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A Student Owned Microcontroller Board

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Embedded Computing

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.125.1 - 11.125.11



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Paper Authors


Hugh Jack Grand Valley State University Orcid 16x16

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HUGH JACK earned his bachelors degree in electrical engineering, and masters and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently a professor at Grand Valley State University and chairs the product design and manufacturing program. His research interests include controls and automation, including the use open source software for industrial control.

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Nael Barakat Grand Valley State University

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NAEL BARAKAT has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from McMaster University. He is currently teaching controls, automation and ethics at Grand Valley State University.

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

A Student Owned Microcontroller Board


Laboratories provide valuable opportunities for students to work with professional equipment. This equipment is often costly, potentially unsafe, easily damaged, or difficult to operate. For these and many other valid reasons students are often provided limited access to equipment. Unfortunately when a laboratory is closed a student does not have access to the equipment. More- over, when the course is complete the student loses access altogether. Clearly this goes against our desire as educators to maximize student learning opportunities.

At Grand Valley State University (GVSU) junior level students majoring in Mechanical and Prod- uct Design and Manufacturing are required to take EGR 345 - Dynamic System Modeling and Control. This course contains a significant laboratory component that involves data acquisition and control. In the past this course used expensive equipment that posed the problems mentioned previously. To overcome these issues the course has moved to a model where the students pur- chase their own controller for $30. The boards contain an Atmel Mega32 microcontroller, USB connector and interface circuit, LEDs, connector, and a fuse. The boards measure 1 by 4 inches and can be used in any PC with a USB port. Students can use free software to write programs in C. In the lab the boards are connected to supplementary circuit boards with circuits for voltage regulation, motor drivers, and protection circuitry.

The paper describes the boards and how they support the course. Anecdotes and details are included for those planning similar implementations.

The Course Content

EGR 345 - Dynamic System Modeling and Control is required for all Mechanical and Product Design and Manufacturing students in their junior year. Prior to this course, students have taken courses such as Differential Equations, Statics, Circuits, C Programming, Writing, CAD/CAM, and Introduction to Digital Systems. The goal for the course is to prepare students to use modern methods to model and design electrical and mechanical control systems. Mechanical and electri- cal systems are modeled with differential equations and analyzed using techniques such as the explicit solution of ODEs, numerical integration, standard forms, phasor analysis and Laplace transforms. Consequently, control system are designed and analyzed with techniques such as block diagrams, Bode plots and root-locus techniques. Topics covered during the hour long lec- tures, three times per week, are listed below.

1. Translational systems 2. Differential equations 3. Numerical analysis 4. Rotational systems 5. Input-output equations

Jack, H., & Barakat, N. (2006, June), A Student Owned Microcontroller Board Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1244

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