Electronics: signal processing, control and communications
This module teaches industrially relevant skills in the application of analogue and digital electronics to signal processing, control and communications. Signal processing looks at the ways both analogue and/or digital filters can remove noise from signals. Control shows how using feedback and a suitable controller can change the dynamic behaviour of processes (electronic/mechanical or other) to meet a desired criteria. Communication shows how cables and radio waves can communicate data.
What you will study
This module takes the ideas that you know about basic electronic circuits, together with general engineering principles, and looks at three of the main applications of electronics. It comprises three blocks: signal processing, control and communications.
Interactive software and OpenEngineering Laboratory experiments support the course materials in all three blocks. Throughout the module, we use illustrative case studies, such as the Mars rovers and some of the problems they face because of their remoteness and the inhospitable landscape.
Block 1: Signal processing
The first block introduces you to signal processing. It starts by defining what we mean by noise in a signal, showing how to explain this in the frequency domain. It then shows how we can remove the noise with the use of analogue electronic circuits – called filters. We’ll show you how to design filters to perform specific tasks by using mathematical models. We’ll also give you a refresher on complex numbers. The chapter ends with a look at digital filters. First, how we can design filters that run on computers and can perform many of the filtering tasks of analogue circuits. Finally, we look at aspects of processing that we can only do with digital signals, such as image processing.
Block 2: Control
This block introduces the idea of control theory. It discusses the basic principle of using feedback, as well as processes’ transient responses. Block 2 extends some of the ideas of mathematical modelling introduced in Block 1, so you can start designing controllers that produce the desired behaviour of a process. You’ll spend some time looking at how to implement controllers electronically in both analogue circuits and as digital algorithms. You’ll then look at some of the ideas of intelligent control, specifically fuzzy logic control and neural networks.
Block 3: Communication
The final block introduces the principles of communication, with emphasis on radio communications. It starts by looking at modulation, and how to encode a message into a radio frequency waveform. It shows the design and implementation of transmission and receiver circuits, and how radio frequency circuits differ from electronic circuits. You’ll consider aspects of both analogue and digital communications and explore the advantages of each. Finally, you’ll look at space communications – the problems that are inherent, together with the solutions.
You will learn
The knowledge and skills developed in this module are applicable in various engineering roles. At the end of it you’ll be able to:
- describe the application of electronic systems in signal processing, control and communications
- search and use relevant journal papers via the library website
- work with signals, including sampling and filtering
- design controllers to achieve a desired dynamic response
- design radio frequency circuits for transmitters and receivers
- work with equipment using the OpenEngineering Laboratory.
There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.
However, we recommend you have one of the following:
- passes in Electronics: sensing, logic and actuation (T212) and Engineering: mathematics, modelling, applications (T194)
- engineering knowledge equivalent to OU level 1 and mathematical knowledge to A-level or above; plus a pass in an electronics module from another institution at FHEQ level 5/SCQF level 9
If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.
- Three printed books written especially for the module that explain the theory behind signal processing, control and communications
- Printed guides of the practical activities.
Other materials, including the module guide, study material, videos and activities will be available from the module website, along with all University online services required for T312. It will also give access to interactive graphics, Multisim Live online circuit simulation software, and the remote OpenEngineering Laboratory.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Corporate firewalls often block the video and data connections to the OpenEngineering Laboratory; therefore, we recommend a standard ISP connection. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Recent versions of the following browsers are most suitable for carrying out web-based activities:
Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, and iOS browsers currently don’t support all the web standards used by the OpenEngineering Laboratory.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- Mac OS X 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.