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Reference Designs for Sensors used in Microcontroller-Based Design Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1230.1 - 22.1230.14



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Paper Authors


Chiu Choi University of North Florida

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Dr. Choi is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of North Florida. He earned his Master's and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has keen interest in engineering education and is active in research. Dr. Choi received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Hong Kong. He worked for Norton Telecom and Mitel as a maintenance and a product engineer, respectively, for several years in Hong Kong. Dr. Choi holds a current and active professional engineer license issued by the State of Florida.

Dr. Choi has genuine dedication in teaching and has earned a sustained record of excellence in it. His student evaluations have been among the best in his department and his college consistently. He has taught a wide spectrum of courses. His favorite ones include microprocessor applications, linear control systems, electromagnetic field applications, and capstone design projects. He has published his work in engineering education conferences regularly. He has received several teaching awards and was listed in the 2003 - 2004 Who's Who Among American Teachers. Dr. Choi's research interests include embedded control systems and computational algorithms. He has published over thirty papers in those areas. He is either the sole author or the first author in almost all of his publications. He prefers to do his own original work and to write the manuscripts by himself. Dr. Choi has completed a number of funded research projects and received significant amount of equipment and software grants before. Some of his funded research projects recently include interfacing of chemical and gas sensors to microprocessors and the subsequent control and signal processing. The project is a part of a grant funded by the U.S. Army. Dr. Choi could be reached at

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference Abstract Submission A LIBRARY OF REFERENCE DESIGNS FOR MICROCONTROLLER APPLICATIONSI have taught and supervised many engineering students in building their engineeringclass projects and capstone design projects. Some of the completed projects were veryinteresting. For instance, some of my students modified a vehicle (Geo Prism) making itdrivable by a laptop PC. Some built a prototype for improving the fuel consumption of agasoline engine by reducing the temperature of overheated cylinders. Their prototype wasentered into a national green engineering contest in 2008. The project was ranked amongtop ten out of sixty-five competitive ones. At the other end of the spectrum were projectswith great ideas similar to the previous ones but the students were not able to realize fullytheir ideas into prototypes. Many times the problem was that the students failed topartition the total design into modules small enough that they could handle. They onlyhad an overall vision of what the final system must do. For those who can partition theirdesign into smaller modules, many of them often wasted much time in testing their ownexperimental solutions and failed to complete their projects by the end of the term. Thefirst problem can be alleviated by proper coaching. The second problem can be solved byproviding the students a library of proven solutions for the modules commonly used intheir design projects. These solutions are called reference designs. The use of referencedesigns will reduce the design burden on the part of the students and shorten theprototype development time.This paper describes a library of reference designs (i.e., proven solutions) that can beused in conjunction with microcontrollers since they have reached all corners of modernlife. The library covers a number of sensors, motors, input devices, and displaytechnologies. Provided in each reference design are the function of the reference design,information for hardware interfacing to a microcontroller, wiring diagram, applicationsoftware programs, and ordering information. With these materials at hand, the studentscan easily incorporate the electronic parts/modules into their design projects. Thereference designs developed are listed below.Reference designs for sensors: Accelerometers, Digital Compass, Global Positioning,System Modules, Infrared Distance Sensors, Ultrasonic Distance Sensors, TemperatureSensors, Pressure Sensors, Magnetic Field Sensors, and Motion Sensors.Reference designs for driving motors: Driving DC Motors and Driving Stepper Motors.Reference designs for input devices: Keypads and Switches.Reference designs for display devices: Serial LCD, Graphic LCD, and Organic LED.Reference designs for wireless communication modules: Bluetooth modules. 2011 ASEE Annual Conference Abstract SubmissionA website was developed for hosting all the reference designs and the student candownload from it. The reference designs were found in student projects done in theSummer 2009 term and were documented in the project reports.Having this reference library on the web, the students have these proven solutions to usein their projects. The impacts are 1) They are more likely to be able to realize fully theirideas into prototypes. The students can now partition their design into modules and forthose modules that are in the reference design library, they can integrate the referencedesigns into their projects. The reference designs are not devised as a complete solution.The students will have their own design work to do. 2) With the reference design libraryavailable, it will reduce the number of incomplete projects. The student evaluation wasfavorable. Their comments were that the coverage of the reference design materials inclass greatly helped them in moving their projects forward.

Choi, C. (2011, June), Reference Designs for Sensors used in Microcontroller-Based Design Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18680

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