ME 333 Suggested Final Projects

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Students working on the projects listed below may begin their work right away, upon approval. Students wishing to propose their own project must write a proposal of approximately 3-5 pages, with at least one drawing (hand drawing OK) showing the whole device, a paragraph or two discussing the overall function and goal of the project, as well as discussions of the sensors and actuators you will use, the computation, and the mechanical design. Although you do not have to have worked out all the details, the proposal should show that you've thought about how the whole project will work. It can be a fun whimsical project, or it can solve a practical problem. Your project should creatively use simple sensors and actuation, but your proposal should be beyond simply applying what we do in lab. Previous projects are a good indicator of what's possible. Your proposal must also include milestones to be met during week 9.

Your final project cannot be a robot for DC.

Projects will be judged on functionality (does it do what it's supposed to do? does it serve a useful function?), reliability (does it do it every time?), ambitiousness (is the problem challenging? did you contribute a new capability to the wiki?), and aesthetic appeal (is it packaged nicely? is it pleasing to watch or fun to interact with?).


Recommended Projects

Underwater Electrosense

Put a frequency-sweep electrosense circuit on a 1-DOF linear robot moving in a water tank, and localize nearby objects based on the electrosense reading.

High-speed Motor Control from Matlab

You will make motor control PICs that make it easy for anyone to do high-speed encoder-based feedback control of brushed DC motors with only a few dollars of hardware and a cable to connect to matlab on your PC. Your project will build on this project, see also this project, and will consist of a "master" PIC that communicates with the PC plus any number of "slave" PICs, one for each motor to be controlled. The job of the master PIC is to take the program written in matlab and communicate it to the slave PICs, and to coordinate the initiation of moves by the slave PICs, which implement PID controllers at rates up to 2 kHz. Your final project will demonstrate high-speed trajectory following by a 2-DOF parallelogram linkage that can throw and catch objects in a vertical plane. Optional: use an EEPROM to perform data logging at each slave PIC, and send this data back to matlab upon request.

Week 8 milestone: Demonstrate controlled moves by the motors following a simple program in matlab, and show a design of the parallelogram linkage.

Portable 6-DOF Vibratory Platform for Parts Manipulation

The PPOD is a 6-degree-of-freedom vibratory platform that manipulates multiple parts simultaneously. See this video, for example. You will make a small, portable version (PPOD-Lite) that uses 6 small speakers arranged with 3 acting in the horizontal plane and 3 acting vertically. This version will be no larger than 8"x8"x6". It will have 6 axes of accelerometer feedback on the motion of the plate, and it will use FFTs of the accelerometer data to update the periodic speaker control signals so that the plate learns to follow the desired periodic motion profile. Desired motion profiles will be sent to the plate via a USB connection with a PC. Power for the device will come from a power adapter plugged into the wall.

Week 8 milestone:

Furuta Pendulum (Inverted Pendulum)


Build an inverted pendulum system to experiment with balancing control algorithms. This kind of inverted pendulum is called a Furuta pendulum. A motor controls the rotation of a horizontal beam about a stationary vertical pivot axis, and a second beam rotates freely about an axis along the horizontal beam. The goal is to take the second beam from the hanging down configuration to balanced in the up configuration. An encoder measures the angle of the second beam. The motor pumps energy into the beam, then (probably) switches to a stable linearizing controller when the beam is vertical. See this page, for example. This problem is a challenging dynamic task, and is impressive when it works.

Week 8 milestone: Have the mechanical system nearly finalized, with controlled motion of the motor. The swing-up and balancing algorithms do not have to be implemented yet.

Swarm Robot

Science Roadshow

Trick Shot Pool Robot

Monkeybot 2

Ferrofluid Art


Rolling Manipulation

Educational Control System

You can create an inexpensive educational control system, where students learn to develop controllers to stabilize a mechanical system. You can check out Quanser for ideas.

Other Ideas

  • Claude Shannon, known as the "Father of Information Theory," made a bounce juggling machine many years ago, perhaps the first to make a real juggling machine. It uses no sensor feedback. See the video at [2]. Can you build something similar?
  • This would make a great demo if you had a dog! See [3].
  • Build a 2-DOF pizza manipulator. See [4].

Class Selections

The '*' indicates that a proposal is due.

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