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Building Hardware Based Low Cost Experimental Dsp Learning Modules

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Project-Based Learning in ECE Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.267.1 - 13.267.13

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Paper Authors


Arif Uluagac

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A. Selcuk Uluagac is a Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology , Atlanta, GA
as a member of the Communications Systems Center. He received his B.Sc. in Computer
Engineering from Turkish Naval Academy and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in PA,USA, in 1997 and 2002, respectively. He is a member of IEEE and ASEE.

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Douglas Williams Georgia Institute of Technology

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

Building Hardware-Based Low-Cost Experimental DSP Learning Modules


Students often face difficulties in grasping and understanding fundamental digital signal processing (DSP) concepts in the classroom environment. Most DSP courses do not have labs associated with them, and the ones that do typically depend on the usage of text-based programming languages (e.g., MATLAB) that do not allow real-time external hardware interaction. Although the availability of external DSP platforms (e.g. National Instruments Speedy-33, Texas Instruments DSP Student Kits, etc.) for educational purposes has increased because of recent advances in embedded processors and sensor technology, they are rarely used in early DSP courses because of the programming sophistication needed for real-time processing.

In this paper we discuss the development of low-cost experimental DSP learning modules for classes that do not usually have a lab component. These modules use National Instruments' LabVIEW for their programming and development platform with the Speedy-33 DSP board and LEGO Mindstorms NXT Brick as the hardware platforms. Many of the modules can also be run completely on the host computer's sound card. Modules have been developed for examining different aspects of topics such as sampling, aliasing, and filtering, while working with data that has been captured and processed in real-time. Students are able to interact with the hardware and data through GUIs, thus obviating the need to first develop real-time programming skills. This paper will describe these modules and how they are designed to be used both in lectures and as part of homework assignments.

1. Introduction

Recent advances in embedded processors and sensor technology have made it possible to use external hardware platforms, such as National Instruments (NI) Speedy-33 DSP Board,1 Texas Instruments DSP Student Kits,2 LEGO NXT Brick,3 etc., for educational purposes. Similarly, we have begun to see the proliferation of graphic programming languages, which utilize icons or graphics to implement programming language constructs (e.g., if statements) or functions, such as NI’s LabVIEW,4 Visual Application Builder (VAB) Software,5 or LEGO Mindstorms software.3 Students often find it easier to learn and implement programs using these graphical languages. One other nice feature of these programming languages is that they allow for real- time interaction with external hardware platforms. Thus, a combined use of external hardware platforms and graphical programming languages can facilitate the need of both educators and students in teaching and learning fundamental digital signal processing concepts in the undergraduate curriculum, which can be relatively difficult topics for students to grasp.

However, currently neither the external DSP hardware platforms nor the graphical programming languages are commonly facilitated in the classroom settings with this understanding. This failure could be attributed to the programming sophistication needed for real-time processing and the lack of the knowledge of the presence of such platforms and programming environments.

In this paper we introduce the development of low-cost hardware-based experimental DSP learning modules. We use the Speedy-33 external DSP board from NI and the LEGO

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