1st course in the Embedding Sensors and Motors Specialization.

Instructors: Jay Mendelson, MSME, Lecturer​ & James Zweighaft, MSME

Note: This specialization requires purchase of a hardware kit in order to apply your knowledge and skill with real world tools. The hardware will be used to complete the lab exercises across the four courses of this specialization. Please allow adequate time to receive the hardware. It is highly suggested that you receive the hardware by the end of the first week of the session.

Prior knowledge needed: Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Fundamental Physics and Unit Conversion.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand how to specify the proper thermal, flow, or rotary sensor for taking real-time process data.
  • Implement thermal sensors into an embedded system in both hardware and software.
  • Add the sensor and sensor interface into a microprocessor based development kit.
  • Create hardware and firmware to process sensor signals and feed data to a microprocessor for further evaluation.
  • Study sensor signal noise and apply proper hardware techniques to reduce it to acceptable levels.


Duration: 5 hours

In module 1 you will learn how to specify and use temperature sensors in an embedded circuit. First, you will learn about common types of sensors and actuators found in common products such as smartphones and automobiles. Then you will get a high-level overview of analog and digital interfaces, followed by a deep dive into thermistors, RTD’s, and thermocouples. For each of these three types of thermal sensors, we define the core theory and formulae, give you examples of how commercial sensors are packaged, and explain what you need to know to purchase them on a web site.

Duration: 5 hours

In module 2 you will learn how to design a complete temperature sensor system within a development kit environment. We will teach you how to assign internal components to the schematic. This includes pins, amplifiers, MUX’s, DAC’s, and ADC’s. Then you will learn how to wire in external parts: resistors, thermistors in particular, to the kit. Finally, you will take a deep dive into interfacing a thermistor and associated front end components to the development kit. This includes lessons on using the schematic portion of the kit, as well as writing application software in c code.

Duration: 7 hours

In module 3 you will learn how rotary sensors work and how to specify them for purchase. In our videos rotary sensors include both optical encoders and resolvers. You will also learn the design intricacies of flow sensors, along with their appropriate applications. The videos will discuss variable area, differential pressure, vortex, ultrasonic, turbine, thermal mass flow, and coriolis flow meters.

Duration: 5 hours

In module 4 you will learn the theory and practical application of amplifiers and circuit noise. You will review how gain is calculated in inverting, non-inverting, summing, differential, and instrumentation amplifiers. We will then contrast theoretical vs. real-world amplifier performance, and give examples of how commercial chips specs are interpreted. Then we will discuss the causes of noise in sensor circuits, how the noise affects sensor accuracy, and some steps you can take to reduce noise in your sensor circuit designs.

Duration: 9 hours

This module contains the materials you need to complete the thermistor lab assignment.

Duration: 2 hours

Final exam for this course.

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Percentage of Grade

Week 1: Assignment: Temperature Sensors


Week 1: Quiz 


Week 2: Quiz


Week 3: Assignment: Rotary Sensors


Week 3: Assignment: Flow Sensors


Week 3: Quiz


Week 4: Assignment: Amplifiers and Sensor Noise


Week 4: Quiz


Week 5: Course Project Quiz


Week 6: Final Exam


Letter Grade Rubric 

Letter Grade 
Minimum Percentage











Component List

You will need to buy the following components to do the course project based on the videos in this module. Note that if you have already purchased the PSOC 5LP PROTOTYPING KIT, you do not need to buy it again. These parts may be purchased off the Digikey website at www.digikey.com. Or, you may obtain the specs from the site, and purchase them elsewhere.

These are the part numbers for the below table, the lab on Thermistors. You can copy and paste them into the search engine on the Digikey website. You need one of each of these parts.

  • 428-3390-ND (PSOC 5LP Prototyping kit)
  • NHD-0216BZ-RN-YBW-ND
  • 570-1229-ND
  • A105970CT-ND