ECE Design Days

Aaron Propp - 1B Electrical
Posted on: March 10, 2017

Last week was the close of ECE Design days. After two days of Domino’s pizza and two days of mystery wraps, the furious keyboard-pounding was over. It was a fun experience overall, filled with, well, designing ECE things.

To kick things off on the first night was President Hamdullahpur, who shared with the class a story grounding engineering in reality. It’s not just formulas – it’s practical considerations such as constructing a turbine to make sure it can go through all the underpasses.

The first night was spent designing a circuit to drive a motor using some MOSFETs. Unfortunately, the light bulbs we were given for this activity were out-of-spec. The circuit wouldn’t work as the light bulbs were drawing on too much power. But overall, it was a fun first night.

Programming a pitching machine using an Arduino was the featured activity on the next night. The pitching machine will be used in the future ECE 105 labs (read: mechanics but harder). It was basically a plastic pipe with slots cut in the side for wheels to spin the ball forwards. Programming the machine took some effort, but eventually ping-pong balls were flying all over the place. My team took the machine and turned it on its head (literally) and made a fan to suspend the ball in the air, as the wheels on the side had enough wind going to suspend the ball.

The third night was a dual-pronged opportunity. The first one was using either an Arduino Yun WiFi shield or a small Bluetooth module to communicate with the Arduino. The second opportunity was to use a TEXTRIX to build a robot to mount the pitching machine on. There were some hiccups with all the Bluetooth modules having the same name. Although this did not lead to total chaos, with everyone programming everyone else’s Arduino, it did lead to some interesting problem-solving occurring. One solution was to change the name of the device, which was easier said than done. The other was to leave the room, which would mean being the only Bluetooth device in the vicinity.

The final night we were left to our own devices (pun intended). Some teams focused on improving their robot from last night. Some used various lighting displays and Arduino monitors to program cool and exciting projects. My time was spent building a battle bot. We succeeded in cutting off someone’s power and we cut another robot’s Arduino cord.

Oh, and there were prizes for all the nights, themed to the evening. The first night’s prize was a soldering iron. The second night was a starter Arduino kit. The last two nights had loads of prizes including drones, multimeters, and more. The grand prize winners (an awesome drone) were Jonathan Chan, Benjamin Chapman-Kish, Allison Chow and Andrew Seto. Students had great things to say about the event, which may be a program for future 1B students. One student stated, “I thought this was a great and rewarding experience overall. I am truly glad I participated and would have definitely regretted it if I did not attend. This week was a great experience.”