Indiana State University Newsroom



Technology students develop new electronics

May 4, 2017

From robot cars and firefighters to smart mirrors and portable gaming systems, Indiana State University seniors are coding their way into the future.

Electronics 406 is a senior-level course for electronics majors that offers students the opportunity to create a technology using one of two different computer bases: Raspberry Pi or the Arduino. These prototyping platforms offer an inexpensive way to create new electronic devices. The course culminates to a semester-long project that showcases the functionality, design and components of these technologies.

Each group has four qualifications their device must satisfy: be inexpensive, lightweight, easy to assemble and tech savvy. The rest is up to the students, leaving the door for creativity wide open.

The seniors are in the building stage of their projects, which includes assembly and testing for future use. They have opportunities to show their classmates their progress and include demonstrations of how their products work on presentation days. When talking about a robot car, two students showed a video and brought their project for viewing.

"The green light indicates our robot is working. If you press the button again, it will move," Kaiming Cui said about the car he built with classmate Zhongze Song. He held up the tiny black car for the class, and Song demonstrated the remote control, explaining that the car was built using Arduino programming.

"Every time you press the controller, there will be a signal sent to a specific receiver to carry out the intended functions," Cui said as the car whizzed and roared to life. The wheels spun with a fervor and shifted in accordance to the buttons Song pressed on the Bluetooth controller, adding that Arduino is also what makes the Bluetooth function available.

Much of the class is using the Arduino for robots and cars - like Jiauan Liu, Bader Alhudaji and Xiangying Qu's fire-detection robot, another group's home security system, Sagr Al-Hetmi and Zakria Alasaad's Bluetooth-controlled car or another group's firefighting robot. Jason Burdette is using the platform for a different purpose - video games.

Burdette's portable video gaming console is currently in development. His idea is to create a console that will be able to host games from the various home consoles that can be carried around, like the Nintendo Switch.

Currently, the operating system is up and running, and games from the
PlayStation, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Buffalo classic have been mapped out for future play. As Burdette showed a picture of the system in its current stage, he mentioned his next step includes making the system portable.

"You can have up to two to four players and quite a bit of games to play, depending on what you have in your collection," he explained, showing the USB ports for the controllers.

Students Marketa Knox and Renado Robinson are working on a pet food monitor, which is an automatic bowl-filling device that will work using Raspberry Pi technology. The two explained that the coding was almost complete, their parts were ordered and pet participants were identified.

"Our next step is making sure the product is working fully," Knox said.

"Also making sure the camera is picking up the images to tell when the bowl needs to be refilled," Renado added. "The Raspberry Pi adaptor built into the device will pick up images to tell the pet owner when the bowl is empty, and they will have the choice of refilling the bowl or not."

One group is using Raspberry Pi to fashion a phone, which will combat other phones using the same technology because it will have a camera. The camera board is working, but the three students will test further to ensure its functionality. The rest of the phone's logistics are very far in development, and the seniors plan on getting the phone coded to work with the school's network, come up with designs for a case and finalize the overall look of the device.

Ben Downing, John Natale and Spencer Roskovensky are working on a smart mirror using Raspberry Pi. When finished, the mirror will be able to debrief your morning schedule as you're brushing your teeth.

"The smart mirror can be implemented into any bathroom and will contain weather information and main traffic info," Downing said. The mirror will have the ability to link to a smartphone and create an individual profile based on information on your phone, making the product more personalized.

After choosing the Raspberry Pi for the mirror's operating system, the group has chosen python as a programming language for coding, user interfaces and weather reports. The next steps for the creation of the mirror include creating the codes for email and news information, insert a motion sensor and incorporate Bluetooth-tracking technology.

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Writer: Kayla Carmicheal, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or kcarmicheal@sycamores.indstate.edu

Media contact: Xiaolong Li, associate professor, department of electronics and computer engineering technology, Indiana State University, Xiaolong.Li@indstate.edu or 812-237-3457