Univ. Pau & Pays Adour UPPA (FRANCE)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 2576-2583
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1573
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Distance education is growing easier and faster with the widespread use of computers and internet. Moreover, it noticed a diversification in post-secondary student profile. To answer this issue, it appears decisive to create new tools for teachers and learners as remote laboratories and game-like scenarios.
Creating a network of these remote laboratories can be very useful to share expensive experiments or to mutualize equipment between engineering educations training centers. We would like to develop an open community to easily share practical works and to create an open source, low-cost and easy to deploy e-lab network.

Software Methodology:
Currently, LaboREM uses a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. It is running on Windows Server operating system and using the proprietary LabVIEW software from National Instruments for data acquisition and robot control. The cost of the software and the non-standard protocol used by LabVIEW lead us to develop an entirely new IT system for migration to an open source and light software. For instance, low and medium size industries face similar issues.
To ease the creation of complex and database-driven websites we use a Python framework called Django. Communication with the instruments is done with the Django application PyScada. Running under Linux, the solution provides an HTML5 interface compatible with every client. Another advantage on the server side is to develop with a light and open software solution which enables to use as a server a single-board computer (SBC).
The data acquisition system has to be compatible with several protocols and connections. We can easily find in the Python community useful applications like PyUSB or PySerial to fulfill these requirements. The idea is to provide a list of experiments scripts available in a bank of instruments selected by PyScada after the teacher has informed the experiment he wants to set-up.
The SCADA system was developed and validated on basic electronics filters, the web human machine interface (HMI) allows to enter the values to control function generator, digital multimeter and oscilloscope. An algorithm which computes the frequency response of any filter was validated.

Hardware methodology:
Hardware development is also conducted. A motherboard, where 16 different devices under test (DUT) can be plugged, has been designed. The motherboard receives and manages all the information of the experiment that the learner wants to work on. Each DUT can be easily replaced by the teacher to adapt the scenario to the learners. The learners will have access to 16 DUT to achieve their work.
Connectors and plugs are designed in PCI Express logic because this is a well-known electronic standard. It simplifies printed circuit board (PCB) design, reduces the cost thanks to widely used connector types. As plugs are generic, it will possible to interconnect different sources, multimeters and robot controller. All the PCB designs will be available as open hardware permitting community to create new DUT and to share it with the LaboREM network.

Development with open-source applications, standardized protocols and low-cost hardware set-up allows designing a solution easy to duplicate and favors interconnection of the remote labs to create a network. As a generic motherboard were designed, new practical DUT can be imagined in others fields in applied sciences like mechanics, optics and renewable energies.
e-learning, game-based learning, industrial engineering, labwork, student motivation, online education, virtual instruments, remote laboratory, SCADA.