Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy: PHYS/ENPH 454 Advanced Engineering Physics Design Project Collection

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    Underwater Surveillance Robot
    (2023-03-03) Wigle, Joseph; Meadows, Hayden; Mollot-Hill, Julian; Sammon, Patrick; Finerty, Declan; Jayakody, Kaveen
    Remotely operated underwater vehicles are used in a variety of industries for maintenance and transport, surveillance and inspection, and research and data collection. They allow for a more convenient and flexible option as compared to human dive teams, and can often be cheaper as well. The goal of this project was to create a small and agile underwater robot that would be specialized to operate in the fields of surveillance and inspection. The chief stakeholders in the project were identified as municipalities monitoring their underwater infrastructure, aquaculturalists monitoring their fish colonies and net integrity, and ships at sea inspecting their hull integrity. The system was designed to be operated directly by a user through radio frequency remote-control. The control signals would be sent to a receiver located in a buoy that would float on the surface of the water. This buoy, which contains the batteries for the system as well as a WiFi chip to relay the camera feed, was connected to the main chassis underwater through a 10ft-long custom cable tether that delivers power and the control signals to the main chassis. The main chassis was constructed centered on a section of recycled 3” PVC pipe. One end was sealed with a resealable twist-off portal for access to the inside components, and the other end was sealed with a transparent polycarbonate for the camera to see out of. The motors were attached in a two-vertical, two-horizontal orientation and custom propellors were designed and 3D-printed in opposing orientations for port and starboard side to prevent torque roll of the vehicle. The control Arduino and motor controllers were sealed inside the vehicle and the exit portals for the tether cable and the motor wires were sealed with epoxy resin. The robot met all established goals for the project, including full 3D movement (up/down, forward/backwards, yaw control), a 15-minute battery life, 1.0m/s forward drive and 0.5m/s upwards drive, a 10ft operating depth, relatively neutral buoyancy, and consistent user control without interference. The robot shows a proof-of-concept for a radio frequency remote controlled underwater vehicle, further iteration and research could yield a more effective product for stakeholders.
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    Resistor Sorter
    (2023-03-01) Floras, Claire; Day, Benny; Oishi, Seiji; Greenwood, Melanie; Van Der Weg, Dave; Sieroka, Michael; Giamberardino, Michael
    An autonomous resistor sorter would be a valuable tool in physics labs, as it would save time and reduce errors incurred by manual sorting of resistors. This paper presents the design and development of such a device, with the intention of accurately and efficiently sorting resistors without human involvement. The design uses gravity and motors to transport the resistors through the system and determines resistance values for sorting. The design process was organized by dividing the group into four sub-teams, each focused on a specific component of the device. The development of the resistor sorter required the group to overcome two main challenges: accurately reading the resistors and sorting them into correct bins. To solve the first challenge, one sub-team produced a program to detect resistance values based on colour bands. The other three sub-teams focused on the second main challenge of building a system to transport and sort the resistors once inputted into the device. The tasks for these teams to accomplish included building a mechanism to dispense resistors using a conveyor belt, constructing the framework and transportation mechanisms in the structure, and programming motors to control the moving parts in the system. The final product requires the user to manually straighten and input 12 resistors at a time into the device for sorting. The resistor sorter has an accuracy of 60% for determining the resistance values using camera detection and 40% at sorting them correctly. Further adaptations that could improve the accuracy of the current design components include improving the set-up of slides and chutes that transport the resistors, modifying the size of the bins into which resistors are sorted, and implementing a higher torque motor. The device could also be re-designed to accept a large quantity of tangled and unsorted resistors rather than requiring the user to manually straighten each resistor and place it on the conveyor belt in small quantities at a time. This modification would allow the device to achieve complete autonomy and would provide the best user experience.
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    Designing and Testing a Smart Cat Feeder Prototype
    (2023-03-01) Amen, Laurie; Bos, Emma; Climie, Neve; Deuitch, Kellem; Lamothe, Naomi; Mitchinson, Clara
    This report describes the design process for a smart cat feeder. The main goals of the project include dispensing food on a user-set schedule, regularly weighing two cats and the food they eat, and making weight data easily available to the user via a phone application. It should be able to maintain a schedule and record distinct data for at least two different cats. This device is intended for use by busy or multiple-cat owners, and by animal shelters and veterinary offices to track cat health. The final design is Arduino-based and includes two scales: a cat weighing platform based on four strain gauge load cells which records the cat’s weight when a radio-frequency identification card attached to its collar is read, and a food bowl weighing scale based on a single strain gauge load cell which records the amount of food in the bowl to estimate how much the cat has eaten. The final dispensing mechanism uses a 4.8 L reservoir and a PVC pipe to hold and convey food to an aluminium box, which contains a 3D-printed wheel with a brush overtop to reduce jamming of the mechanism. The wheel turns on a user-set schedule in increments of 1/12th of a cup using a stepper motor. The final software design includes Arduino IDE back-end code and a Blynk-based user interface, and is capable of recording and graphing cat weight and food consumed data for two different cats. The application also allows the user to set three different feeding times and amounts. The entire device requires a single 9 V power supply to be plugged into a regular household outlet. The project outcome was semi-successful in terms of meeting goals, with major shortcomings being lower weighing accuracy than specified and a jamming percentage of 39.1%.
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    QueueHop: Computer Vision Wait Time Estimation for Clark Hall Pub
    (2023-02-24) Chase, Alex; Macduffee, Bryn; Garmaise, Jonah; Everitt, Julia; Clark, Griffin
    Computer vision is a rapidly growing field that involves the use of machine learning algorithms to analyze visual data from images and videos. One application of computer vision is in crowd counting, which involves using algorithms to automatically estimate the number of people in a given area. In this project, we sought to use computer vision to determine the length of the line at Clark Hall Pub and estimate the wait time for individuals in line. Additionally, time of flight sensors were used to automatically count the pub's capacity. These metrics were displayed to users via a mobile application built using JavaScript and React Native, providing them with information to help them decide about their plans for Friday afternoon. The machine learning model achieved a 7.2% mean average error, the sensor capacity device achieved a 78% accuracy, and the mobile application achieved a frame rate of 60 frames per second. This provided the end user with a user-friendly experience and the ability to display live data. In future work, full integration of these subsystems is an area of focus.
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    Pneumatic Model Plane Launching System
    (2023-02-24) Zhong, Allen; Beggs, Benjamin; Viloria, Chris; Fisker, Desiree; Fisman-Guarascio, JJ; Lahteenmaa-Swerdlyk, Timo
    When launching model planes, hobbyists typically rely on their own physical ability to throw the model and facilitate launches. This introduces inconsistencies in launch angle, trajectory, and initial speed, affecting the quality of launch. Further, hobbyists with physical accessibility considerations may struggle to launch a model plane by hand. This report details the design, construction and testing of a pneumatic, automated launch mechanism that can reduce the inconsistencies introduced by manual launch and increase accessibility for hobbyists with physical limitations. This automated launch mechanism provides more repeatable flight trajectories, allows for launch angle adjustment, is safe for hobbyist use, and is convenient to use in its size, weight, and interface. The design was broken into composite systems of chassis, pneumatic mechanism, electrical circuit, and microcontroller software. It was prototyped with a minimum viable product providing proof-of-concept of the design’s function. Systems were designed in parallel with specialized sub-teams using modelling, computer-aided design tools, and integration requirements to inform design choices. The minimum viable product contained a wooden chassis with a model plane held in a 3D printed launch mount traveling along a rail guide. A stepper motor allowed for rotation of the rail guide to manipulate launch angle with the angle value being displayed on an LCD. Both the stepper rotation and fire mechanism were controlled by button presses using an Arduino microcontroller and an electrical circuit. These buttons and the LCD were assembled on the chassis face at the rail guide’s tail end. The final system prototype was operational with the exception of an electrical circuit wiring failure produced while transporting the system that broke the subsystem’s function. Project goals quantifying launch consistency, launch angle adjustment, system weight, and launch safety were met. Launch distance failed to meet its quantitative target, travelling a maximum of eight feet against a target of ten feet. It is hypothesized that this underperformance is caused by the slow actuation of the piston in the pneumatic system limiting mechanical impulse and the recoil of the rail guide during launch producing energy losses. For actual usage of this system, it is recommended that the electrical systems be weatherproofed for safety, the electrical circuit be replicated on a PCB for reliability, and a battery system be installed for portability. To increase the utility of the design, the launch mount should also be iterated with adjustable clasp dimensions to launch multiple plane models.