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Design and Implement a Cost-Effective Wireless Communication Project on a PIC Training System

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Topics Related to Telecommunications

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.426.1 - 22.426.19



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Paper Authors


Steve Hsiung Old Dominion University

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Steve Hsiung is an Associate Professor of electrical engineering technology at Old Dominion University. Prior to his current position, Dr. Hsiung had worked for Maxim Integrated Products, Inc., Seagate Technology, Inc., and Lam Research Corp., all in Silicon Valley, CA. Dr. Hsiung also taught at Utah State University and California University of Pennsylvania. He earned his B.S. degree from National Kauhsiung Normal University in 1980, M.S. degrees from University of North Dakota in 1986 and Kansas State University in 1988, and Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University in 1992. Steve can be reached at

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Walter F. Deal III Old Dominion University

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Walter F. Deal III is an Associate Professor emeriti and adjunct in the Department of STEM Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science for NOVA Southeastern University. His teaching responsibilities include electronics, PIC microcontrollers and control technologies, CNC manufacturing and instructional design and technology. His research interests are in electronics, microcontrollers, robotics, and distance learning.

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Lacides Agustin Osorio Norfolk Ship Support Activity

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I immigrated to the United States from Colombia, South America in 1970, and grew up in New York City. I Graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1983, enlisted in the United States Navy, and in 1984 reported to basic training in San Diego, California. I had plans of completing my four-year enlistment and separating from the navy, but things did not work out that way, and I retired from the United States Navy in 2009 after more than twenty-five years of active service, and achieving the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. Throughout my naval career, I continued taking college courses with hopes of, one day, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. On my last tour of active duty, I was assigned to Mid Atlantic Regional Center, which was a shore duty for me, and I was able to complete my educational requirements for my bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University, and in August 2009, I was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. While completing my studies at Old Dominion I was fortunate to have Dr. Hsiung as my professor in one of my classes, and he got me involved in microcontroller applications. I am currently employed at Norfolk Ship Support Activity as an Electrical Engineering Technician, in some way, still serving the United States Navy, and occasionally get involved with certain projects at ODU under Dr. Hsiung’s direction.

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Mathew Henderson Tidewater Community College

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Mr. Henderson served in the United States Navy for eight years as an Electronics Technician and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technologies. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electronics Engineering Technologies at Tidewater Community College and works as a Manufacturing Engineer at Measurement Specialties, Inc.

Mr. Henderson is actively involved in projects utilizing the IEEE 802.15.4 Low-Rate Wireless protocol. He is an active member of the IEEE Communications Society and the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society.

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Design and Implement a Cost-Effective Wireless Communication Project on a PIC Training SystemAbstract Wireless communication becomes popular and widely used in almost every electronicproduct in our daily life. The RF communication is one of the major wireless applications inconsumer products. Usually, it is integrated with an embedded system (microcontroller) tocontrol various applications such as temperature sensing, data logging, data exchange, actuatoractivation, and user interaction wirelessly. A project based model can be used as an effectiveinstructional strategy to enhance learning about complex RF concepts and technologies. Theproject method can lead to improved understanding and create interest by actively engaging thestudent with hands-on and problem solving and critical thinking activities. This project is basedon a previously developed low cost PIC microcontroller training system that is coupled with RFcommunication that can be used in a variety of hands-on applications in designing seniorcapstone projects. A 2.4 GHz RF transceiver package (RF24J40MA) that was developed byMicrochip, Inc. provides the benefits of a compact, low-cost, and easy to use product with a fewor small additional parts count that includes all components less the power supply. Integratingthis RF module with the PIC trainer basically requires no extra hardware, the learning of the RFconcept and software development becomes the focus of the design work. The IEEE 802.15.4TM-2003 rules, standards, and software protocols designs with SPI interfacing are the center of theproject. The student assessment process includes a live demonstration of the student-designedfunctions using a pair of the RF modules with PIC trainers. Engineering technology focuses on both “hands-on and mind-on” design work and thepractice is to integrate existing technology products into real world applications. Teaching theRF concepts can be complex, tedious, and sometimes confusing. However, if it is implementedin a real-world project approach to learning by using an existing RF modules that lead todeveloping clear understanding and meaningful experiences in successfully applying theconcepts that makes these subjects interesting as well as challenging to learn. Using the existingRF transceiver module reduces many unmanageable interferences and integrating it withmicrocontroller via software controls make the designs flexible to fit various needs. Byintegrating the RF transceiver module with a pre-developed PIC training system eliminates manyuncontrollable variables. This project provides useful tools that make teaching of complex RFsubjects appealing and it can easily be adopted in many potential applications. Through the implementation of this project has provided the opportunities for students tolearn about current technological concepts and to prepare and qualify for high-tech jobs for todayand in the future. The design and development of the PIC training system and hardware is anongoing design and development process that will be described also. Highlights of thepresentation will address the following: • Comparison of various available RF modules. • Introduction of IEEE 802.15.4TM-2003 rules and standards. • Hardware and software designs of the wireless project. • RF communication protocols with SPI interfacing. • Cost effectiveness analysis of using a 2.4 GHz MRF24J40MA RF transceiver. • Potential uses of this project design in other applications

Hsiung, S., & Deal, W. F., & Osorio, L. A., & Henderson, M. (2011, June), Design and Implement a Cost-Effective Wireless Communication Project on a PIC Training System Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17707

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