Anders Stengaard Sørensen

Topic suggestions for student projects

My belief is that we get the most interesting projects if the projects revolve around the students personal interests. Therefore I don't like to give detailed descriptions of ready-to-start projects for students, but am inclined to describe topics that would be interesting to include in a students project, either because I find the topic interesting myself, or because it is interesting in relation to an external development project. Hopefully, you will find that some of the topic suggestions below corespond to some of your interests, or maybe they will inspire you to come up with some other topics that may be interesting to you.

The topics given below are by no means equal in difficulty or size, and in some cases a single topic will be quite sufficient to occupy most of a bachelor or master thesis project, while other topics may only take up a small fraction of a project. At this stage I have not tried to rate eache topic with respect to size or difficulty, but you are welcome to contact me in order to ask about, or discuss the topics in relation to your topic plans.

Many of the topics given below are well suited to be combined with each other, but it is also quite possible to combine many of them with topics outside this list, or with topics outide my area of expertice. In such cases, it is quite possible to construct a project with joint supervision between me, and a researcher/teacher in another field, or even at another institution.

Motor controller for medium size DC-motors

One of our external partners have constructed a remote controlled vehicle that can be used for cleaning building roofs. At the moment, the DC motors driving the vehicle are controlled, simply as forward, backward or neutral, using a set of manual 3-position switches.

At the same time, the manual positioning system used in the EU project DockWelder, have also been implemented with DC motors operated by mechanical on/off switches, resulting in a poor control properties of the positioning system.

We would like to develop a set of switched mode motor drivers, that can replace simple on/off control, allowing linear control of small to medium sized DC motors. The motor driver should be controlled by a microcontroller, accepting commands from various user interfaces via. a digital interface, for instance CAN-bus, or some other reliable digital interface.

Reanimating a Panasonic SCARA robot

The Panasonic robot OUC/IOT have received from LEGO, is a 4 degree of freedom SCARA type robot, which is intended for pick-and-place, and similar applications requireing high speed and limited movements. Originally, the robot have been used for placing copper wire in complicated 2-D patterns, later to be wrapped around a cylinder to form the anchor coil of a motor. Although the robot was delivered with controller and power electronics, these items have proved unuseable, due to lack of some key-components as well as readble (english) documentation. Therefore, we have decided to replace the original controller, with one of our own design.

SCARA robots are very interesting to the LUNA pilot project, as they are perfectly suited for laying out fiber rovings in 2D, at very high speeds. The Panasonic robot is rated for tool speeds up to 4 m/s, and it is easily abe to carry the combined roving dispenser and spot-welding tool, currently beeing developed. As part of a current LUNA project, we are developing new drivers for the 4 syncronous AC servomotors that power the robot. We also have an option of buying off-the-shelve drivers, if we need to speed up the development process.

This topic provide an oppertunity for truly trans-diciplinary work, bringing a lot of different theoretical knowledge into practice. It is especially suited to Computer Systems Engineering (Datateknologi) Students, or other who have a theoretical background including: Robot kinematics, mechanical physics, control systems, (embedded) computer systems, I/O, interfacing, digital and analog electronics and low-level software; combined with a desire to try on these areas in practice.

Speed and position control of AC servomotors

At Odense University College of engineering, we have a number of industrial robots, equiped with obsolete controllers. While the robots are in excellent condition, we are unable to use them, as their controllers are no use to us. As all our robots contain AC servomotors, we would like to gain some experience in controlling this type of motor using other means than the original controller

Given one or more AC servomotors with suitable power electronics, we would like to use a computer to control the position and speed of each motor, in order to experiment with different types of control algorithms, to gain experience with precision control of these motors.

This topic can be treated without designing and implementing power electronics for AC motors, as we are able to buy appropriate power stages for the motors treated by this topic.

An inverted pendulum for experiments and demonstrations

At Odense University College of Engineering, we have the mechanical frame for an 'inverted' pendulum platform. All we need to get it up and running is: Power electronics for the motor; Position and angular sensors with interfaces; An embedded computer/microcontroller to act as controller; An algorithm that can balance the inverted pendulum

An ordinary pendulum for experiments and demonstrations

We have also got access to an ordinary pendulum, hanging down from a one dimensional crane, complete with motor, power electronics and angular sensor. All that is needed to use the ordinary pendulum is an embedded computer/microcontroller, some minor interfacing and a control algorithm.

The ordinary pendulum is much easier to control than the inverted pendulum, and can thus be used in smaller projects, combined with other topics like 'advanced control systems', or other topics that relate to an ordinary pendulum.

CAN-bus communication with Atmel microcontrollers

Atmel have recently released their ATmega microcontroller with integrated CAN-bus interface, and we have procured a few samples. As CAN-bus is exceedingly popular for industrial control, and as we are getting more involved with the Atmel microcontrollers, we would like to gain experience with this combined technology, by completing one or more projects that use this microcontroller for controlling some system or process, based on commands/communication via. CAN-bus.

This topic must be combined with another topic that require a microcontroller that can communicate with an external system, like a motor controller or something similar.

Connecting Linux to an embedded controller via USB

In many cases, we would like to connect a personal or industrial computer to an embedded controller, in order to issue commands, gather data, or monitor the system. Previously, the RS-232 serial port have been quite adequate for this task, but as USB is rapidly replacing RS-232, we must follow suit.

Most USB solutions are implemented using a USB interface IC, combined with a compatible 'device driver' on the PC. Many different solutions exist for various versions of Microsofts operating systems, but as we would often like to use operating systems that are reliable for real-time applications, we would like to gain some experince with USB interfaces for Linux, based on e.g. the USB IC: FT2232C Dual USB UART / FIFO

A controller for the SCORBOT ER-III Robot Arm

The Scorbot robot arm, is a 5 degree of freedom articulated arm, with a gripper tool, which gives it a total of 6 DC motors. Although it is not powerfull or precise enough to be used for industrial processes, it is excelent for demonstrations and experiments.

We have all the necessary equipment to control the Scorbot, but much of it is out of date, so we would like to develop a new controller for the robot. The new controller should enable control of the torque, speed and position of each joint of the robot, using current feedback, and feedback from the integrated position encoders and 'home position' switches.

This topic can fill out a smaller project, like a bachelor project, or it can be a part of a larger project, combined with topics like 'robot kinematic', 'microcontrollers' or similar topics that relate to control of a model robot arm.

CAN-bus interface for a Playstation control pad

Although the Playstation control pads are intended for gaming, it poses some qualities that make it well suited as control device for robotics in light industry, home use or research.

The control pads used for Playstation and Playstation-2 communicate with the playstation console using a simple syncronous inteface and a master/slave protocol. As it is not dificult to interface the control pad to a microcontroller, it is feasible to use a microcontroller to interface the control pad with e.g. CAN-bus, in order to create a reliable industrial interface to the control pad. It should be possible to build the microcontroller and CAN-interface into the control pad, which also create the possibility to add a small display to the control pad.

This topic is well suited for combination with topics that could benefit from such a control device, e.g. for controlling the roof washing vehicle , or the Scorbot, both mentioned above.