Ordering Parts

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 a few ways to do this, depending on what you need:

  1. ECE Service Shop: The first option is to check the ECE service shop in 1041 ECEB. You will find many of the passive components you are likely to need. You can check the ECE Service Shop catalog here. Note that there will be some items available that are not in the catalog, so you might want to check with the ECE service stop staff if you do not see something you need on this list.
    The ECE service shop also has larger components, such as transformers or large batteries. You will need an instructor to check these out for you. All major parts provided by the service shop must be returned at the end of the semester.
  2. ECE Supply Center: The second option is to have the parts ordered from a catalog by using your my.ece page or the ECE Supply Center (located in 1031 ECEB). You need the permission of your TA for this option, and if you do not place the order through my.ece, you will need to fill out this order 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.
  3. Orders that the Parts Shop and ECE Stores cannot help you with can be special ordered from a number of companies available through your my.ece web page parts order form. This will require TA approval before the order is processed. Once you place the order, it is important to email your TA to let them know there is an order that requires their approval. 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.
  4. If all of these methods fail, your order will need to go through the ECE Business Office with the help of your TA.
  5. Of course, it is always possible and encouraged to purchase your own parts from a local store (Radio Shack, Best Buy, etc.). Be warned that unless you receive TA approval to be reimbursed for these parts before you purchase them, you will not be reimbursed!

Note: Each group has a budget of around $40 that can be spent on parts and resources. 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.

Details on obtaining parts

There are four main methods, varying widely in the cost incurred to the course and the waiting time. They are listed here, most desirable first.

The ECE Service Shop (aka Parts Shop), room 1041 ECEB

This is the Department's electronic service facility. They maintain a large stock of standard components which may be used without charge for student projects in this and other courses.

The shop's available stock may be examined on-line via the shop's web site. The staff in the parts shop are also a good source for information, so if you have trouble tracking down a particular part, they can sometimes help brainstorm alternatives.

ECE Stores

ECE Stores, in 1031 ECEB, has a wider range of parts and carries other things such as small pieces of test equipment, computer cables, office supplies, etc. It is run as a self-supporting retail operation, however, so that these parts are not free.

ECE Stores sells directly to students for personal purchases at any time. No authorization slips are needed if you are purchasing parts with your own money.

The ECE Stores catalog is available on-line.

To order from ECE Stores and charge to the course, figure out your order and fill out one of these order forms. The authorization form must be signed by your TA, as it involves transfer of funds from the course account. The orders are filled immediately over the counter, once authorized.


Items not available directly from either the ECE Service Shop or ECE Stores may usually be specially ordered through the parts ordering form on your my.ece page.

These requests must be approved by your TA, so it is your responsibility to notify your TA once the order has been requested online. It is generally recommended that you discuss the order with your TA beforehand to ascertain if it is truly necessary. Delivery for most companies varies from two to seven business days, and your order will be delivered to the lab. Ask your TA if you're uncertain where it has been placed.

Orders from Digi-key will be grouped together and placed Wednesday and Friday. Please have orders in by noon Wednesday and 3pm Friday.

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

Personal purchases can be made through local merchants or mail-order.

It is sometimes expedient or desirable to make a personal purchase, even when the project is not being built to keep as personal property.

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.

Control System and User Interface for Hydraulic Bike

Iain Brearton

Featured Project

Parker-Hannifin, a fluid power systems company, hosts an annual competition for the design of a chainless bicycle. A MechSE senior design team of mechanical engineers have created a hydraulic circuit with electromechanical valves, but need a control system, user interface, and electrical power for their system. The user would be able to choose between several operating modes (fluid paths), listed at the end.

My solution to this problem is a custom-designed control system and user interface. Based on sensor feedback and user inputs, the system would change operating modes (fluid paths). Additionally, the system could be improved to suggest the best operating mode by implementing a PI or PID controller. The system would not change modes without user interaction due to safety - previous years' bicycles have gone faster than 20mph.

Previous approaches to this problem have usually not included an electrical engineer. As a result, several teams have historically used commercially-available systems such as Parker's IQAN system (link below) or discrete logic due to a lack of technical knowledge (link below). Apart from these two examples, very little public documentation exists on the electrical control systems used by previous competitors, but I believe that designing a control system and user interface from scratch will be a unique and new approach to controlling the hydraulic system.

I am aiming for a 1-person team as there are 6 MechSE counterparts. I emailed Professor Carney on 10/3/14 and he thought the general concept was acceptable.

Operating modes, simplified:

Direct drive (rider's pedaling power goes directly to hydraulic motor)

Coasting (no power input, motor input and output "shorted")

Charge accumulators (store energy in expanding rubber balloons)

Discharge accumulators (use stored energy to supply power to motor)

Regenerative braking (use motor energy to charge accumulators)

Download Competition Specs: https://uofi.box.com/shared/static/gst4s78tcdmfnwpjmf9hkvuzlu8jf771.pdf

Team using IQAN system (top right corner): https://engineering.purdue.edu/ABE/InfoFor/CurrentStudents/SeniorProjects/2012/GeskeLamneckSparenbergEtAl

Team using discrete logic (page 19): http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/86206/ME450?sequence=1