Friday, February 10, 2012

Senior Design Project Ideas

As a robotics engineering student at Southern Polytechnic State University, I know the stress and challenges presented when the time has come to do your senior design (or Capstone) project. I felt the necessity to share my senior design project with fellow engineering students across the world looking for inspiration or ideas for their project. The Ball-Bot project, which will be explained in detail, was quite an ambitious project for a group of undergraduate engineering students, but the pride and positive feedback certainly paid off.

First of all, one should click here to see a YouTube video of our Ball-Bot. This will immediately give you an idea of what it is and all the multidisciplinary engineering challenges that it presents for engineering students. As seen in the video, a Ball-Bot is a robot (fully autonomous) that balances on a ball. In our case, it was a vertical aluminum structure approximately 3' tall and balanced on a basketball. Our system used four motors independently controlling four omni-directional wheels that rolled the ball in the direction of the tilt angle. The tilt angle refers to the angle of the superstructure (aluminum frame) that sits atop the basketball. We used an Arduino MEGA 2560 and an on-board MicroITX computer for the brains of the whole system. An IDG500 gyroscope and ADXL345 accelerometer were used to take inertial measurements and determine the three-dimensional orientation of the robot in real time. An inverted spherical pendulum best describes the kinematics of the system. If you decide to build a Ball-Bot, make sure that you understand the difficulties and investments associated with a project of this scale.

To give credit where credit is due, I would like to introduce our group that completed the Ball-Bot project for our mechatronics engineering senior design project at Southern Polytechnic State University. Brian Kosoris was the group leader, Yuriy Psarev was the mechanical engineer, Bahati Gitego was the control systems engineer, and myself, Jeroen Waning, was the electrical engineer and programmer. In reality we all worked very hard together and each worked on all aspects of the build.

I will be more than happy to share the final paper and all of our research freely. I am working on getting a website online, but in the meantime I will provide it to anyone via email requests:

Thanks for reading!

Also, please check out my other YouTube videos. Thanks!Jeroen Waning - Find me on

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