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PIC microcontroller Project Ideas

  1. Sep 25, 2007 #1
    I have to design, test and build a project for my final year of my HND Electrical & Electronic engineering course, and I am unsure of what I will do.

    I would appreciate any ideas, no matter how difficult or easy they are, these will just be ideas which I might use to adapt into my own project. What would be something good and useful to build?

    Hopefully this thread will also help other people in the future with similar problems, or might just give you an idea for something useful for you to build as a hobby.

    I think I will be using a PIC microcontroller for my project due to some course requirements, however, I don't need technical information, just a few ideas.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2007 #2


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    What is your course background, and what are your interests? Do you have experience with power electronics, motor drives, etc? How about RF and radio? What were your favorite elective courses in school? What kinds of ideas have you had so far? How many hours total are you budgeting for the project?
  4. Sep 25, 2007 #3
    I've got about 8:45 hours of project at my institute per week, I am prepared to spend a few more by myself, also got the whole year until the summer of 2008, don't think time is a problem.

    I would like to base the project on a PIC microcontroller due to course requirements, this decisions was taken from several different options and is based on what the people marking the project expect of us and my interest, I feel quite comfortable designing circuitry to accompany a microcontroller and like also programming it. Almost everyone in the class will be using a microcontroller.

    I am doing a HND, here in the UK that is equivalent of half a university degree.

    I am not looking for detail explanations just a few ideas.

    Projects which have been done previously by students last year include...

    * Heart Rate Monitor: -- LCD display showing your heart pulse and giving out some messages depending on its rate. (Teachers quite liked it)
    * Formula 1, Starting Lights: -- Remote controlled (Allowing race Marshalls to control it) scaled down replica of the starting F1 Racing lights, suitable for amateur kart racing, In accordance with the official F1 Regulations, complete, includes random time interval before starting.

    Projects which people this year (In my class) have decided to do...

    * Car Parking sensors: -- So user will not hit the car when parking it in tight spots, informs user of objects within set range and he is even thinking (as an add-on if time allows, we are allowed to do this, as we are just in the planning stages) of having a display to inform user of the exact distance in inches or cm. to any obstructions.

    * Rev Display: -- To hook into his motorcycles engine, his bike is old and does not have one.

    I am completely lost for ideas, thought of doing a breathalyzer but the idea doesn't convince me.

    I want to do something useful, but I also thought of doing the F1 lights as I am into F1 and quite like it.

    Anything will do really, but don't want to fall into the usual 24h clock type of project that everyone has seen all the time, we are going to get marked for creativity.

    All I need is ideas, not an actual project specification :P and I will come up with something

    Thank you a lot.

    PS: I would really like to impress the examiners with a real nice project, here in Europe they take university/institute projects very serious, my course is a 19 unit course, the project is actually few units, two of witch when marked give you double points, all the course basically relies on this, it is a way of practically putting all you've learned together.

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2007
  5. Sep 25, 2007 #4


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    One idea that comes to mind:

    ** Race car timers based on RFID or similar RF transponders -- if the UK allows low-power FM transmitters to be built and used (like, on unused channels in the FM broadcast band), then you could do something like a 4-car timer system based on RF transponders. The 4 transponders would be continually emitting a code/tone on a separate FM channel, and the receiver circuit at the finish line would pick up the signals, and do the lap timing and position sorting. This is how real races are timed and scored, so it would be a realisting project. BTW, you shouldn't use the amplitude of the received signal to tell you when the car passes the finish line. Why not? What else about the signal should you use to tell you when the car's transponder passes?

    The receiver circuit would have to have the 4 channels of reception and decoding, and offer four digital trip pulses to a CPLD or other synchronizer circuit. The uC would then interpret the pulses and do the scoring, maybe displaying the lap times and current positions on an LED scoring tower or something (or a PC, via a USB interface that you could interface the PIC uC to).
  6. Sep 25, 2007 #5


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    Have you ever looked into electro-optics? Maybe you could use your microprocessor to control (steer) a laser beam. Check out acousto-optics.
  7. Sep 26, 2007 #6
    Thank you for the suggestions.

    The race car timers actually sounds amazing, as it is the institute supplying the components and all parts to our projects, we have limitations on the pricing and type of components to use. I will have some talks with the teachers and will check to see if I can find cheap transponders or look a bit more into RFIDs, if not I might make minor adjustments on the method of sensing when the cars passes the line.

    thanks dlgoff for your idea, sounds good, also sounds expensive but I will look into it too.

    At least I have got the racing car timer idea.

    Anyone else think of something new let me know, but this should do.
  8. Sep 26, 2007 #7


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    ** Another Idea -- design and build a card-key access control system, including encryption and other security features. Use some sort of non-contact card reading technique, and keep a data base of allowed card numbers in the PIC and have it fire the solenoid to unlock the door. Keep the master database on a PC, and download the numbers to the PIC at each door access point periodically. You keep the numbers locally at each door to minimize response time (in a big access system). Or alternately, you could have the PIC query the PC for each door access....

    ** Make a biometric lock, with something like a simple CCD camera to scan fingerprints, and use the PIC or hopefully something stronger like a PC to match the fingerprints for access. Maybe combine this with a keypad code entry (and even the card key access above) to strengthen the security, and remove the most common spoof of a fingerprint scan access system.
  9. Sep 26, 2007 #8


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    ** Ooo, ooo, how about this one. Put a PIC on each access card, and have it receive an encrypted challenge, decrypt the challenge, encrypt the response, and transmit that to the access system. This is getting fun.....
  10. Jan 26, 2010 #9
    Wow, this is very similar to my course. Here are some idea's by past students at my university. Enjoy.

    1. Measure the speed of sound over a calibrated distance and display its value and the time required to travel the calibrated distance.
    2. Develope a motor speed control with optical speed feedback that operates in a closed control loop.
    3. Develope a voice or sound (such as a ring tone recorder) which allows the storage of selected ring tones for later playback.
    4. Develope a world clock which can handle time computation for up to 4 time zones and allow setting of alarm in each as well as stop-watch capability with both audible and visible alarm.
    5. Develope a guitar-string tuner which uses a row of LEDs to signify whether the string needs to be tightened or lossened, and which allows choice of tuning any of the six strings.
  11. Jan 26, 2010 #10
    A great project would be making a cosmic ray detector using a totally new approach.
    Bob Pease describes in http://electronicdesign.com/Articles/Print.cfm?ArticleID=6150 [Broken]
    "What's All This Teflon Stuff, Anyhow?" how cosmic rays were disrupting his measurements and how he corrected the problem.

    I have made Teflon PCB's and am interested in whether cosmic rays actually interfere with the operation of the PCB.
    If you decide to persue this line of research, would like to know what the results are.
    carlpugh1Xatt.net, except replace X with @
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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