Integration of a DSP hardware-based laboratory into an introductory signals and systems course
Signal processing concepts are often presented in a very mathematical and abstract format. This can discourage students from further exploration because of the apparent irrelevance to real-world problems. A common solution is to provide a hands-on laboratory to illustrate applications of abstract concepts. However, hardware-based digital signal processing (DSP) laboratories-which are typically incorporated into senior-level signal processing courses - usually emphasize programming the DSP chip rather than exploring algorithms and applications. While suitable for students with a strong interest in signal processing, this type of laboratory experience may not generate enthusiasm or spark curiosity in a younger student being introduced to DSP for the first time. This paper reports on a project in which application-driven laboratory exercises were implemented as part of a required sophomore/junior-level introductory signal processing course. Students entered the course with a solid foundation in MATLAB but with no experience programming in C or Assembly languages. This constrained the choice of laboratory platform, in that students were to spend their time developing, implementing, and testing signal processing algorithms, not learning a new programming language. The Texas Instruments C6713 DSK platform, which can be programmed using SIMULINK (The Mathworks, Inc.), met this constraint. Four laboratory projects were implemented: Digital Sound Effects, Touch-Tone Dialing, a Voice Scrambler/Descrambler, and an exploration of Sampling and Aliasing in the context of the Telephone System. Each presented fundamental concepts, such as sampling and aliasing, in the context of a realistic problem. Students experienced the effects of signal processing manipulations aurally, visually, and in real-time, solidifying their understanding and increasing their engagement in the material. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2006.
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