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:

S.I.P. (Smart Irrigation Project)

Jackson Lenz, James McMahon

S.I.P. (Smart Irrigation Project)

Featured Project

Jackson Lenz

James McMahon

Our project is to be a reliable, robust, and intelligent irrigation controller for use in areas where reliable weather prediction, water supply, and power supply are not found.

Upon completion of the project, our device will be able to determine the moisture level of the soil, the water level in a water tank, and the temperature, humidity, insolation, and barometric pressure of the environment. It will perform some processing on the observed environmental factors to determine if rain can be expected soon, Comparing this knowledge to the dampness of the soil and the amount of water in reserves will either trigger a command to begin irrigation or maintain a command to not irrigate the fields. This device will allow farmers to make much more efficient use of precious water and also avoid dehydrating crops to death.

In developing nations, power is also of concern because it is not as readily available as power here in the United States. For that reason, our device will incorporate several amp-hours of energy storage in the form of rechargeable, maintenance-free, lead acid batteries. These batteries will charge while power is available from the grid and discharge when power is no longer available. This will allow for uninterrupted control of irrigation. When power is available from the grid, our device will be powered by the grid. At other times, the batteries will supply the required power.

The project is titled S.I.P. because it will reduce water wasted and will be very power efficient (by extremely conservative estimates, able to run for 70 hours without input from the grid), thus sipping on both power and water.

We welcome all questions and comments regarding our project in its current form.

Thank you all very much for you time and consideration!