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ECEN 4610 Projects
Fall 2011


Team members:

        Eric Anderson
        Chris Messick
        John O'Neal
        Michael Santoro

Project Description

We intend to build a system which can accurately track the position and orientation of a user's hands. This will provide a computer interface for a variety of possible applications such as 3D modeling and remote surgery. We will track the hands using ultrasonic trilateration. A base station will control ultrasonic emitters, which will send acoustic "pings" to circuits on the hands at the same time as a synchronizing RF signal. Small receivers on the tips of each finger and the back of the hand will listen for these pings. The 3D location of these six points will then be calculated and relayed back to the base station using a microprocessor and RF transceiver.

Success of the system will be gauged by several factors. The first is how accurately we can track the individual points on the hands. To measure this we will compare the calculated location to the actual physical position of a sensor with respect to the emitters. The second factor will be how well we can extrapolate finger position and hand orientation in the 3D model. The final metric of success will be the performance of the entire system, meaning how quickly we will be able to track the hands and how smoothly we can render the model so that as the user's physical hands move it appears that the model is updated instantaneously.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (5.4 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (4.2 MB PowerPoint)

Team Jeeves

Team members:

        Hameed Ebadi
        Chris Pearson
        Alissa Halvorson
        Daniel Steffy
        Bogdan Pisica

Project Description

Our project will be a Robot Butler (henceforth known as Jeeves) that will bring the user a beverage. This will be accomplished by the operator having a beacon on their person that allows the Robot to identify which direction it should go. Jeeves then uses path-finding to get from its current location to the user's location. Jeeves' original location can be set by the user, which will be the location it returns to while idle. The user can select from several beverage options, which Jeeves then processes and acquires the correct selection from a dispenser at its home location. It then brings the beverage to the user and uses a similar method to return to its home location.

We plan on using a unique signal that Jeeves will be able to receive and interpret to determine both the direction of the beacon as well as the specified beverage choice the user made. We also will be using directional antennae for the long range direction finding and use a RFID tag for short range determination of when the robot needs to stop. If needed, we can use a line-of-sight sensor that will determine the long range direction. We are planning on using ultra-sonic sensors to determine how far away Jeeves is from the different objects and hazards in its path. The robot itself will have two separate wheels and motors as well as a third wheel for stabilization.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (0.8 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (2.5 MB PowerPoint)

Team Microbuoy

Team members:

        Bruce Chen
        Spencer Krist
        Phong Nguyen
        Eric Stevens
        Louis Tuey

Project Description

Our project was suggested to us by Professor Scott Palo of the Aerospace Engineering Dept. We will be designing a small weather SONDE that will be dropped from a UAV into the ocean to measure water temperatures at various depths. The small buoy will have at its core a microprocessor that will control the data handling, RF communication, as well as GPS location. Data is taken from thermistors that are attached to a probe that reaches about a meter into the water and is then passed to the microprocessor. From there it needs to be packaged and sent to the overhead UAV, via xBee radio communication. Power management will also be important to ensure our buoy can operate for a desired 2 weeks. We only need to operate at full power when communicating directly with the UAV, otherwise the buoy should be in a "power-save" mode with limited active communication bandwidth. The purpose of this project is to measure the water temperatures at areas near melting ice caps that will help us better understand the science behind this natural phenomena.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (4.6 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (2.5 MB PowerPoint)

Team MiniMuffins

Team members:

        Jacob Beckner
        Kevin Bodkin
        Lauren Glogiewicz
        James Holley
        Philip Terry

Project Description

Our project is to design and implement an electromagnetic bearing. This bearing will consist of a ring of eight electromagnets with an axle suspended in the center. This will create a frictionless bearing that is not limited by restrictions inherent to mechanical bearings such as heat and a maximum speed. Controlling the current of each magnet will allow the axle position within the ring to be adjusted. Magnetic bearings require precise position sensing and control to keep the system in equilibrium since the force of the magnetic field is proportional to the square of the distance. Once we have a functional magnetic bearing we will look into the possibility of expanded features to the project.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (2 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (2.8 MB PowerPoint)

Team NOAA's Ark

Team members:

        Adam Ornstein
        Troy Owens
        Dmitriy Polyakov
        Michael Tanksalava
        John Trytko

Project Description

Our Capstone project will entail creating an Open Cavity Phase Shift Cavity Ringdown instrument in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A Phase Shift Cavity Ringdown instrument uses a laser reflecting between two mirrors to determine properties of the medium through which it is propagating. By measuring the phase shift of the laser through the cavity relative to the initial phase, the instrument can discriminate between different mediums, such as air, nitrogen, smoke, aerosol particles, etc. The instrument should be able to measure and record a phase shift, be able to align its internal optics, and should be compact, portable, and easy to use. This instrument will be used to measure density of aerosol particles, such as pollution, or as a reference for the calibration of other instruments.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (0.7 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (1.7 MB PowerPoint)

Team Power Blocks

Team members:

        Michael Badaracca
        Peter Brehm
        Tenzin Choephak
        David Fiedeldey
        Micahl Keitner

Project Description

We intend to provide control and efficiency to household power grids. Power Blocks is a spinoff of the common power strip, allowing for individual outlet control and minimizing phantom loads from everyday electronics. The power strip will be able to accommodate a variable number of outlets through the use of modular blocks. Each outlet can be turned on/off while monitoring power consumption. A separate base station will be utilized to communicate and interface with several power strips while allowing user control to specify behaviors for each outlet. Below is an outline for each system; The Base Station, Power Strip, and User Interface. Each system has a list of objects that are expected and additional features that are desired once basic functionality has been established.

Strip Functionality:

  1. Independently controlled outlets
  2. Modular Plug "Blocks"
  3. Power meter/Efficiency reporting
Communication Options for Strip: Base Station Functionality Product Functionality/Control:
  1. On/Off/Comm.
  2. Personal schedule
  3. Door sensor (3 and 4 may switch locations)
  4. Home Presence Sensing

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (2.8 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (3.0 MB PowerPoint)


Team members:

        Melissa Jansen
        Mahdi Mogadham
        Robert Morson
        Bianca Ragin
        Angelina Uribe

Project Description

For our capstone project, we have decided to design a robotic butler that will come when it is called. It will be able to carry drinks, snacks, and plates. It will move autonomously once called. Part of the functionality will be to sense obstacles and navigate around them in order to travel to the caller. It will also need a sensor, possibly using GPS technology, to find the person that called it. Ideally, we would like it to be called verbally; but to start with, we are going to have it respond to a certain number of claps.

If and when we have successfully completed the functionality above, we would like to add a low supply indicator for each snack container and a candy shooter. The low supply indicator will be a led light that will turn on as soon as the snack has reached a certain level. We would also like to add a small sweeper on the underside of the unit that will pick up any crumbs that it encounters. Also, we want to add a speaker that will deliver a random compliment from a pre-programmed list.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (2.6 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (4.9 MB PowerPoint)

Team TeamWork

Team members:

        Phillip Crosby
        Brian French
        Danny Gale
        David Harrison
        Max Perez

Project Description

We aim to design an RF-recieving module that will collect atmosphereic ice and water data to be used by scientists studying climate change. This module will interface with a power system and transmitter to be implemented on a CubeSAT satellite. The satellite will likely be orbiting above the earth in a geosynchronous orbit.

The frequency of the electro-magnetic waves that we will observe is on the order of 118 GHz, which will pose some unique design challenges. The incoming radiation will be captured using an RF horn, as opposed to a traditional antenna. The waves will then be directed through waveguides to an analog mixer which will decrease the frequency content of the incoming waves to something closer to 20 GHz for ease of processing, and then passed through to an A/D converter. The quantized samples will then be multiplexed into an array of digital filters in order to examine in which bands the spectral energy density lies.

The data will be passed into a microprocessor and we will develop a SPI bus interface so that the data can be sent back to Earth via the transmitter that is also located within the payload.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (1.2 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  ( MB PowerPoint)

Team Unlucky 5

Team members:

        Kareem Nammari
        Edward Nicholson
        Kari Skupa
        John Stanway
        Cui Sun

Project Description

This project is a laser microphone. This is a surveillance device that will use a laser to pick up vibrations on a surface and convert it to sound. The benefits of the laser microphone are primarily range and difficulty of detection.

The major goals for this project are: to use a differential interferometer to measure the vibration on a surface; to process the received signal to produce a real-time audio signal; to use digital processing to export the signal; to incorporate wireless functionality for remote monitoring. The main benefit of a differential interferometer is that it provides a reduced sensitivity to large vibrations. These large vibrations can be a very large source of noise in a traditional interferometer. Real time audio output allows for constant human surveillance. Digital processing will allow for signals to be exported to a computer for processing or even allow recording to on board memory for export at a later time. This increases the versatility of the device and adds convince for the user. Wireless data export allows for remote monitoring increasing the difficulty of detection without sophisticated equipment.

Preliminary Design Review presentation:  (3.3 MB PowerPoint)

Critical Design Review presentation:  (4.0 MB PowerPoint)