& Engr 466
Senior Design Projects: May 2003
Project Number: May03-01 (click to view the web site)
Title: PHP Software Application Support Framework
Description: The objective of this project is to develop a PHP framework to support a set of Internet educational activities including those defined in PP02-08. The activities will include determining the requirements, designing, implementing, and testing the framework. The framework will operate on the server mentioned in PP02-08.
Project Number: May03-02 (click to view the web site)
Description: Recently the senior design laboratory has experienced a number of thefts of small tools and computer components. The objective of this project is to define the requirements for, design, implement, and test a system capable of preventing future thefts and/or identifying the culprits. Standard anti-intrusion devices and closed circuit video surveillance may be considered among the possibilities.
Project Number: May03-03 (click to view the web site)
Description: An intelligent garage door system is needed. The objective of the project is to design, implement, test, and demonstrate a system that would determine if the garage door should be closed automatically upon departing the home. Some people drive a few blocks away from home and then return to make sure that they have closed the garage door. The project would involve determine the various conditions that could exist. Examples include: (1) departing car is parked inside the garage, (2) departing car is parked outside the garage on the driveway or street, and (3) garage door should remain open while resident mows or works on the lawn. Multiple controls may be involved including one in each vehicle, one inside the garage near the house entryway, and possibly one with a key-code outside the garage door.
Project Number: May03-04 (click to view the web site)
Description: There is a need for a reasonably priced system that would protect both people and animals locked in automobiles from unsafe temperatures. The system should detect the condition when the automobile engine is shut-off (perhaps as a means of activating the system), people or animals are in the vehicle, and the temperature reaches an unsafe high or low temperature. When this condition occurs an alarm, such as the vehicle’s horn, should be sounded.
Project Number: May03-05 (click to view the web site)
Description: Two types of rapid rechargeable batteries exist, nickel cadmium (NiCD) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH). Some of the new battery chargers are capable of “conditioning” batteries before charging. They rejuvenate batteries and eliminate memory effects on certain batteries by discharging the batteries before charging. The charger system should be designed for 1.5 volt AA or AAA batteries and should be designed to operate on US and foreign AC distribution voltages as well as 12 volt car batteries. It should be capable of battery conditioning and automatically followed by charging and should indicate the batteries current condition: (1) being conditioned, (2) being charged, or (3) fully charged.
Project Number: May03-06 (click to view the web site)
Description: The Toying With Technology (TWT) program educates students of all ages about computing concepts and problem solving through the use of a tiny, portable microcontroller inside a special electronic LEGO called the RCX Programmable Brick. The RCX brick allows LEGOs to become fully autonomous robots or creatures customized by the students. Students learn these concepts in the TWT lab through hands-on programming experiments. However, the LEGO Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is rather complicated for inexperienced computer users as they are often inundated with new commands and programming constructs while trying to program their RCX brick. Because the IDE is text based, it requires that the user be proficient in the English language, which causes some English as a Second Language (ESL) students difficulty in coding. Finally, students must be able to type on a PC keyboard in order to program the RCX brick. These problems effectively limit some students who would otherwise be able to use the TWT lab from doing so. The TWT personnel are developing an icon-based system, the LEGO Envision System, to address these shortcomings. The senior design team will join the TWT staff in completing version 1.0 of the system and in expanding for version 2.0 which will add such capabilities as sign language, more programmable robotic actions, additional sensor and motor functionality, and the use of the USB port.
Project Number: May03-07 (click to view the web site)
Description: MetalCraft, Inc. of Mason City, Iowa manufactures a large variety of labels and nameplates used for product identification and inventory purposes. They have requested a system to “inspect” individual nameplates after they have been manufactured. The system must mechanically separate each nameplate from a stack, present it before a bar code scanner and/or a video inspection camera, verify that the nameplate is in the proper sequence and reads well, and send the nameplate on for further processing or packaging. The system must divert bad nameplates and inform the operator that a sequence or reading problem has occurred. Finally, it must generate an exit report verifying the count, quality and sequencing of the nameplates. While a bar scanner will be used initially, the system must be compatible with a video inspection system that MetalCraft is planning for the near future. The team will design, implement, test, and demonstrate the requested system.
Project Number: May03-08 (click to view the web site)
Description: MetalCraft, Inc. of Mason City, Iowa manufactures a large variety of labels and nameplates used for product identification and inventory purposes. They have experienced substantial delays in printing large files to their digital printing press from their Macintosh network. Each page sent has to be created as a postscript page, sent to the press and ripped for output. MetalCraft has requested that a senior design team analyze the current system and design, implement, and test a system which would increase the throughput with improved software interfaces, advanced physical equipment (e.g., for offline rip, etc.), and task evaluation. MetalCraft expects that the implementation of the improved system will eliminate a lot of dead time in formatting files and ripping and will substantially improve their operations.
Project Number: May03-09 (click to view the web site)
Description: The design team will design, implement, test, and demonstrate a custom, portable, high-speed RF power level capturing system for capturing and mapping local RF fading in and around an aircraft. The system must operate in the 2.4 GHz ISM (Industrial, Medical and Scientific) band and in the 5.0 GHz U-NII (Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure) band, and be battery-powered, capable of incorporating any antenna design, and compatible with a laptop parallel port. RF levels captured by the system must be quickly read and stored in a table. The table increment interval triggering will be controlled by another software application to be supplied by Rockwell. Rockwell will supply all components, as well as technical contacts as required.
Project Number: May03-10 (click to view the web site)
Description: This project is a follow on to the first two phases of the Teradyne-sponsored PC-based Spectrum Analyzer senior design project. It involves researching, developing, prototyping, and evaluating a 100 MHz high gain, low noise, and low distortion amplifier front-end option. The front-end amplifier option also requires programmable CD offset correction as well as frequency response correction. The scope of this project is the following:
Project Number: May03-11 (click to view the web site)
Description: The objective of this project is to develop, test, and demonstrate an any-port to any-port RS-232 serial data matrix switch with the ability to reconfigure ports. The current application is the control and connection of a dialup modem pool for multiple data circuits of multiple protocols. A PC-based database is currently used to control 64 port matrix switches and as the user interface. The database contains circuit information for the switch port and modem configuration, and phone numbers for dialing the specified locations. The ports and modems are configured for speed, word length, parity and stop bits on a per access basis through ASCII command strings. Dialing is initiated by the user from a central host location through the PC. The system is a backup system, with dialup initiated when the primary circuit fails.
The device should be expandable to 256 ports. Ports must be capable of speeds from 300 bps to at least 9600 bps. Minimum RS-232 leads would be CTS, Grd, RD, TD, RTS, and DTR. Switch connections and port configurations must be retained on a loss of power. Ports should be able to connect in one-to-one and one-to-many configurations. Ports are buffered for speed and flow control. The system requires an easy to use intuitive user interface for operation, the selection of circuit, field site, and initiation of the dialup function, as well as database changes for configuration. There should be at least three configurable levels of security. A dialup log is used to record when dialups are initiated and released. Database redundancy or backup should also be addressed. The client would also like the ability to automatically re-initialize dialup connections that have dropped until disconnected by the user.
Project Number: May03-12 (click to view the web site)
Description: The Iowa Department of Transportation has a freezer that they use for standard ASTM C666 Method B freeze-thaw tests for concrete. It is a large unit that freezes concrete samples in air and thaws them in water. The controller must cycle the samples through 300 cycles of freezing and thawing involving relatively tight temperature and time requirements. The original controls were developed by the laboratory staff and a chemical engineering coop in the mid 1980’s. It uses a 15-year old IBM XT and a BASIC program to control and record the testing. A replacement control system is badly needed. The client will provide the computer and Visual BASIC will probably be used for the programming. Testing of the new control system will have to be scheduled to avoid required use of the existing system.
Project Number: May03-13 (click to view the web site)
Description: The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate a "poor person's" multi-conference room video-communications system. The project team will determine the requirements for such a system, design the system, and implement a partial prototype system. Examples of the requirements would include: (1) Internet-based system, (2) individual cameras and microphones for each participant, (3) camera and microphone selection by one participant in the conference room, and (4) support for display of drawings on a split screen.
Project Number: May03-14 (click to view the web site)
Description: This project will develop a PC-based approach to create complex virtual environments for large (>100 people) audience interaction. The students will work on proposing several alternatives for the interaction, for example, direct wiring of devices at each seat or analyzing video streams of data of audience movements. They will provide an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of their proposed solutions and select the best solution that meets the constraints set by the client. The students will design and build their solution, which must be integrated into a PC-based display system.
Project Number: May03-15 (click to view the web site)
Description: The owner of an outdoor model railroad is experiencing difficulty over time in maintaining the required electrical integrity of the mechanical clips and screws that connect the pieces of brass rail together. A portable device capable of spot welding a small brass jumper between the brass rails will be designed, implemented, tested, and demonstrated. The brass jumper straps will bridge the rail joints and provide the high integrity electrical connection needed over time. The project will involve the determination of the methodology and energy levels required to spot weld the brass strips; a method to store and then discharge the required energy; and, the timing and control system for the unit. Although the potential market would be small, there is a possibility that the unit may be commercialized.
Project Number: May03-16 (click to view the web site)
Description: The objective of this project is to research and write a report to inform the project client of the important issues related to the commercial use of fuel cells. The project team will be expected to research, document, and compare different types of fuel cell technologies that are currently available or are expected to be available in the near future. The economics of the different fuel cell technologies for different types of customers (e.g., rural, urban, residential, commercial, or industrial) shall be investigated for different operating conditions (e.g., on-peak, or off-peak). Other items to be included are: (1) utility tariff restrictions and implications, (2) behavior of natural gas and electricity prices for consumers, (3) installation and expected maintenance costs, (4) expected life, (5) maintenance requirements, (6) required resources, and (7) market readiness. Electrical distribution issues and safety issues shall also be considered. The final product will be a report that includes information concerning all of the above topics and a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each technology.
Project Number: May03-17 (click to view the web site)
Description: An embedded radio link is often required in many electrical and computer engineering senior design projects. However, the design teams usually do not have the time and expertise to design such a link for each project. To meet this need, a basic, microprocessor-controlled radio link based on a TI transmitter-receiver chip has been designed and tested by a previous design team. To enhance the usability of this link, a companion development board, similar to the microcontroller development board used in CprE 211, is required. The project will involve the redesign of the current printed circuit board, the provision of various antenna systems, the addition of various data and signal processing capabilities such as analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversions, the addition of various output transducers and capabilities such as pulse- width modulation, and the development of alternative power supplies and packaging. Multiple sets will be constructed for use by senior design teams in the future.
Project Number: May03-18 (click to view the web site)
Description: The objective of this project is to develop a modest cost system that is capable of recording the real and reactive power consumption of an entire residence as a function of time. It is intended to work in conjunction with an appliance power (real and reactive) monitor. The end result of the two systems would allow a residential customer to evaluate the power consumption of the various electrical devices in his/her home and reconcile device usage and the associated electrical utility bill.
Project Number: May03-19 (click to view the web site)
Description: National Instruments’ ELVIS is a brand new data acquisition (DAQ) system designed for use in educational laboratories. DAQ systems capture, measure, and analyze physical phenomena from the real world. Data acquisition is the process of collecting and measuring electrical signals from sensors, transducers, and test probes or fixtures, and inputting them to a computer for processing. Data acquisition may also include the output of analog or digital control signals. In conjunction with LabVIEW (a graphical programming language used for creating test, measurement, and automation applications that has been developed by National Instruments) ELVIS and associated DAQ hardware can be used to create a complete laboratory system. National Instruments will make two complete ELVIS/LabVIEW systems available for use in a ECpE senior design project. After becoming thoroughly familiar with the capabilities of the ELVIS/LabVIEW system, the project team will select an existing ECpE laboratory course and provide complete documentation to convert all laboratory exercises from the current facilities to the ELVIS system. Selected laboratory exercises will be demonstrated to the faculty advisor and the Industrial Review Panel. Courses to be considered for potential conversion to the new system may include EE 201, 423, 441/2, 476, etc.
Project Number: May03-20 (click to view the web site)
Description: Convenience is a luxury that more people strive to attain when buying new products, especially those that pertain to household activities for everyday use. Common household appliances have been modified over the years in order to promote a more efficient and mobile lifestyle, allowing the users to do many things at once with relative ease. Recently the concept of intercommunications between appliances has been introduced which will allow the user to remotely communicate with household appliances and convert the household into a mobile environment of efficiency and convenience.
The Palm OS-based Handheld Appliance Controller (HAC) will allow any household member to easily read and change the status of common household appliances. Using radio frequency (RF) transmitters and receivers, an extension module to a Handspring Visor will be used to transmit and receive data signals from appliances ranging from a lamp in the bedroom to a microwave in the kitchen downstairs. Using the HAC it will be possible to remotely set and control household appliances throughout the home. The project will select an appliance to be controlled by the Palm device, design, implement, test, and demonstrate the resultant system.
Project Number: May03-21 (click to view the web site)
Description: Many “smart devices” have been developed and marketed recently. An example is a “smart glass” used in restaurants that monitors the level of beverage in the glass and automatically alerts the waiter when the level reaches a preset level so that the patron might more quickly order an additional serving. The objective of this project is to identify possible smart devices for use in a home or apartment. With the concurrence of the faculty adviser, the team will select one of the devices to design, implement, test, and demonstrate.
Project Number: May03-22 (click to view the web site)
Description: A large number of devices, including many that have been implemented as senior design projects, require battery power of various voltages. These voltages typically include 1.5V, 3.0V, 4.5V, 5.0V, 6V, 9V, 12V, and 24V. While AC-to-DC converters are readily available in these voltages, buying and storing eight (or more) separate converters to cover the desired voltage range is expensive and unhandy. This team will design, implement, test, and demonstrate an AC-to-DC converter capable of selectively supplying as a minimum the eight voltages listed above. (The team will investigate the need for additional voltages and include them if appropriate.) The inclusion of a selectable current-limiting feature as well as multiple voltage outputs capability will be carefully considered. The converter must be low cost, easy to use, reliable and rugged, and meet UL (or equivalent) safety standards. The converter will be produced for use in the ECpE senior design program and may have commercial potential if well executed.
Project Number: May03-23 (click to view the web site)
Description: Web-based interaction over the Internet allows the development of advanced, new generation applications that can help in understanding the various factors that lead to power system blackouts. In this project, it is proposed to develop, test, and demonstrate web-enabled software for power system security. The project involves the development of a user-friendly graphical user interface that will help users to learn concepts of power system security. The use of data files and option windows will allow the web-based software to simulate a variety of operating conditions that may lead to a system blackout. An extensive data base related to power system security will be ordered in a systematic way so that the user can extract information related to a particular aspect of the problem.
Project Number: May03-24 (click to view the web site)
Description: The goal of this project is to develop a prototype computer “mouse” system that would be completely controlled by the user’s eye movement. It should be useable by both handicapped and non-handicapped people alike. The envisioned system should allow a person to use Microsoft Word to perform the usual word processing functions easily. It is desirable that the system resolution be capable of moving the cursor with single character accuracy on the screen. A small, on-screen keyboard could be used to allow a handicapped person to enter text into the computer.
Project Number: May03-25 (click to view the web site)
Description: Duck and goose hunting is a popular fall sport in Iowa and surrounding states on the migration flyways. This project will design, implement, test , and demonstrate a radio-controlled duck decoy. The design must be totally battery-powered and include a life-like locomotion system, and (possibly) a high quality sound system for reproducing duck or goose calls, as well as the radio control system. The design must be compatible with several duck or goose bodies and must produce a decoy that is so realistic that it does everything that a duck or goose does except lay eggs!
Project Number: May03-26 (click to view the web site)
Description: Using a simple CMOS IC fabrication process that has been newly implemented at the Microelectronics Research Center, this project will focus on designing, building and testing a CMOS mixed-signal circuit. The primary goal is to test the feasibility of using the CMOS process for building practical ICs. Candidate circuits include an analog-to-digital converter, a digital-to-analog converter, or something similar — the choice of the test circuit will be part of the design process. The design group will design, fabricate, and test the circuit. The expected product will be a report describing how the actual circuit performed in comparison to design simulations.
Last updated: 11 March 2003 KML
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