June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.91.1 - 22.91.22
A Rapid Analysis and Signal Conditioning Laboratory (RASCL) Design Compatible with the National Instruments myDAQ® PlatformAbstractVirtual instruments and mobile data acquisition hardware for engineering education offerflexibility in learning venues and can help to alleviate overcrowding in traditional benchtopinstrumentation laboratory space. This paper presents a new design for a Rapid Analysis andSignal Conditioning Laboratory (RASCL) hardware toolset that provides a hardware bridge forthe myDAQ personal instrumentation platform recently released by National Instruments. ThemyDAQ platform is a handheld hardware unit that interfaces to a computer through a universalserial bus connection. It hosts two analog input channels, two analog output channels, eightdigital input/output channels, power supplies, and digital multimeter functionality. LabVIEWvirtual instruments then allow the myDAQ unit to provide the roles of, e.g., an oscilloscope, afunction generator, and a frequency-domain signal analyzer. The new RASCL design connectsto the myDAQ unit via a ribbon cable and provides a student with direct access to breadboardspace, a wide-frequency-range analog function generator, two electrically isolated signalchannels, various connectors (audio, BNC, and banana jack) for input/output signals, a walloutlet power adapter, and a wrist strap for electrostatic discharge protection. Mounting screwshold the myDAQ unit securely underneath the larger RASCL board. A carrying caseaccommodates the entire assembly and a parts/tools storage bin.The effectiveness of this learning toolset was assessed within the context of a Fall 2010 course:ECE 628 – Instrumentation. The course, which typically utilizes benchtop instrumentation, wassupplemented with virtual instruments and mobile hardware to support sessions that address amyDAQ/RASCL tutorial, instrumentation amplifiers, second-order filters, electrocardiography,and electrooculography. Pre- and post-session surveys and assessments indicate that (a) learningobjectives were effectively met with this technology, (b) students find the toolset to be a sensiblealternative to learning environments that employ desktop instrumentation, and (c) students wouldbe willing to invest in a such a resource, as it would be useful for many analog and digitalcourses offered in standard electrical and computer engineering curricula.
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