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ATLAS is one of the two general-purpose experiments being built for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Its muon spectrometer consists of very high-precision chambers made of drift tubes. Up to now, more than 5000 monitored drift tubes (MDTs) have been constructed and tested at the University of Calabria, Italy, for ATLAS barrel system chambers of the muon detector. This paper reports the critical MDT assembly techniques in detail, including the automatic electronics system and data acquisition system. The extensive tests performed on individual drift tubes and the first results and experience are also reported.