Recent Embedded system research and project ideas with bright industrial future
Design of an FPGA expansion module and interfacing VHDL code
The aim of this hardware & firmware project is to design, program and test compact Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) USB interfaced modules for a field-portable Nuclear Magnetic Resonant (NMR) instrument. The project is in collaboration with Lab-Tools Ltd. which will also help with the etching and assembly of the board.
The prototype of the NMR instrument concerned is in active 24/7 use, for both academic research and commercial contract analysis, but time will be made available on the system for live-testing the instrumentation and firmware. There is an immediate interest in making the instrument field-portable, so it can be used remotely for studies such as ice underneath glaciers, and as a prototype for longer-term space applications including on a Ganymede Lander (in conjunction with Leicester Space Group).
Existing prototype FPGA based modules currently in 24/7 use in the lab include a USB 13/24 bit Transient Averager, and a USB 5 Differential Channel 24bit Thermocouple Logger. VHDL code exists to communicate with these from the high-level array-processing language Apl. A version, AplX from MicroApl talks directly to the field- FPGA based peripheral instruments over the USB.
The new-design modules are based on stacking credit-card sized PCBs, that mate with an FPGA module, and a firmware skeleton that creates USB2 interfaced “Instrument Blocks”, each with 256 x 8b USB interface registers. VHDL code exists to handle the PC <-> USB2 <-> USB register data transfers.
In this embedded system research project, A variety of different modules can be designed, which differ in their complexity, here are some of the options:
1) Dual Channel Digital Synthesizer.
2) Digital Down Converter.
3) Thermo couple DVM (mainly HW, code already existing).
4) FPGA Board
3D (Food) Printer
3D has known a significant increase in popularity and 3D printers are probably the next type of device that will make it to the normal consumer market. A few attempts have already been made, but they are on average very expensive and not very flexible. The purpose of this project is to come up with the design and control for a 3D printer that can create objects starting from a 3D drawing. The purpose of this embedded system research project is to create this printer as a low budget printer that can e.g. print objects with chocolate as a source ingredient (which is heated to become meltable and then used to create figures).
The design and control of this printer will require a knowledge/interest in the area of mechanically driving the printer head, 3D drawings and either C or VHDL. Hence, to be able to deal with this project you will require either current knowledge or a good drive to learn programming, for either C or VHDL.