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Stand-alone laboratory sessions in sensors and signal processing

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3 Author(s)
B. Ando ; Dipt. Elettrico, Univ. of Catania, Italy ; S. Graziani ; N. Pitrone

Real laboratory experiments can help students to gain a better understanding of theoretical problems. Great efforts are needed, however, to improve the quality of laboratory sessions, and a large number of tutors are usually required. Moreover, students may lose time because of hardware failure or an inefficient experimental setup. Several educational tools (based on virtual instruments) have been developed allowing for optimized time scheduling and remote access to laboratory sessions. Drawbacks related to hardware failure have not, however, been seriously addressed. This paper proposes an educational tool made up of a user-friendly interface controlling experimental boards. It basically consists of an array of optical sensing devices connected to suitable conditioning circuits, which are interfaced to a virtual instrument by means of a data acquisition system. To solve the previously mentioned drawbacks, a solution based on both pre-cabled hardware and PC-based measurement stations has been adopted. Moreover, the ability to configure self-educational tasks optimizes time scheduling for students during laboratory activities. The proposed system allows students to improve their knowledge in the field of optical sensing devices, virtual instrumentation, data acquisition systems, and signal processing. The paper describes an application of the tool as a simple system for surface recognition. This application is one of the laboratory tasks performed in measurement classes during this engineering course at the University of Catania, Catania, Italy.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 1 )