by Syd Coppersmith
If you’ve been looking through the senior project lists I’ve posted to date on my blog, you’ll start to see some strong trends in the kinds of projects students choose. Robots are mighty popular. Medical and energy applications are also at the top of the list.
But I want to call your attention to another kind of project, one that allows you to think big: proof-of-concept projects. There are several on this list. A robot that traverses a miniature maze to put out a candle (#2) is not useful in itself, but it can serve as powerful proof-of-concept for an autonomous firefighting robot. Similarly, a telemetry system that locates turtles in a small enclosed field (#5) doesn’t have a lot of application in and of itself (unless there are a lot more small fields chock full of turtles than I’m aware of), but it can serve as the basis for a wildlife tracking system for endangered species.
So while you’ve only got a few people on your senior project design team and a very limited amount of time in which to design and create your project—usually only a semester—don’t let that stop you from tackling the big issues. Think big. . .then shrink it down to something manageable.
1. Build a prototype robotic limb built of replaceable single axis nodes capable of finding and touching a visual target up to 16" from the base of the limb.
2. Autonomous firefighting robot that will traverse a miniature maze/house and put out a candle
3. Design a tire pressure monitoring system including a wireless sensor system and a way to feed the gathered data to a PC for processing
4. Design a biomedical telemetry system to send medical information, such as pulse, blood pressure, etc., from a battery-operated system worn by a patient to a central hub for processing and display.
5. Turtle locator--a telemetry system to aid in the location of turtles in a small enclosed field. A battery-powered, weatherproof receiver is placed on the turtles and produces an audible beep in response to a transmitted signal.
6. Design and build a digital thermostat.
7. Design a grid-connected energy storage system to be used for load peak-shaving applications for power utilities.
8. Using a wireless sensor network, design a wireless border to monitor the Texas/Mexico border.
Need an A/D converter for your project? Or a D/A? Here are two good general-purpose devices that work well in a wide variety of projects:
· THS1206M: 12-bit, 6-MSPS A/D converter, quad-channel, integrated 16x FIFO, channel autoscan, low power
· DAC8554:16-bit, quad channel, ultra-low glitch, voltage output D/A converter
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