Wireless Digital Communication using LabVIEW and ZigBee
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American Society for Engineering Education, 2017. Electronic Instrumentation is one of the required courses in the curriculum of the Electronic Systems Engineering Technology program at Texas A&M University. The learning objectives of this course include: be able to design a virtual instrumentation system; be able to use a wireless module to communicate between two computers; be able to use a communication protocol for data transmission. Based on these learning objectives, faculty designed a series of laboratory sessions and a course project. LabVIEW was used extensively in the laboratory sessions to help students understand how virtual instrumentation works. LabVIEW was selected for two reasons: its diverse features for data acquisition, control, and flexibility in displaying data and its popularity in industry. Through using LabVIEW, students not only learn concepts in virtual instrumentation, they also acquire the skill of using a software package that many companies use. Wireless technologies are used more and more in our daily lives. Even though wireless communication is covered in another course in the program curriculum, it is crucial that students understand the importance of wireless communication in instrumentation systems. ZigBee was selected for use in the laboratories and course project for its simplicity and popularity in industry. Industry standards, open architecture, and wide use in industry were considered during the selection of communication protocol. As a result, Modbus was selected. A course project was then developed to provide students with an opportunity to create a virtual instrumentation system that utilizes closed loop motor speed control with two computers that communicate through ZigBee modules. The details of the labs and course project are discussed in this article.