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Electronics and Communication research & project ideas

Automatic Fall Alert System for the Elderly

As people get older and more vulnerable society is looking to technology to enable these elderly people to retain their independence and be able to remain in their own homes. One aspect is a ‘remote panic alarm for the elderly, whereby they can press a button on a pendant that automatically communicates with a central emergency monitoring station. Usually this is a UHF (433MHz) wireless link to a datacomms terminal. In this electronics and communication research project detection of the elderly person suffering a ‘fall’ is to be made as they may be left incapacitated. The unit such initiate an automatic transmission to the ‘data-comms’ terminal – the project will focus on sensing a ‘fall’ and sending a signal that is received by a microcontroller as part of the overall system. A suitable method of detecting the ‘fall’ needs to be determined. The RF transmission will use standard UHF modules, minimising the RF design aspects (support will be given. The wireless link is digital, requiring generation of a digital signal and reception that provides a digital output (to interface with a ‘datacomms.’ device). The body worn unit will need to be battery powered and the design will need to consider maximising battery life.

 Use of Twin-wire Power lines for Data Transmission

A common approach in the design of electrical equipment is to use a single power wire to power circuits, with return through chassis ground. If two wires are used for this power circuit there is the possibility of using this as a balanced transmission line enabling a data signal. One application could be a number of active sensors arranged at different points on a machine (i.e. a car) with just the twin-wire connection carrying both power and data. This electronics and communication research project will investigate such a technique assessing potential data rates and noise immunity.

Injection Locked Oscillator for Antenna Measurement in Anechoic chamber

The University of Greenwich has an anechoic chamber that can be used to measure antenna radiation patterns. A limitation of the current system is that a test cable needs to be attached to the DUT. For portable devices this can distort the antenna pattern so a solution is sought. One proposal is to have an oscillator on the (battery powered) DUT which transmits the required signal. This signal needs to be phase locked to the measuring equipment. This may be achieved using ‘injection locking’ techniques, whereby a reference signal is radiated back to the DUT. This project will investigate the possibility of such a technique.

VCO using a PIC based DDS

Many signals are now being generated digitally using Direct Digital Synthesis techniques. This project will investigate the use of a low-cost microprocessor (i.e. a PIC) to make a Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO), that gives a sinusoidal output signal whose frequency is depends upon an input control voltage. The VCO signal will be generated using DDS techniques. The electronics and communication research project will determine the maximum frequency possible using a low-cost microprocessor and make assessment of other factors such as spectral purity.

CAN node controller for a car door

 The CAN serial bus communications protocol was originally developed by Bosch in the early 80’s for use in vehicles to reduce the complexity and quantity of wiring in modern cars. Local nodes in each door or light cluster control and monitor the local inputs and outputs, these nodes can communicate directly with each other or a central controller. This electronics and communication research project requires the design of a node that will control the inputs and outputs used in a car door such as lights, mirror control, security, and window control. A PC application will also be required to act as a central controller displaying the status signals and allowing control of the door outputs.

Data Transfer Using Audio Chirps

A system is required that will transmit short data sequences as audio bursts over short distances, typically 1 to 2 meters. The data sequences can be any short text based sequence such as web address, filenames or other short standardised text sequences. The system will operate on much the same principles as old-fashioned modems but will be designed to operate in open environments. The audio bursts will be similar in style to bird songs and will use frequencies in the main human audio range. The system will use high quality microphones and speakers to transmit and receive the audio chirps, of the type used in most mobile phones, have some sort of microcontroller (the PSoC device might be a good solution for this system) and a USB interface to a laptop/PC for the sending and receiving of the data sequences.

Conversion of an Infrared Controlled Model Vehicle to Computer Control

There are a number of low cost model toy vehicles available that use infrared for the communication link between the hand held controller and the vehicle. The aim of this project is to be able to replicate the IR signals from a laptop/PC so that the vehicle can be placed under computer control. Initially this will involve capturing the data sequences transmitted over the IR link and then decoding them to link actions to codes. Then an IR transmitter will be required, connected to a laptop/PC using a USB link, that will produce the same IR data sequences but under computer control.

WiFi Based Communication Link to a Small Mobile Robot

The aim of this project is to use a Wifi module to pass control information between a laptop/PC to a small mobile robot. The preference is for a web page based interface to be used to control the direction and speed of the mobile robot and to display information obtained from on-board sensors. The mechanisms for passing the information between the mobile robot and the web page will need to be defined, implemented and tested. Text based communication would also be required. See below for a typical WiFi module that might be used.

Low power wireless communication to be used in a variety of environments

Measuring is knowing. This particularly applies in the field of sustainability. Many people are not aware of their consumption patterns, and it is only when these are shown in hard numbers that they will face reality. Measuring also implies that the data needs to be collected, for which low power systems are required that can face a particular range of challenges like thick brick/stone walls, partitions etc.

e-Monitors is a company that focuses on measuring consumption of energy within different environments. They currently have a set of sensors available, but these are standard devices. They are looking at being able to communicate in a variety of environments with different demands from a networking perspective, the amount of data to be sent is low, but how can this be achieved without consuming much power?

Ideally the system should be modular and one should not only consider data being send from the sensor to a central location, but also be able to send data from the central communication to the sensors or other devices, this could eventually lead to a wireless smart home environment. With wireless communication such as Ethernet and Zigbee being rather power consuming, the big question is how can communication be performed more efficiently from a power perspective. For example are there different types of communication that can be combined which result in more power efficient solutions ?

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About Syed Noman ud din

Syed Noman ud din is an Electrical Engineer and working in Industry from last 3 years. He writes technical articles for electrical and electronic engineers. He has also published several research publications in renowned international journals.

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