Welcome to ECE 420

Course Description

The first seven weeks of the course will be structured labs based on fundamental digital signal processing (DSP) concepts from ECE 310. The next two weeks will be on the implementation and simulation of a fundamental DSP algorithm of a student's choosing from a set of seminal DSP papers (such as adaptive filtering, pitch detection, edge-aware filtering, motion tracking, pattern recognition, etc). The remaining six weeks in the course will revolve around the development, testing, and documentation of a DSP project of the student's choice (subject to instructor approval).

Course Goals

Students will learn to prototype, implement, and analyze real-time DSP systems. Students will both broaden and deepen their understanding of basic DSP theory and techniques and learn to relate this understanding to real-world observations and applications. Students will learn industrially-relevant skills such as rapid design prototyping in Python, and Android development of DSP applications for computationally-constrained mobile devices. Other significant educational experiences include open-ended design, oral, and written communication, and team projects.

Course Schedule

Lectures are once a week on Monday from 2:00-2:50pm in 4070 ECEB.

Week of Lecture Topic Lab Due (in lab)
01/16 No lecture - MLK Day Lab 1 - IMU Pedometer None
01/23 TBA Lab 2 - Real-time Audio Filtering Prelab 2, Demo and Quiz 1
01/30 TBA Lab 3 - Spectrogram Prelab 3, Demo and Quiz 2
02/06 TBA Lab 4 - Pitch Detection Prelab 4, Demo and Quiz 3
02/13 TBA Lab 5 - Autotune Prelab 5, Demo and Quiz 4
02/20 TBA Lab 6 - Image Processing Prelab 6, Demo and Quiz 5
02/27 TBA Lab 7 - Video Processing Prelab 7, Demo and Quiz 6
03/06 TBA Assigned Project Lab Demo and Quiz 7, Final Project Proposal
03/13 TBA Assigned Project Lab Assigned Project Demo
03/20 Spring Break    
03/27 TBA Design Review Revised Project Proposal due by end of week
04/03 TBA Final Project Milestone 1
04/10 TBA Final Project Milestone 2
04/17 TBA Final Project Milestone 3
04/24 TBA Final Project Presentations Final Demo
05/01 No lecture - Finals! No labs Final Project Report due by Reading Day


Labs are held in Room 5072 ECEB.

  • Section ABA meets Tuesday, 2:00-3:50 PM.
  • Section ABC meets Wednesday, 2:00-3:50 PM.
  • Section ABD meets Thursday, 2:00-3:50 PM.
  • Section ABE meets Friday, 2:00-3:50 PM.

Working code is due the same day as the quiz.

The lab is available at all times except University holiday weekends and ECE 420 class times.

Students are expected to be in the lab for their two-hour assigned lab period. In addition, students can access the lab at any time (subject to departmental rules for normal lab privileges) using their I-card. It is expected that students will require additional lab time to complete their assignments. ECE 420 students having difficulty with their I-card access should notify one of the teaching assistants.

Basic rules of courtesy and professional behavior are expected in the lab. Please do not remove any lab equipment, books, or manuals from the lab at any time. If you would like to listen to music as you work, please use headphones.


The structured laboratory segment will count for 40% of the total grade, based on completion of, and oral examination over, the weekly laboratory assignments, including the underlying theory, details of the implementation and code, and the observed behavior of the system. Each lab is worth 8 points, usually with 4 point for prelab and written quiz, and the remaining 4 points for demo and oral quiz. We emphasize that your grade is based heavily on your understanding and demonstration of the course material, not just on submitting working code.

The assigned project lab (based on the student's chosen DSP paper) will account for 10% of the total grade.

The final project will count for 45% of the total grade, with 10% on the project proposal and the design review, 15% for demonstrations and quizzes of 3 project milestones, 10% for the final demo and oral presentations, and 10% on the final report.

The final 5% of the total course grade comes from a written quiz over the lecture material.

It is expected that each student will attend and participate in scheduled class and laboratory meetings, or will make prior alternate arrangements with the instructor. The final grade may be penalized if this does not occur.

All assignments other than the lecture quiz, final project proposal, and final project report are due during the scheduled laboratory meeting. A late penalty of 50% will be assessed for assignments less than a week late; assignments more than a week late will receive no credit. However, all graded assignments must be submitted to receive a passing grade in the course.

Project Details

Project details TBA.

Academic Integrity Policy

Printed and online sources are allowed with proper citation. Please direct your question to Google or the course staff before you ask your classmates. Given the range of the material for this course, we encourage you to refer to any online source, but do not directly copy and paste.

We do not allow inter-group cooperation for the final project. If there is a sign of cooperation between groups, those groups will be treated as a big group, and the grade will be divided accordingly.

More information: Student Code.

Office Hours / Course Administrivia

  • Prof. Minh Do: Monday, 3-4pm, 113 CSL
  • TA Dario Aranguiz: TBD
  • TA Trong Nguyen: Wednesday 1-2pm, 5072 ECEB
  • TA Dongbo Wang: TBD

If you have questions, post them on Piazza.

Instructor Contact Information

  • Prof. Minh Do: minhdo AT illinois DOT edu
  • TA Dario Aranguiz: arangui2 AT illinois DOT edu
  • TA Trong Nguyen: tnnguyn2 AT illinois DOT edu
  • TA Dongbo Wang: dwang49 AT illinois DOT edu