Project Ideas

1. Mar 6, 2008

ranger

Hey all,

Well I'm on the home stretch now. I have to build my senior project. Well this isn't really a senior project per se (thats next semester). What I'm taking is a course on "Product Design and Development". It deals with all the functional aspects that go into designing a product: from initial project idea to the final manufacturable unit. It goes into the design methodologies and so on. I honestly had no idea that so much happens beyond engineering (I'm talking about things like industrial design, marketing, and general project management. I feel so ignorant because I thought that all an engineer does was simply work on a problem he was given...)

Anyway, to better grasp the material of the course, we have to build an actual project to show how we have implemented the various methodologies. We have to show understanding of things such as design for manufacture (DFM), prototyping, concept generation, concept selection, etc.

Although the main idea is to understand the various design methodologies, a lot of emphasis is placed on the project. The instructor made the decision that the project should be electromechanical in nature. He felt that my having moving parts along with electrical circuitry, we would better appreciate concepts such as DFM and prototyping.

So I come here seeking ideas for a suitable project that I can easily use to implement these methodologies. The restrictions are:
-Should be electromechanical in nature
-Mechanical aspect should do something useful (obviously)
-Project should be unique. If an already existing product is chosen, then it should be justified that my project can accomplish the tasks of the existing product in a better (more efficient) way.

It does not have to be controlled by a uC, I can implement computer control via parallel/serial port. I also know that electromechanical systems then to be more expensive than a system that deals with just electrical energy to accomplish its function. As a result I would like to use motors to control moving parts. I'm not so keen on implementing any pneumatics or hydraulics.

So far I was thinking about an automatic beverage dispenser. The only non-submersible way of measuring liquid level in the cup that can think is already taken (measuring electrical continuity). So I've scratched that idea. Maybe you can think of some other project to implement the "electrical continuity" idea in so that I have justification for using it.

Any input is appreciated.

2. Mar 6, 2008

stewartcs

You can always use an ultrasonic proximity sensor to measure the liquid level.

The typical caveats with these types of proximity sensors are their deadband range, and surface turbulence in the liquid causing accuracy problems. I imagine if you space the sensor correctly you won't have any deadband problems. Not sure if the filling of the cup would cause problems with the level measurement, but it might be worth a shot.

BTW, a stilling tube is used in tanks as a work-around for the surface turbulence in the liquid. A stilling tube doesn't seem to practical for a beverage dispensor though.

Hope that helps.

CS

3. Mar 6, 2008

NoTime

Most of the stuff I designed was one off specials.
However, my experience was that going from working prototype to final manufacturable unit took a lot more time than going from initial concept to working prototype.
It's like herding cats.

4. Mar 7, 2008

Staff: Mentor

Sounds like a fun project. BTW, just because it is an electromechanical project, doesn't mean that you have to use electromechanical actuators like motors. Electromechanical sensors would also qualify, I would think. So position sensors, limit switches, etc., should also satisfy the electromechanical requirement.

Also, I wouldn't think in terms of using the serial or parallel port on a PC for the computer control portion -- those interfaces are going away on basically all laptops, and many desktops. I'd think more in terms of using the USB interface for external interfacing, if you go the PC/laptop route instead of the uC route.

As for ideas, it makes it hard to have to think up a new product.... I'll have to think about this some (and hopefully post later today...)

5. Mar 7, 2008

Staff: Mentor

Okay, only one set of ideas so far...

How about a system to help an archer or rifle shooter to improve in their breath control and heartbeat anticipation, to improve their accuracy at the range. Systems like this are available at high-end training facilities like the Olympic training facilities, but are not generally available as commercial systems.

Your challenge would be to figure out the best and most cost-effective way to do some or all of the following:

** Sense the shooter's pulse and respirations (to help the shooter learn how and when to stop breathing, and to time the shot at the right part of the heartbeat rhythm)

** Sense the position of the rifle muzzle (or arrowtip) as the shooter relaxes in preparation for the shot (to see how well it quiets down before the shot)

** It would be nice to be able to see the sight picture as it moves around and settles for each shot (maybe with a beam splitter / HUD arrangement between the shooter's eye and the sights)

** Record the position of the shot as it registers on the target

CS