June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.194.1 - 22.194.10
An Online Laboratory-based Graduate Engineering Technology Course in Programmable Devices and SystemsIn this paper we describe the development of an online graduate engineering technologycourse in programmable devices. The course is intended to provide the graduateengineering technology student with an overview of programmable devices and systemsfor industrial and embedded applications. Microprocessors, microcontrollers, field-programmable gate arrays, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are comparedwith respect to suitability, performance, and cost (both device and implementation costs)in industrial and embedded environments. Industry standard development and modelingtools are introduced and used to develop representative control programs and to predictperformance. A key feature of the course is the extensive use of web-based laboratoryexercises using equipment housed in our laboratory. This equipment includes Dragon 12microcontroller development boards, Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA boards, and Amatrol PLCworkstations. For microprocessor experiments students use their own PCs or PCs in ourlab.The implementation of online laboratory exercises was one of the key challenges in thedevelopment of the course. VNC is used to connect to PCs in the lab that host thedevelopment software and control the hardware. Visual feedback is provided using awebcam attached to the host PC. To provide physical inputs to the hardware amicrocontroller-based I/O unit was designed. The unit employs an RS232 connectionfrom the local computer that can be controlled though a virtual onscreen interface. Thisinterface allows students to use virtual switches to manipulate physical inputs to the PLCor development boards directly.
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