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    Arduino based microcontrollers blended course succesfully conducted by DSMC, sponsored by IEEE CAS society

    The 1st Blended-learning Course on Microcontrollers has been succesfully concluded on December 17, after the final examination that was held at the premises of the Digital Systems and Media Computing laboratory (DSMC) of the Hellenic Open University in Patras, Greece. The course was sponsored by IEEE’s Circuits and Systems Society and the Hellenic Open University. The course duration was five weeks and started on November 14. Twenty participants were selected from more than double the number of applications, to be tutored remotely on the hot field of modern microcontrollers. Four systems had been setup localy at DSMC Lab, being available 24/7 and students were able to access and program them remotely, while being able to monitor the results of their code in real time since a web camera was transmitting the each system’s live view.

    The heart of the system was an Arduino duemillanove, equipped with sensors, leds, LCD and servos, in order to experiment with seven basic exercises which were the following:

    Lab 1 – Blinking LED

    Lab 2 – Using an RGB LED

    Lab 3 – Printing on LCD

    Lab 4 – Controlling a Servo Motor

    Lab 5 – Data acquisition from an LDR photoresistor

    Lab 6 – Using the LM35 temperature sensor

    Lab 7 – Using 7-Segment displays

    For the purpose of the lab, a learning management system at dsmc.edu20.org was set up and configured for the course needs. Besides that, each week an electronic lecture was delivered by the course tutor Dr. Vassilis Fotopoulos as well as an assignment as homework. The e-lectures were given through the Hellenic Open University’s Centra Symposium system since the students were located at distances up to 750km from the lab. Course dates amd titles are the following:

    Lecture 0 / November 18 / Introduction to microcontrollers and the Arduino board

    Lecture 1 / November 25 / Basic I/O: Programming with leds, text LCDs, analog inputs and LDRs

    Lecture 2 / December 2 / Working with switches, 7seg displays, temperature sensors, PWM and servo motors

    Lecture 3 / December 9 / The SPI bus: practicing with accelerometers and SD cards. Wireless communication with xbee modules

    For the final examination, all students traveled to Patras to conduct a number of original experiments gaining hands-on experience. The duration of the exam was four hours, however the excitement was so intense that many students stayed longer after the end experimenting with the equipment. Most of the students were asking for a follow-up through a more advanced program that takes up from the end of this one. At the end, certificates were awarded and a dinner was provided for all participants. All students passed the exam and we are very happy that we introduced those students to such an interesting topic in an appealing way. We hope that we will manage to offer the follow up course soon, however until then, one may practice with the system installed on 194.24.226.108 since our intention is to leave this freely accessible for the CAS engineering community. Photos from the examination, the awards and the dinner that followed can be found at www.photobucket.com/eksm

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