Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Electrical and Computer
Laboratory projects can be strategically used to improve the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) curriculum across all four years, according to National Science Foundation (NSF) research in which we participated. In this “spiral model” approach, lab component themes are introduced in the freshman year and revisited with increased sophistication and interconnection in the following years. Labs are thus used as a “cohesive framework” that connects and integrates individual courses. Three themes were used in the research: video (and image), sound, and touch sensors. In this paper, we present a new lab project within the video/image theme—a 10-component printed circuit board (PCB) design, based on a 555 timer chip, that alternately flashes two light emitting diodes (LEDs). Based on prior experience, and for ease of soldering, this project uses only through-hole (and not surface mount) components—hence the name “big” blinky. The main contribution of this paper is to integrate together the spiral model concept (by providing a flashing LEDs lab project) with a useful, how-to PCB tutorial that should help students (and professors) to make future circuits for labs and research. Specifically, we provide a two-part, detailed, easy-to-follow tutorial which teaches the student how to use the popular industry PCB software, Altium Designer 2018 (AD18), and then to submit the project to a PCB maker’s website to manufacture big_blinky. A three-day introductory AD18 course taken by one of the faculty authors did not show how to do a simple design from start-to-finish. In contrast, the big_blinky tutorial provides a simple, interesting, start-to-finish, guaranteed-to-work ECE project for professors and students who want to learn PCB design using world-class software. At the same time, this paper provides a relatively simple circuit design that fits nicely within the video/image theme of the spiral model for ECE curriculum improvement—the control of LEDs. Proposed upgrades of the project, which show “increased sophistication and interconnection” for later years of the curriculum, are also provided. This project has been successfully used in our first year “Introduction to Engineering” course, but has also been used effectively as an IEEE club project that included freshmen through seniors (and graduate students). Student feedback through formal surveys has been very positive. The project was also successfully converted to CircuitMaker (the free version of Altium Designer). The tutorial documents (PDFs) and AD18 (plus CircuitMaker) project code (and bill of materials for ordering components) will be available for downloading online, via the Wixsite web-hosting service: https://cbuece.wixsite.com/repositories.
Foist, R. B., & Butler, J., & Fleming, G. (2020, June), An Electronics Lab Project: Tutorial and Design of Printed Circuit Board "Big Blinky" Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34112
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