Course Overview

Welcome to ECE 445! If you've looked at the course Calendar, you've probably already noticed that this class is quite different from most other classes in the department. The class only meets as a whole for the first few weeks of the semester. During these lectures you will meet the Course Staff, learn about specific assignments, requirements, and resources for the course, and have a chance to meet other students to share ideas and form teams. These are some of the most important weeks for the class since the decisions you make during this time will determine what you'll get out of this class and, in many ways, how much you'll enjoy it.

Outside of lecture, you are expected to be working on your own to develop ideas and form teams. You are also expected to actively participate on the Piazza discussion board to exchange ideas, receive feedback from course staff, and eventually get your project idea approved. Once your team has a project approved, you will be assigned a TA, with whom you will have weekly meetings. Think of your TA as a project manager. Keep in mind that they are not there to do the work for you. Rather, they are there to keep you on track, point you towards resources (both within and outside of the department), and evaluate the result of your efforts.

Expectations and Requirements

We have high expectations for students participating in ECE 445. You are soon to be alumni of one of the top ECE departments of the world. Our alumni hold themselves to high technical and professional standards of conduct. In general, projects are expected to be safe, ethical, and have a level of design complexity commensurate with the rigor of the ECE Illinois curriculum. Requirements for specific assignments due throughout the semester can be found by looking through the Grading Scheme for the course. Please read through this documentation well before each assignment is due. Specific due dates can be found on the course Calendar.

Below are a few words of wisdom to keep in mind throughout the semester to increase your enjoyment and success in the course:

VoxBox Robo-Drummer

Craig Bost, Nicholas Dulin, Drake Proffitt

VoxBox Robo-Drummer

Featured Project

Our group proposes to create robot drummer which would respond to human voice "beatboxing" input, via conventional dynamic microphone, and translate the input into the corresponding drum hit performance. For example, if the human user issues a bass-kick voice sound, the robot will recognize it and strike the bass drum; and likewise for the hi-hat/snare and clap. Our design will minimally cover 3 different drum hit types (bass hit, snare hit, clap hit), and respond with minimal latency.

This would involve amplifying the analog signal (as dynamic mics drive fairly low gain signals), which would be sampled by a dsPIC33F DSP/MCU (or comparable chipset), and processed for trigger event recognition. This entails applying Short-Time Fourier Transform analysis to provide spectral content data to our event detection algorithm (i.e. recognizing the "control" signal from the human user). The MCU functionality of the dsPIC33F would be used for relaying the trigger commands to the actuator circuits controlling the robot.

The robot in question would be small; about the size of ventriloquist dummy. The "drum set" would be scaled accordingly (think pots and pans, like a child would play with). Actuators would likely be based on solenoids, as opposed to motors.

Beyond these minimal capabilities, we would add analog prefiltering of the input audio signal, and amplification of the drum hits, as bonus features if the development and implementation process goes better than expected.

Project Videos