Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Electrical and Computer
The falling price and growing capability of student owned equipment fostering the open laboratory paradigm is revolutionizing the curriculum of many undergraduate analog and digital communication courses in electrical engineering. Among other possibilities, student owned portable equipment facilitates hands-on experiential learning and provides the opportunity to flip the laboratory to increase student engagement. Up until now, this trend has had reduced impact in the area of analog and digital communications because the most capable equipment (such as the Universal Software Radio Peripheral or USRP platform) was too expensive, and inexpensive equipment (such as the ubiquitous RTL SDR dongle) lacked the necessary features for full transceiver implementation. Currently retailing for $99, the Analog Devices ADALM-Pluto (or Active Learning Module PlutoSDR) appears to have the potential to bridge the gap between these two extremes. PlutoSDR is based on the Analog Devices AD9363 RF agile transceiver. This transceiver provides up to 20 MHz of tunable channel bandwidth between 325 MHz to 3.8 GHz, although it is possible to extend the lower frequency range down to 70 MHz in at least one application. It is capable of transmitting or receiving 61.44 MSPS in full duplex using separate receive and transmit channels. PlutoSDR has a compact form-factor, is USB powered, and can be controlled by a variety of software packages such as MATLAB, Simulink, or GNU Radio through the USB port, or by custom Hardware Description Language (HDL) software loaded onto PlutoSDR’s internal Xilinx Zynq System-on-Chip device. Although the PlutoSDR can only legally transmit on Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) bands, experimenters who hold Amateur Radio licenses are able to exploit a much wider frequency range and applications of the PlutoSDR. Additionally, the PlutoSDR provides easily incorporated spectrum analyzer capabilities for emphasizing spectral properties of analog and digital modulation during lectures. This paper will explore potential opportunities, benefits, and pitfalls to be avoided, of incorporating PlutoSDR in the classroom and open laboratory environments. We begin by reviewing the PlutoSDRs hardware capability and limitations and setup requirements. Next, example communication laboratories and demonstrations using PlutoSDR and MATLAB, Simulink, and GNU Radio will be described. Finally, two semester’s worth of student observations and comments on incorporating PlutoSDR into the student experience from XX XX University at XX, XX are presented.
Regular presentation preference.
Post, J. E., & Silage, D. A. (2018, June), Incorporating PlutoSDR in the Communication Laboratory and Classroom: Potential or Pitfall? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30647
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