Cool Engineering

Info on some cool engineering projects

Friday, April 21, 2006

Teeny Tiny Connector Success

Everyone will be happy to know I was finally able to find a connector for the GPS unit. As shown in the picture it is really tiny (the black thing on the right). According to the specifications it should not fit (0.127mm pitch rather than 0.15mm pitch) but it seems to fit perfectly. This was a connector I ordered as a sample from some European distributor about about 7 weeks ago.
Well that is the good news - the bad news is I need to try and find some ribbon cable which is about 0.075mm pitch, which is currently eluding me. Oh well, progress is being made.
As a follow up to the last post on my naming skills, my team name as adopted for our latest management project: AE Robotics (Aerospace Engineering Robotics). I thought it was a pretty good one, but maybe not quite up there with Maximum Advantage. What you do think?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What is maximum advantage?

Hello all,
It occurred to me a great proportion of the readers may be puzzled by my "Maximum Advantage" call sign. Well the story starts in 2003 when I was in 3rd year. I was doing a subject involving VHDL programming (describing FPGA configuration using code (which is a little like C)). Traditionally I have found that most of the software design tools we use in engineering are horribly designed, crash all the time or deliberately attempt to corrupt your data (or some happy mixture of the previous three negative points).
Back to this subject. We started off using a product known as Max Plus. This was a really simple program - basically you just write your code, compile it and transfer it to the chip. Easy and it usually actually worked! Incredible.
The second tool we were using was FPGA Advantage. We had some major problems with this program (but for legal and defamatory reasons I will not go into them).
There were 2 group assignments for this project and although it was suggested that FPGA Advantage was used Max Plus was still allowed. As one of the primary coders I made the decision to use Max Plus on the basis of reliability. Then the team name was born - we would use max plus to get the "Maximum Advantage". This was a real classic name. For some reason people are now reluctant in letting me come up with group names for projects - odd, I couldn't think why?

Tertiary Objectives

Project wise, the last week has been taken up mainly by writing up project documents and proposals. I heard somewhere that approximately 60% of engineers work these days is not 'engineering stuff' (i.e. programming, designing ect) but paperwork and report writing. I concur that this is true in most of the engineering jobs that I have had (Telstra and Tectonica) and also with any of the projects that we complete at uni.
I have to list some project objectives - I have listed primary and secondary objectives (things we would like to do). I need to add in some tertiary objectives - things that given and infinite budget, and time we might consider completing for our project. One idea is a visual based landing system - a camera onboard the plane which will sight the runway and line the plane directly up with the runway and land it. Yes this is hard - but theoretically possibly, although very hard.
Anyone with any ideas? What would you like your personal unmanned aerial vehicle to automatically do for you?