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Development of a universal microcontroller module with USB-interface

Martin Degelsegger

In the field of measurement and sensor technology the evaluation of measurement principles as well as the characterization of already commercially available sensors is of great importance. Although there are various challenges, in a first test it is often sufficient to check the principal suitability of the chosen technique or sensor for the given task. In most cases, however, the effort for acquiring and processing the output signals of the sensor must not be underestimated. Especially modern, highly integrated sensors often only feature digital interfaces. While this, due to the lack of external analog circuitry, poses a great advantage from an electronics- and measurement technology based point of view, it also prevents established lab equipment like multimeters and oscilloscopes from being used for a quick evaluation.

The availabilty of cost-efficient microcontrollers - being quite easy to master while still providing an extensive feature set - opens up an effective possibilty to address this problem. Therefore, in the course of this project work a universially applicable microcontroller-module has been developed. It is supposed to simplify the acquisition of different signal types, thereby reducing the effort required for sensor signal processing significantly.

Special attention has been paid to ensure easy handling of the unit. Thus, besides the nowadays obligatory USB-interface, the module features dedicated connectors for several digital interfaces, a number of LEDs and buttons, as well as a memory card slot. Additionally, it was designed for mechanical robustness. A special feature is the extensive software framework, which readily provides most of the often-required functionality. This allows the user to focus on his acutal objective, without having to familiarize with the underlying microcontroller architecture in overly great detail.

Figure 1: Photo of the completed module with attached USB--cable on a breadboard

Figure 1: Photo of the completed module with attached USB-cable on a breadboard

Keywords: microcontroller, module, USB, AVR, ATmega32U4, memorycard, datalogger

September 6, 2010