June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.43.1 - 12.43.14
A General Purpose Sensor Board for Mechatronic Experiments
In the past decade most undergraduate engineering programs have adopted mechatronics in some form into their mechanical engineering curriculum. However, due to their multidisciplinary nature, mechatronics courses1-3 across the programs vary significantly. Some courses focus on microprocessors and programming, some on sensors and others on controls. There are also mechatronics courses based on robotics. There are also mechatronics capstone design projects.
At Cal Poly Pomona, mechatronics is offered in all these flavors depending upon the course and the instructor. Experience indicates that students who are involved in mechatronics projects are the ones who had some prior exposure in this field and therefore are excited about this relatively new area of study. Efforts are underway to introduce mechatronics early on and as part of this initiative, a general purpose experimental set-up (mechatronics sensor board) has been designed and built.
To make the application of sensor board interesting the system is built around a stationery model car with a sensor array and two microcontrollers (a Javelin Stamp and Basic Stamp). The Javelin Stamp was chosen as the main controller board, with the Basic Stamp as its slave controller. These two controllers process the data and control lights, motors, and a servo. There are five input switches on the display panel as well as a two-line LCD display. The sensor array includes two distance sensors (infrared and ultrasonic), two temperature sensors, a light sensor and accelerometer.
The entire system is constructed on the lid of a plastic storage box for easy transportation. The storage box goes over the board and snaps shut, enclosing the entire model. The AC power adaptor is mounted on the side of the storage box, so the entire unit can be transported without any shifting parts. The system, by default, operates in a demo mode in which each sensor operation is demonstrated.
Demo mode is very useful for new users as they can step through various functionalities of the system. Once acquainted with the basic operations, users can design and develop their own experiments. The general layout of the board is shown in Fig 1. Fig 2 shows fully assembled mechatronics board.
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