Iowa State University Electrical and Computer Engineering EE/CprE 491 & 492
Senior Design

Current projects: Dec 2000
(2nd Semester)

Dec00-01: Personal Medical Assistant
Dec00-02: Coin-Operated Washing Machines and Dryers - An Alternative Solution
Dec00-03: One Time Passwords Using Biometrics
Dec00-04: DC Current Sensing for Industrial Circuit Breakers
Dec00-05: Expand Direct Digital Control Lab Stations and Include Control Loop Demonstration
Dec00-06: Exterior Lighting Design for Research Site
Dec00-07: Immersive Video and Audio Streaming for Collaborative Virtual Environments
Dec00-08: Student Module Design and Development for a Power System Operator Training Simulator
Dec00-09: Corn Combine Control System
Dec00-10: Equation-Based Question Template for Ecademy
Dec00-11: MP3-Based Digital Record and Playback Device
Dec00-12: Computer Security
Dec00-13: Bluetooth Integration on the TRGPro

Project Number: dec00-01 (2000-01)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Personal Medical Assistant

Project Description: Many people have medical conditions that require them to take multiple medications more than once per day for prolonged periods of time. Failure to take these medications on schedule can have significant health consequences. The previous, ongoing project completed a survey of a group of doctors, healthcare providers, and patients to determine the desired requirements for a two-part system. The first part is a small hand-held device, which will remind people to take their medications. The second part is a set of software for a personal computer in a doctor's office. After connecting the hand-held device to the personal computer, a medical staff person will enter the medication schedule into the personal computer and download it into the hand-held device. This part of the project will develop an expanded version of the first system. The new system will allow a person to enter vital information, such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and blood sugar level into the expanded hand-held device as requested by the doctor at specific times between appointments with the doctor. The person would enter the requested information when prompted by the device. During the next appointment with the doctor, the recorded information would be retrieved and uploaded to the personal computer in the doctor's office for review by the doctor.

Deliverables: An expanded prototype system and associated software for communication, analysis, and record keeping

Faculty Advisor(s): Lamont and Patterson Client: Lamont and Patterson
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(3)
Holdmeyer, Ryan Paul CprE Magee, Todd Evan EE
Sellappan, Chandra Seelan CprE Potter, Benjamin Garrett EE
Smith, Tabitha Ann CprE Wittry, Melanie Jane EE

Project Number: dec00-02 (2000-02)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Coin-Operated Washing Machines and Dryers - An Alternative Solution

Project Description: The mechanisms for coin-operated washers and dryers have not changed for over 20 years. Like the old mechanical parking meters vs. the new "smart" electronic parking meters, this appliance accessory is due for a substantial upgrade. Among the problems with the old mechanical coin-operated timer devices for washers and dryers are:

  1. Expensive - a coin operated washer or dryer is about $300-$400 more expensive than a comparative standard washer or dryer. Part of the expense is due to the mechanism itself, and part is due to additional interior wiring and special exterior re-design.
  2. Repairs - if the coin mechanism becomes jammed or broken, the entire machine cannot be used until specialized, (and sometimes scarce) repairs can be made.
  3. No information or feedback to help monitor and manage the machines. In a self-service laundry with several machines, it can be hard to determine if a machine breaks down more often because it is used more, or if it is just more prone to breakdowns.
  4. The very fact that coins are used, instead of a system that allows people pay for their laundry electronically. Coins themselves have issues of availability to customers, mechanically jamming the coin mechanism, the security issues as to theft, and accountability to management as to revenues received.
  5. Low re-sale value. Coin-operated machines, even with the coin mechanism disabled, have a much lower resale value that of a standard machine. This is due to the coin/timer mechanism that is attached directly to the washer or dryer.
Desired End Product: A safe, dependable, easily installed, owner adjustable, independently mounted and self-contained device with several modules that
  1. Controls a machine simply at the electrical plug-in. No machine re-wiring needed. Can be easily owner installed and adjusted, i.e. "plug and play" and "user friendly."
  2. Unit has three different modules so that different customers can order the configuration of the device that best fits their needs. These would include:
    1. Timer/sensitivity module that controls the flow of electricity to the machine.
    2. Management module that stores and displays machine cycles and machine hours in both a permanent and re-settable mode. (Much like an odometer and a trip odometer.)
    3. "Coin-less" module that lets machine users use PIN numbers to activate the machine. In a self-service laundry setting this could be tied into the cash register, or in an apartment setting this could be added to next month’s rent due.
  3. Module #1 alone could be termed "Good," module #1 combined with #2 termed "Better," and all three modules as "Best". Prices would vary accordingly. Price goal is that the modules should cost approximately $25-40 each to produce.
  4. Dependable. Should have a life expectancy of around 20,000 cycles. This is approximately double the normal life expectancy of an average washer or dryer.
  5. Safe. Must not compromise the safety of using a properly installed machine.
What Restrictions Exist? Except for the safety issue, no issues concerning warrantees, etc., exist to our knowledge.

Deliverables: Prototype system

Faculty Advisor(s): Lamont, Patterson and Hillesland Client: George Ensley
723 Story Street
Boone, IA
(800) 397-6453
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(3)
Sampson, Christopher James CprE Haner, Lucas Paul EE
Kirchoefer, John Robert EE Vanwyngarden, Cory John EE
Project Number: dec00-03 (2000-03)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: One Time Passwords Using Biometrics

Project Description: One time passwords using biometrics (OTPUB) is an exercise in computer network security. Using a biometric measurement of a user, be that a fingerprint, retinal scan, voice recognition, etc., enhances network security by disallowing the vast majority of false authorizations. False authorizations can result from stolen or cracked passwords as a result of "line sniffing" or dictionary based trial and error. Stolen devices also lead to unauthorized entry. Some devices generate a password based on a synchronized clock, if such a device is stolen, or in some other way obtained, the person who has it has free access to the remote system.

Our solution to both the network security hazard, and the theft or discovery problem is to design a small device which, using a users fingerprint and username, generates a distinct onetime password. With this method, "sniffing" is ineffective since each password is used only once. The threat of losing a device or having it stolen is also a non-issue since the device is useless without a person to supply a characteristic measurement.

Since this project was started from scratch, there are some short-term goals and some long-term goals. The short-term goals will be reached when a functional, but admittedly non-ideal implementation is operational. The long-term goal is the functional, idealized case. This is to relieve some of the workload involved with hardware and software development that would be extreme if the idealized case were the only goal.

Short-term goals: The short term goals will be realized when the project performs its basic tasks by any means necessary. The design thus far is this--a remote box containing a fingerprint scanner and a small micro controller connected to a PC via RS-232. The PC will contain the fingerprint processing software, the one time password generation software, and a graphical user interface tying it all together. This is a non-deal case because the data sets required verifying a user would be stored on the PC’s hard drive. At this stage it would also be acceptable if an AC converter powered the outboard device, although it would be better if it were battery powered. This is non-deal because of two reasons…data stored on a hard drive is vulnerable to modification and theft, and being AC powered limits portability.

We’ve accepted this as a developmental waypoint in order to concentrate efforts on the verification and password generation aspects of the end product.

Long-term goals: The long-term goals include much more hardware development. Once the short-term goals are reached, the project can be optimized to include both portability and data security. The final end product envisioned is a totally self-contained unit. This unit would be battery powered for total portability. Being portable and self-contained would require some form of LCD for output and a keypad for input of the username since the GUI on the PC would no longer be available. As a software requirement, all of the verification and password generation code would have to be migrated to the micro controller in the device.

As you can see, these long-term goals involve much more development in addition to the short-term goals. To be specific these, and possibly more, systems would have to be implemented or modified: input, output, full battery power, and external (to the micro controller) RAM and ROM.

Final thoughts: This project may sound rather intimidating, and to be honest, it will be a challenge. But it’s that challenging aspect which also makes it interesting. Any group that is up to the task will not be disappointed in their attempt. As a member of the group who initiated this project, we thought we could do it all. Our lesson was that we couldn’t, but we did make some headway toward the short-term goal. As it stands in December 1999, the micro controller-PC communications are operational, the fingerprint processing software is partially complete, and the GUI is working, but needs to have the identification and password generation software tied into it once those portions are complete.

For more specific information on the project, please refer to our design documents online at one of the addresses below:

Finally if you have any further questions one of our group members will be at Iowa State University for the entire spring semester, he can be contacted at


Faculty Advisor(s): Jacobson Client: Jacobson
Student Requirements: EE(0) CprE(4)
Bofferding, Nicholas E. CprE Cordes, Arron Matthew CprE
Demmer, Wade Michael CprE Lee, Tzun-Wei CprE

Project Number: dec00-04 (2000-04)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: DC Current Sensing for Industrial Circuit Breakers

Project Description: Most industrial circuit breakers used in distribution of power are of the AC type. The typical means of sensing current is some type of iron core current transformer. During the past 30 years an increasing number of the larger industrial circuit beakers use electronic control unit to provide the intelligent delay, tripping and indication features. There is a smaller but significant need for circuit breakers on DC systems. These systems are typically used in transportation (streetcars, subways etc,) and in shipboard system. An ideal DC sensor would (1) fit in the same location and the standard AC sensor, (2) would with some interface circuitry would provide input to a modified control unit.

The typical AC control unit for industrial breakers is "self-powered" meaning power to operate the unit is derived from the current flowing in the circuit. DC sensors would be provided with control power to provide the sensing function.

Specific Technical Problem:

  1. Review the commercially available DC current sensors in the 1000 to 30,000 amp range.
  2. Propose and explore possible phenomena that could be used for DC current sensing.
  3. Fabricate and tests prototypes of sensors.

DC Sensor Specifications:

Parameter Specification Comments
Range of operation 1000 amps to 30,000 amps 3 physical sizes
Response time 1 to 5 milliseconds  
Immunity to external fields Compatible with req’d accuracy  
Insertion loss Compatible with AC sensors  
Temperature range -20C to +60C  
Accuracy (1000 - 3000A) 5%  
Accuracy (3000 - 10,000) 10%  
Accuracy (10,000 - 30,000 A) 15%  
Physical Dimensions   Ideally compatible with the AC sensors.
Resources provided: An advisor from Square D will be available for consultation. Reviews will be held periodically both in Cedar Rapids Facility and at the ISU Campus. Square D. will provide financial support for material and equipment.


  1. A recommendation for DC sensors for near term applications (within one year).
  2. Propose and explore possible phenomena for DC current sensing.
  3. Fabricate and test prototypes from item 2.

Required Engineering Expertise:

  1. Signal conditioning and electronic circuits.
  2. Understanding of magnetics and magnetic devices.
  3. Skills of researching literature and Internet.
  4. Laboratory skills in designing and conducting tests.

Faculty Advisor(s): Sastry Client: Square D. Company - Schneider Electric
3700 6th Street SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406
Contact: Henry Zylstra
Telephone: 319-368-6442
Fax: 319-369-6634
Student Requirements: EE(3-5)
Benz, Jeffery A. EE Studer, Richard A. EE
Surja, Suyanto EE Teoh Chin-Chuen EE

Project Number: dec00-05 (2000-05)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Expand Direct Digital Control Lab Stations and Include Control Loop Demonstration

Project Description: Expand the capabilities of a Direct Digital Control (DDC) lab station to include a second vendor. Currently, the existing DDC lab station incorporates a controller with various input/output (I/O) points, a communications interface, and an operator workstation. The purpose of this project is to design, install, integrate, and demonstrate a prototype two vendor set up that still utilizes one operator workstation.

Expand the capabilities of an existing Direct Digital Control (DDC) lab station by designing and building an accessory lab station to demonstrate 2 position, fast acting, and PID control loops. The current lab station has an Automated Logic control system that incorporates a controller, communication interface, and an operator workstation. A successful project will integrate this control system with appropriate hardware to successfully demonstrate these control loops.

The system must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Must utilize existing lab panel
  • Must satisfy the requirements of the instructor
  • Must have ‘as built’ drawings for technician to expand 11 more stations.
  • Must be relatively small and easily mobile


Faculty Advisor(s): Lamont & Elia Client: Iowa Energy Center
Energy Resource Station
Andy Suby
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(1)
Lozano, Samuel M. CprE Boege, David James EE
Herr, Ashley J. EE Kammeyer, Aaron E. EE
Lomax, Joseph J. EE  

Project Number: dec00-06 (2000-06)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Exterior Lighting Design for Research Site

Project Description: Expand the existing exterior lighting scheme for the Iowa Energy Center, Energy Resource Station at the Des Moines Area Community College Campus:

  • Must illuminate approximately 80’ of service drive and 40’ of sidewalk
  • Can be ground lit, pole, or building mounted
  • Must utilize existing lighting control system
  • Must met safety code for required path lighting
  • Must have complete set of drawings


Faculty Advisor(s): Hillesland & Lamont Client: Iowa Energy Center
Energy Resource Station
Andy Suby
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(1)
Alvarado, Liliana EE Hoy, Derek Gene EE
Teh, Lin-Hwei EE  

Project Number: dec00-07 (2000-09)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Immersive Video and Audio Streaming for Collaborative Virtual Environments

Project Description: The Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University is working on the development of an integrated system to support simultaneous connection of immersive environments among geographically located sites. A key component of this system is the ability of sending and receiving video and audio streams integrated in the three-dimensional rendering on the virtual scene.

The proposed senior design project will investigate the current state of video and audio streaming tools, which are mainly focused on web-based transmissions, design a modification/solution for integrating these tools in a three-dimensional scene, and develop a prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of the solution designed.


Faculty Advisor(s): Cruz-Neira Client: Virtual Reality Applications Center
Energy Resource Station
Andy Suby
Student Requirements: EE() CprE()
Bausch, Brandon E. CprE Faidley, Galen William CprE
Schmidt, Aaron Joseph CprE Tan, Huah-Yeu CprE

Project Number: dec00-08 (2000-14)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Student Module Design and Development for a Power System Operator Training Simulator

Project Description: This project deals with the implementation and design of a series of student modules for use with an operating training simulator in the power system simulation laboratory. A commercial operating training simulator, which was developed the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), has been obtained by ISU. This project will involve the installation of this software, testing of the various features, and the design and development of appropriate student modules consisting of various operating scenarios and contingencies to allow student in the laboratory the ability to operate power system in a reliable and secure manner.


  1. installation and testing of the operator training simulator
  2. design of specific student modules that generate operating scenarios and construction of exercises of various examples of contingency analysis, system restoration, islanding, frequency regulation, and security analysis
  3. demonstration of the various aspects of the operator training simulator

Faculty Advisor(s): Vittal Client: Vittal
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(1)
Khan, Adnan Zubaid CprE Lambert, Anthony A. EE
Lucey, Guy E. EE Schiltz, Chad Michael EE

Project Number: dec00-09 (2000-23)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Corn Combine Control System

Project Description: A corn combine is a combination (hence, the name!) of highly complex machines (systems) that capture and remove the ears from the stalks, remove the husks from the ears, remove the corn kernels from the cobs, collect and store the corn, and pulverize and distribute the waste materials (husks and cobs) over the corn field. The operation of a modern combine is optimized through the adjustment of the combine’s parameters to fit the operating conditions. Unfortunately, cornfields are not uniformly homogenous and the adjustments that optimize the operation at the beginning of a field may be distinctly sub-optimal only a few rows, or even a few feet, away from the starting point. Such sub-optimal operation may result in the damage and loss of significant amounts of corn. While the farmer can make (some of) these adjustments "on the fly", an automatic, feedback control system is required to more efficiently and effectively make these changes to the combine parameters and achieve optimal operation.

The project will be completed in two parts. First, a detailed model and computer simulation of a combine must be generated and tested. Second, the critical control parameters must be identified and an effective control system must be designed, built and tested. While having a farm background and experience would obviously be helpful to team members, it is not essential since Agricultural Engineering students will also be assigned to the team to provide the required background and knowledge of the combine and it’s operation.

Deliverables:A detailed computer simulation of the combine and a prototype control system to optimize its operation.

Faculty Advisor(s): Chen and Patterson Client: Dr. Graeme Quick, Director
Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Farm Implements Laboratory
Student Requirements: EE(3-4) CprE(2-3)
Peters, Matthew Richard CprE Webb, Stephen Edwin CprE
Fajemisin, Babatunde O. EE Ko, Chia-Yin EE
Mertz, Jacob Jon EE Nguyen, Ninh D. EE
Otis, Ryan D. EE  

Project Number: dec00-10 (2000-25)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Equation-Based Question Template for Ecademy

Project Description: Members of this project will be enhancing Ecademy, which is a successor of ClassNet and is based on Mallard, the web-based software used in EE 202 and EE 202. Ecademy is not designed for use with one class, bus is a template for managing internet-based instructional activities, such as creation of a class by an instructor, student submission and automatic grading of class materials, student and class scores and discussion forms.

Last spring 3000 ISU students in 130 classes used Ecademy's predecessor ClassNet. These numbers are expected to increase as more classes are put on the web and tele-learning gains popularity. A way to lessen the load on the server's side and to create a template that allows instructors to easily alter heir site will be needed. To meet these needs, Ecademy is written in JAVA. Presently, Dr. Boysen of Iowa State University is developing the framework for Ecademy. Equation-based classes are currently unable to use Ecademy as only text-based questions are allowed including multiple choice and fill in the blank forms. For classes in physics and calculus to use Ecademy, the addition of equation-based questions is needed. This project will meet those needs. Members of this project team will be working primarily with JAVA. Other technologies may be used as the project progresses.

Relevant web sites:


Faculty Advisor(s): Anderson and Boysen Client: ISU Computation Center
Student Requirements: EE(1) CprE(3)
Arganbright, Timothy John CprE Chin, Kok-Loon CprE
Fegler, Brian A. CprE Nicks, Eric L. CprE

Project Number: dec00-11 (2000-30)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: MP3-Based Digital Record and Playback Device

Project Description: The MP3-based digital record and playback device is a home stereo style device similar in purpose to a recordable CD jukebox. This device is power-falt tolerant, capable of real-time recording and compression of incoming audio, capable of encoding of CD audio from an incorporated CDROM drive, plays locally stored MP3 files, can locally store MP3 files from ISO-9660 CDROMs, and is accessible via a standard FTP network protocol. It is possible to create play lists from local files. Audio input and output connections are in the form of RCA analog audio and S/PDIF digital. The design of this device involves the use of DSPs, microcontrollers, hard disk access, CDROM control, development of a custom file system, digital signal sampling, a display controller, user input and output, network management, power fault tolerance, and digital and analog I/O.


Faculty Advisor(s): Jacobson Client: Jacobson
Student Requirements: EE(2) CprE(4)
Fancsalszki, Robert E. CprE Govek, David CprE
Leatherby, James Charles CprE Mitchell, Thomas CprE
Woods, John David CprE Reed, Kenneth Lombard Jr. EE

Project Number: dec00-12 (2000-31)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Computer Security

Project Description: This project is related to computer security research work being performed in ISU's Information System Security Lab. Specifically, the project will create a web-based version of the current computer and network attack database. The project will entail working with a web server using Linux, writing code in C, HTML, and PERL, downloading and compiling attack software and connect the same to the web database. It is anticipated that the finished software will have broad appeal to all researchers in computer security. Students who choose this project should enjoy designing software systems that present a single easy-to-use interface, but whose implementation is comprised of many different, large and even ill-defined pieces of software.


Faculty Advisor(s): Jacobson and Davis Client: Jacobson and Davis
Student Requirements: EE(0) CprE(4-5)
Ghori, Mohammad Rehan CprE Jacobs, Shawn Michael CprE
Kashoob, Said Masood CprE Law, Hwa-Chaw CprE

Project Number: dec00-13 (2000-33)   (click to view the web site)
Project Title: Bluetooth Integration on the TRGPro

Project Description: The TRGPro is TRG's Pal OS-based personal organizer. It distinguishes itself from the Pal Computing offerings by the inclusion of a CompactFlash expansion slot, which allows for extended capabilities including increased storage, modems, serial cards, and a bar code reader.

The Bluetooth Technology is the result of cooperation between leaders in the telecommunications and computer industries. The technology answers the need for short-range wireless connectivity within three areas: data and voice access points, cable replacement, and ad hoc networking. The Bluetooth specification specifies a system solution comprising hardware, software and interoperability requirements. The Bluetooth radio operates in a globally available 2.4 GHz ISM band, ensuring compatibility worldwide. The Bluetooth technology facilitates real-time voice and data transmissions, making it possible to connect any portable and stationary communication devices as easily as switching on lights.

The team goals include (1) board re-design of the present TRGPro in order to accommodate the Bluetooth chipset, and (2) creation of the software needed to communicate between the Bluetooth chipset and the TRGPro.


Faculty Advisor(s): Mina Client: Mina
Student Requirements: EE(3) CprE(3)
Kolz, Daniel Paul CprE Shah, Ashish Vasant CprE
Truckenmiller, James CprE Carmann, Julia Lynne EE
Farrell, Stephen EE Herickoff, John Brian EE


Last updated:  08 Sep 2000 JSM
© Copyright 2000, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.
Course coordinator:  Dr. John Lamont
Webmaster:  James McCollum