Remotely Programmed Distance Learning System

The School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at the University of Ulster (Magee Campus, Londonderry) have set up a state-of-the-art distance learning laboratory called DIESEL (Distant Internet-Based Embedded Systems Experimental Laboratory).  Funded by the EPSRC, this high-profile project allows students to perform real experiments over the Internet from anywhere in the world.

The University decided to have a LabVIEW program communicating, using GPIB, with a function generator, oscilloscope and digital multimeter (all from Agilent), with the LabVIEW web server enabling the student to control the program remotely.  The student would apply various forms of AC and DC voltages to a variety of electronic systems using the function generator, and observe the response with the scope and multimeter.

The University scoured the Internet for a LabVIEW consultant to write the program, and awarded the contract to LiveWires. We completed the work without visiting the university – the testing phase being performed (as planned) with the help of Windows XP remote desktop!

The program’s main screen, shown below, comprises 3 “virtual instruments” and a message handling section.  The virtual instruments closely resemble their hardware counterparts.  The highly-interactive LabVIEW program allows the student to perform complex operations with the real instruments remotely.

distance-learning-screen

“We have been very pleased with the quality of the work undertaken by Automation Interfaces [LiveWires].  We have found them to be both competent and easy to work with.”

Michael Callaghan, Lecturer, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster