Getting Parts for Your Project

Steps for obtaining parts

As soon as you know which parts you'll need for your design, it's a good idea to start acquiring them. There are several methods that varying widely in cost and waiting time. The primary methods are listed below, most desirable first.

Note: Each group has a budget of around $40 for parts and resources that may be charged to the ECE 445 course account. If small parts are needed, it is strongly encouraged that you just buy it yourself. Since there is no required textbook for the course, we figure the small monetary payout is more than offset by the savings in time and hassle for your group. Also, if you intend to keep your project when you're finished, we ask that you purchase the parts yourself.

Checkout Hardware from ECE 445

The Srivastava Senior Design Lab has a wide variety of hardware available for use in projects, including microcontrollers, DSP boards, LINX RF transmitters and receivers, GPS units, webcams and more. These things can all be checked out from you TA for use on your project. Please note that parts that you checkout from the lab must be returned by the end of the semester or your student account will be charged.

Please see the working inventory of all components available for checkout in the lab. This inventory is as inclusive as possible but there may be additional items around the lab - feel free to look around but items must be checked out through a TA.


Parts may be special ordered from a number of companies available through your my.ece web page parts order form. This option requires TA approval before the order is processed. Once you've placed the order, email your TA to let them know there is an order waiting for their approval so that your order can be processed as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the order may be delayed! Since many part orders are usually placed with common vendors like Digi-key, these orders may be grouped into bulk orders placed on Wednesday and Friday.

Parts ordered through this method will be delivered to the ECE Supply Center.

ECE Supply Center

An alternative option is to have the parts ordered from the ECE Supply Center (located in 1031 ECEB). For this option, you will need to fill out an ECE Supply Center Ordering Form and have your TA sign it. Alternatively, you can charge the parts to your student ID if you need to pay for them yourself.

Free Samples from Companies

It should be mentioned that companies many times are willing to provide small quantities of their products to students engaged in design projects. You might consider approaching the manufacturer directly, particularly regarding their newer products which they are interested in promoting. Don't count on success with this, but it has often been very useful.

Personal Purchases

It is always possible and encouraged to purchase your own parts from a local store (Radio Shack, Best Buy, etc.) or order them from online vendors. Subject to prior approval from your TA, reimbursements can be made. The Department will need the original copy of your itemized store receipt or invoice in order to make the refund. Purchases made without prior approval will not be refunded, in any case.

The Business Office (last resort)

If all of these methods fail, your order will need to go through the ECE Business Office with the help of your TA.

Prosthetic Control Board

Caleb Albers, Daniel Lee

Prosthetic Control Board

Featured Project

Psyonic is a local start-up that has been working on a prosthetic arm with an impressive set of features as well as being affordable. The current iteration of the main hand board is functional, but has limitations in computational power as well as scalability. In lieu of this, Psyonic wishes to switch to a production-ready chip that is an improvement on the current micro controller by utilizing a more modern architecture. During this change a few new features would be added that would improve safety, allow for easier debugging, and fix some issues present in the current implementation. The board is also slated to communicate with several other boards found in the hand. Additionally we are looking at the possibility of improving the longevity of the product with methods such as conformal coating and potting.

Core Functionality:

Replace microcontroller, change connectors, and code software to send control signals to the motor drivers

Tier 1 functions:

Add additional communication interfaces (I2C), and add temperature sensor.

Tier 2 functions:

Setup framework for communication between other boards, and improve board longevity.

Overview of proposed changes by affected area:

Microcontroller/Architecture Change:

Teensy -> Production-ready chip (most likely ARM based, i.e. STM32 family of processors)


support new microcontroller, adding additional communication interfaces (I2C), change to more robust connector. (will need to design pcb for both main control as well as finger sensors)


Addition of a temperature sensor to provide temperature feedback to the microcontroller.


change from Arduino IDE to new toolchain. (ARM has various base libraries such as mbed and can be configured for use with eclipse to act as IDE) Lay out framework to allow communication from other boards found in other parts of the arm.