Hardware

Software

PROJECTS - HARDWARE

Under Development
These projects don't have deadlines or any backing so little progress is usually made.

Stereoscopic Vision Scanning
Inspired by a letter in "What Digital Camera" asking about measuring the volume of wounds, I plan to get a couple of cheap and small video cameras then use them to scan the environment in which they are placed and create a 3D map of that environment.
Many extensions are possible and I am still working out some of the basics, but a motorized camera mount could be required and gyros/accelerometers for relative displacement measurements. A minimal amount of electronics would be required for controlling the system and switching the video signal (so one capture card can be used).

A lot of software will also be required to manipulate the Images, do correlations, calculate positions of objects and camera movement. Camera calibration is also required (cheap cameras are usually 90/120deg (fisheye) lenses) so that the image is 'flat'.

MPINGO MP3 Player - 1999

This was my final year project at university, it is a hardware mp3 player employing the MAS3507 decoder from ITT. Currently is is tethered to the serial port of the PC but I have made the board required for using a 64Mb DIMM, but the FPGA onboard along with the microcontroller and PC end of things all need to have software written for them (several weeks work).

Documentation (916 kB)
Software (Com2) (148 kB)
Demo (64kb/s) .mp3 (236kB)

Braille Display - 1998

The braille display was an interesting project that we were set at Aston, it is a technology demonstrator rather than anything else, the idea was that braille characters can be displayed on the 'screen' (LED displays rather than the 'pins' used in real braille display products, because they are a lot cheaper!) and then is it possible to scroll through the text being read with the cursor keys. The unit is connected to a PC via a serial port and is completely reconfigurable from the PC since the display is only an output device. A successful but useless project, unless it is upgraded to a tactile display.

Camera Case - 1998

I got hold of a couple of cheap black and white cameras and had to make boxes for them, the end result can be seen above.

Casio FX9700 RS232 to TTL serial interface - 1998

This interface allows you to exchange editor files and program files with your PC via the serial port. So you can edit say a phone number list and then convert it to an editor file and download it to the casio. The hardware is very simple and I bodged this little device together in an afternoon (including making the PCB and a trip to Maplin!).

I use a program called CaS to transfer data from Casio to PC, CaS can be found at: www.tsys.demon.co.uk/casio/ (last time I checked anyway).

Fluxgate Magnetometer - 1997

The Fluxgate Magnetometer project did not work very successfully, but we did learn a lot from it about magnetics, the theory of fluxgates and how to wind coils! The idea is that the fluxgate is one of the few sensors that can detect a static magnetic field (such as the Earths field or that of a speaker magnet). You can use small compasses to show the direction of a (strong) field, but this does not tell you about the flux density i.e. how strong the field is this information can be very useful and a Fluxgate magnetometer is used on the Voyager probes (on the long scaffold arm) to estimate the amount of liquid iron in a planets core - or they can be used for surveying, finding metal objects hidden underground & testing shielding, etc, etc.If you are interested, our documentation is available:

Fluxgate Documentation (891 kB)


QEDD9008 LED Displays - 1997

These displays are available from Greenweld (for about £15 per panel when I bought them). They are daisy-chainable to create displays of up to 4x3 panels (24x16 characters) The LEDs are bi-colour so characters can be red, green or yellow. I have made the case that the above displays are in from a couple of pieces of MDF and some Perspex.
Some DOS software is available to control them using the PC, a scripting language (called QDSL) has been created by Robert Coward, WinDSL has also been created by Huw Walters Which allows scripts to be created and previewed in Windows. Huw has a website with all the software on at www.realspace.demon.co.uk (look at the displays section).

I am planning to make a 'play/record' card at some point along with the power supply/LED protection circuitry for my displays. But first I could do with a useful application for them - other than just displaying the time and date...

DiskManager - 1995

The DiskManager was my A-Level project which tried to extend the GCSE ANDI project by adding features such as disk labeling and automatic write protecting of disks. It almost worked by the end of the course and was entered into many competitions.

Braintree Young Designer ISDTA/IED Nelex Roland Technology For Creativity Rotary Club Stanley Barnet

ANDI - 1993

The ANDI project was an Automatic Notifying Disk Inserter, that could serially insert 3.5" floppy disks into a disk drive under computer control. The unit was made of clear perspex and was controlled by an Amiga 500. The pictures above are of the MKI and MKII units. ANDI was entered into many competitions and won the Young Engineer for Britain Innovation & Inventiveness competition 1993.

Nelex Young Engineer for Britain William Waldegrave & myself Bob Symes & Myself

As you may have guessed ANDI Systems is the 'company' created for promoting and manufacturing ANDI, the name has stuck as a useful tool in getting companies to reply to my letters!