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Experience of IoT Transceiver with Affordable Software-defined Radio Platform

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

New ECE Laboratories

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Liang Hong Tennessee State University

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Dr. Liang Hong received the B.S. and the M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Southeast University, Nanjing, China in 1994 and 1997, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri in 2002. Since August 2003, he has been with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Tennessee State University where he is now Full Professor. His research interests include wireless communication systems, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cyber security, cognitive radio, security of communication systems, networked control system, wireless sensor networks, wireless multimedia communications and networks, and engineering education.

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Internet of Things (IoT), a network of uniquely identifiable physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity, allows interconnection of devices across a wide spectrum of systems and enables significant increases in automation and optimization. McKinsey Global Institute predicts that the IoT will have an estimated market size of up to $11.1 Trillion per year in 2025 and be a prominent source for new hires in the engineering field. However, the growth of IoT is outpacing the current workforce with necessary skills. For example, IoT transceiver, an indispensable component for IoT wireless communications, was either not covered in the undergraduate communications courses or only introduced theoretically. It is essential to prepare the students with the knowledge and experiential experience in IoT transceiver to meet the demand of the industry and the R&D community related to IoT.

To satisfy the future wireless communications requirements, software-defined radio (SDR), a flexible platform whose functionality can be changed on the fly by software on a computer or embedded system to cope with the broad range of wireless standards, frequency bands, and user requirements, has been proved to be the key technique that future graduating communication engineers should be capable of designing and implementing. However, current SDR based prototypes for learning IoT communications either use expensive equipment or low cost kits that lack the necessary features for full transceiver implementation. They are not feasible to provide the opportunity to increase students’ experience and engagement in IoT.

This paper presents a project based learning module for experiential experience of IoT transceiver with affordable SDR platform. The module includes lecture notes to introduce the IoT theoretical background, review questions and assignments to reinforce the knowledge, design project based hands-on laboratory, and exercises with open-end real world projects. The laboratory is developed with orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) communication link for IoT data transmission. The digital baseband processing is achieved via software and the RF processing is implemented with the low cost Analog Devices Active Learning Module-Pluto Software Defined Radio (PlutoSDR). The hands-on lab enables the students to play with the signals and waveforms generated from the real world to learn, understand, and experience. Students use the step-by-step guidelines and sample codes in the lab for IoT transceiver implementation. The exercises with real world projects are constructed to be open-ended and inquiry-based. They leverage the outcomes from the laboratory experiments and challenge students to acquire more theories and develop comprehensive applications for complicated cases. The reduced expense in SDR platform fosters the open laboratory paradigm. The students could loan PlutoSDRs and conduct their labs and projects at anytime and anywhere.

Through the proposed learning module, the students not only gain valuable knowledge of the state-of-art IoT wireless communication techniques, SDR concepts, and the PlutoSDR platform, but also improve their creative thinking ability and hands-on and programming skills. Feedbacks from preliminary evaluations were positive and encouraging. Students were highly interested and excited about learning IoT.

Hong, L. (2020, June), Experience of IoT Transceiver with Affordable Software-defined Radio Platform Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34628

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