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Instrumentation for an Embedded Control Systems Design Course Incorporating the Digilent Electronics Explorer Board

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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

Embedded Control and Instrumentation

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.788.1 - 25.788.12



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Paper Authors


John Y. Hung Auburn University

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John Y. Hung is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University, where he has been on the faculty since 1989. Prior to his academic career, he worked for Johnson Controls, Inc., in the field of digital controllers for commercial building automation systems, and also worked as a consultant in control systems design. Hung is a Fellow of IEEE, and is President-elect of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society (IES). Previously, he served IES as Treasurer and Vice President for Conference Activities. He served as General Co-chair for the 2008 IEEE Industrial Electronics Conference (IECON-2008) and the 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics (ISIE-2010). His teaching and research interests are in control systems applications.

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Victor P. Nelson Auburn University

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Victor P. Nelson is a professor and Assistant Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Auburn University. His primary research interests include embedded systems and computer-aided design and testing of digital systems and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). He is co-author of the textbook Digital Logic Circuit Analysis and Design and a tutorial book on fault-tolerant computing. He has been Chair of the ECE Curriculum Committee, Coordinator of the ECE Graduate Program, and served one year as Associate Dean for Assessment in the College of Engineering. He is a member of IEEE, ACM, and ASEE, and is an ABET Program Evaluator. He has served as Chair of the ECE Division of ASEE, an at-large AdCom member of the IEEE Education Society, a member of the IEEE Committee on Engineering Accreditation Activities (CEAA), and previously served as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education and on the IEEE Computer Society/ACM Task Force that developed the Computer Engineering 2004 report on model computer engineering curricula. He was a co-winner of the 2005 Wireless Educator of the Year award from the Global Wireless Education Consortium for his role as one of the developers of the bachelor's of wireless engineering program at Auburn University, which is the first of its kind in the U.S.

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Clint S. Cole Digilent, Inc.

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Alex Wong Digilent, Inc.

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Instrumentation for Embedded Control Systems Design: Incorporating the Digilent Electronics Explorer BoardAbstractAuburn University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering curricula include a junior-year,laboratory-intensive course on embedded control systems design. Teams of students design,implement, test, evaluate, and report on a microcontroller-based embedded control system thatincludes both analog and digital electronic elements. The laboratory infrastructure for thiscourse is built around the Digilent, Inc. Electronics Explorer board (EE board), which is anintegrated analog and digital circuit design station.In this paper, the authors present how the EE board, and PC-based “Waveforms” software meetthe instrumentation needs of the course, and enhance the students’ abilities to effectivelycommunicate their work. The paper will be organized as follows: 1. Present an overview of the course objectives, and describe how these are related to the overall student outcomes of the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs. 2. A typical embedded control system project is presented, highlighting several design options for the analog and digital subsystems. 3. After the above background is presented, the instrumentation needs of the laboratory are explained. Discussion will also include some infrastructure maintenance considerations. 4. Salient features of the EE board are reviewed and compared to the laboratory infrastructure that had been used previously. The presentation will also cover other laboratory infrastructure that is being used in a complementary manner to build a complete, powerful design workstation environment. 5. The authors explain how the EE board and Waveforms software are used in several of the weekly laboratory exercises to measure and record system performance. Examples of virtual instrumentation usage and data presented in students’ reports and presentations will be described. 6. Students are also introduced to a few practical issues and limitations of instrumentation in this course. Therefore, some learning objectives related to software-based virtual instrumentation are also presented.

Hung, J. Y., & Nelson, V. P., & Cole, C. S., & Wong, A. (2012, June), Instrumentation for an Embedded Control Systems Design Course Incorporating the Digilent Electronics Explorer Board Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21545

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