Lazy Labor day educational time. Watch Cornell’s microcontroller courses.

 

C’mon, you know you’re not really going to do much today. You might as well spend that time learning some skills instead of watching funny cats. The Cornell ECE lectures on microcontrollers (ECE 4760 and ECE5760), taught by [Bruce Land], are available online for free.

Not only do you get to enjoy these two courses, but there are videos available showing off several different categories of student projects as well.

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KMODDL: A mechanism maker’s dream site.

Computers are relatively new still, but we’ve had mechanics for a very long time. KMODDL  keeps us from reinventing the wheel. It contains collections of mechanisms with descriptions, pictures, and even videos. We were working on a arbalest design not too long ago, and we were having trouble coming up with a clever ratchet design for one of the parts. We spent a few moments in KMODDL looking through the ratchet section of the Reuleaux collection, and  soon after we had the basic building blocks of our design. Sure there are books you could buy that do a similar thing, but KMODDL is completely free, very in depth, and easier to search. Plus, with a useful tool like this you might not even have to take apart all your appliances anymore to see how they work. My first sewing machine might have lived a longer life had I seen this first. Anyone know of more resources like this?

An Autonomous Car Using a “Webcam”

This autonomous remote control-style car from Cornell students was designed for a senior level engineering course there. It’s main “sensor” is a low-res webcam style camera. As shown in the video after the break, this car does quite well staying within two black lines on a white surface using it’s vision processing. It also has an IR sensor to detect objects in front of the car and stop without crashing.

All “vision” computations are handled by an Atmel Mega644 MCU, an 8-bit processor. Because of the processing limits of this chip, much work had to be done to make this process computationally efficient. These students go through an incredibly detailed account of their project, focusing on the code and electrical design. Check out the video of their car in action after the break. [Read more...]

Human Tetris: object tracking on an 8-bit microcontroller

Elaborating on an item previously mentioned among last weekend’s Cornell final projects list, this time with video:

For their ECE final project, [Adam Papamarcos] and [Kerran Flanagan] implemented a real-time video object tracking system centered around an ATmega644 8-bit microcontroller. Their board ingests an NTSC video camera feed, samples frames at a coarse 39×60 pixel resolution (sufficient for simple games), processes the input to recognize objects and then drives a TV output using the OSD display chip from a video camera (this chip also recognizes the horizontal and vertical sync pulses from the input video signal, which the CPU uses to synchronize the digitizing step). Pretty amazing work all around.

Sometimes clever projects online are scant on information…but as this is their final grade, they’ve left no detail to speculation. Along with a great explanation of the system and its specific challenges, there’s complete source code, schematics, a parts list, the whole nine yards. Come on, guys! You’re making the rest of us look bad… Videos after the break…

[G’day Bruce]

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Cornell final project list

Looking for an interesting project to do using an Atmel Mega644? Students at Cornell University have got you covered. They were required to choose, design, and build a project using the microcontroller; and this year is quite promising with video object tracking, the always popular theremins, helicopters, Potentiostats, even Pavlovian conditioned mosquitoes, and more.

Of course all the previous years are included as well, making over 350 projects total.

[Thanks Bruce Land]

Build your own RFID reader

We asked for it and our readers delivered. [Klulukasz] left a comment pointing to this diy RFID reader that was a final project in 2006 for a class at Cornell University. It is well documented and includes not only a schematic and code, but an explanation of the design considerations used during the build. The project uses an ATmega32 and the parts list priced out at about $50 at the time. There were plenty of responses to the RFID spoofer post pointing out that there are readers available for $40, but we want the fun of building our own.

A bit more vague with the details but no less interesting is this other simple RFID reader design. Thanks to [Chuck] for his comment which pointed to that link.

Eureqa discovers equations

While “Software to discover equations and mathematical relationships in data” isn’t at the top of our christmas wish list, we have to admit that Eureqa is pretty cool. Developed at Cornell University, Eureqa uses machine learning algorithms to determine the underlying math behind data sets. It derived Newton’s second law of motion in a few hours on a standard desktop computer, which isn’t bad at all for a cold unfeeling robot mind. There probably aren’t many applications for this in most hacks, but what hacker wouldn’t want Sir Issac Newton’s brain in their toolbox? The software can be downloaded for free from their website.

[Via Wired]

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