Instrumentation: Measurement and Control in Biological Systems

Laboratory Resources Using MATLAB

This course (BSE 4004) uses MATLAB to connect the computer to various measurement systems using different communication protocols (USB, RS232C and GPIB). The drivers for the instruments were all within standard capabilities of MathWorks products, namely MATLAB, Data Acquisition Toolbox, and Instrument Control Toolbox. MathWorks provided some guidance with the specific instruments used in this course. Their efforts are appreciated.

The Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) received an NSF grant to develop a curriculum based on the spiral-learning concept: repeatedly visiting authentic problems in the domain with increasing complexity. This concept may be applied not only to the achievement of domain-specific learning outcomes, such as the ability to control a biological system, but also to the development of competence with the "modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice," such as MATLAB. Specifically, students entering the engineering program learn to use MATLAB for graphing and simple calculations during their freshmen year. In the following year, students in BSE complete instrumentation exercises in their sophomore design course (for example, switching a light on/off to achieve and maintain a desired temperature setting in a confined space) and also undertake a course on numerical methods using MATLAB. Students in the junior year take this course (Instrumentation), and in the senior year they complete the spiral-learning process by applying the skills developed to their capstone design project.

Even within this Instrumentation course, the spiral theme is apparent as students are expected to apply MATLAB to data acquisition and analysis problems with increasing complexity. For example, the students are initially given the MATLAB files for connecting to a multimeter. Later they are asked to develop MATLAB files to interface with a datalogger. Finally, they are required to apply digital signal processing and statistical analysis to the data collected from the instruments.

This page provides links to various resources used in the course (the lab handouts, MATLAB files, and the driver files to connect to specific instruments). Specific note of required hardware and software is made in each lab handout. MathWorks R2009a release was used in this course.

Lab 1. MATLAB Introduction

Lab 2. Temperature Lab

Lab 3. Optical Measurement

Lab 4. Fast Fourier Transformation

Lab 5. Hardware Interface

Lab 6. pH Measurement

Lab 7. Data analysis (Chromatography)

Lab 8. Pressure Measurement

Lab 9. Flow Measurement

Lab 10. Force (Strain Gauge) measurement

Lab 11. Gas pressure monitoring

Course Feedback:

For feedback specific to this course, or questions related to it, please contact Dr Kumar Mallikarjunan (kumar at

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