Special Circuit :: ECE 445 - Senior Design Laboratory

Special Circuit

A student whose Senior Thesis Project (ECE 499) does not involve the design and construction or testing of electronic devices or hardware is required to complete a Special Circuit Project in the ECE 445 lab during the semester they take ECE 499. In addition, students enrolled in ECE 445 who are not undertaking a hardware dominant project are required to complete the special circuit (although this is strongly discouraged and the course staff will work with your team to make sure you have enough hardware in your project to avoid having to complete the special circuit.)

The special circuit is typically posted in the middle of the semester. Once you sign up for the special circuit (see below), you will be assigned a TA, a locker, and a special circuit which generally takes about 12-15 hours to complete. When you have it designed and built, you will give a functional demonstration to your TA, who will then inform the professor who will inform undergraduate advising that your task is complete. You are NOT required to attend any of the classes, reviews, demos, or presentations associate with the ECE 445 class.

Sign up for Spring 2020 is now open

Sign up for the Special Circuit assignment on the Lab Access page. Instructions for completing the special circuit will then be provided in the near future. Please check this page for updates.

Link to all Special Circuit design problems. 

Interactive Proximity Donor Wall Illumination

Sungmin Jang, Anita Jung, Zheng Liu

Interactive Proximity Donor Wall Illumination

Featured Project

Team Members:

Anita Jung (anitaj2)

Sungmin Jang (sjang27)

Zheng Liu (zliu93)

Link to the idea: https://courses.engr.illinois.edu/ece445/pace/view-topic.asp?id=27710


The Donor Wall on the southwest side of first floor in ECEB is to celebrate and appreciate everyone who helped and donated for ECEB.

However, because of poor lighting and color contrast between the copper and the wall behind, donor names are not noticed as much as they should, especially after sunset.

Solution Overview:

Here is the image of the Donor Wall:


We are going to design and implement a dynamic and interactive illuminating system for the Donor Wall by installing LEDs on the background. LEDs can be placed behind the names to softly illuminate each name. LEDs can also fill in the transparent gaps in the “circuit board” to allow for interaction and dynamic animation.

And our project’s system would contain 2 basic modes:

Default mode: When there is nobody near the Donor Wall, the names are softly illuminated from the back of each name block.

Moving mode: When sensors detect any stimulation such as a person walking nearby, the LEDs are controlled to animate “current” or “pulses” flowing through the “circuit board” into name boards.

Depending on the progress of our project, we have some additional modes:

Pressing mode: When someone is physically pressing on a name block, detected by pressure sensors, the LEDs are controlled to

animate scattering of outgoing light, just as if a wave or light is emitted from that name block.

Solution Components:

Sensor Subsystem:

IR sensors (PIR modules or IR LEDs with phototransistor) or ultrasonic sensors to detect presence and proximity of people in front of the Donor Wall.

Pressure sensors to detect if someone is pressing on a block.

Lighting Subsystem:

A lot of LEDs is needed to be installed on the PCBs to be our lighting subsystem. These are hidden as much as possible so that people focus on the names instead of the LEDs.

Controlling Subsystem:

The main part of the system is the controlling unit. We plan to use a microprocessor to process the signal from those sensors and send signal to LEDs. And because the system has different modes, switching between them correctly is also important for the project.

Power Subsystem:

AC (Wall outlet; 120V, 60Hz) to DC (acceptable DC voltage and current applicable for our circuit design) power adapter or possible AC-DC converter circuit

Criterion for success:

Whole system should work correctly in each mode and switch between different modes correctly. The names should be highlighted in a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing way. Our project is acceptable for senior design because it contains both hardware and software parts dealing with signal processing, power, control, and circuit design with sensors.

Project Videos