Special Issue "Open-Source Electronics Platforms: Development and Applications"

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Systems & Control Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Trung Dung Ngo Website E-Mail
The More Than One Robotics Laboratory, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Ave, Charlottetown PE C1A 4P3, Canada
Interests: robotics; mechatronics; automation; artificial intelligence; ubiquitous computing; embedded systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Open-source electronics platforms are becoming very popular in our daily activities. Arduino- and Raspberry-compatible modules have been applied for a wide range of applications from do-it-yourself (DIY) to industrial projects. Using open-source electronics platforms as educational tools for teaching engineering and science at universities is undeniable. Influences of open-source electronics platforms in technological renovations and social impacts have been well recognized.

The aim of this Special Issue is to gather the most recent development and applications of open-source electronics platforms. We invite all papers with novel contributions in principles, development and applications of open-source electronics platforms with, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Current state of the art of open-source electronics platforms
  • Principles and development of open-source electronics platforms
  • Software frameworks and operating systems for open-source electronics platforms
  • Using open-source electronics platforms to develop modern information systems including IoT, cyber-physical systems, sensor networks, automation, and robotics.
  • Usability of open-source electronics platforms in research and education

Dr. Trung Dung Ngo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Electronics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Hardware platforms
  • Software frameworks
  • Free operating systems
  • Open-source drivers and firmware
  • Communication protocols
  • Internet of Things
  • Cyber-physical Systems
  • Sensor networks
  • Robotics
  • Automation
  • Educational tools
  • Engineering and science education
  • Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects
  • High-level research projects

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Open-Source Electronics Platforms: Development and Applications
Electronics 2019, 8(4), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8040428 - 12 Apr 2019
Abstract
Open-source electronics are becoming very popular with our daily educational and developmental purposes [...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Open-Source Hardware Platforms for Smart Converters with Cloud Connectivity
Electronics 2019, 8(3), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8030367 - 26 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper presents the design and hardware implementation of open-source hardware dedicated to smart converter systems development. Smart converters are simple or interleaved converters. They are equipped with controllers that are able to online impedance match for the maximum power transfer. These conversion [...] Read more.
This paper presents the design and hardware implementation of open-source hardware dedicated to smart converter systems development. Smart converters are simple or interleaved converters. They are equipped with controllers that are able to online impedance match for the maximum power transfer. These conversion systems are particularly feasible for photovoltaic and all renewable energies systems working in continuous changing operating conditions. Smart converters represent promising solutions in recent energetic scenarios, in fact their application is deepening and widening. In this context, the availability of a hardware platform could represent a useful tool. The platform was conceived and released as an open hardware instrument for academy and industry to benefit from the improvements brought by the researchers’ community. The usage of a novel, open-source platform would allow many developers to design smart converters, focusing on algorithms instead of electronics, which could result in a better overall development ecosystem and rapid growth in the number of smart converter applications. The platform itself is proposed as a benchmark in the development and testing of different maximum power point tracking algorithms. The designed system is capable of accurate code implementations, allowing the testing of different current and voltage-controlled algorithms for different renewable energies systems. The circuit features a bi-directional radio frequency communication channel that enables real-time reading of measurements and parameters, and remote modification of both algorithm types and settings. The proposed system was developed and successfully tested in laboratory with a solar module simulator and with real photovoltaic generators. Experimental results indicate state-of-art performances as a converter, while enhanced smart features pave the way to system-level management, real-time diagnostics, and on-the-flight parameters change. Furthermore, the deployment feasibility allows different combinations and arrangements of several energy sources, converters (both single and multi-converters), and modulation strategies. To our knowledge, this project remains the only open-source hardware smart converter platform used for educational, research, and industrial purposes so far. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
DSCBlocks: An Open-Source Platform for Learning Embedded Systems Based on Algorithm Visualizations and Digital Signal Controllers
Electronics 2019, 8(2), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8020228 - 18 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
DSCBlocks is an open-source platform in hardware and software developed in JavaFX, which is focused on learning embedded systems through Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs). These devices are employed in industrial and educational sectors due to their robustness, number of peripherals, processing speed, scalability [...] Read more.
DSCBlocks is an open-source platform in hardware and software developed in JavaFX, which is focused on learning embedded systems through Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs). These devices are employed in industrial and educational sectors due to their robustness, number of peripherals, processing speed, scalability and versatility. The platform uses graphical blocks designed in Google’s tool Blockly that can be used to build different Algorithm Visualizations (AVs). Afterwards, the algorithms are converted in real-time to C language, according to the specifications of the compiler for the DSCs (XC16) and they can be downloaded in one of the two models of development board for the dsPIC 33FJ128GP804 and dsPIC 33FJ128MC802. The main aim of the platform is to provide a flexible environment, drawing on the educational advantages of the AVs with different aspects concerning the embedded systems, such as declaration of variables and functions, configuration of ports and peripherals, handling of Real-Time Operating System (RTOS), interrupts, among others, that are employed in several fields such as robotics, control, instrumentation, etc. In addition, some experiments that were designed in the platform are presented in the manuscript. The educational methodology and the assessment provided by the students (n = 30) suggest that the platform is suitable and reliable to learn concepts relating to embedded systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design of an Open Platform for Multi-Disciplinary Approach in Project-Based Learning of an EPICS Class
Electronics 2019, 8(2), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8020200 - 10 Feb 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Nowadays, global engineers need to be equipped with professional skills and knowledge to solve 21st century problems. The educational program, created in digital learning rooms of the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP) program supported by Arizona State University, became a pioneer in [...] Read more.
Nowadays, global engineers need to be equipped with professional skills and knowledge to solve 21st century problems. The educational program, created in digital learning rooms of the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP) program supported by Arizona State University, became a pioneer in teaching learners to work within the community. First, the combination of a novel instructional strategy and an integrated education in which project-based approach is employed to apply the technical knowledge. During this, students in mechatronics, computer science, and mechanics must collaborate with peers from industrial systems engineering. Second, in this paper, the design of an open structure connecting multi-disciplinary major is illustrated with a new teaching approach. It is proved to be better by combining specialized understandings of various types in a wide range of applications. From this basis support, participants could implement additional components quickly while keeping the cost low, making the products feasible and user-friendly. Last but not least, students are facilitated with a free library that helps to control simply despite lacking experience in robotics or automation. Several examples show that students are capable of developing things by themselves on open design. In brief, this platform might be an excellent tool to teach and visualize the practical scenario in a multi-disciplinary field. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
PiBot: An Open Low-Cost Robotic Platform with Camera for STEM Education
Electronics 2018, 7(12), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7120430 - 12 Dec 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
This paper presents a robotic platform, PiBot, which was developed to improve the teaching of robotics with vision to secondary students. Its computational core is the Raspberry Pi 3 controller board, and the greatest novelty of this prototype is the support developed for [...] Read more.
This paper presents a robotic platform, PiBot, which was developed to improve the teaching of robotics with vision to secondary students. Its computational core is the Raspberry Pi 3 controller board, and the greatest novelty of this prototype is the support developed for the powerful camera mounted on board, the PiCamera. An open software infrastructure written in Python language was implemented so that the student may use this camera as the main sensor of the robotic platform. Furthermore, higher-level commands were provided to enhance the learning outcome for beginners. In addition, a PiBot 3D printable model and the counterpart for the Gazebo simulator were also developed and fully supported. They are publicly available so that students and schools without the physical robot or that cannot afford to obtain one, can nevertheless practice, learn and teach Robotics using these open platforms: DIY-PiBot and/or simulated-PiBot. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Comprehensive IoT Node Proposal Using Open Hardware. A Smart Farming Use Case to Monitor Vineyards
Electronics 2018, 7(12), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7120419 - 10 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The last decade has witnessed a significant reduction in prices and an increased performance of electronic components, coupled with the influence of the shift towards the generation of open resources, both in terms of knowledge (open access), programs (open-source software), and components (open [...] Read more.
The last decade has witnessed a significant reduction in prices and an increased performance of electronic components, coupled with the influence of the shift towards the generation of open resources, both in terms of knowledge (open access), programs (open-source software), and components (open hardware). This situation has produced different effects in today’s society, among which is the empowerment of citizens, called makers, who are themselves able to generate citizen science or build assembly developments. Situated in the context described above, the current study follows a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach. In this way, it attempts to define a conceptual design of an Internet of Things (IoT) node, which is reproducible at both physical and behavioral levels, to build IoT nodes which can cover any scenario. To test this conceptual design, this study proposes a sensorization node to monitor meteorological phenomena. The node is called SEnviro (node) and features different improvements such as: the possibility of remote updates using Over-the-Air (OTA) updates; autonomy, using 3G connectivity, a solar panel, and applied energy strategies to prolong its life; and replicability, because it is made up of open hardware and other elements such as 3D-printed pieces. The node is validated in the field of smart agriculture, with the aim of monitoring different meteorological phenomena, which will be used as input to disease detection models to detect possible diseases within vineyards. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Implementation of a Sensor-Cloud Platform for Physical Sensor Management on CoT Environments
Electronics 2018, 7(8), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7080140 - 07 Aug 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the ubiquity of the Internet by integrating all objects for interaction via embedded systems, leading to a highly distributed network of devices communicating with human beings as well as other devices. In recent [...] Read more.
The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the ubiquity of the Internet by integrating all objects for interaction via embedded systems, leading to a highly distributed network of devices communicating with human beings as well as other devices. In recent years, cloud computing has attracted a lot of attention from specialists and experts around the world. With the increasing number of distributed sensor nodes in wireless sensor networks, new models for interacting with wireless sensors using the cloud are intended to overcome restricted resources and efficiency. In this paper, we propose a novel sensor-cloud based platform which is able to virtualize physical sensors as virtual sensors in the CoT (Cloud of Things) environment. Virtual sensors, which are the essentials of this sensor-cloud architecture, simplify the process of generating a multiuser environment over resource-constrained physical wireless sensors and can help in implementing applications across different domains. Virtual sensors are dynamically provided in a group which advantages capability of the management the designed platform. An auto-detection approach on the basis of virtual sensors is additionally proposed to identify the accessible physical sensors nodes even if the status of these sensors are offline. In order to assess the usability of the designed platform, a smart-space-based IoT case study was implemented, and a series of experiments were carried out to evaluate the proposed system performance. Furthermore, a comparison analysis was made and the results indicate that the proposed platform outperforms the existing platforms in numerous respects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Creation and Detection of Hardware Trojans Using Non-Invasive Off-The-Shelf Technologies
Electronics 2018, 7(7), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7070124 - 22 Jul 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
As a result of the globalisation of the semiconductor design and fabrication processes, integrated circuits are becoming increasingly vulnerable to malicious attacks. The most concerning threats are hardware trojans. A hardware trojan is a malicious inclusion or alteration to the existing design of [...] Read more.
As a result of the globalisation of the semiconductor design and fabrication processes, integrated circuits are becoming increasingly vulnerable to malicious attacks. The most concerning threats are hardware trojans. A hardware trojan is a malicious inclusion or alteration to the existing design of an integrated circuit, with the possible effects ranging from leakage of sensitive information to the complete destruction of the integrated circuit itself. While the majority of existing detection schemes focus on test-time, they all require expensive methodologies to detect hardware trojans. Off-the-shelf approaches have often been overlooked due to limited hardware resources and detection accuracy. With the advances in technologies and the democratisation of open-source hardware, however, these tools enable the detection of hardware trojans at reduced costs during or after production. In this manuscript, a hardware trojan is created and emulated on a consumer FPGA board. The experiments to detect the trojan in a dormant and active state are made using off-the-shelf technologies taking advantage of different techniques such as Power Analysis Reports, Side Channel Analysis and Thermal Measurements. Furthermore, multiple attempts to detect the trojan are demonstrated and benchmarked. Our simulations result in a state-of-the-art methodology to accurately detect the trojan in both dormant and active states using off-the-shelf hardware. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Quality of Service on Cloud Based Industrial IoT Applications with OPC UA
Electronics 2018, 7(7), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7070109 - 09 Jul 2018
Cited by 11
Abstract
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is becoming a reality thanks to Industry 4.0, which requires the Internet connection of as many industrial devices as possible. The sharing and storing of a huge amount of data in the Cloud allows the implementation of [...] Read more.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is becoming a reality thanks to Industry 4.0, which requires the Internet connection of as many industrial devices as possible. The sharing and storing of a huge amount of data in the Cloud allows the implementation of new analysis algorithms and the delivery of new “services” with added value. From an economical point of view, several factors can decide the success of Industry 4.0 new services but, among others, the “short latency” can be one of the most interesting, especially in the industrial market that is used to the “real-time” concept. For these reasons, this work proposes an experimental methodology to investigate the impact of quality of service parameters on the communication delay from the production line to the Cloud and vice versa, when gateways with OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) are used for accessing data directly in the production line. In this work, the feasibility of the proposed test methodology has been demonstrated by means of a use case with a Siemens S7 1500 controller exchanging data with the IBM Bluemix platform. The experimental results show that, thanks to the proposed method, the solutions based on OPC UA for the implementation of industrial IoT gateways can be easily evaluated, compared and optimized. For instance, during the 14-day observation period of the considered use case, the great impact on performance of the Quality of Service parameters emerged. Indeed, the average communication delay from the production line to the Cloud may vary from less than 90 ms to about 300 ms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Platform Development of a Real-Time Momentum Data Collection System for Livestock in Wide Grazing Land
Electronics 2018, 7(5), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7050071 - 14 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the process of animal husbandry production through grazing, animals are active in large grassland or mountain areas, and it is very difficult to obtain and deal with the information on animal activity and state of life. In this paper, we propose a [...] Read more.
In the process of animal husbandry production through grazing, animals are active in large grassland or mountain areas, and it is very difficult to obtain and deal with the information on animal activity and state of life. In this paper, we propose a platform for operation of data transmission and analysis system which gathers activity and status information of livestock. The data collected in real time from integrated livestock sensor modules are anticipated to assist farmers to supervise animal activities and health. While at the same time the improvements of viable farming techniques are expected to reduce the impact of the livestock industry on the environment. For the individual management of target livestock, the data collection system needs a convergence technology with a physical active sensor, a wireless sensor network and solar power technology to cover the wide area of mountains. We implemented a momentum data collection system to collect and transfer the information of ecological and situations of livestock in grazing, which include sensor and communication modules, repeaters with solar panels to cover the problems of communications in wide grazing and a receiver connected to main server. Besides, in order to prevent data collisions and deviations on multiple transmitter operation, we renewed the format of the communication protocol and made a platform to analyze animal activities information by software. Finally, the system and platform were applied and tested in National Rural Development Administration in Republic of Korea. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Blockchain-Oriented Coalition Formation by CPS Resources: Ontological Approach and Case Study
Electronics 2018, 7(5), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7050066 - 08 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Cyber-physical systems (CPS), robotics, Internet of Things, information and communication technologies have become more and more popular over the last several years. These topics open new perspectives and scenarios that can automate processes in human life. CPS are aimed at interaction support in [...] Read more.
Cyber-physical systems (CPS), robotics, Internet of Things, information and communication technologies have become more and more popular over the last several years. These topics open new perspectives and scenarios that can automate processes in human life. CPS are aimed at interaction support in information space for physical entities communicated in physical space in real time. At the same time the blockchain technology that becomes popular last years allows to organize immutable distributed database that store all significant information and provide access for CPS participants. The paper proposes an approach that is based on ontology-based context management, publish/subscribe semantic interoperability support, and blockchain techniques. Utilization of these techniques provide possibilities to develop CPS that supports dynamic, distributed, and stable coalition formation of the resources. The case study presented has been implemented for the scenario of heterogeneous mobile robots’ collaboration for the overcoming of obstacles. There are two types of robots and an information service participating in the scenario. Evaluation shows that the proposed approach is applicable for the presented class of scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of EOG-Based Human Computer Interface (HCI) System Using Piecewise Linear Approximation (PLA) and Support Vector Regression (SVR)
Electronics 2018, 7(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7030038 - 09 Mar 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Electrooculogram (EOG)-based human-computer interfaces (HCIs) are widely researched and considered to be a good HCI option for disabled people. However, conventional systems can only detect eye direction or blinking action. In this paper, we developed a bio-signal-based HCI that can quantitatively estimate the [...] Read more.
Electrooculogram (EOG)-based human-computer interfaces (HCIs) are widely researched and considered to be a good HCI option for disabled people. However, conventional systems can only detect eye direction or blinking action. In this paper, we developed a bio-signal-based HCI that can quantitatively estimate the horizontal position of eyeball. A designed bio-signal acquisition system can measure EOG and temporalis electromyogram (EMG) signals simultaneously without additional electrodes. For real-time processing for practical application, modified sliding window algorithms are designed and applied for piecewise linear approximation (PLA). To find the eyeball position, support vector regression (SVR) is applied as a curve-fitting model. The average tracking error for target circle with a diameter of 3 cm showed only 1.4 cm difference on the screen with a width of 51 cm. A developed HCI system can perform operations similar to dragging and dropping used in a mouse interface in less than 5 s with only eyeball movement and bite action. Compare to conventional EOG-based HCI that detects the position of the eyeball only in 0 and 1 levels, a developed system can continuously track the eyeball position in less than 0.2 s. In addition, compared to conventional EOG-based HCI, the reduced number of electrodes can enhance the interface usability. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Open-Source Electronics Platforms as Enabling Technologies for Smart Cities: Recent Developments and Perspectives
Electronics 2018, 7(12), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7120404 - 07 Dec 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
With the increasing availability of affordable open-source embedded hardware platforms, the development of low-cost programmable devices for uncountable tasks has accelerated in recent years. In this sense, the large development community that is being created around popular platforms is also contributing to the [...] Read more.
With the increasing availability of affordable open-source embedded hardware platforms, the development of low-cost programmable devices for uncountable tasks has accelerated in recent years. In this sense, the large development community that is being created around popular platforms is also contributing to the construction of Internet of Things applications, which can ultimately support the maturation of the smart-cities era. Popular platforms such as Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard and Arduino come as single-board open-source platforms that have enough computational power for different types of smart-city applications, while keeping affordable prices and encompassing many programming libraries and useful hardware extensions. As a result, smart-city solutions based on such platforms are becoming common and the surveying of recent research in this area can support a better understanding of this scenario, as presented in this article. Moreover, discussions about the continuous developments in these platforms can also indicate promising perspectives when using these boards as key elements to build smart cities. Full article
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