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Integration Of A Dsp Hardware Based Laboratory Into An Introductory Signals And Systems Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Design of Laboratory Experiments

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.797.1 - 11.797.13



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Paper Authors


Lisa Huettel Duke University

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LISA G. HUETTEL, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Laboratories in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. Her research interests include the application of statistical signal processing to remote sensing and engineering education. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Duke University.

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

Integration of a DSP Hardware-based Laboratory into an Introductory Signals and Systems Course


Signal processing concepts are often presented in a very mathematical and abstract format. This can discourage students from further exploration because of the apparent irrelevance to real- world problems. A common solution is to provide a hands-on laboratory to illustrate applications of abstract concepts. However, hardware-based digital signal processing (DSP) laboratories – which are typically incorporated into senior-level signal processing courses – usually emphasize programming the DSP chip rather than exploring algorithms and applications. While suitable for students with a strong interest in signal processing, this type of laboratory experience may not generate enthusiasm or spark curiosity in a younger student being introduced to DSP for the first time.

This paper reports on a project in which application-driven laboratory exercises were implemented as part of a required sophomore/junior-level introductory signal processing course. Students entered the course with a solid foundation in MATLAB but with no experience programming in C or Assembly languages. This constrained the choice of laboratory platform, in that students were to spend their time developing, implementing, and testing signal processing algorithms, not learning a new programming language. The Texas Instruments C6713 DSK platform, which can be programmed using SIMULINK (The Mathworks, Inc.), met this constraint. Four laboratory projects were implemented: Digital Sound Effects, Touch-Tone Dialing, a Voice Scrambler/Descrambler, and an exploration of Sampling and Aliasing in the context of the Telephone System. Each presented fundamental concepts, such as sampling and aliasing, in the context of a realistic problem. Students experienced the effects of signal processing manipulations aurally, visually, and in real-time, solidifying their understanding and increasing their engagement in the material.

1. Introduction

Digital signal processing (DSP) is central to modern Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) undergraduate curricula. The discipline of signal processing combines an extensive mathematical background with practical design skills. To prepare for a successful career in signal processing, whether in industry or academia, students should develop expertise in two domains: the theoretical understanding of signal processing problems and the design of devices or algorithms to solve those problems. As part of its ongoing curriculum reform, the ECE department at Duke University has implemented a new DSP laboratory that impacts student instruction in multiple courses. The overall vision for this vertically-integrated, application-driven laboratory has been presented previously1. This paper described the motivation for integrating a hardware-based laboratory into the introductory Signals and Systems course, the specific laboratory experiments that were conducted, and an assessment of the impact of the laboratory experience.

Huettel, L. (2006, June), Integration Of A Dsp Hardware Based Laboratory Into An Introductory Signals And Systems Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--728

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