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:

Control System and User Interface for Hydraulic Bike

Iain Brearton

Featured Project

Parker-Hannifin, a fluid power systems company, hosts an annual competition for the design of a chainless bicycle. A MechSE senior design team of mechanical engineers have created a hydraulic circuit with electromechanical valves, but need a control system, user interface, and electrical power for their system. The user would be able to choose between several operating modes (fluid paths), listed at the end.

My solution to this problem is a custom-designed control system and user interface. Based on sensor feedback and user inputs, the system would change operating modes (fluid paths). Additionally, the system could be improved to suggest the best operating mode by implementing a PI or PID controller. The system would not change modes without user interaction due to safety - previous years' bicycles have gone faster than 20mph.

Previous approaches to this problem have usually not included an electrical engineer. As a result, several teams have historically used commercially-available systems such as Parker's IQAN system (link below) or discrete logic due to a lack of technical knowledge (link below). Apart from these two examples, very little public documentation exists on the electrical control systems used by previous competitors, but I believe that designing a control system and user interface from scratch will be a unique and new approach to controlling the hydraulic system.

I am aiming for a 1-person team as there are 6 MechSE counterparts. I emailed Professor Carney on 10/3/14 and he thought the general concept was acceptable.

Operating modes, simplified:

Direct drive (rider's pedaling power goes directly to hydraulic motor)

Coasting (no power input, motor input and output "shorted")

Charge accumulators (store energy in expanding rubber balloons)

Discharge accumulators (use stored energy to supply power to motor)

Regenerative braking (use motor energy to charge accumulators)

Download Competition Specs:

Team using IQAN system (top right corner):

Team using discrete logic (page 19):