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McMaster University

Elec Eng 4OI6 Design Projects - 2008/09 Samples

Group 3: Design and Implementation of a Solar Panel Tracking System and Inverter

Solar panel arrays are most efficient when they are oriented perpendicular to the sun. Designing a system that uses real-time data from photo-transistors to accurately track the position of the sun in the sky, and move the panel to face the optimal position at all times greatly increases the output capacity of the array over time. This was done by feeding the outputs of the photo-transistors into a microcontroller, and manipulating the data to determine the optimal position the array should be in. The controller was then used to control motors, which would orient the panel in the optimal direction. The microcontroller is also used to log the output of the panel, and allow for manual control of the orientation in case it is needed for maintenance. Storing the energy this system creates in a battery and using this battery to rive an AC power inverter rated at standard residential ratings allows for use of the system in many practical applications. These include small-scale remote applications, or for large scale grid power production.

Group 6: Mindless Rockband

The purpose of this design project was to develop a unique control system that could automatically play the popular video game, Rock Band on the Nintendo Wii system. The project shows how processing digital bits from a video stream can be translated into a physical control signal for actuation on the Rock Band guitar controller. The system was designed such that it involved a video pattern detection algorithm and mechanical control system to work synchronously together to allow any level in the game to be accomplished. The core processing of the video is based upon readily available ADV7181 television decoder on the Altera DE2 Educational Board and the mechanical system is based upon custom made solenoid actuators.

Group 12: Robotic Tracking and Formation Movement Using Ultrasonic Trilateration

This project outlines the development and implementation of a robotic formation as a culminating, final year, design project. The research was primarily focused on robotic formations using trilateration: the location of an unknown point using three distances and three known points. The trilateration algorithm was implemented by combining radio communication and ultrasonic transmission, effectively exploiting the time delay between the signals, and accurately measuring distance and direction to a master robot.  

Team 14: Project GreenSaver

Due to the growing interest in energy conservation, GreenSaver provides a safe, accurate, and user-friendly method of monitoring, tracking, and trending power consumption in the home. Although there are in-line metering devices already on the market (such as the Kill-A-Watt), GreenSaver expands on this concept of power monitoring with not only accurate current, voltage, and power readings, but methods of storing and tracking this data through a web server, for additional trending and increased visibility into household power consumption. GreenSaver also has the capability of monitoring several appliances simultaneously, unlike other current deices on the market, which allow only one device at a time to be monitored. Extensive simulations and testing periods allowed for precise troubleshooting of the hardware and software implemented, to ensure accuracy and efficiency of design. GreenSaver not only performs power consumption tracking and trending, but will ultimately allow for integration into home automation, introducing schedules for selected electrical devices to reduce the overall peak power demand each month. This will save power generation utility companies money, as well as aid homeowners in saving money on energy bills.  

Group 17: Music In Motion

On a regular instrument such as the piano, the user must physically press each key to create a tune, our group wanted to make this a more interactive type of experience and that was the motivation behind our final year project. We used an IR sensor and the DE2 FPGA board for the hardware aspects of this project. On the software side we used a combination of C/C#, NIOS and SPOC builder programs. The FGPA would calculate the exact distance a users hand was from the sensor and send this data to the computer. Then C# was used to output an appropriate sound file. By overlapping the sound files and increasing the number of intervals, we were able to achieve a very smooth and realistic output, which was very similar to a real instrument. This report outlines all the work completed for this project and concludes with recommendations and next steps that can be implemented by future classes.

Group 25: Mine Sweeper - A Landmine Detecting Robot

This demo presents our final year project Minesweeper, which is a semi-autonomous robot that is made out of low cost materials and components. Its aim is to detect a buried mine and successfully disarmament it. This robot consists of a light chassis, mounted on a top cars wheels, to provide it with easy motion on medium rough terrain, and is controlled by the Arduino Duemilanove board. The main issue well be focusing on is mine detection and removal. Mines are assumed to be metal mines, so the detection method will basically be metal detection.