Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Update on my life

So I have been very since my last post over a year ago. I have since been an employee of the Durham College Research Office which has kept me very busy when combined with my studies. I had been very sick with a horrible foot infection that has just healed in the recent months. This has kept me from preforming my normal tasks. Now healed I have been busy setting up my tiny machine/fabrication shop. Now equipped with a Grizzly 10x22 Lathe, and Craftex milling machine, I now have a decent little machine shop. These are a good addition to my fabrication equipment. Additionally I have built an outdoor used-oil burning aluminum foundry. I have also been deemed the task of organizing the wheelchair project. This has been going well with motor controls working by means of tablet control, jesture control, speech command and traditional joystick all combined with object avoidance. I have redesigned the mechanical structure to be made of lightweight aluminum and manufacturing is almost completed. I will try and update my blog more often in the future

Live LightSail™ Press Conference With Bill Nye

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Health monitoring system

This project is my contribution to a larger project called the IKRobo wheelchair research project funded by the research division at Durham College. The aim of this project is to enlighten the community about the difficulties of wheelchair use, direction of possible and probable solutions to these difficulties, and a working prototype of these solutions in place.The project is currently finishing its first phase of prototyping and is pursuing additional funding.The IKRobo has three main distinctions from the regular consumer wheelchair. 
  1. Multiple steering choices; Joystick, Eye tracking, Object avoidance, Voice command
  2. Three body positions; Sitting, Walker(standing), Bed(sleeping)
  3. Electronic bio-medical health monitoring 
More information on the IKRobo can be found here at 

My contribution has been the electronic bio-medical health monitoring system. The requirements were to sense seven different medical signals, data-log them to the internet, and notify a caregiver if any signal was not within range.

The Arduino Yun was chosen for its ease of use and integration with the eHealth sensor shield from cooking hacks. and were used to view and log the data to the internet. Nexmo was used to make the phone call to the caregiver

The data that is collected comes from a variety of non-invasive bio-medical sensors including: pulse rate, blood oxygen percent, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, breathing rate, weight, and temperature. These sensors are monitored by a microcontroller that sends the data via WiFi to the cloud storage. If this data falls out of range, phone calls are automatically sent to the medical adviser or caregiver.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Updates of projects in progress.

No posts lately :( I have been very busy with college. Well Exams are almost finished! So I finally have some time to do some updating. 
I have been recently involved with a project at the college called the IKRobo. This project is a smart, self guided wheelchair for the mild to critically handicapped patient who can be remotely monitored of all medical information, and is informed if any changes occur. The area of the project I am involved in in the monitoring, logging alerting of medical information by the use of electronic medical sensors. The hardware being used is the Arduino Yun, Cooking hacks E-health kit, Bluetooth adapter, Standard bathroom scale, and custom PCB's. The data is being collected by the YUN and stored on the internet cloud via website, ECG data is displayed in "real"time via website. This data can be viewed locally on a tablet with a custom app. Additionally if the patient's vital signs fell below normal, a phone call can be sent to the patient's caregiver.
I have also started a few other projects; a portable BeagleBone LapTablet, a camera slide, CNC machine, small foundry and rebuilding my reprap extruder.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Raspberry Pi Development board

Although not as popular as the Arduino line-up, the Raspberry Pi is much more capable in other factors. The Raspberry Pi starts where the arduino left off, while the arduino is great at inputs and outputs and simple programming, the Raspberry Pi is great at internet integration. The Raspberry PI has a very low cost, that is built for youth and beginners to programming. The Raspberry Pi is a very capable device with a reliable processor
This $35 microcomputer development board was built for a purpose. That purpose is getting people interested in programming, particularly youth. The issue is that youth, teens and even college graduates all seem to think that computers can do nothing more than check e-mail, go on the internet, and write word documents. Programming has been forgotten, this is a problem. The Raspberry Pi fixes this problem by using easy to use programming software(Scratch), an easy to use programming language(Python), and very low cost.
Scratch is a simple program that uses pieces of code that can be joined together like a puzzle, this makes it easy for anyone to learn. The pieces of code are from the python programming language, which is the easyiest to learn. Python has become the easiest due to the lack of programming grammer needed. This ease of use makes programming the Raspberry Pi very fun for beginners.
The Raspberry Pi is a  small device, measuring about the size of a credit card. This small size does not hinder performance, with being able to perform any function that a PC can do. The Raspberry PI features two USB ports (for a mouse and keyboard), a Ethernet port(for internet), A micro-USB(for powering it), SD card reader(for storage), two camera inputs, a HDMI output(for new TVs), and analog output(for older TVs). The last feature is what sets it apart from a tablet or laptop, it is the GPIO pins. GPIO stands for general purpose input output, these pins are used for hooking up real world inputs and outputs such as buttons, lights and sensors.
The chip that the Raspberry Pi uses is a SOC(system on a chip) called the BCM2835. The BCM2835 is a dual-core high definition 1080p embedded multimedia applications processor. This means that is is really good in media playback, imaging, streaming media, graphics, 3D gaming, and even camcorder functions. The chip is manufactured by Broadcom, and is mostly used in various cell phones and tablets, although it is also found in cameras and camcorders. It is also very reliable and has a low cost because of its use in cell phones.
The Raspberry PI can be used for many projects that involve internet access such as; cloud based datalogging of sensor values, building your own personal server to host a webpage, or even building a home automation network. The Raspberry PI has also been used for other various projects such as super-computer projects where sixty-four Raspberry Pi's are attached together.
The Raspberry Pi is a good starting point for anyone who wants to get involved with internet projects and programming. The low cost makes it appeal to younger generations who do not have alot of money. The simple and easy-to-use programming language is great for beginners and youth.

TI Launchpad Development Boards

This Series of development boards is from Texas Instruments and is called the Launchpad. The Launchpad comes in four different series with 2-3 boards per series. Each of the boards are well priced when compared to other boards from other manufactures. These range in price from $9.99 to $29.99. Each board can be programmed with multiple different software packages. The MSP430, C2000 boards can be programmed with software very similar to the Arduino IDE, this interface is called Energia.
The four different series of Launchpads are called the MSP430, C2000, Tiva C and Hercules. Each series is named after the processor chip series contained on the board. The MSP430 series is a low power option that is designed for portable measurement applications. The C2000 series is designed for real-time motor control applications and advanced power circuits. The Tiva C series is targeted for industrial applications that use precision timed devices. The Hercules series is designed for automotive, industial and medical safety critical systems.

MSP430 Launchpad

The MSP430 has three boards in its family, the MSP-EXP430G2, MSP-EXP430F5529LP, and the MSP-BNDL-FR5969LCD. The MSP430 series is a low power option that is designed for portable measurement applications
The more expensive of the two development boards is the MSP430FR5969 Launchpad costing $29.99. Making it costing the most of the three MP430 boards. The development board 4 has a 20-pin GPIO interface, on-board buttons, LEDs and a Sharp memory LCD for quick building of simple user interfaces. The processor is the MSP430FR5969 device that is a RISC-based, 16-bit mixed-signal processor for ultra low power consumption systems. TI claims it is the lowest power consumption in the world of all MCU's. The MSP430FR5969 features: 16MHZ CPU speed, 64KB FRAM, 2KB RAM, LCD driver, RTC, 4 SPI, 2 UART, 2 I2C, PWM, 5 16-bit Timers, 12-bit ADC, and many more features found on the datasheet.

C2000 Launchpad

The C2000 has two boards in its family, both have very similar specifications. The LAUNCHXL-F28027 and the LAUNCHXL-F28027F, the two boards are both designed for real-time motor control applications and advanced power circuits.
The more feature packed of the two development boards is the TM4C1294XL Launchpad costing $17.00. The devopment board has two 40-pin interfaces allowing additon of displays, sensors, and wireless modules. The processor is the F28027F device that is a high efficiency 32-bit CPU running up to 60MHz. The features include; 22 individually programable multiplexed GPIO pins, low power consumption, 128KB RAM, 1 SPI, 1 UART, 1 I2C, 4 PWM, ADC, and many more features found on the datasheet.

Tiva C Launchpad

The Tiva C has two boards in its family, both have very similar specifications. The EK-TM4C123GXL and EK-TM4C129XL integrate a large number of communication features to enable highly connected devices that allow real-time control.
The more expensive of the two development boards is the EK-TM4C1294XL at $19.99. The board features out of the box internet connectivity by using the on-board ethernet port. The board features; buttons, LEDS, two 40 pin GPIO connectors, 1MB flash, Two 12 bit ADCs, General purpose timers, and an on-board in-circuit debug interface(used for programming). The processor is the TM4C129NCPDT device that is a ARM Cortex-M4F processor running at 120-Mhz providing high performance and advanced integration. The features are; 256KB SRAM, 6KB EEPROM, 8 UART, 4 quad SSI, 10 I2C, 2 CAN controllers, Ethernet, USB Host/Device, 8 timers, 8 PWM, and many more features found on the datasheet.

Hercules Launchpad

The Hercules has two boards it its family, both have very similar specifications. The LAUNCHXL-TMS57004 is built for transportation applications, while the LAUNCHXL-RM42 is for industrial and medical applications. Both boards are for safety critical applications.
The more safety critical is the LAUNCHXL-RM42 costing $19.99. This development board features; A general purpose switch, two LEDs, a 40-pin GPIO connector, on-board in-circuit debug interface. The processor is the RM42L432 device, it is a high-performance microcontroller designed for safety critical systems. The safety architecture is designed using dual 32-bit ARM Cortex-R4 CPU that can run up to 100 MHz in lockstep. Lockstep runs the same code on two processors at the same time in parallel. This redundancy allows error detection and correction by comparing the outputs of the two processors. The RM42L432 features are impressive featuring: 384KB Flash, 32kb RAM, 16KB EEPROM, 45 GPIO pins, 2 CAN controllers, Multi-buffered SPI, UART, PWM, 16 channel ADC, 19 programmable high-end timers, and many more features that can be found on the datasheet.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad Evaluation Kit MSP-BNDL-FR5969LCD - MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad Evaluation Kit with Sharp ® Memory LCD BoosterPack Bundle

MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad Evaluation Kit with Sharp ® Memory LCD BoosterPack Bundle

This development board is the MSP430FR5969 from Texas Instruments. This board has a terrible name, with good information hidden inside. The MSP430 is a from a line of 16 bit microcontroller chips, this chips code FR5969 comes from the FRAM series. The development board/Evaluation kit has on-board buttons, LEDs and a Sharp memory LCD for quick building of simple user interfaces. The board can be programmed with a interface very similar to the Arduino IDE, this interface is called Energia. The best feature of this board is the price, at only $29.99 this thing looks like a good deal.

The MSP430 is a RISC-based, mixed-signal processor for ultra low power consumption systems.TI claims it is the lowest power consumption in the world of all MCU's. The MSP430FR5969 features are impressive featuring: 16MHZ CPU speed, 40 GPIO max low-power, LCD driver RTC, SPI, UART, PWM and many more features including 64KBFRAM. FRAM stands for ferroelectric random access memory, this technology combines the speed, ultra-low power, endurance and flexibility of SRAM with the stability and reliability of Flash. this combination provides low power and easy to use microcontroller architecture.