Home » Electronic News » Hands-on electronics kit revives student engineering lab

Hands-on electronics kit revives student engineering lab

Posted by: Yoyokuo 2022-11-10 Comments Off on Hands-on electronics kit revives student engineering lab

College-level hands-on circuit labs are returning, in the same form as before, but in a much different way.

Developments in hardware and software have enabled data acquisition and analysis through personalized test and measurement. As a result, this training tool promises to be at the heart of an important student learning experience, with characteristics that today’s students expect and that colleges and universities can support.

In recent years, because of the cost pressure of instrumentation and physical space requirements, colleges and universities have been unbearable, and teaching laboratories have been severely reduced or even completely disappeared, and the emergence of such laboratories will reverse this trend. While some labs are still available to digital design and software students, at worst, electrical (analog) engineering students have little or no exposure to reality; at best, students Can only “make do” with simulation and virtual labs.

This is not a satisfactory solution in order to experience first-hand the thrust and techniques of actual engineering design.

Kathleen Meehan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said: “The lack of practical experimental experience leads to a decline in students’ interest, concepts are not strengthened, and the ability to design circuits and Electronic systems is weak.”

The good news is that schools are recognizing that giving students the opportunity to touch and feel real circuits, bringing actual signals from sound, vibration, temperature and pressure sensors into their projects, can really benefit students. Fortunately, the development of low-cost hardware, ICs, software-based instrumentation, and data analysis tools has not only made this new type of laboratory possible, but given it characteristics that are compatible with the learning environment and demands of the twenty-first century.

It was these factors that led to the collaboration of three vendors, recognized leaders in their fields, to develop a solution for students, the Analog Discovery Design Kit ($99). Basic kit includes: two analog input channels that can be configured as oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, or voltmeters; two analog output channels that can be configured as waveform generators, DC outputs, or combined with inputs to form a network analyzer; 16-channel digital I/O, configurable as a logic analyzer, digital pattern generator, or bus analyzer; and ±5V power supplies, all running from a single USB connector.

Hands-on electronics kit revives student engineering lab

picture1:Analog DiscoveryDesign Kit is the actual analog and digital input/Output Interface,passUSBconnectPC,Provides oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, voltmeter, and waveform generator functions.


It was designed by Analog Devices, manufactured and distributed by Digilent, and is compatible with MATLAB software through a support package provided by The MathWorks, Inc. The complete kit includes downloadable textbooks, online support, textbooks, reference designs, and lab projects to make the design and implementation of analog circuits part of an engineering textbook.

The kit connects to a standard PC via a USB cable, so students can practice on their own schedule and wherever they like. Meehan notes: “Students were a little intimidated at first, many had never seen a resistor or used a multimeter, but by the end of the semester they were comfortable and confident.” Since this was the first hands-on experience for many students , so Virginia Tech has built a rich library of video tutorials so students can learn how to complete basic setup, perform measurements, and more. “Students often start work at 8pm, sometimes until 2am or even 3am,” she noted.

This kit is much more than a simple PC-based data acquisition and Display instrument using Digilent waveform software and ADI’s actual signal processing ICs. It is also compatible with the student edition of the famous MATLAB software produced by MathWorks, allowing students to use the digital data collected to design, implement and evaluate algorithms, a process that allows students to gain deeper insights. Eric Wetjen, product marketing manager at Mathworks, said: Ease of use is important. “No training is required, the API is straightforward, and you can start collecting data with just a few lines of code.”

The combination of the Digilent Analog Discovery Design Suite and MATLAB Student Edition enables students to gain real-world experience: capturing real-world signals; filtering, processing, and analyzing signals; developing data-based results and producing real-world outputs. For example, using built-in MEMS microphones, students can capture audio and speech, and then use models and code for speech-to-text processing, speech analysis, or speech scramble. Alternatively, students can attach a MEMS accelerometer to a person’s arm to capture the tiny changes in skin pressure caused by a heartbeat, and then develop and test algorithms to extract the pulse rate by removing the effects of noise, distortion, and many other signal artifacts.

Using analog I/O circuits, students can move beyond basic data acquisition into data analysis and signal generation. “We saw an opportunity in the popularity of hands-on labs, where low-cost hardware is easy to set up and use, and students can work on their projects anytime, anywhere,” Wetjen said. The challenge with processing most real-world sensor signals is their waveforms Often at very low levels, drowning in noise, and having complex, non-ideal shapes. Therefore, thorough, complex, and often dynamic filtering is required to extract the desired data and provide meaningful conclusions.

MATLAB software is ideal for solving this challenge (picture2). Meehan added, “Students can write a MATLAB script to generate a signal from a Fourier series, output that signal to an arbitrary function generator, and then use a spectrum analyzer to observe the frequency content of the waveform generated by the function generator on the screen. … they can also see the effects of various filtering algorithms, all of which deepen students’ understanding of the theory.”

Hands-on electronics kit revives student engineering lab

picture2:useMathWorksofMATLABsoftware,Students can create and capture signals,Data collection,The effects of various filtering functions and other analysis algorithms are then evaluated.

There are other benefits. Since students practice in their own space at their own pace, there is no pressure to “do it fast, do it right, don’t explore” and it’s not embarrassing. What’s more, students with different ideas have the opportunity to explore unusual acquisition and analysis algorithms without fear of deviating from the standard course track.

The ICs and functions provided by this kit are not low-speed, low-resolution, performance-limited subsystems that would severely constrain students. For example, oscilloscopes offer settings from 250 μV to 5 V per scale, variable gain, 100 MSPS sampling rate, and 5 MHz bandwidth, with record lengths up to 16,000 points per channel. The spectrum analyzer has a 10 MHz frequency range with a resolution of 250 Hz at 1 MHz. For signal sources, the waveform generator provides two channels of standard and user-defined waveforms, as well as sweep, envelope, AM and FM modulation (picture3).

picture3:Cause and effect are very clear and visible,As the bandpass filter function and the associated ripple/roll-off shown.

Such a suite does not replace the in-depth system modeling and simulation, which are key elements of today’s engineering design environment and which engineering students are beginning to embrace, as the industry has already done. Without actual hardware practice to validate designs and algorithms, students are missing an important part of the design process. This is why such products are becoming indispensable tools for engineering education. While only a standard PC connected via a USB cable is required, their course benefits are numerous:

Ÿ Allow more students to get practical opportunities, and the cost is very low;

Ÿ Students can practice at their own pace, where and when they like;

Ÿ Greatly reduces the need for expensive test equipment (which would otherwise often need to be shared or not at all);

Ÿ Students can easily explore other ideas, even unusual ideas;

• Validate with real-world interfaces and signals to gain broader engineering experience beyond simple modeling and simulation.

Students can now discover and explore real-world design problems related to analog circuits, sensor input/output, signal analysis using their own hardware development platforms that cost less than a textbook, rather than having the limited access to opportunity to use a workbench equipped with expensive oscilloscopes, waveform generators, power supplies, etc. It’s a win-win for schools and students – future corporate employees.

The Links:   LB043WQ1-TD04 SKIM401GD128D