Open source Linux platforms can be used in a variety of academic courses. By choosing Linux, the instructor can utilize inexpensive hardware to demonstrate programming concepts, hardware interface, algorithms and data analysis. Many low cost embedded Linux boards (such as BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi) contain a variety of busses (SPI, I2C, CAN), general purpose I/O pins, serial ports, PWM outputs, and analog inputs, making them an appropriate choice for a course that has a data acquisition focus. Potential courses include measurements and instrumentation, wireless communications and control systems.
This work demonstrates usage of the Pocketbeagle, an inexpensive, Linux-based microprocessing platform, in the context of a data acquisition and analysis course found in a General Engineering program. This course contains elements of Python-based software development but emphasizes software design and development with respect to an I/O interface for data applications. In addition to this course, it will be demonstrated that the Pocketbeagle is capable of filling various needs in other lower- and upper-division courses.
Labs covered with the Pocketbeagle include digital and analog I/O operations, PWM and UART interface lab projects, all using Python programming. Several of these labs will be discussed in this paper, along with schematics, configurations, and results as well as an assessment of how well the students were able to achieve the course goals.
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