Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

2011 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings


22.426 (1-19)

Conference Name

2011 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 26-29, 2011


Wireless communication becomes popular and widely used in almost every electronic product in our daily life. The RF communication is one of the major wireless applications in consumer products. Usually, it is integrated with an embedded system (microcontroller) to control various applications such as temperature sensing, data logging, data exchange, actuator activation, and user interaction wirelessly. A project based model can be used as an effective instructional strategy to enhance learning about complex RF concepts and technologies. The project method can lead to improved understanding and create interest by actively engaging the student with hands-on and problem solving and critical thinking activities. This project is based on a previously developed low cost PIC microcontroller training system that is coupled with RF communication that can be used in a variety of hands-on applications in designing senior capstone projects. A 2.4 GHz RF transceiver package (RF24J40MA) that was developed by Microchip, Inc. provides the benefits of a compact, low-cost, and easy to use product with a few or small additional parts count that includes all components less the power supply. Integrating this RF module with the PIC trainer basically requires no extra hardware, the learning of the RF concept and software development becomes the focus of the design work. The IEEE 802.15.4TM-2003 rules, standards, and software protocols designs with SPI interfacing are the center of the project. The student assessment process includes a live demonstration of the student-designed functions using a pair of the RF modules with PIC trainers. Engineering technology focuses on both "hands-on and mind-on" design work and the practice is to integrate existing technology products into real world applications. Teaching the RF concepts can be complex, tedious, and sometimes confusing. However, if it is implemented in a real-world project approach to learning by using an existing RF modules that lead to developing clear understanding and meaningful experiences in successfully applying the concepts that makes these subjects interesting as well as challenging to learn. Using the existing RF transceiver module reduces many unmanageable interferences and integrating it with microcontroller via software controls make the designs flexible to fit various needs. By integrating the RF transceiver module with a pre-developed PIC training system eliminates many uncontrollable variables. This project provides useful tools that make teaching of complex RF subjects appealing and it can easily be adopted in many potential applications. Through the implementation of this project has provided the opportunities for students to learn about current technological concepts and to prepare and qualify for high-tech jobs for today and in the future.


© 2011 American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 26-29, 2011.

Original Publication Citation

Hsiung, S., Deal III, W. F., Osorio, L. A., & Henderson, M. (2011). Design and implement a cost-effective wireless communication project on a PIC training system. Paper presented at the 2011 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada.