Past Work: Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

I never got around to posting about my time at Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), where I was a researcher and shop manager. CATEA designs and tests all sorts of technology to help disabled people. The entire lab is a sort of skunk works operation; imagine Myth Busters “what crazy thing do you want to try today”. I was responsible for bringing to life the ideas and inventions of several Georgia Tech professors and their grad students. I had an entire shop at my disposal and best of all a Georgia Tech VISA card!

mill

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CMU Mechatronics Project: Multi-shot Cannon

The challenge
Design and build a machine that fires Nerf foam balls and hits static and moving targets with great accuracy and speed.

The team
Four engineers joined forces to accept the challenge.


Justin Farrell (firing), Melvin Rayappa (vision, coding), Jason Atwood (system integration), and Rachel Jackson (loading, aiming)

The machine


Figure 1. Depiction of overall mechatronic system with key components highlighted.

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Contract Electromechanical Engineer

For the last ten months, I’ve been contracting as an electromechanical engineer at a research chemistry firm in Atlanta. They specialize in commercializing several patented processes and they have hired me to automate the processes for several applications. I have used this opportunity to refine and expand my electronics and process controls skill sets. They work with several Fortune 500 companies producing quick market solutions. In the interest of all of this privacy I am bound to a pretty strict confidentiality agreement. Unfortunately I can’t talk about details, however, I am working on some really cool projects so I’ll stick to the how’s and leave out the what-for’s.

I had this really long post in the works and was completing it piece-meal as I had time. Sad to say though, I’ve been so busy doing work that I haven’t had time to write about work. So in the interest of brevity and to start a format where I can easily add new posts as I finish projects, I’m going to limit my writing and let some pictures do most of the talking.

I am spending a lot of time working with LabView and I have become quite efficient at writing programs and designing process control systems. One of our processes requires monitoring and controlling seven gas flows, monitoring the pressure in two liquid lines, monitoring the temperature in ten locations, and moving a two axis robot to various positions and repeating several paths. The program can also export all of this data to an Excel file of the user’s choosing.

The motion hardware at ____ is antiquated ValueMotion driver and nuDrive amplifier hardware, which took me a bit of time to setup and get working properly. I’ve implemented both a mechanical and software emergency stop. The thermocouple and pressure transducer monitoring is accomplished with National Instrument’s FieldPoint modules, which while also legacy technology, are quite ubiquitous at ____.

I wrote a program that incorporated all of these features. I’ve removed any confidential information but here is a overview of the program and the necessary files.. I am in the process of upgrading all of ____’s Labview to LV2009 from the much older 7.1 (and even 5.0 on some machines). So this program is written in 7.1.

Front Panel

Block Diagram

LabVIEW 7.1 (files zipped)