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BYOE: Mobile Experiment for Signals and Systems - Analysis of a Guitar String

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Laboratory Experiences in Signal Processing and Controls

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.265.1 - 23.265.14



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Paper Authors


Bonnie H. Ferri Georgia Institute of Technology

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Bonnie Ferri is a Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. She received her BS in EE from Notre Dame, her MS in MAE from Princeton, and her PhD in EE from Georgia Tech. She spent two years working for Honeywell, Inc. as a controls engineer. She has spent 10 years working on hands-on education and has won several awards including the Harriet B. Rigas Award from the IEEE Education Society.

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Aldo A. Ferri Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Ferri received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1981 and his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1985. He has been a faculty member in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech since 1985 and currently serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Member of ASEE and a Fellow of ASME.

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Kenneth A Connor Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Kenneth Connor is a professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, where he teaches courses on plasma physics, electromagnetics, electronics and instrumentation, electric power, and general engineering. His research involves plasma physics, electromagnetics, photonics, engineering education, diversity in the engineering workforce, and technology enhanced learning. Since joining the Rensselaer faculty in 1974, he has been continuously involved in research programs at such places as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Universities of Texas and Wisconsin in the U.S., Kyoto and Nagoya Universities in Japan, the Ioffe Institute in Russia, and Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology in Ukraine. He was ECSE Department Head from 2001-2008 and served on the board of the ECE Department Heads Association from 2003-2008. He is presently the Education Director for the SMART LIGHTING NSF ERC.

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Mobile Experiment for Signals and Systems Analysis of a Guitar String (Bring-Your-Own-Experiment Submission)Students in lecture-based courses would benefit greatly from the addition of mobile hands-onlabs, that is, labs that can be done anywhere anytime such as in the classroom or at home.Recent advances in low-cost portable data acquisition boards, such as a myDAQ, facilitate thistype of pedagogy that more carefully integrates theory taught traditional classes withexperiments done traditionally in dedicated labs. Signals and systems courses are consideredto be very abstract and mathematical by many students, and consequently, very difficult tounderstand. A vibratory experiment that uses multiple senses, such as sight and sound, inaddition to the analysis of measured data can help many students understand this topic better.The experimental platform consists of a guitar string mounted on a portable platform with aguitar pick-up acting as the transducer. The experiment is used in a lecture-based signals andsystems class as an in-class experiment to be done by students at their desks working in two-person groups. The lab consists of a prelab where they compute the transfer function of thestring and plot the frequency response. During lab, they use a screw driver shaft to impart animpulse to the system and they also pluck the string to see the free response. They are askedto adjust system properties such as the tension in the string and the length of the string (byusing a fret). A RockIt™ speaker is used as a small, cheap vibration shaker to excite the systemsinusoidally and to do a sine sweep.The fundamental concepts explored in the experiment are harmonic content of signals, impulseresponse, initial condition response, calculating a transfer function from equations, calculatingand plotting the frequency response from the model, frequency response from impulseresponse data and from sine sweeps, resonance and low damping in systems, and frequencyresponse dependence on physical properties of the system.

Ferri, B. H., & Ferri, A. A., & Connor, K. A. (2013, June), BYOE: Mobile Experiment for Signals and Systems - Analysis of a Guitar String Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19279

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