You are on page 1of 4

Designing Arduino electronic shields: experiences

from secondary and university courses

A. Garrig6s, D. Marroqui, J. M. Blanes, R. Gutierrez I. Blanquer, M. Cant6

Industrial Electronics Group Opt. Physics and Chemistry, Opt. Informatics
Miguel Hernandez University ofElche IES Xixona
Elche, Spain Xixona, Spain

Abstract- In recent years, microcontroller open-platforms This work is focused on Arduino's shield development with
and visual programming languages have gained a lot of attention. educational emphasis and particularized in two pilot experiences
Low-cost, ease of use and wide availability have opened a new door developed at the Industrial Electronics Group of the Miguel
to democratize electronics. On top ofthat, Bring Your Own Device Hernandez University of Elche. Part of this project has been
(BOYD) policies adopted at different learning stages allow the use financed by the initiative "UMH - Osmosis 2016" for education
of laptops or tablets together with those tools at home or in the innovation and relations with non university education entities.
classroom, enabling new possibilities in education. This work
presents recent activities in this sense, creating electronic II. EXPERIENCE 1- ADVANCED MULTIMETER SHIELD
hardware for Arduino boards (Arduino shields) and visual
software (Visual Basic and Scratch) for educational purposes at This project was developed in response to cover a necessity
different levels. In particular, two experiences will be detailed. in the power electronics lab at the Miguel Hernandez University
of Elche, Spain. Power and efficiency, i.e. two power
Keywords- Low-cost instruments; Arduino; Arduino shields; measurements, of DC-DC power electronics converters require
STEM; undergraduate and secondary teaching specialized and expensive equipment, or multiple calibrated
multimeters (up to four) to measure voltage and current on the
I. INTRODUCTION two ports at the same time.
The importance of STEM education (Science, Technology, Therefore, an Arduino shield was devised and implemented
Engineering and Mathematics) is nowadays highly recognised. [5] to create a versatile low-cost advanced DC multimeter which
Computer programming, biomedical scientist, electrical performs as dual: voltmeter, ammeter and power meter with
engineering, environmental analyst are a few examples of several acquiring modes and maximum-minimum register
STEM related jobs which are widely spread and have become capabilities. An Arduino Uno board and this shield form the
significant in our society. In this context, the introduction of hardware setup, please refer to figure 1.
electronics and programming basics at the early education stage
is generally recognized as an important part of STEM
Probably because of this, in recent years, microcontroller
open-platforms and visual programming languages, like
Arduino and Scratch, have gained a lot of attention [1,2]. Low-
cost, ease of use and wide availability have opened a new door
to democratize electronics. On top of that, Bring Your Own
Device (BOYD) policies adopted at different learning stages
allow the use of laptops or tablets together with those tools at
home or in the classroom, enabling new possibilities in
Around Arduino microcontrollers has grown an ecosystem
of related hardware, commonly known as Arduino shields, that
can be plugged on top of the Arduino board and extend its
capabilities. From motor controllers to wireless
communications, a wide range of hardware extensions can be
found for its use in Arduino projects [3]. Although Arduino has
its own IDE (Integrated Development Environment), using it
together with Scratch has a keen interest, especially in the early Fig. I. Advanced multimeter shield plugged on the Arduino Uno board
stages of programming teaching [4].

This work has been partially funded by the UMH-Osmosis 2016 project.

978-1-5090-5467-1/17/$31.00 ©2017 IEEE 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece

2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Page 934
This low-cost computer based instrument is completed with undergraduate programs, e.g. Analog Electronics, Digital
additional software, which is divided into two main parts. Electronics, Circuit Theory, Electronic Instrumentation, etc.
Arduino embedded code basically performs as a bridge; in one
side it communicates and controls the multimeter shield using Efficiencyl1J. Traco[]llowerltrE NI!.B-1211
the 12C serial bus while on the other side it communicates with 90
the computer by means of the USB bus.
On the computer side, a Visual Basic GUI (Graphical User
Interface), communicates with Arduino Uno (USB) and
performs data representation, data recording and multimeter 60
configuration. A GUI screenshot is represented in figure 2. 50
The USB connection provides electrical power for all 40
circuits, therefore, no further power supplies are required.
Besides, the multimeter shield is galvanically isolated from the 30
Arduino Uno board, protecting the computer and the user from 20
any potential electrical shocks. The multimeter shield self
supplies from the device under test while independent read and 10
write I2C channels have been optoisolated. 0+----...------.-------.-------,------,
o 0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 0,5

Fig. 3. Example of efficiency measurement lIsing the Advanced Multimeter

Shield on a commercial isolated DC/DC converter.

Undoubtedly, this Arduino shield could be adapted to other

uses. Being a low-cost hardware platform compatible with
Arduino, it can be programmed using other tools specifically
adapted for early education levels. It could be integrated in a
particular project too, for instance in energy monitoring projects,
like the one presented in [6].


Following with the idea of creating Arduino compatible
Fig. 2. Advanced Arduino multil11eter: Visual Basic GUI shields for educational purposes, a new and more ambitious
project has been recently initiated. The main idea is to design
As previously mentioned, the initial purpose of this and implement complete sensor shields with integrated
advanced multimeter was targeted to the power electronics lab measurement electronics to provide low-cost hardware for
in order to cover the following courses: different university or secondary school level courses.
• Power Electronics (Required - third year - Spring A pilot project has been started in collaboration with the
semester), Bachelor's in Electronic Engineering and secondary school IES Xixona, Spain, to develop a temperature
Industrial Automation and Bachelor's in measurement shield compatible with Arduino Uno. This
Telecommunications Technology Engineering. Lab multidisciplinary project involves several departments of the
sessions: Non-controlled single phase AC/DC IES Xixona and the Industrial Electronics Group of the Miguel
converters, non-controlled three phase AC/DC Hernandez University of Elche. Apart of devising and
converters, controlled single-phase AC/DC converters, constructing the hardware platform, the aim of the project is to
non-isolated DC/DC converters. create adequate contents adapted to secondary school level as
• High Frequency Converters (Elective - fourth year - well as to promote STEM activities at this age.
Spring semester), Bachelor's in Electronic Engineering An RTD (Resistance Temperature Detector) conditioned by
and Industrial Automation. Lab sessions: isolated a voltage fed Wheatstone bridge has been selected as the
DC/DC converters. electronic temperature detector, please refer to figure 4.
As an example, an efficiency measurement of an isolated This particular temperature detector solution has been
commercial DC/DC converter (Input voltage range: 9-18V, selected considering the following aspects:
Output voltage: 5V, Output current: 500mA), TEN 3-1211 from
Traco Power, is presented in figure 3. Efficiency measurement • Pt-IOO (Platinum - 100 ohms at O°C) RTD's principle of
using the advanced multimeter shield is highly automated, operation has an adequate level to young students. It
minimizing measuring errors due to multiple measurement bases on the change of electrical resistance (Ohm's law)
actions when using a single multi meter. due to temperature variations. On top of that, resistance
vs. temperature dependence in platinum is highly linear
Although currently it is limited to the power electronics lab, and accurate (I), simplifYing its mathematical
its use could be extended to other general courses in description.

978-1-5090-5467-1/17/$31.00 ©20I7 IEEE 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece

2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Page 935
R{T)=Ro{l+aT); Ro =100 ; a=O.00385 / fOe (I) In order to calibrate the system, different precision resistors
have been located in shield. These resistors replace the actual
• Wheatstone bridge is one of the most important and sensor, allowing the temperature to voltage characterization. As
used conditioning circuits that exists, but it also reveals an example, figure 6, shows bridge calibration in the range of
simple and easily understandable. It is based on O°C to lOO°C, including circuit linearization (linear regression)
differential voltage measurement in both resistor and full scale errors. Temperature vs. voltage and its
branches and has the ability to provide extremely linearization is shown in figure 7.
accurate measurements. In the form of voltage fed
bridge, the differential voltage dependent on
-2,25 "C
IT UNEAR = a(V, - V_ LNEAR + b I
Vre! 1 V
temperature is given by (2), where one can notice that Rl]I:alibration T("q V+I1IIY-IlilVI T[]]jnearl1!lpproxll QC) EllIlbslllU"q EfjelllllJ'~%)

voltage vs. temperature dependence is described by a 100,00 0,00 0,00 -2,25 2,25 2,16%

non-linear function. Final circuit gain (3) is adjusted by 105,00

a differential amplifier and then converted into a digital 121.00 54,55 0,05 56,75 2,21 2,12%
value by the Arduino board. 127,00 70,13 0,06 71,60 1,47 1,42%
133,00 85,71 0,07 85,69 0,02 0,02%
140,00 103,90 0,08 101,23 2,66 2,56%
V - V =V aT (2)
+ - ~f 2(2+aT) Fig. 6. Temperature circuit detector calibration and linearization (O°C-l OO°C)

• Last but not least, Pt-lOO RTD's are de facto standard
for many industries and applications, covering a large
temperature range. 70



Ro 10

-10 0,02 0,04 0,06 0,08

Vref Fig. 7. Temperature vs. Wheatstone bridge voltage and its linearization
(Vref=! V).

At the secondary school IES Xixona, three objectives are
mainly sought in this pilot project. Firstly, introduction to basic
electronics and programming as an innovative part ofthe student
curricula. Secondly, real application to local industrial
processes, in particular to turron (nougat), chocolate and ice
To Arduino AID channel cream manufacturing. Last but not least, promotion of
cooperative learning and PBL (Project-Based Learning)
Fig. 4. Temperature circuit detector based on RTD (Pt-100 sensor) and
methodology in the IES Xixona.
conditioned by a voltage fed Wheatstone bridge.
Temperature measurement and control is of paramount
Pt-IOO temperature sensing Arduino shield is shown in importance for many physical and chemical processes, and
figure 5. undoubtedly it appears at different levels and courses during
secondary education. Typically, physics and chemistry labs in
secondary schools include proprietary temperature sensors
connected to computers, which unfortunately becomes old
quickly, please refer to figure 8. In this context, the use of low-
cost programmable platforms allows a democratization with
many benefits, first students create new instruments for the
school but also could experiment with their devices at home,
using a BYOD approach. When designing, there is an implicit
knowledge of operation principle that can be extrapolated other
cases, promoting the student creativity.
Regarding microcontroller platforms, Arduino and PICAXE
are the two options selected for this project. Instrument shields
fit in both development boards, Arduino Uno and PICAXE
Fig. 5. RTD (Pt-l 00 sensor) temperature Arduino shield and Arduino Uno.
development starter kit

978-1-5090-5467-1/17/$31.00 ©2017 IEEE 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece

2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Page 936
At the early stage of secondary studies, specifically during
the fourth course, first programming experiments are planned
using Google Chrome extension for PICAXE boards. Currently,
the IES Xixona encourages the use of Google books among
pupils. For the upper secondary education, Arduino platform is
preferred. Both, graphical programming and text programming
approaches are introduced. S4A and Arduino IDE are the
software development tools. Advanced instrument capabilities,
including multi-channel reading, saving and actuators will be
treated. Additionally, calibration methods and statistical
methods will be necessary.

Fig. 8. Temperature mesurement set-up in IES Xixona physics lab. Fig. 9. Typical industrial "turr6n" (nougat) mixer

A third objective of the project is to link theoretical IV. CONCLUSIONS

knowledge and practical lab experiences to the industrial world.
The present work is aimed to promote the creation and the
Turron (nougat), chocolate and ice-cream manufacturing is a
use of low-cost Arduino compatible shields in different
well positioned industry in Xixona (Alicante, Spain), and, like
education stages, from early secondary school to university
any food processing mechanism, temperature has an important
levels. Two different experiences have been detailed, an
role [7]. Developed instruments including actuators are then
advanced low-cost multimeter and a digital temperature
tested and validated in different local laboratories and
monitor. Cooperation between a university group and a
companies, please refer to figure 9.
secondary school also contributes to fill the gap between these
two educational stages, especially for engineering studies.
Finally, following similar methodology, many other
developments in the frame of STEM education are possible.


[I) A. D' Ausilio, "Arduino: a low-cost multipurpose lab equipment,"

Behaviour Research Methods, Vol. 44, Issue 2, pp. 305-313,2011.
(2) 1. Maloney, M. Resnick, N. Rusk, B. Silverman, E. Eastmond, "The
Scratch programming language and environment," ACM Transactions on
Computing Education, Vol, 10, Issue 4, no 16,2010.
(3) Arduino shield list:
(4) S4A - Scratch for Arduino:
(5) V. Martin, A. Garrig6s, 1. M. Blanes, R. Gutierrez, "Vatfmetro dual y
medidor de eficiencia de bajo coste para convertidores DC/DC: shield
para Arduino," Seminario Anual de AutomMica, Electr6nica Industrial e
Instrumentaci6n, 2014, (in Spanish).
(6) K. G6mez, R. Riggio, T. Rasheed, D. Miorandi, F. Granelli, "Energino: a
hardware and software solution for energy consumption monitoring," 8~'
International Workshop on Wireless Network Measurements, 14-18 May
2012, pp. 311-317.
(7) 1.L. Jimenez Sanchez, V. Perez-Castej6n, A. Verdll, M.M.A. Miquel, A.
A. Carbonell, "Presencia de 5-hidroximetil furfural en turr6n de Jijona,"
Alimentaci6n, equipos y tecnologia, No 199,2005, pp. 58-61

978-1-5090-5467-I/l7/$31.00 ©2017 IEEE 25-28 April 2017, Athens, Greece

2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Page 937