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Innovative Communications Experiments Using An Integrated Design Laboratory

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Laboratory Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.768.1 - 10.768.10



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Paper Authors

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John Pierre

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Frank Tuffner

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Robert Kubichek

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Innovative Communications Experiments Using an Integrated Design Laboratory

Frank K. Tuffner, John W. Pierre, Robert F. Kubichek

University of Wyoming


In traditional undergraduate teaching laboratory environments, many communication topics are difficult to convey because of their complexity in implementation. This paper describes laboratory experiments that explore challenging communication topics using the University of Wyoming’s new integrated design undergraduate teaching laboratory. Each lab station comprises a PC using LabVIEW and GPIB to control oscilloscopes, arbitrary function generators, power supplies and a data acquisition card. In this environment, the approach is for the students to use a combination of hardware and software to generate and manipulate real- world communication signals. Topics such as AM modulation and demodulation including SSB and digital communication systems can easily be covered under the realistic time constraints of a two-hour laboratory. Furthermore, these benefits are achieved without requiring students to assemble overly complicated circuits or conduct pure simulations. Advantages of this approach to communications experiments are discussed in comparison to more traditional approaches such as simulation, breadboarding, or modular communication systems.


The University of Wyoming offers a required three-hour introductory communication theory course at the junior level. The course includes three lectures per week and a two-hour lab session that meets every other week. One vexing problem with introductory communications labs has been to provide meaningful hands-on laboratory experiences that supplement the lecture material.

In traditional lab environments, analog and digital communication concepts are difficult to demonstrate. Although amplitude and frequency modulation can be studied by requiring students to breadboard their own circuits, many of these circuits are beyond their electronics background, and ultimately they spend valuable lab time debugging electronics rather than exploring concepts relevant to the lectures. More complicated topics such as digital line codes and digital carrier systems can only be considered using simulation environments such as Electronic Workbench or MATLAB/Simulink, but such software experiments are much less effective compared to hands-on laboratory experiences. Books such as those by Proakis et al1, use MATLAB/Simulink to reinforce students theoretical understanding of communications. Another approach is to use commercial, modular systems, which have some distinct advantages over breadboarding in being able to examine more complex communication topics and in being

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Pierre, J., & Tuffner, F., & Kubichek, R. (2005, June), Innovative Communications Experiments Using An Integrated Design Laboratory Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15201

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