Low-Cost Swarm Robotics Platform Oct 2009 - Dec 2009

As a research project under the supervision of Dr. Gill Pratt, I designed and fabricated a low-cost, expandable robotics platform for use in research and education. This included circuit design, component selection, PCB layout, and system integration. The robot featured a 12 MIPS processor, infrared communication and obstacle detection, motor feedback, LED indicators, and an expansion port. The final design had a component cost under $20, making it one of the least expensive programmable mobile robots available.

final, assembled robot

top view

side view

Collaborators: Daniel Grieneisen, Jacob Izraelivitz, Nicholas Hobbs, Dr. Gill Pratt (faculty)
Files: circuit schematic
Tags: swarm robotics, embedded systems, PIC microcontrollers, circuit design, component selection, PCB layout, Olin College
3D Checkers Game Nov 2009 - Dec 2009

As a final project in my Software Design course, I worked with two other students to create a 3-dimensional checkers game in Python.

screenshot of the final interface

Collaborators: Xavier Ziemba, Sabrina Thompson
Tags: software design, object oriented programming, model-view-controller, checkers, collaborative development, VPython
FPGA Breakout Arcade Game Dec 2009

Inspired by the classic Atari arcade game, a few classmates and I recreated the game Breakout in Verilog using a Spartan-3 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) for our Computer Architecture course. The system included a custom input controller, and output mono sound and VGA video.

Atari Breakout arcade game (image source: The Arcade Flyer Archive)

FPGA game hardware

testing the game

VGA output

Collaborators: Daniel Grieneisen, John Watson, Lindsay Kaye
Tags: Verilog development, arcade games, Spartan-3 FPGA, computer architecture, Olin College
USB Multichannel Analyzer Jun 2009 - Dec 2009

While working with the NASA / Olin Research Group I designed, built, programmed, and tested a low-cost USB multichannel analyzer (MCA) for use in NASA x-ray spectrometry experiments. This included high speed circuit design, component selection, PCB layout, and firmware programming. Typical MCAs cost several thousand dollars; our design cost under $40 in components and provided the same functionality.

final hardware

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (source: CTSI)

functional breadboard MCA

final hardware testing

inside the case

screenshot of GUI measuring 55Fe source

Collaborators: Sam Sun, Chen Wang, Dr. Stephen Holt (faculty), Dr. Bradley Minch (faculty)
Files: poster, circuit schematic
Tags: high-speed circuit design, component selection, PCB layout, PIC microcontrollers, C programming, NASA / Olin Research Group
Laser Alignment System Jun 2009 - Aug 2009

During the summer of 2009 as part of the NASA / Olin Research Group, I worked on a laser alignment system for the X-Ray Advanced Concepts Testbed (XACT) sounding rocket being developed at Goddard Space Flight Center. My team designed and built a proof of concept system capable of measuring extremely small tilts and lateral displacements between the ends of the payload. These measurements allow for corrections to be made to the precision x-ray optics which may become misaligned due to the stresses and vibrations of launch. For this project I created custom test electronics in addition to aiding in the overall design and testing.

model of XACT sounding rocket

prototype electronics

test optics

proposed system design

test rig


Collaborators: Clay Gimenez, Steven Higgins, Daniel Elg, Dr. Stephen Hold (faculty)
Files: report, circuit schematic
Tags: alignement, optics, signal processing, system design, star tracker, NASA / Olin Research Group
Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition Feb 2009 - Jun 2009

In the course of a single semester, four other sophomores and I designed, constructed, programmed, tested, and competed a fully-autonomous off-road vehicle that followed lanes, avoided obstacles, and travelled to GPS waypoints. We placed second out of first-year teams at the 2009 International Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) in Detroit.

engineering model of Brian, the 2009 Olin IGVC entry

building the robot over break

competition tent

Brian at competition

debugging at competition

Collaborators: Nicholas Hobbs, Daniel Grieneisen, Jacob Izraelivitz, Arash Ushani
Awards: 2nd out of first-year teams at the International Ground Vehicle Competition in Detroit, MI
Videos: testing, competition
Files: presentation
Tags: intelligent vehicles, robotics, mechanical design, computer vision, algorithms, motor control, system integration, Olin College, IGVC
User-Oriented Collaborative Design Feb 2009 - Apr 2009

As part of an extended design exercise in one of my classes, I worked with a group of Boston glassblowers to design a novel product. I studied glassblowers and their work, identified areas of opportunity, generated ideas, led collaborative design exercises, explored possible interfaces and interactions, and refined the ideas to ultimately create a real-world solution to improve the lives of these artists. Through this process, my team and I developed a mobile studio that would allow glassblowers to connect to customers in new and exciting ways.

model of mobile glassblowing studio

glassblower at work during user visit

glassblowing studio

initial observations and impressions

design exercises


gallery sketches

initial model

interaction map

model of portable studio

public demonstration

packed trailer

Collaborators: Neil Paulson, Velin Dimitrov
Files: poster
Tags: user-oriented collaborative design, glassblowing, opportunity assesment, desgin process, Olin College
Baja SAE Autimotive Design Oct 2007 - Dec 2009

Interested by the inner workings of cars, I joined the Olin College Phoenix Racing team. Along with a team of other engineering students, we designed and built an off-road vehicle in our spare time to compete in the SAE Mini Baja competition. As part of the team charged with designing the chassis, I helped design a rules-compliant frame and performed a series of structural engineering tests (finite element analysis). I further helped with machining and designing the electrical system.

finite element analysis of 2008 chassis

vehicle during testing

team at competition

final adjustments

vehicle at competition

Collaborators: team of 20+ students
Tags: mechanical design, FEA, machining, Olin College

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