OPTIMIZING SUBJECT DESIGN, TIMING, AND FOCUS IN A DIVERSITY OF ENGINEERING COURSES THROUGH THE USE OF A LOW-COST ARDUINO SHIELD
University of Malaga (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:This paper describes the design, implementation and evaluation of a novel circuitry that extends the popular Arduino UNO microcontroller board to facilitate multiple educational activities in engineering courses. In particular, the aim of this board, the UMA-AEB, is to minimize the overhead that is usually imposed on the students before they can conduct the actual exercises, yet retain the valuable experiences that could otherwise not be acquired with simulated experiments or inflexible electronic training-benches. Moreover, the UMA-AEB is also meant to bring analog and digital electronics closer to other common disciplines in engineering, such as high-level programming languages (e.g. MATLAB) or Real-Rime Operating Systems (e.g. FreeRTOS), by easing its connection to a personal computer for control and debugging. The features on the UMA-AEB range from simple input-output devices like a potentiometer, several buttons, eight individually addressable LEDs and a seven-segment display, to more advanced components like an SPI memory module for data-logging, a configurable resistive-inductive-capacitive (RLC) first and second order resonator, and a bidirectional analog-digital interface that covers from -15 to +15~V, a common range for most colleague-level laboratory classes. The resulting design can be manufactured at a significantly lower cost than other similar devices (around 50€ not considering labor costs such as component-soldering and basic diagnoses), and both simulation and real tests have demonstrated that the obtained functionality agrees accurately enough with our design requirements after suitable calibration methods. We intend to use the board in very diverse subjects in the next years; up to date, we have already included it in a control systems course (graduate) and in an embedded real-time course (undergraduate and master), as well as a student dissertation projects, a web-accessible electronics-laboratory. Hence, we present the possibilities of our shield for these and other courses and also some educational results obtained in the past academic years.
Keywords: Microcontroller educational board, engineering training board, embedded real-time systems, control systems engineering.