Imaginative projects take shape through trial and error in an Electrical Engineering Workshop course

In the last weeks of the spring the Electrical Engineering Workshop has been abuzz with students busily working on their course projects. We were allowed to follow how one project progressed from the original idea all the way to the course's finale
Aalto University / Sähköpajakurssi / photo: Linda Koskinen
The IR sensors, LED discs, and the LED matrix are rewired to get the lights of the table to operate correctly.

Thursday, 2 May

First-year students Anneka Kruuti, Kalle Nieminen, Antti Mansikka, and Niklas Rehnberg are focused on a large table that they have turned on its side. The purpose of the IR sensors that they have placed on an interactive beer pong table is to identify stationary cups and the LEDs indicating the locations of the cups should emit either red or green light.

‘Last time we got some of the lights to work right. They switched from green to red when you touched the spot where the cup is going to be placed. Now none of the lights work and we do not know what we did in the meantime’, Anneka laughs.

‘We’ll re-wire all of the devices going to the micro-controller platform to see if it might help.’

Aalto University / Sähköpajakurssi 2019 / photo: Linda Koskinen
Kalle drills holes into the table for the ball cleaner. The ball is placed inside through the hole and it emerges clean on the other side of the table.

Friday, 10 May

The final event of the course is looming, and the workshop is alive with activity. As coding is possible to do anywhere, Anneka, Kalle, Antti, and Niklas have decided to use the day's working hours in getting the actual table ready.  Today the supports intended for the cups and the holes for the ball cleaner are being added to the game table.

The problem with the LEDs that indicated the locations of the cups, which caused some consternation last week, has been solved, but some challenges remain:

‘Right now, the problem is to get the points to show up right on the scoreboard. In a situation in which cups are not removed from the game table, but their locations are simply changed, the scoreboard could display an incorrect score. For that reason, the display should be made to operate with a delay. In addition to this it would be nice to get a few screen savers on the scoreboard that would be visible during the game’, Kalle says.

Aalto University / Sähköpajakurssi 2019 / photo: Linda Koskinen
Only the finishing touches remain.
Aalto University / Sähköpajakurssi 2019 / photo: Linda Koskinen
The LEDs indicating the locations of the cups emit either red or green light.

Thursday, 16 May

Zero hour is approaching! Anneka, Kalle, Antti and Niklas have been busy at the workshop all weekend and the project is quickly moving ahead. IR sensors identify the cups and the scoreboard operates flawlessly. The ball cleaner is put in place and the work is ready!

 

Aalto University / Sähköpajakurssi 2019 / photo: Linda Koskinen
The Ulla Tuominen Foundation awards the best works of the course, which this time also include the project by Anneka, Kalle, Antti, and Niklas.

Tuesday, 21 May: Final presentation of the course

The Dipoli Lumituuli Auditorium is full of students and different kinds of gadgets. Anneka, Kalle and Niklas stand around their project and demonstrate the use of the game table to the audience.

‘It is all based on what the infra-red sensors under the cups identify’, Anneka explains. ‘On the basis of the data we determined in the code what colour LEDs would light up around which infra-red sensor. In addition, our code calculates how many infra-red sensors have a cup on top, and based on this, the right LEDs light up on the LED grid, showing the correct result.’

The project raised interest among the public and got recognition for its ambition, when the Ulla Tuominen Foundation awarded it along with the other best works of the course.

 

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