Design Document


The design document communicates the complete and detailed design of your project. It is substantially more detailed than the proposal and prepares you for the assembly phase of the semester. A quality design document is the key to a successful project (sample document). Use the following format:

  1. Introduction

    • Problem and Solution:

      One to two paragraphs explaining the context of the problem to be solved by your project, including any relevant references to justify the existence and/or importance of the problem (i.e., the need or want for a solution). Justify the novelty of your solution or explain the expected improvements of your solution over previous results.

    • Visual Aid

      A pictorial representation of your project that puts your solution in context. Not necessarily restricted to your design. Include other external systems relevant to your project (e.g. if your solution connects to a phone via Bluetooth, draw a dotted line between your device and the phone). Note that this is not a block diagram and should explain how the solution is used, not a breakdown of inner components.

    • High-level requirements list:

      A list of three to four objective characteristics that this project must exhibit in order to solve the problem. These should be selected such that if any of these requirements were not met, the project would fail to solve the problem. Avoid vague requirements that can be interpreted a number of ways (e.g. "The radio subsystem should work reliably."). Each high-level requirement must be stated in complete sentences and displayed as a bulleted list.

  2. Design

    • Block Diagram:

      A general block diagram of the design of your solution. Each block should be as modular as possible and represent a subsystem of your design. In other words, they can be implemented independently and re-assembled later. The block diagram should be accompanied by a brief (1 paragraph) description of the critical subsystems and what they do.

    • Physical Design (if applicable):

      A physical diagram of the project indicating things such as mechanical dimensions or placement of sensors and actuators. The physical diagram should also be accompanied by a brief one paragraph description.

    • [Subsystem X]

      For each subsystem in your block diagram, you should include a highly detailed and quantitative block description. Each description must include a statement indicating how the block contributes to the overall design dictated by the high-level requirements. Any and all design decisions must be clearly justified. Any interfaces with other blocks must be defined clearly and quantitatively.

      Include any relevant supporting figures and data in order to clearly illustrate and justify the design. Typically a well justified block design will include some or all of the following items: Circuit schematics, simulations, calculations, measurements, flow charts, mechanical diagrams (e.g. CAD drawings, only necessary for mechanical components).

      You must include a Requirements and Verifications table. Please see the R&V page for guidance on writing requirements and verification procedures.

    • [Subsystem Y]


    • [Subsystem Z]


    • Tolerance Analysis: Through discussions with your TA, identify the block or interface critical to the success of your project that poses the most challenging requirement. Analyze it mathematically and show that it can be feasibly implemented and meet its requirements. See the Tolerance Analysis guide for further guidance.
  3. Cost and Schedule

    1. Cost Analysis: Include a cost analysis of the project by following the outline below. Include a list of any non-standard parts, lab equipment, shop services, etc., which will be needed with an estimated cost for each.
      • Labor: (For each partner in the project)
        Assume a reasonable salary
        ($/hour) x 2.5 x hours to complete = TOTAL
        Then total labor for all partners. It's a good idea to do some research into what a graduate from ECE at Illinois might typically make.
      • Parts: Include a table listing all parts (description, manufacturer, part #, quantity and cost) and quoted machine shop labor hours that will be needed to complete the project.
      • Sum of costs into a grand total
    2. Schedule:

      Include a time-table showing when each step in the expected sequence of design and construction work will be completed (general, by week), and how the tasks will be shared between the team members. (i.e. Select architecture, Design this, Design that, Buy parts, Assemble this, Assemble that, Prepare mock-up, Integrate prototype, Refine prototype, Test integrated system).

  4. Discussion of Ethics and Safety:

    1. Expand upon the ethical and safety issues raised in your proposal to ensure they are comprehensive. Add any ethical and safety concerns that arose since your proposal.
    2. Document procedures to mitigate the safety concerns of your project. For example, include a lab safety document for batteries, human/animal interfaces, aerial devices, high-power, chemicals, etc. Justify that your design decisions sufficiently protect both users and developers from unsafe conditions caused by your project.
      Projects dealing with flying vehicles, high voltage, or other high risk factors, will be required to produce a Safety Manual and demonstrate compliance with the safety manual at the time of demo.
  5. Citations:

    Any material obtained from websites, books, journal articles, or other sources not originally generated by the project team must be appropriately attributed with properly cited sources in a standardized style such as IEEE, ACM, APA, or MLA.

Submission and Deadlines

Your design review document should be uploaded to PACE in PDF format by the deadline shown on the course calendar . If you have uploaded a mock DR document to PACE, please make sure that it has been removed before DR.

Automatic Piano Tuner

Joseph Babbo, Colin Wallace, Riley Woodson

Automatic Piano Tuner

Featured Project

# Automatic Piano Tuner

Team Members:

- Colin Wallace (colinpw2)

- Riley Woodson (rileycw2)

- Joseph Babbo (jbabbo2)

# Problem

Piano tuning is a time-consuming and expensive process. An average piano tuning will cost in the $100 - $200 range and a piano will have to be retuned multiple times to maintain the correct pitch. Due to the strength required to alter the piano pegs it is also something that is difficult for the less physically able to accomplish.

# Solution

We hope to bring piano tuning to the masses by creating an easy to use product which will be able to automatically tune a piano by giving the key as input alongside playing the key to get the pitch differential and automatically turning the piano pegs until they reach the correct note.

# Solution Components

## Subsystem 1 - Motor Assembly

A standard tuning pin requires 8-14 nm of torque to successfully tune. We will thus need to create a motor assembly that is able to produce enough torque to rotate standard tuning pins.

## Subsystem 2 - Frequency Detector/Tuner

The device will use a microphone to gather audio measurements. Then a microprocessor processes the audio data to detect the pitch and determine the difference from the desired frequency. This can then generate instructions for the motor; direction to turn pegs and amount to turn it by.

## Subsystem 3 - User Interface/Display Panel

A small but intuitive display and button configuration can be used for this device. It will be required for the user to set the key being played using buttons on the device and reading the output of the display. As the device will tune by itself after hearing the tone, all that is required to display is the current key and octave. A couple of buttons will suffice to be able to cycle up and down keys and octaves.

## Subsystem 4 - Replaceable Battery/Power Supply

Every commercial product should use standard replaceable batteries, or provide a way for easy charging. As we want to develop a handheld device, so that the device doesn’t have to drag power wires into the piano, we will need a rechargeable battery pack.

# Criterion For Success

The aim of the Automatic Piano Tuner is to allow the user to automatically tune piano strings based on a key input alongside playing a note. We have several goals to help us meet this aim:

- Measure pitch accurately, test against known good pitches

- Motor generates enough torque to turn the pegs on a piano

- Tuner turns correctly depending on pitch

- Easy tuning of a piano by a single untrained person

Project Videos