Course Overview

COVID-19 Instructions for ECE 445 Senior Design

We require everyone who uses the 445 lab in ECEB to adhere to the following lab policies regarding COVID-19.

  • You must wear a mask at all times while in the lab.
  • You must clean and disinfect your workstation when you are finished with it.
  • Welcome!

    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 web 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:

    Musical Hand

    Ramsey Foote, Thomas MacDonald, Michelle Zhang

    Musical Hand

    Featured Project

    # Musical Hand

    Team Members:

    - Ramesey Foote (rgfoote2)

    - Michelle Zhang (mz32)

    - Thomas MacDonald (tcm5)

    # Problem

    Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes; however, transporting instruments often involves bulky and heavy cases. Not only can transporting instruments be a hassle, but the initial purchase and maintenance of an instrument can be very expensive. We would like to solve this problem by creating an instrument that is lightweight, compact, and low maintenance.

    # Solution

    Our project involves a wearable system on the chest and both hands. The left hand will be used to dictate the pitches of three “strings” using relative angles between the palm and fingers. For example, from a flat horizontal hand a small dip in one finger is associated with a low frequency. A greater dip corresponds to a higher frequency pitch. The right hand will modulate the generated sound by adding effects such as vibrato through lateral motion. Finally, the brains of the project will be the central unit, a wearable, chest-mounted subsystem responsible for the audio synthesis and output.

    Our solution would provide an instrument that is lightweight and easy to transport. We will be utilizing accelerometers instead of flex sensors to limit wear and tear, which would solve the issue of expensive maintenance typical of more physical synthesis methods.

    # Solution Components

    The overall solution has three subsystems; a right hand, left hand, and a central unit.

    ## Subsystem 1 - Left Hand

    The left hand subsystem will use four digital accelerometers total: three on the fingers and one on the back of the hand. These sensors will be used to determine the angle between the back of the hand and each of the three fingers (ring, middle, and index) being used for synthesis. Each angle will correspond to an analog signal for pitch with a low frequency corresponding to a completely straight finger and a high frequency corresponding to a completely bent finger. To filter out AC noise, bypass capacitors and possibly resistors will be used when sending the accelerometer signals to the central unit.

    ## Subsystem 2 - Right Hand

    The right subsystem will use one accelerometer to determine the broad movement of the hand. This information will be used to determine how much of a vibrato there is in the output sound. This system will need the accelerometer, bypass capacitors (.1uF), and possibly some resistors if they are needed for the communication scheme used (SPI or I2C).

    ## Subsystem 3 - Central Unit

    The central subsystem utilizes data from the gloves to determine and generate the correct audio. To do this, two microcontrollers from the STM32F3 series will be used. The left and right hand subunits will be connected to the central unit through cabling. One of the microcontrollers will receive information from the sensors on both gloves and use it to calculate the correct frequencies. The other microcontroller uses these frequencies to generate the actual audio. The use of two separate microcontrollers allows for the logic to take longer, accounting for slower human response time, while meeting needs for quicker audio updates. At the output, there will be a second order multiple feedback filter. This will get rid of any switching noise while also allowing us to set a gain. This will be done using an LM358 Op amp along with the necessary resistors and capacitors to generate the filter and gain. This output will then go to an audio jack that will go to a speaker. In addition, bypass capacitors, pull up resistors, pull down resistors, and the necessary programming circuits will be implemented on this board.

    # Criterion For Success

    The minimum viable product will consist of two wearable gloves and a central unit that will be connected together via cords. The user will be able to adjust three separate notes that will be played simultaneously using the left hand, and will be able to apply a sound effect using the right hand. The output audio should be able to be heard audibly from a speaker.

    Project Videos