 1. XOR.
Fig. 2. Another XOR.

3.2.  Half-Adder

A combinational logic circuit that performs the addition of two data bits, x and y, is called a half -adder.  Addition will result in two output bits, one of which is the sum bit, SHA, and the other is the carry bit, CHA.  The Boolean functions describing the half-adder are:

SHA = x y      CHA = xy

Use the exclusive-OR circuit shown in Fig. 1 and an AND gate to build a half-adder and draw its truth table to verify its function.

3.3.  Full-Adder

The half-adder does not take the carry bit from its previous stage into account.  This carry bit from its previous stage is called carry-in bit. A combinational logic circuit that adds two data bits, x and y, and a carry-in bit, Cin , is called a full-adder.  The Boolean functions describing the full-adder are:

SFA = (x y) Cin            CFA = xy + Cin (x y)

Build a full-adder and draw its truth table to verify its function.

3.4.  Multiplexer

Multiplexers are very useful components in digital systems.  They transfer a large number of information units over a smaller number of channels, (usually one channel) under the control of selection signals.  Fig. 3 is a 4-line to l-line MUX.  In this circuit, I0, I1, I2, and I3 are one-bit binary data inputs.  S1 and S0 are select inputs.  When S1 and S0 are 00, input I0 is passed through to the output.  Similarly, values of 01, 10, and 11 pass through inputs I1, I2, and I3, respectively, as shown in the truth table for the figure.

Construct the circuit and connect the output Vo to a LED.  Verify its output by setting the select signals S1 and S0, and then change the four inputs sequentially (one high, three low) to see which input signal is transferred to the output.

MUX circuits also can be used to implement random logic functions.  Consider the problem of designing a circuit that receives a 4-bit input that represents a month.  For this example, 0000 represents January, 0001 corresponds to February, and so on through 1011 for December.  The values 1100 through 1111 are not used and you can assume these values will never be input to your circuit.  The output generated for each input combination will be 1 if the corresponding month has 31 days and 0 otherwise.  The table below summarizes this information.

Month Input Value Output Value
January 0000 1
February 0001 0
March 0010 1
April 0011 0
May 0100 1
June 0101 0
July 0110 1
August 0111 1
September 1000 0
October 1001 1
November 1010 0
December 1011 1

Use a 74LS151 (8-line to l-line MUX) to design a circuit to implement this 31-day machine.  You can use most of the Input Value bits as the select signals of the multiplexer and the output value as an input to the multiplexer.  For example, consider the case when you use the three low-order bits of the input value as select signals, and your month is July.  The three low-order bits are 110, so your multiplexer would pass input #6 through to the output.  Since you want to generate an output of 1 in this case, you would connect a logic 1 to input 6 of the multiplexer.

This works fine when the low order three bits correspond only to one month, but what happens when the low order bits correspond to multiple months?  For example, if the three low order bits are 000, the month could be either January (0000) or September (1000).  In this case, you can do one of two things.  First, you can modify input #0 of the multiplexer so it is 1 when your month is January and 0 when it is September.  You can make use of the high-order bit of the input value, the bit that is not used as a select signal, to generate the correct input.  An alternative is to input a logic 0 or 1 and modify the output based on the high-order bit representing the month. For this example, either approach can work, but you’ll have to do some design work to implement this function correctly.

3.5   Demultiplexer

Demultiplexers perform the opposite function of multiplexers.  While a multiplexer selects one input to send data to its output, a demultiplexer selects one output to receive data from its input.  They transfer a small number of information units (usually one unit) over a larger number of channels under the control of selection signals.  Fig. 4 shows a 1-line to 2-line DeMUX circuit.  Construct this circuit, connect an LED to each of the outputs D0 and D1.  Set the select signal S to logic 1 or logic 0, and toggle the input I between logic 1 and logic 0.  Which output followed the input when S = 1 and when S = 0?


S1 S0 V0
0 0 I0
0 1 I1
1 0 I2
1 1 I3

Fig. 3. 4-to-1 MUX.
S D1 D0
0 I 0
1 0 I

Fig. 4. 1-to-2 DeMUX.

3.6.  Decoder

A decoder is a logic device that translates input data, which normally represents a unique input state, to a unique output that represents the input state.  A good example is the decoder in memory circuits which translates binary inputs (memory addresses) to a single output to allow the CPU to access a particular memory cell specified by the input address. Use 7404 and 7408 to build a two-to-four binary decoder as shown in Fig. 5.  Connect the two binary inputs A and B to two switches and the four outputs L1–L4 to four LEDs.  Set the data switches to four different combinations and examine which output line will be activated for different inputs.  Record the results in a truth table.

Fig. 5. 2-to-4 decoder.

3.7.  Encoder

An encoder performs a function that is the opposite of decoder.  It receives one or more signals in an encoded format and output a code that can be processed by another logic circuit.  One of the advantages of encoding data, or more often data addresses in computers, is that it reduces the number of required bits to represent data or addresses.  For example, if a memory has 16 different locations, in order to access these 16 different locations, 16 lines (bits) are required if the addressing signals are in 1 out of n format.  However, if we code the 16 different addresses into a binary format, then only 4 lines (bits) are required.  Such a reduction improves the speed of information processing in digital systems.

Use two NOR gates and two inverters to build a four-to-two encoder as shown in Fig. 6.  The input data switch SW1 is not connected to any signal.  Try to activate only one input at a time and observe the two output bits.  Record the results in a truth table.

Fig. 6. 4-to-2 encoder.

4.    Prelab Assignment

Design the 31-day circuit in section 3.4.

5.    Equipment and parts required

  • Protoboard
  • One CMOS Inverter (4069)
  • Two CMOS NAND (4011)
  • One CMOS NOR (4001)
  • One TTL NOR (7402)
  • One TTL Inverter (7404)
  • One TTL AND (7408)
  • One TTL XOR (7486)
  • One TTL NAND (7400)
  • One TTL 3-input NAND (7410)
  • One TTL 4-input NAND (7420)
  • One TTL 8x1 MUX (74LS151)

6.    References

  • Randy H. Katz, Contemporary Logic Design, The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., 1994