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Enhancing visualization of magnetic fields in Electromagnetic Fields Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Electrical Engineering and Circuits

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Carl Iolani Pettiford Liberty University

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Dr. Carl Pettiford is the Chair of the Engineering Department at Liberty University. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hawaii, M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Dayton, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University. Dr. Pettiford is a senior member of IEEE.

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This paper describes the motivation for and implementation of a real-time streaming 3D map of field points used to explain the concept of a vector field in electromagnetics. The aim of this paper is to share my experience in developing a tool to visualize streaming magnetic field data. It is my hope that readers will find this useful or inspiring in their own course development.

Students in my electromagnetic fields course have had difficulty grasping the concept of a mathematical vector field in relation to the electromagnetic (EM) phenomena it was being applied to. A lab was designed to enable students to visualize a mathematical vector field in real time as well as post-processing (replay the event) for analysis and reflection. The EM fields course is 4 credit hours and is generally held in a teaching lab. Students are grouped into teams of 2 students per lab. Lab partners are randomly changed each lab. Labs must be completed and submitted by the end of class. Lab reports are submitted via Blackboard (Bb). Students use a generic template to complete each written lab report. A list of materials and equipment and a set of objectives (which include at least one hypothesis) is provided. The aim is for the students to design their own experiments within the given constraints. To design a lab that will satisfy these lab constraints both the software and hardware tools had to be relatively easy to use, and the experiments relatively quick to perform. LABVIEW with LINX add-on was chosen to serve as the control software for real-time data acquisition, while MATLAB was selected to perform an additional post-processing data analysis step. Both LABVIEW and MATLAB are pre-installed on a student owned laptop computer. Arduino Nano v3.0 was selected to serve as the primary data-acquisition hardware. The Nano is controlled via USB using the LINX add-on. Streaming vector field data was extracted from a 3D magnetic field sensor that was through-hole mounted to an in-house designed and fabricated printed circuit board capable of being easily mounted to a 2"x3" breadboard. The software application used for real-time data processing is a LABVIEW executable file that was created specifically for this lab. The executable has the capability to store the streaming data for post-analysis. The software application for post-analysis of the vector field data is a MATLAB m-file created specifically for this lab. The combination of the two software applications allows the student teams to observe the behavior of a vector field point in real-time while measuring the magnetic field, or through replay during post-analysis. The lab tool also enables student teams to combine instruments to form a multi-point vector field array and collectively visualize the field points in unison. This enables teams to collaborate with other teams to design and conduct a series of experiments to characterize the properties of divergence, gradient, and curl of a magnetic field.

Pettiford, C. I. (2017, June), Enhancing visualization of magnetic fields in Electromagnetic Fields Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28283

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