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A Coherent Theory/Hardware Course In Communication Systems Design

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.3.1 - 4.3.8

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Paper Authors

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Brian K. Jennison

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Glenn S. Kohne

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2625

A Coherent Theory/Hardware Course in Communication System Design

Brian K. Jennison, Glenn S. Kohne Department of Electrical Engineering and Engineering Science Loyola College in Maryland Baltimore, MD 21210-2699

I. Introduction

In typical Electrical Engineering programs, various related topics are studied independently, obscuring the underlying connections between them. In addition, theory is generally taught separately from practical implementation issues. Only during a senior-level capstone design course do students attempt to combine materials treated in diverse courses in a coherent manner to solve a significant design problem. This paper describes a two-semester senior-level Electrical Engineering course in communication electronics that combines a systems-level treatment of communications theory with practical electronic circuit implementations of these systems. While most Electrical Engineering programs have courses in electronics as well as a course in communications theory, seldom are the two subjects jointly treated. The electronics courses typically describe the construction and behavior of amplifiers, filters, and oscillators but little attention is given to realistic applications of these devices. Similarly, a typical communications theory course covers basic modulation techniques along with block-level descriptions of their construction. However, deviations of these “black boxes” from theoretically ideal performance is rarely considered.

The course considered in this paper combines the electronic building blocks studied in electronics courses to construct practical communication systems. The first semester of the course treats the theoretical basis of traditional analog communication systems topics such as amplitude modulation (and demodulation), superheterodyne reception, and frequency modulation (and demodulation). Practical electronic design of building block circuits (filters, oscillators, mixers, tunable filters, discriminators, phase-locked loops) are developed. They are then combined to implement the system level topics mentioned above. The second semester treats contemporary digital communication systems topics such as digital baseband transmission, intersymbol interference caused by bandlimited channels, digital carrier modulation, and spread spectrum techniques. Practical electronic circuit designs for analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, equalizers for bandlimited channels, frequency synthesizers, and modems are developed. The students investigate systems-level concepts with software (Matlab) and with systems simulation hardware (primarily using the Texas Instruments TMS320C30 digital signal processing evaluation module). Practical electronic circuit implementations are considered primarily using simulation software (Electronics Workbench). Each student is assigned a series of electronic circuit design projects that are solved via either simulation (in Electronics Workbench) or with actual electronic hardware. A typical design project treating a gated amplitude modulator is covered in detail in this paper. This

Jennison, B. K., & Kohne, G. S. (1999, June), A Coherent Theory/Hardware Course In Communication Systems Design Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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