Author ORCID Identifier

Huang -

Johnson -

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Avionics systems is one of the compulsory courses for students majoring in Aeronautical Engineering Technology (AET), an undergraduate program accredited by ABET-ETAC. Students in the AET program are expected to develop an integrated ability of understanding theoretical knowledge and mastering hands-on skills. An appropriate course design is vital to facilitate the development of anticipated ability. The course of avionics systems covers the theory of operation and applications of common electrical components used in various aircraft circuits, and it has been viewed as one of the difficult courses for students to apply knowledge systematically in a real working scenario. In order to deliver a successful avionics systems course, the avionics systems course typically combines lecture and lab session. Physical and mathematical relationships of electrical components are introduced in lecture sessions, and relevant applications and experiments are covered in lab sessions. In addition, it is important to enable students to integrate electrical knowledge with other relevant skills to elevate their capability to better use knowledge in problem solving. This paper introduces a hands-on project for avionics systems course to better enhance a practical education for AET students. This hands-on project proposes assembling an Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) flight tracking system as a real-world aeronautical example. ADS-B is one of the major technology components of next generation air transportation system. Students are expected to apply electrical and avionic knowledge to build up an entry-level ADS-B receiver, and deploy the receiving system to collect and decode flight data. This project requires students to have knowledge of basic electronics and avionics, basic computer programing, and basic mathematics. As a part of the AET program, this project would be in the second electronics course. The connections to the first and third courses will be detailed in the paper. To accomplish this project, students will need to assemble an ADS-B receiver using provided hardware, program the desired code, load code into hardware, deploy system to collect and decode data, and analyze the results. Therefore, the project engages students with many skills, such as circuit analysis and design, soldering, programing, and system field testing. The project helps students develop the ability of integrating skills from different courses to solve real aviation problems. A course project related to cutting-edge technology and leading to an operational project outcome allows students to have better understanding of avionics and its relevant applications.


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