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Techniques in Data Visualization for Electrical Engineering: From Embedded Systems to the Internet

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Circuits & Systems Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Jason McGuire Sonoma State University

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Jason McGuire is currently a graduate student at Sonoma State University and an intern at Pocket Radar, Inc. He received his B.S. in physics from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. His main areas of interest include: embedded systems, single board computer systems, sensor networks, digital communication and software-defined radio. He is currently working on a large internet connected micro-climate sensor network for a local wildlife preserve under a grant from Pacific Gas & Electric.

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Farid Farahmand Sonoma State University

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Farid Farahmand is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Science at
Sonoma State University, CA, where he teaches Advanced Networking and Digital Systems. He
is also the director of Advanced Internet Technology in the Interests of Society Laboratory.
Farid's research interests are optical networks, applications of wireless sensor network technology
to medical fields, delay tolerant networks. He is also interested in educational technologies and
authored many papers focusing on eLearning and Active Learning models.

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Many electrical engineering students involved in embedded systems or microcontrollers are able to collect data using various sensors from the environment. The challenge for these students is once they have the data, how to best display or interpret it. There are currently a handful of websites and hardware platforms that offer ways to capture and display data, but the ability for the engineer to fully customize the graphs and manage the storage of the data is not well developed.

It is the goal of this paper to provide an intuitive and easy to code framework for pushing data from an embedded system to a database and then querying the database to display the data in an attractive format. This will provide electrical engineering students and professionals a method to culminate their work. The methods described are universal for any microcontroller or embedded system that is able to transmit data using a TCP/IP stack or some form of radio-frequency communication, allowing for seamless integration into many projects.

This was accomplished using a Linux, Apache, mySQL, and PHP stack on a Raspberry Pi connected to a local area network (LAN) serving as a gateway. The Raspberry Pi is able to receive UDP or TCP packets from an embedded project fitted with a LAN connection or a pair of radio-frequency transmitter/receivers. After data is pushed into the database, flot charts, a JavaScript plotting library, is used in conjunction with PHP to query the database and produce attractive and informative plots of the data. All of the software packages were carefully selected to be open-source and community supported. This allows engineers to use the technology free of cost and with support when a specific issue arises.

Through the use of the framework in this paper, students and professionals will be able to take their projects from local LCD screens and LEDs to the Internet for remote monitoring, higher applications of algorithms on the stored information, and trend tracking over a desired time period.

McGuire, J., & Farahmand, F. (2016, June), Techniques in Data Visualization for Electrical Engineering: From Embedded Systems to the Internet Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26072

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