Kin Chin Chua - Design Notebook

Week of Sept. 05, 2011

Sept. 07 (Wed):

  • attended kick-off meeting

Week of Sept. 12, 2011

Sept. 16 (Fri):

  • attended weekly meeting

Week of Sept. 19, 2011

Sept. 21 (Wed) ~1.5 hour :

  • participated in teleconference with HKUST

Sept. 23 (Fri):

  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Sept. 26, 2011

Sept. 28 (Wed) ~1 hour:

  • attended group meeting:
  1. Designed and drew a block diagram for the control system.
  2. Discussed about some processors and TI microcontroller.

Sept 29 (Thurs) ~1.5 hour:

  • Looked over the TI microcontrollers with Arm cortex M3 processor suggested by Scott and Jason
  • Searched online for other microcontroller board such as Arduino Fio.
  • Found a webpage introducing a similar project (WIFI Robot) and thought it might be a good reference
    ~ Instead of internet, the robot was controlled by the user by connecting a laptop to the router mounted on the robot wirelessly.

    ~ It also has video feed, so that the robot can be controlled even it is out of sight.


Sept. 30 (Fri):

  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Oct. 3, 2011

Oct. 6 (Thurs) ~2 hours:

  • attended group meeting
  1. Designed a draft of poster for VIP poster session

Oct. 7 (Fri):

  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Oct. 10, 2011

Oct. 14 (Fri):

  • Search for some network cameras that might be useful such as: (~1.5 hours)
~ I found that some cameras are not bad but too expensive.
  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Oct. 17, 2011

Oct. 18 (Tues) ~3 hours:

  • attended group meeting
  1. decided to take a tank as the vehicle platform as it has more space for us to put things on
  2. decided on wireless transceiver
  3. decided to use push buttons and IR sensors to counter the situation might happen when there is a delay on receiving video.
  4. some difficulties are encounterred while deciding to use an IP or network camera such as:

         ~ it is difficult to feed the video to our server since specific software or webpage is required for most of the IP cameras

         ~ ip address of an IP camera has to be assigned manually

  • We also tried to program the microcontroller board and we managed to print our names on it.

Oct. 19 (Wed) ~2 hours:

  • met with the group to set up a lab bench in EE63
  • attended VIP poster session

Oct. 20 (Thurs) ~ 1.5 hours:

  • Read the reference manual of the microcontroller board we are using
  • Read more about the terms like A/D, PMW, SPI, UART, etc.

Oct 21 (Fri):

  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Oct. 24, 2011

Oct. 25 (Tues) ~3.5 hours:

  • attended group meeting
  1. tried to search for some useful cmos cameras
  2. realized that the transfer rate of a cmos camera is too high (about a few Megabytes/s)
  3. task: try to find for cmos camera that would output M-JPEG or M-PEG
  4. wrote a list for all possible peripherals and interfaces which would be needed for the project

Oct. 28 (Fri):

  • tried to search for cmos camera that would output M-PEG or M-JPEG but didn't find anything useful. There are quite a few IP cameras that output M-JPEG though. (~1 hour)
  • attended weekly-meeting

Week of Oct. 31, 2011

Nov. 2 (Wed) ~ 45 minutes:

  • continue working on the draft of the list for design review made by Scott and Chris

Nov. 3 (Thurs) ~ 4 hours:

  • attended group meeting.
  1. designed a cicuit to drive the motor by PWM output, only problem was the microcontroller board is not providing stable output voltage (4.4V or 0.7V)
  2. Chris and I finalized the list of the topics for design review.

Nov.4 (Fri):

  • attanded weekly-meeting

Week of Nov. 7, 2011

Nov. 8 (Tues) ~ 3 hours:

  • attended group meeting to work on the powerpoint slides for design review.
  • I personally worked on the slides for remote controller and sensors.

Nov. 10 (Thurs) ~ 2 hours:

  • participated in tele-conference with HKUST

Nov. 11 (Fri) ~ 2 hours:

  • practised design review presentation with group
  • attended design review.

Week of Nov. 14, 2011

Nov. 15 (Tues) ~ 1.5 hours:

  • attended group meeting
  1. Scoot, Chris and I worked on and improved the protocol proposed by HKUST.
  2. We felt that the proposed protocol doesn't have any combination for any additional peripheral so we decided to have have 16 bit instructions where every combination has different instruction
  3. However, we realized that this design does not help when the user wants to have different instruction at 1 time, eg move forward and turning at the same time.
  4. Hence, we came out with the protocol as the picture below:

Protocol proposal.jpg

  1. Meanwhile, Jason was working on the pandaboard and trying to get a webcam (Creative vf0520) to work with the pandaboard.
  2. More research on getting Creative vf0520 to work with Ubuntu to be done.

Nov. 17 (Thurs) ~ 1 hour:

  • participated in tele-conference with HKUST
  • discussed about the proposed protocols from both sides.

Nov. 18 (Fri) ~ 1 hour:

  • attended weekly-meeting
  • I was assigned to work on the serial connection of the microcontroller via RS232.

Week of Nov. 21, 2011

Nov. 23 (Wed) ~ 2 hours:

Since I have no experience working on a microcontroller, I started reading some article and forum regrading interfacing mircocontroller and RS232

Week of Nov. 28, 2011

Nov. 28 (Mon) ~ 4.5 hours:

Met with group.

  • I tried to work on the serial port (USART) of the microcontroller with Jason's help.
  • I also read a tutorial about "Programming STM32 USART using GCC" which Matt found online.
  • I couldn't get anything done for the USART, then Matt came and worked with me since he has more experience than I do.
  • Then, Chris and I read more about H-bridge and tried to get some sample circuits online

  • Accomplishments:
We got the serial ports of both pandaboard and microcontroller (MCBSTM32EXL) working while interfacing with computer.
  • Problem:
Failed to get the pandaboard and microcontroller interfacing with each other.

Nov. 29 (Tues) ~ hours:

Worked with Jason to get the pandaboard and microcontroller communicate with each other.

  • We made a RS232 male-to-male cable as the connection below:

Cable connection.gif

  • The pictures below are the connection between pandaboard and microcontroller, the boards inside the vehicle:



  • I wrote a simple code based on what we designed for dual H-bridge setup and programmed it into the microcontroller.
  • The LEDs on the microcontroller showed the correct output that we expected. It means everything works fine now.
  • The only tasks we left:
  1. get the boards to drive the motors through H-bridges
  2. the power supply for the boards.
  3. Jason is working on the java-script for the pandaboard to get the pandaboard set-up automatically when power is supplied to it. e.g. connect to internet, email IP address to user.

Nov. 30 (Wed) ~ 1.5 hour:

  • Helped Jason to work on the H-bridges.
  • We managed to drive  the motor (clockwise and anticlockwise) from the web server, via the microcontroller and pandaboard.

Dec. 1 (Thurs) ~ 3 hours:

  • attended the teleconference with UST, Hong Kong.
  1. design a control system to achieve the purpose of collaboration between Purdue and UST before next teleconference
  2. more details to be discuss on the protocol
  • met with group to work again after teleconference
  • Jason, Scott and Chris got all the electronics set up in the vehicle.
  • Jason and I fixed the minor problems of the control system (direction of vehicle's movement)
  • The webcam is not stable, it works some time but not all the time. I am guessing the power supplied from the pandaboard to the webcam might be insufficient.

Dec. 2 (Fri) ~ 2 hours:

  • participated in the demo of the project for Dr. Johnson, Dr. Swabey, and Dr. Krogmeier.
  • attended weekly-meeting
  • I managed to connect to the tank and control the tank from my apartment after my laptop was connected to vpn.
  • Below is the website for setting-up the Purdue University SSL VPN service:

Week of Dec. 5, 2011

Dec. 6 (Tues) ~ 2 hours:

  • Met with group to make the outline of the final report and discuss about the protocol and system architecture.

Dec. 8 (Thurs) ~ 2 hours:

  • Attended group meeting and discussed about the overall system architecture with Dr. Johnson although it was supposed to be a tele-conference with UST but none of their members showed up.
  • Delegated parts of final report.
  • I will be writing on the parts of System Architecture and Vehicle Platform.

Dec. 9 (Fri):

  • attended weekly meeting

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