Modularized Platform for an Embedded Systems Case Study: Concept and Design
Authors: Vitus Lüntzel, Florian Schade, Martin Sommer, Eric Sax
Abstract: This paper presents the concept and design of a hardware platform for an information technology workshop aimed at first-year electrical engineering students. The workshop provides students with their initial exposure to hardware-oriented programming and project management in a software engineering environment. The platform is centered around a Tiva C LaunchPad embedded on the control board of a remote-controlled vehicle. The hardware design of the remote vehicle is modularized into three boards: the control board, battery management board, and power management board. Additionally, a remote-control interface has been developed. The hardware platform leverages various capabilities of the Tiva C LaunchPad, including GPIO, ADC, PWM, and UART, although the I2C capabilities are not utilized in the workshop.Students work in groups of three to gain valuable project management experience. While each student is responsible for developing an individual hardware-related class, these classes are utilized for group tasks. To prevent complete group failure in case of one student's inability to finish their class, example classes are provided as usable libraries. The organization of responsibilities within the group is left to the students, and a project plan and Gantt chart timeline are mandatory.The hardware design adopts a modular structure that effectively separates main functions and power levels. The battery management board hosts the main fuse and an emergency shutdown relay, connected to a reed switch. It facilitates the connection between the batteries and the power management board. PWM signals from the control board on the power management board actuate two 12V brushless DC electric motors. Additional connections to the control board include a 5V power supply, a proportional measurement of the battery voltage, and control over the revolution speed of the drives. The control board, which houses the Tiva C LaunchPad, is also connected to ultrasonic sensors, an ESP8266-Module, and the power control board. The remote-control interface, featuring another Tiva C LaunchPad, facilitates human-machine interactions through an 8-bit display, a joystick, and navigation buttons. The remote control is powered by a 5V power bank.The software architecture also follows a modular approach, leveraging object-oriented programming principles. Seven different classes instantiate hardware-related functionalities. Additionally, four hardware-independent classes are employed. While all the functions of the remote-controlled vehicle are consolidated in one hardware-independent class, three are dedicated to remote control operation: Steering, responsible for reading joystick input and mapping it to commands; Display, enabling user output through an interactive menu; and Remote, serving as the central class that brings together low-level and other hardware-independent classes.In conclusion, this hardware platform offers first-year electrical engineering students a practical and comprehensive introduction to hardware-oriented programming and project management. The workshop provides students with hands-on exposure to industry-relevant technologies and a collaborative learning experience. The platform's integration of software and hardware components promotes a holistic understanding of systems engineering principles.
Keywords: Embedded Systems Case Study, Modular hardware design, Systems Engineering
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