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Learning with NPTEL

September 9th, 2008 2 comments

The national program of technology enhanced learning (NPTEL) is  an initiative of the Government of India to provide quality educational material to engineering students . The site has several video tutorials for various engineering subjects.  However, the site is not very popular among Indian students. I have been trying to promote it among my students and colleagues for quite some time as  a source of quality material. But, the response is not very encouraging.

The videos are hosted on youtube.   The complete playlist is here.  There are several course  suitable for electronics /computer science  students. Some of the so called “difficult” subjects are lucidly explained by senior professors.  I have recomended  the digital signal processing course by Prof. S C Dutta Roy as supplimentary  material to my students.

If you want to view the courses offline, you can download it form youtube using youtube-dl. The youtube  videos are in flash (.flv) format. Softwares such as ffpeg can be used to convert them to your favorite format.

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Storytelling Alice

September 8th, 2008 3 comments

My kids are having  holidays for next 10 days in connection with Onam.   During holidays,  I let them play Gcompris if i am not using the computer.  Today they wanted to play. I instead of letting them play Gcompris , I showed them  StoryTellng Alice They were hooked to it within half an hour. By  evening they showed me a small animation  they built. I am pretty amazed at the pace at which my  daughters ( aged 8 and 7) learn.

Story telling Alice is a spin of from Alice , a great programming environment for  teaching programming to kids. Alice is the brain child of Randy  Pausch.

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FOSS in Engineering Colleges

July 21st, 2008 1 comment

Shayam has written a nice letter to his HOD on usage of free software in laboratory experiments. As a teacher, I am trying to use free software in my own college. The problems mentioned in his letter is existing in all most all colleges in Kerala.
The root cause for this is in the syllabus itself , rather the way in which syllabus is set. Let us look at CUSAT syllabus for Electronics and communication. ( Sorry, I can’t find it on the Cusat website. I have placed the 2006 Btech Scheme and syllabus for Electronics and communication here.).

See the 5th semester microprocessor laboratory.

PART II – 7 Lab sessions
(Compulsory)
1. Introduction to IBM/PC and its DEBUG program commands
– Examining and modifying the contents of the memory
– Assembling 8086 instructions with the ASSEMBLER commands
– Executing 8086 instructions and programs with the Trace and GO Command.
– Debugging a program
2. Assembly language program development using IBM/PC Macro assembler
– Creating an Assembler source file
– Assembling source program with MASM
– The link program – creating a RUN module
– Typical programming examples.

The DOS debug and masm are embedded in the syllabus itself.

Similarly look at Signal Processing Laboratory. 7th Semester

EC /EI 706 SIGNAL PROCESSING LABORATORY
1. Familiarization of Signal processing tool box-MATLAB
2. Familiarization of DSP trainer kit (Sampling & reconstruction of signals)

List of experiments to be implemented

Generation of basic input signals ( both discrete & continuous)
DFT and spectral analysis computation of DFT, properties of DFT
Convolution
Correlation
Digital filter design- FIR & IIR Filters
FFT
Spectral estimation
Matlab is specifically mentioned even though all the above can be done in Octave or Scilab. I don’t know why it was not mentioned.
When we had a university inspection some time back , the inspection committee specifically asked for the Matlab license.

The syllabus revision committee generally consist of senior faculty mem4bers. Most of them are included in the committee on political lines on on merit. Kerala may be the only place in the world where you will find things like Turbo C , debug etc are taught to engineering graduates.

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The RGB LED project

May 19th, 2008 1 comment

Four sixth semester students from Model Engineering College has done a small project titled the RGB Led project. They have blogged the development and published the programs and schematics.  I have been going through the site today and I feel that this is the way students do their minor project.

There is nothing complicated in their circuit. They just use commonly available chips and wrote a small piece of software. They have also published the final report. Well done.

The RGB led is  a cute component  that any hobbyist will love to posses.  I have a couple of them lying in my junk box. After seeing this project , I think I will try out one of them .

Summer Projects for students

March 29th, 2008 Comments off

This post is for my students at college of engineering Attingal . We are going to get vacation during May and June. I think your semester examination will be over by April end. I have a small project which some of you can take up during this summer vacation. The project is related to amateur radio. If you are able to do it, this will be a fine minor project for your sixth semester. However, my aim is to introduce some of you to micro controllers and embedded systems early in your course. I don’t find many home brewers among students nowadays. This will be an ideal opportunity to learn a few tricks.

Now here is the idea. I have a few fixed frequency VHF transceivers. They are Philips Portaphone SXA rigs made around 1977. The figure below show one.

The transceiver can take 6 fixed frequency crystals on the receiver as well as transmitter side. That means it has only six fixed channels. Now ,I have a pair of crystals cut for the Trivandrum amateur repeater. (RX 145.600Mhz TX 145.00Mhz ). That means I am operating it only on a single channel.

I want to convert it to a variable frequency transceiver by adding a DDS ( direct digital synthesis ) controlled oscillator, replacing the crystal oscillator.

Your Task will be to build a micro controller board and a DDS board and drive the tranciever for covering the amateur band of 144-146 MHZ. You can choose either a PIC or an Atmel processor. For the DDS , an Analog devices AD9851 will be sufficient. There are some similar projects on the net. You can look here.

Do a search on google for DDS VFO .You will find more links. This project will be on similar lines. But the programming and driver circuit for the transceiver will be different . The output of DDS should be switched between receiver and transmitter frequencies. I will give you more details later.

You are expected to do the following

a) Study of the chosen micro controller.

b) Design the board and simulate it .

c) Study about DDS.

d) Design a DDS board.

e) Design PCBs for both the boards and build

f) Test the prototype in lab.

g) Make a suitable cabinet and build the final product.

A detailed requirement specification will be given later.

I have the following stuff with me .

a) Some PIC micro controllers

b) DDS chip AD9851

c) Some LCD displays

d) Assorted components.

I can provide you with a PIC programmer if you choose PIC. I can fund you for any costly ( say greater than $2). Rest of the stuff ,you will have to find out.

I can take 3 guys . Each one should do it independently.

You must be willing to work during vacation. I will be coming to college on a few days to college during vacation. Otherwise, you can interact with me on internet . A PC and an internet connection at home is a must. All designs and programs should be posted on internet and must be under a suitable free license.

I will give some preference to second year guys. (but first years can also be considered.). If you are interested , drop me a mail at vu2swx at gmail. com.

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