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Developing and Designing Undergraduate Laboratory Wireless Sensor Network Exercises

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Projects and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.424.1 - 25.424.13



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Paper Authors


David Border Bowling Green State University

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David A. Border, Ph.D., holds a principle research interest in electronic information systems. This field includes digital communication and networking and intelligent networked devices. His current work includes wireless sensor networks. Prior research included work on signal bandwidth compression and signal specific data encoding techniques. His technology application interest includes networked systems. Typical teaching duties include junior- and senior-level courses in the Electronics and Computer Technology (ECT) program. Within this course set are the curriculum’s networking and communication courses. As is true with his ECT faculty colleagues, Border supports the program with teaching assignments, as needed, in freshman- and sophomore-level courses offerings. Examples of these include the sophomore level electric circuits and digital electronics courses. Border teaches a digital communication graduate course within the Ph.D. Consortium Technology Management program, as well as other graduate level courses at BGSU.

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DEVELOPING AND DESIGNING UNDERGRADUATE LABORATORY WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORK EXERCISES Professor David Border, Bowling Green State University, member ASEE, and Omar El Aridi AbstractHallmarks of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) include their use in demandingenvironment, autonomous and untethered operation, low power requirements,miniaturization, support of interesting and/or unique sensors, and low costs. These designconstraints make them fascinating devices for use in laboratory classes.This paper presents a series laboratory exercises that are designed for students that haveno experience with WSNs. The labs are based on a WSN kit from CrossbowTechnology, Inc. This company is widely known and has a respected reputation in thedomain of wireless sensors. It has a strong collaboration with UC Berkeley, which hasbeen developing wireless sensors hardware and software with Intel Corporation.Crossbow Technology is recognized internationally and is considered a leader in thedevelopment of wireless sensors within many products used in scientific and researchstudies. As purchased from Crossbow, a kit consists of three devices: two wireless sensornodes (called motes) and a base station. The motes used are pre-programmed and able tomeasure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and ambient light, and containdual-axis accelerometer. The number of motes necessary for any class is determined bythe class size and the number of students working together as a lab team.In general, the lab topics vary, however the structure of the labs have commonalities. Acommonality among most labs is that they provide not only a laboratory experiment, butthey also provide a laboratory demonstration. The first lab experiment detailed in thepaper provides an exercise that helps students learn the hardware specifications of a moteand base station, as well as the general configuration and remote reporting softwareapplication MoteView. This software is used to demonstrate historical and real timecharting visualization. It allows setting the data rate for specific or all sensor nodes, andcontains several page tabs such as Data, Command, Charts, Histogram, Scatterplot, andTopology etc, in addition to server and error messages.The second laboratory experiment detailed provides the beginning student with anopportunity to work with the mote programming environment. Students will have anintentional learning experience that exposes them to a programming language they havenever used before, the nesC programming language. The lab also introduces the stepsnecessary to download program code into a mote.Beyond lab 2 are three additional labs, for a total of five labs detailed in the paper. Thefinal lab is based on integration of the Crossbow motes with National Instrument'sLabview product by use of LabVIEW-Crossbow XMesh virtual instruments (Vi). Thislab provides a “capstone” experience for the student, since it draws on knowledge learnedfrom nearly all of the previous four experiments.

Border, D. (2012, June), Developing and Designing Undergraduate Laboratory Wireless Sensor Network Exercises Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21182

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