Request for Approval


The request for approval (RFA) is the very first step in successfully completing a senior design project. Before submitting your RFA, you must post your project idea to the Web Board using the "Idea" post type. Once your idea has been fleshed out through the Web Board, you can move on request for approval through PACE under the My Project page. Once submitted, your project will be cloned to the Web Board as "Project Request" post. You can edit the project on the My Project page, add your teammates and see comments from the instructors. The course staff may provide feedback on your idea (which will appear at the bottom of your project's page), or suggest changes in the scope of the project and ask you to re-submit an RFA. Based on your incorporation of feedback your project will be approved or rejected. If it is rejected, the My Project page will revert back to it's original format and your project will disappear.

Once the course staff has approved the project idea, you will receive instructions on how to submit your project through PACE, at which time you will be assigned a project number in the Projects list, a TA, and a locker in the lab. Once your project is approved, please go to the Projects page, log into the PACE system, and make sure all of the information is correct.

Video Lecture

Video, Slides

Requirements and Grading

The RFA is graded credit/no credit based on whether your project is approved before the deadline. Note that submitting an RFA before the deadline does not guarantee approval before the deadline. The RFA is submitted through PACE under the My Project page, and should include the following information:

Projects must be legal and ethical. They must have significant scope and complexity commensurate with the size of the team. This is, of course, a subjective assessment of the course staff. To gain some insight into this judgment, please browse projects from previous semesters. The project must involve the design of a significant hardware component at the circuit level. In exceptional cases, projects not meeting this criteria may be acceptable when augmented by a Special Circuit assignment (however this is typically a last resort).

Beyond these basic requirements, you have total discretion in proposing a project. This is a great opportunity for you to pursue your own interests. Since you choose your own projects, we expect a high level of enthusiasm from you and your team.

Submission and Deadlines

The RFA submission deadline may be found on the Course Calendar. Typically, approval of the RFA is due during the afternoon of the third Thursday of the semester.

Quick Tips and Helpful Hints

Posting: Choosing a project: Choosing partners: Some general project ideas that are fraught with pitfalls:

Master Bus Processor

Clay Kaiser, Philip Macias, Richard Mannion

Master Bus Processor

Featured Project

General Description

We will design a Master Bus Processor (MBP) for music production in home studios. The MBP will use a hybrid analog/digital approach to provide both the desirable non-linearities of analog processing and the flexibility of digital control. Our design will be less costly than other audio bus processors so that it is more accessible to our target market of home studio owners. The MBP will be unique in its low cost as well as in its incorporation of a digital hardware control system. This allows for more flexibility and more intuitive controls when compared to other products on the market.

Design Proposal

Our design would contain a core functionality with scalability in added functionality. It would be designed to fit in a 2U rack mount enclosure with distinct boards for digital and analog circuits to allow for easier unit testings and account for digital/analog interference.

The audio processing signal chain would be composed of analog processing 'blocks’--like steps in the signal chain.

The basic analog blocks we would integrate are:

Compressor/limiter modes

EQ with shelf/bell modes

Saturation with symmetrical/asymmetrical modes

Each block’s multiple modes would be controlled by a digital circuit to allow for intuitive mode selection.

The digital circuit will be responsible for:

Mode selection

Analog block sequence

DSP feedback and monitoring of each analog block (REACH GOAL)

The digital circuit will entail a series of buttons to allow the user to easily select which analog block to control and another button to allow the user to scroll between different modes and presets. Another button will allow the user to control sequence of the analog blocks. An LCD display will be used to give the user feedback of the current state of the system when scrolling and selecting particular modes.

Reach Goals

added DSP functionality such as monitoring of the analog functions

Replace Arduino boards for DSP with custom digital control boards using ATmega328 microcontrollers (same as arduino board)

Rack mounted enclosure/marketable design

System Verification

We will qualify the success of the project by how closely its processing performance matches the design intent. Since audio 'quality’ can be highly subjective, we will rely on objective metrics such as Gain Reduction (GR [dB]), Total Harmonic Distortion (THD [%]), and Noise [V] to qualify the analog processing blocks. The digital controls will be qualified by their ability to actuate the correct analog blocks consistently without causing disruptions to the signal chain or interference. Additionally, the hardware user interface will be qualified by ease of use and intuitiveness.

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