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MicroPython in a Wireless Communications Systems Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session

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David R. Loker Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College

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David R. Loker received the M.S.E.E. degree from Syracuse University in 1986. In 1984, he joined General Electric (GE) Company, AESD, as a design engineer. In 1988, he joined the faculty at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. In 2007, he became the Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Program. His research interests include wireless sensor networks, data acquisition systems, and communications systems.

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Nathan Wayne Brubaker Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College


Daniel Albert Bohbot Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College

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I am from Conneaut, OH and currently a senior Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology student at Penn State Behrend. My future plans are to attend the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems masters program through Penn State World Campus. With this degree I hope to work in developing and improving renewable energy systems.

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Part of the requirements for an Electrical Engineering Technology program and/or Computer Engineering Technology program includes the ability for students to design and implement embedded systems in a variety of courses. One typical course is wireless communications systems, and this can be offered as a lower-division or upper-division course. Due to the free and open source software availability of Python, and its popularity, a small subset of the Python standard library (called MicroPython) is optimized to run on a variety of microcontrollers for embedded applications. Additionally, some of these microcontrollers have wireless capabilities. One such device includes the Digi XBee 3 module, which implements the Zigbee, 802.15.4, and BLE protocols. Another device is the ESP8266 Wi-Fi module. These devices are inexpensive and suitable for embedded applications in a wireless communications systems course. The Community Edition of PyCharm is available for free and can be used as the software development environment. The goal of this paper is to introduce a series of labs that can be used within this course. Possible topics for lab projects include: network connectivity, analog-to-digital conversion, sensor data collection, pulse-width modulation, digital input/output, serial communication (UART), serial peripheral interface (SPI) protocol, and inter-integrated circuit (I2C) protocol. For lab projects, engineering requirements, flowcharts, schematics, and results are provided.

Loker, D. R., & Brubaker, N. W., & Bohbot, D. A. (2021, July), MicroPython in a Wireless Communications Systems Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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