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Senior Design Abstracts, '04-'05


Control of Omnidirectional Wheeled Robot

Authors:    Adam Schuman
                 Melissa McGowan
Advisor:   Gomez

A Mecanum Wheel consists of multiple smaller wheels or rollers attached to a central hub wheel by brackets or cleats at 45-degree angles to the hub. Functionality of the wheel is that, when four are attached to a vehicle, such as in an automobile or a forklift, the vehicle has omnidirectional capabilities, based on varying the speed of rotation of independent wheel motors connected to each hub. Using velocity and angular position information of said vehicle, the rotational speeds of the motors are determined in order to move in the requested direction.

The purpose of building the Mecanum Wheeled Robot is to create a vehicle, which is omnidirectional based on control by a joystick. Movement of the vehicle depends on communication between two optical mice and four independent wheel motors that are connected via a CANbus protocol. Based on interfacing of the optical mice and the wheel motors, an joystick controls the direction of the vehicle. Communication between the CANbus protocol and the joystick is affiliated using a “main brain” computer onboard the robot.

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3D Sensor-Structured Light

Authors:   Oyebode Fajobi      
                Kevin Quach
                Imo Udom

Advisor:   Vuchic

Three dimensional (3D) image acquisition systems are becoming more valuable in today's digital environment. Contemporary 3D acquisition systems allow for the construction of accurate models of 3D objects. The reduction in price and the ubiquity of personal computers creates the opportunity for new virtual reality applications. One growing application for such a system is the modeling of historical artifacts and excavation sites. Archaeologists spend large amounts of time documenting and diagramming uncovered artifacts; 3D acquisition systems can help to insure that more time is spent on the actual excavation and analysis process of these sites.

For such an application, a 3D modeling system would require medium to high accuracy reconstruction, ease of use, affordability, and operational safety for both the operator and the scanned artifact. With these specifications in mind, we chose to develop a sensor based 3D modeling structured light system. One major advantage of such a system is its low cost. A laser, charge coupled device (CCD) camera, and motor are all commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products, which makes this system cheaper than other systems that implement more advanced tools.

Our system acquires data from a 3D object by panning a laser across an object and simultaneously capturing images using a digital color camera. From the disparity between the laser profile over the object and the laser's expected projection onto the reference plane, depth values will be calculated and then analyzed to create a 3D model.

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Hand Motion Short Distance Communication

Authors:    Alex Chang
                 Tom Malec

Advisor:     Lee

The ability to communicate is essential for surviving in today’s world, but for many people communication must be accomplished through non-verbal means, such as sign language. The glove system developed will help bridge the barrier between users of sign language and those using spoken language. It performs automatic translation and displaying of a specific subset of the sign language, made by a glove-wearing hand. The translated signs are transmitted wirelessly to a remote display device to be viewed by the intended audience. The design of the overall system targets deaf/mute people who will be able to use the translating glove for a variety of situations in which communication with people unfamiliar with ASL is required, such as day to conversation or aid in presentations.
Several types of sensors are incorporated into the glove subsystem and used to gather information pertaining to the orientation of the hand in 3-D space, as well as the configuration of the fingers. This information is collected and processed by a micro-controller, which maps the set of collected data, representing the sign formed by the user’s hand, to a matching alphabetical character from a database containing the sensor output values for each character. When a message has been completed in sign language, it is then sent wirelessly, using Bluetooth, to a nearby PC for display.

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Redundant PAPPA Flight Computer Watchdog

Authors:    Marc Blanco
                 Shlomo Katz       

Advisor:    Devlin

Data acquisition for the Primordial Anisotropy Polarization Pathfinder
Array (PAPPA) project balloon flight requires constant communication
between the flight telescope and an onboard computer. However, conditions
at flight altitude cause computers to become unreliable. A redundant
computer control system, consisting of two identical computers connected
to the telescope through a watchdog circuit, aims to deliver continuous
computer control over the telescope.
Specifically, two Linux PC's are used to control and store data from
external devices. Each computer sends and receives data via serial and
parallel port interfaces, and can generate analog output voltages through
a National Instruments card. The computers connect to the telescope
through a watchdog circuit. Each computer sends and receives data as if it
alone is in control of the system, but the watchdog chooses one computer
whose control data is passed on to the telescope.

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Robodog Frontal Facial Recognition

Authors:    Jing Hu
                 “Champ” Kitwiwattanachai
                 Jessica Pannequin

Advisor:    Lee

Facial Recognition has drawn a significant amount of attention in the research area in the past few years. There is an increasing interest in the implementation of facial recognition systems because of the emerging demands of more efficient security systems. The ability to take into account differences in lighting conditions, facial orientation and background objects is crucial for the implementation of a successful system. Many different approaches of the problem have been developed over the past two decades. So far, each proposed method has different comparative advantages and disadvantages.

With the chosen approach of this project, the face region is first extracted from the original picture using skin color analysis. The facial features are then extracted from the face region. By doing so, the background noise can be eliminated, thus increasing the recognition accuracy and decreasing the computation volume of the system.

The facial features are then fed into an error back propagation neural network to overcome image distortion due to lighting condition, facial expression and orientation of the face. During the training process, different representations of the face are inputted into the network. After the computation, recognition errors are minimized. Therefore, by intensive training of the network, robust recognition performance can be achieved. 

Finally, in order to enhance the role of human-robot interaction for which recognition is a crucial capability, the Sony’s Aibo Dog is used as the interface to the system. The full implementation of the system allows the Robodog to identify each individual trained by the neural network.

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Automated Video Tracking for Multiple UAVs

Authors:    Sam Starr
                 Emir Tumen

Advisor:  Pappas


The project aims to provide a tracking system for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are used for research and security purposes and require real time control. Giving the camera the ability to follow an object, and limiting the margin of error in the visual tracking output, the project aims to satisfy the need of an automated surveillance for UAVs at the University of Pennsylvania. In the chosen approach, the GPS information from the UAV is collected and stored in the ground base station PC. The GPS data is then fed to the Pan-Tilt unit’s control PC, which processes this information and converts it to pan and tilt values by using a geometrically based algorithm. Finally, two servomotors which accept these pan and tilt values adjust to point the camera in the UAV’s direction. The current implementation of the system is well suited to any visual output device such as monitors, televisions or webcams for network sharing, and for real-time visual tracking of any GPS transmitting object in a 360° field.

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Solar Car Battery Management System

Authors:   Michael Ashley
                Zhenming Zhang

Advisor:   Zemel

Solar racing has increased in popularity over the past few years due to the greater frequency of solar competitions. Most competitions are designed to be fun and promote awareness of alternative energy and new technologies. The North American Solar Challenge is one such solar race that is specifically aimed at college level competition.

Penn Solar Racing (PSR) has limited funds and must carefully analyze how money is spent on components of the car. The goal of PSR is to minimize the cost of batteries and solar cells while improving upon the last solar car in order to be competitive.

In order to be competitive, Penn Solar Racing has created specific requirements for the 2005 Penn Solar Racing car, Keystone. Penn Solar Racing desires a battery stack which is capable of delivering 50 A continuously, has over four kWh of energy and has a stack voltage of 48 V. PSR also desires a one kilowatt array that costs under $10 / Watt. In order to race, the solar car must be compliant with North American Solar Challenge regulations (NASC). Each solar car must have a battery system protected from overvoltage, undervoltage, overcurrent and overtemperature conditions. NASC regulations allow solar cars up to 25 Kg of Lithium chemistry batteries and an array size up to nine square meters.

A battery pack and solar array will be constructed for PSR which meets their requirements. The battery pack will be made of 104 batteries from Electrovaya wired in a 13S8P configuration allowing for a 48 V nominal stack voltage. The battery pack will be capable of 50 A continuous current draw. The batteries will be protected by a system which monitors the battery voltage, current and temperature. The system will disconnect the battery pack from a relay if the pack experiences voltages, currents or temperatures outside of the desired limits. If time permits, an array will be wired, attached and coated to the Penn Solar Racing body for the 2005 car, Keystone, otherwise instructions will be written up for the procedure to be completed before the 2005 North American Solar Race in July 2005.

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Conference Room Monitoring

Author:    Mike Benolt
               Mike Swavola

Advisor:   Insup Lee
Since 2002, much research has been done across the country in the area of micro-electric mechanical systems as a potential solution to the pandemic problem of inefficient energy consumption. The team has built upon the feasibility research done at Berkeley and MIT to design and develop an intelligent environment control scheme with the hope of significantly reducing energy consumption in conference rooms.
The objective of the project is to integrate three stand-alone components into one adaptive environment control system. The components are location detection, environment sensing, and output control.
The team is attacking the problem by designing independent location and environment sensing systems and connecting them. Each sensing system is isolated to a group of “motes” dedicated to that application. The data collected is compiled and passed synchronously through a resilient “shortest-hop” data transmission scheme. The required outputs are then computed and sent via the shortest-route to the mote environment outputs. Error is controlled by redundancy checks between mote sensors, and is measured by comparing sensor readings within each group to lighting output.
The final result is an integrated system which uses Passive Infrared sensors to accurately detect room entrance and exit, basic light sensors distributed across the network to provide accurate environment monitoring, and a low-error, low-power transmission and output system that adjusts room lighting

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Double Vision TV

Authors:    Nii Ayite Ayite
                 Zereyacob Girma
                 Aung Naing

Advisors:   Engheta, Daniilidis

Television has been an excellent medium for entertainment and information ever since the invention of the electron scanning tube in 1923 by Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, who is considered the father of the modern television. Unfortunately, people sharing a television are forced to watch one channel at a time or use a different television if they want to watch different programs. As a result, there are often arguments about which channel to watch. There is currently no system that allows viewers in the same room to view different channels without the use of multiple televisions. Present day systems such as picture-in-picture (PIP) are largely ineffective as they only use a small fraction of the screen area for the secondary channel, and there is no way of hearing the audio from that channel.

The goal of this project was to design a system that solves these problems. The DoubleVision Television (DVTV) system comprises of a NTSC processing unit that allows two groups of viewers to simultaneously watch different channels on the same television. Two groups of viewers can use shutter glasses with built-in polarization properties to differentiate and watch two different channels. The two sound signals from the two different channels are separated and transmitted to the appropriate user via a wireless headphone system.

A mixer box [DVTV Box] was built to interlace two separate channels that can be displayed on any standard CRT TV. First, two analog NTSC signals of the viewers’ choice are extracted from the multi-channel frequency band coming from the cable provider or any video source such as VCR or DVD. The sound signals are simultaneously separated and sent to the RF transmitter which transmits the two separate sounds to two separate headphones. Then, the two video signals are synchronized using a time base correction unit. These two separate synchronized NTSC channels are interlaced by a video multiplexer circuit. The timing signal is extracted and used to control this video multiplexer.
The output of the multiplexer becomes a single field-sequential NTSC signal with the odd and even fields representing channel A and channel B respectively. The same timing signal is used to control the shutter glasses, which turn ON and OFF at the right time to give two viewers two completely different channels. 

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GPS Controlled Vehicle

Authors:    Navik Agrawal
                 Greg Kupermsn
                 Bashar Saleh

Advisor:    Farnum, Deliwala

GPS is becoming one of modern life’s essentials as it has found its way into many applications and modern processes. Using a relatively cheap GPS receiver, we set our goal to design a GPS Guided Autonomous Vehicle. The question remains how a GPS guided vehicle would traverse a path given the inherited inaccuracy of GPS.
The project used a TXT-1 RC car as the study vehicle. Using the GPS receiver and a Java application, we have implemented a navigation system that is able to adapt itself into many various future applications needing Autonomous Navigation.

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Engineering a Better Golf Swing

Authors:    Seth Charlip-Blumlein
                 Shehzad Khan

Advisor:   Van der Spiegel 
Quantifying and measuring certain aspects of a golf swing is a helpful tool for any golfer. Currently, the only way to achieve this is by traveling to an indoor, controlled environment rigged with complex sensors and having a system contained within measure the swing. Not only are these facilities relatively sparse, but they are prohibitively expensive to the average golfer.

The solution to these problems is a series of sensors and the necessary interfacing circuitry, integrated onto a golf club. The system is designed to measure the velocity of the swing, the angle the ball is launched at and the region of the clubface where impact occurs. Accuracy, unobtrusiveness and portability are the key factors for this system and they drove the approach to the project.

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Projected Arrival Time

Authors:    Michael Pao
                 Lawrence Zhou
                 Michael Smeets

Advisors:    Deliwala, Farnum
Modern mass transit systems are an essential part of any urban environment. However, a large segment of the population avoids using mass transit systems due to the perceived inconvenience, particularly regarding arrival times.

While modern rail and subway systems integrate solutions providing estimated arrival time to users, the unpredictable nature and complexity of bus systems remains a problem. Traffic conditions, weather disruptions and other emergencies can significantly influence the accuracy of static bus schedules. The Projected Arrival Time (PAT) system is a possible solution.

The PAT system uses the global positioning system (GPS) to provide accurate, real-time arrival estimates to users of a bus system. PennBus West was used for purposes of evaluating the project. Each bus carries an onboard GPS unit which transmits data to a central server running the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) with Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) technology. On the backend, positioning and velocity data are combined to predict arrival times, which users can call via a webpage.

The PAT system is robust enough that it will adjust to variations in weather and traffic patterns. However, conditions do arise which severely hamper the ability of buses to run on schedule, such as emergency weather conditions and breakdowns. Failure of the PAT system under these extreme circumstances can be communicated to the user so that he or she may alter travel plans accordingly. Despite its limitations, the system is reliable to the point where it can be deployed commercially as a trustworthy convenience.


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RFID Management System for Domestic Applications

Authors:    Izukanne Emeagwali
                 Saloni Mira Rai
                 Mary Obasi (CSE)

Advisor:    Lee

The last decade has seen the expansion of computer usage from scientific and business applications to common applications such as scheduling and appointment management uses. RFID technology is also quickly becoming a standard for corporations to trying to track and manage their inventories.

Despite this growth, computers are still not being used to manage everyday physical objects such as CDs, books and clothes in non-industrial settings. This project seeks to create a system that will focus on the management of everyday objects in non-industrial settings and that will seamlessly augment the capabilities of physical objects to allow them to have significant computational functionality.

In the domestic setting clothing will be managed according to the users’ clothes and color preference, rating, calendar system and according to the weather. The frequently arising questions of “What do I have and when is it appropriate to use it?” will be answered. The placement of RFID tags on clothing allows them to be identified by specific properties which can help to manage and match each item better.

Within the retail side the user will be able to expand his or her shopping view within a short period of time. The store’s database will be able to suggest clothing items from the entire store for the user according to what the user has already picked up and placed within his or her shopping cart.

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Noise Cancellation System

Authors:    Anil Makhijani
                 Jeevan Puthiamadathil

Advisors:   Lee
Noise cancellation systems have been implemented to counter the effects of
echoes in communications systems. These systems use algorithms that have been
implemented using digital signal processors to track how a noise signal is
changed by the frequency response of the communication system it travels in
and then use that information to cancel that noise. These systems have been
used for vocal communication systems, but the idea can be expanded to the use
of music.
In a recording studio, a singer usually stands in a sound booth and sings with
headphones playing the instrumental that the vocals are accompanying. This is
a non-ideal situation as the singer cannot hear her own voice along with the
instrumentals. The goal of this project is to allow for the recording of a
voice with instrumentals in the background and to isolate just the singer’s
This noise cancellation system will take a known instrumental signal, output
it over a loudspeaker, while sending it to a digital signal processor (DSP)
that will convolve it with the estimated frequency response of the room. A
microphone will pick up the singer’s voice, along with the instrumental signal
in the background that has traveled throughout the room and will send it to
the DSP. The DSP will subtract the known instrumental signal convolved with
the estimation of the room’s frequency response from the recorded microphone
signal. The anticipated result of the system is the singer’s voice plus the
background instrumental attenuated by 20 dB.

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Pediatric Step Monitor

Authors:    Jennifer Sin
                 Michael Wong
                 Linda Lamptey

Advisor:   Zemel
The downward trend of physical activity in children is of great concern to public health because it is directly linked to the growing epidemics of obesity and osteoporosis. Research has shown that the intensity of weight-bearing activities is the most crucial factor in developing bone mass and strength, thus the Pediatric Step Monitor is a tool that measures the magnitude and duration of forces exerted on the soles of children’s feet.  The device will aid current bone health studies in detecting trends, evaluating programs, and quantifying the correlation between load-bearing activity and bone development.
The Pediatric Step Monitor consists of a piezoelectric polyvinylidene fluoride sensor, a signal conditioning circuit, and a microcontroller for data storage and transmission. At the end of the day, the data will be transferred via a serial link to a simple graphical user interface, displaying values of interest such as force magnitude and energy expenditure.

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RF Power Simulator

Authors:    Phillip Chan
                 Mike Chakardjian
                 Tom Leonard

Advisor:    Farnum

The PIN diode has been in use since the 1960’s and research into its properties has been thorough.  One application of the PIN diode is to use it as a solid state transmit-receive (TR) switch which allows either the transmitter or the receiver to communicate with the antenna while protecting the device not in use.  PIN diodes placed in these types of switches, are required to handle power on the order of 1 kW at radio frequencies (RF). 

The problem that a designer of solid state switches faces is testing the diodes and the switch circuit with stresses of high power.  Test equipment that provides power of 1 kW is expensive to purchase or rent.  One method to limit the need of a high power RF transmitter is to create resonant circuits that can provide either the high voltage or high current that would be seen from a high power source. 

High voltage can be achieved through series resonating circuits while high current can be produced with parallel resonating circuits.  The circuits will be designed to resonate at several frequencies ranging between 10 MHz and 900 MHz.  The PIN diode can be stressed with these tuned circuits and a designer would have the ability to find faults in the solid state TR switch being designed without having a high power transmitter.  The resonating circuits will provide solid state TR switch designers with a low power and low cost method of testing switches containing PIN diodes. 


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Ad-Hoc Network for Handheld Devices

Author:    Hamad Abdulaal, Mohammad Haq

Advisor:   Kassam

The Sensor Application System for PDAs allows users to take advantage of the 802.11 ad hoc mode to transfer files with neighboring users. The advantage of an ad hoc network is that there is no need for an access point. Instead users can connect to each other anywhere, even those locations where internet infrastructure isn’t already setup. For this project there are essentially three components: the physical communication system, the network programming, and the PDA application. The application is created for the Pocket PC 2002 Operating System. It detects other users of the Sensor application in a 100 m range and loads records of their shared files in a SQL server database. The user then has the ability to choose and download any of these shared files from any other user connected to the Ad-hoc Network.

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Deep Brain Temperature Sensor

Author:     Sukhesh Miryala
                Pallav Gupta

Advisor:    Chance

The need for an accurate measuring device to measure the temperature of the brain during surgery is necessary for use during cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. The goal of this project is to design and construct a new non-invasive device to measure brain temperature based on Dr. Chance’s research of Near Infrared Spectroscopy.  The absorbance of light at particular wavelengths in the brain is a function of temperature. This device measures the absorbance of infrared light at different temperature, and processes the data through an algorithm the authors developed to relate absorbance with temperature, and consequently measures brain temperature.


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Voice Activated Search Engine

Authors:    Navajeet Chatterji
                 Sunava Dutta

Advisor:   Van der Spiegel

Names are not unique. When a name is spoken, written or entered into a
system it is subject to considerable variations due to Cultural/ Linguistic/
Ethnic boundaries. A majority of the time the source of data is perfect, but
due to discrepancies caused by phonetic pronunciations, cultural
transliteration variations and sequence variations the user is unable to
correctly spell the query resulting to a negative result.
VASE, or Voice Activated Search Engine is a name based search engine powered
by speech recognition technology. VASE enables the user to search for names
with high accuracy based on phonetic pronunciation, either by voice or text
input. VASE has been designed to be user independent, language independent
and platform independent.

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Instrument for Pressure Ulcer Detection

Authors:    Jialing Wang
                 Ashish Chauhan
                 Kashif Merchant

Advisors:   Santiago

With the high level of advancement and sophisticated technologies in the medical
world, some very common conditions and diseases have remain neglected even
today. The I-PUD is a low cost, reliable device that should relieve the
economic burden of pressure ulcer care in the US, estimated to be $3-6 billion
per year. The I-PUD is a mobile sensory device capable of detecting Stage-I
pressure ulcers (bed sores) in human beings of all skin colors while providing
quantitative data. The I-PUD detects pressure ulcers using three sensors and
displays data on a LabView GUI on a portable computer. This device will provide
medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Physical
Medicine and Rehabilitation the means of acquiring and documenting data
corresponding to pressure ulcer diagnosis. This project of fabricating the I-PUD
provides the undergraduate engineering students with hands-on experience in the
real world research environment

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