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Design of a Full-Featured Robot Controller for Use in a First-Year Robotics Design Project

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Computing in the First Year

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

21

Page Numbers

24.369.1 - 24.369.21

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20260

Download Count

79

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Paper Authors

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Michael Anthony Vernier Ohio State University

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Michael A. Vernier is a graduate research assistant at Ohio State University. Mr. Vernier received his B.S. degree in electrical and computer engineering in 2007 and his M.S. degree in 2010, both from Ohio State University. Currently, he has been working toward a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State with a focus on robot autonomy and intelligent transportation. Formerly, a graduate teaching assistant, Mr. Vernier was heavily involved in teaching and content development with the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program.

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Patrick M. Wensing The Ohio State University

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Patrick M. Wensing is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and graduate teaching assistant at Ohio State University. Mr. Wensing received his B.S. degree in electrical and computer engineering from Ohio Sate University in 2009. Since then, he has been working toward a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State. Mr. Wensing currently teaches and develops content for the laboratory portion of the Fundamentals for Engineering for Honors (FEH) program and is actively involved in humanoid locomotion research.

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Craig E. Morin MindWare Technologies

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Craig Morin is the engineering manager at MindWare Technologies in Gahanna, Ohio, where he has worked since 2008. He received a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and an M.S. in biomedical engineering at Ohio State University in Columbus. Prior to his current role, he was a design engineer with MindWare Technologies and a graduate teaching associate with the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program at Ohio State. Beyond product design with an emphasis on electrical hardware, his interests include home automation, 3-D printing, and ceramics.

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Andrew Phillips Ohio State University

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Andrew H. Phillips is an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) student at Ohio State University and an undergraduate teaching assistant for the OSU Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program. He is also a member of the inaugural class of the OSU Eminence Fellows full scholarship program. He will graduate with his B.S.E.C.E. from Ohio State University in May, 2016.

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Brian Rice Ohio State University

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Brian A. Rice is a sophomore in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State University. He is also an undergraduate teaching assistant for the OSU Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program for the two-semester FEH engineering course sequence. He will graduate with his B.S. in mechanical engineering in May, 2016.

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Kevin Robert Wegman Ohio State University

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Kevin is a third year chemical engineering undergraduate student at Ohio State University who is a teaching assistant for the Engineering Education Innovation Center (EEIC). His roles in the EEIC include lead undergraduate teaching assistant and head of robot course construction. Kevin plans to graduate after the fall of 2014 and begin graduate school in nuclear engineering at Ohio State.

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Chris Hartle Ohio State University

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Paul Alan Clingan Ohio State University

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Krista M. Kecskemety Ohio State University

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Krista Kecskemety is a lecturer in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at Ohio State University. Krista received her B.S. in aerospace engineering in 2006 and her M.S. in 2007, both from Ohio State. In 2012, Krista completed her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at Ohio State. Her engineering education research interests include investigating first-year engineering student experiences, faculty experiences, and the connection between the two.

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Richard J. Freuler Ohio State University

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Richard J. Freuler is the director of the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program in the OSU Engineering Education Innovation Center. He teaches the two-semester FEH engineering course sequence and is active in engineering education research. He is also a Professor of Practice in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department and conducts scale model investigations of gas turbine installations for jet engine test cells and for marine and industrial applications of gas turbines at the Aeronautical and Astronautical Research Laboratories at Ohio State. Dr. Freuler earned his bachelor's of aeronautical and astronautical engineering (1974), his B.S. in computer and information science (1974), his M.S. in aeronautical engineering (1974), and his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering (1991), all from Ohio State University.

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Abstract

Design of a Full-Featured Robot Controller for Use in a First-Year Robotics Design Project For the past nineteen years, the first-year engineering honors program at “a largeMidwestern university” has included a robotics design project as the cornerstone of its yearlongcurriculum. This component of the program has helped to increase retention and has providedstudents with valuable teamwork skills. Over these years, the MIT Handy Board has served asthe controller for the autonomous robotic vehicles built by students. While it has slowly becomeantiquated, this controller has provided a durable, integrated design that has continued to meetthe unique needs of this design project. This paper details the design of a new, custom-builtrobotics controller that provides a modern update to the MIT Handy Board for use in a first-yearrobotics project. The new controller has integrated features that make it more suitable to the program thanoff-the-shelf microcontroller packages equipped with additional plug-in modules to provide thenecessary capabilities for the control of a small autonomous robot. Before a custom-designplatform was developed, current off-the-shelf offerings were assessed. Several differentprocessor boards including Ardunio and other ARM-based systems were evaluated and deemedto be too expensive, not compact enough, or not capable enough for the needs of the program. This new robotics controller went through several design iterations and testing. An initialprototype was used in a class outside of the standard first-year engineering curriculum. In thisclass, students completed laboratory assignments designed to be similar to those performed bythe first-year students. Through this testing, a complete system redesign was performed tocorrect issues that arose during this in-situ testing and further optimize the design for a 60%reduction in size and a 25% reduction in system cost. In the final design, a 32-bit ARM microcontroller running at 100MHz was used as theprimary processor, a vast improvement over the 2 MHZ, 8-bit processor of the MIT HandyBoard. The controller consists of a 3.5” diagonal, full-color, touch screen LCD, 2.4 GHzwireless module, 32 configurable, multi-purpose ports which provide digital input, digital output,16-bit analog input, and various serial communication standards. Four three-amp brushed DCmotor drivers are contained onboard as well as the ability to control up to eight standard hobbyservo motors. All functionality is powered via an internal lithium ion battery pack. A laser-cutacrylic case housed all components. A custom software suite was also developed to allowstudents to easily program the device for their robots. The new controller was piloted successfully in Spring 2013. The controller was deployedto half of the teams, which allowed for comparison with the Handy Board. Despite a handicap,partially due to limited experience of the instructional staff with the controller, final performancescores were approximately 5% above the Handy Board users. It is expected that this newcontroller will meet the needs of the program for years to come, and could serve as a basis forother design courses that use similar controllers.

Vernier, M. A., & Wensing, P. M., & Morin, C. E., & Phillips, A., & Rice, B., & Wegman, K. R., & Hartle, C., & Clingan, P. A., & Kecskemety, K. M., & Freuler, R. J. (2014, June), Design of a Full-Featured Robot Controller for Use in a First-Year Robotics Design Project Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20260

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