So it looks like I'm still getting some site views after all this time. Thats pretty cool guys. thanks for continuing to visit the site, sorry that It's taken me so long to update.
Hello all my faithful followers, assuming anyone follows this website anymore. I just uploaded my paper to this site. So if you want to read it go ahead. I think its pretty good, if I may say so my self. You can find it under the "The Research" page of the site. Assuming that it gets approved this will probably be the last update I'll make. I plan on keeping this site up but i'm not sure if I'll have anything else to add to it. I'm hoping that I will be able to continue to contribute to the project from a distance, but given that they are still working on hardware and that my home town is several miles away from good ol Tuscaloosa i doubt I will be involved with the project any time soon. Hopefully once we start working on a database and server stuff I'll be able to be of use. So until then this is goodbye. Hopefully I'll be able to start contributing again a few months from now. Thank you to everyone who has followed my website, helped with my paper, or even just listen to me complain about how hard it was to write, you are all very much appreciated.
It finally here. The last day of the last week! Within a few days I'll be on a plane headed back home. Its crazy to think that this is the end. It's been a long but productive 10 weeks. As I take my leave we have more or less decided on a prototype, we just need to order supplies and start build. Unfortunately I will not be a part of the prototyping phase, its kind of hard to build something when you aren't actually there, but I'm eager to see how it goes and to help remotely if I can. I can't imagine I'll be able to be much help with the prototype of the sensor node, but I look forward to possibly being able to assist with the organization of the data we collect and figuring out how we go about displaying our data to the public. Whether or not I end up being of help beyond this point I'm still very excited about the work I've done and the work that will be done in the future. Now with that being said its time for me to go back to finishing my paper so I can hurry up and get back home. Its been fun. Roll Tide!
Week 9 has come and gone and there's plenty of work to be done. I wrote the majority of the first draft of my paper this week. I'm hoping to have this draft revised soon so that I can prepare to turn in everything at the conclusion of my REU. Our project has made a little project this week. We recently found a sensor that we think will allow us to take two different kinds of measurements. This led to us reconsidering our design, if we could use this sensor we wouldn't have any need for our current temperature sensor. My colleague scouted out a few different parts we would need to build our first real prototype. We are pretty sure we will be using cellular signals to transmit our data and have decide we will also want to add a barometric pressure sensor to our design as well. It seems like we are getting closer and closer to having a prototype to test and while it may not be complete before I leave for the summer, its still very exciting. Check out the illustration bellow to get an idea of what we are trying to build.
Week 8 has come to an end, man time really does fly. This past week was a bit slow, me and my colleagues decided to get together to come up with a list of priorities to keep us busy these next two weeks. We hope to finalize a design and have a prototype built before my 10 weeks are up but this may not be realistic, it depends on how quickly we can order parts and get them here. So far throughout this whole experience the tricky thing has been figuring out what we want to use. Originally we worked with the temperature sensor but had no real solution for depth sensing that was cost effective. Now we believe we may have found a sensor that will take care of both our temperature and depth measurements. If we decide to use this sensor for these measurements then all we will need to do is come up with a solution for the water proof enclosure and we will be close to having a functional prototype that we could start testing. With two weeks left it will be interesting to see what more we can get done.
This week was a bit of a short one, by Thursday much of the building was empty in preparation of the holiday. All of our lab people showed up Thursday but most of us took Friday off. Anyway, on Wednesday of this week we had the opportunity to take a little field trip out to a few different sections of the Sipsey river that we hope to deploy our devices to. We unfortunately didn't have much equipment to bring out with us to test, the main thing holding us back in that regard is the lack of a solution for water proofing, and the fact that we have yet to finalize how our communications will work. We were able to test the availability of cellular networking at the sites and were pleasantly surprised to find that we will have more access to cellular communication than we previously thought. This will hopefully allow us to transmit our data along the river areas where cellular communication is strong in order to get it out of the river and into a database. We have been flirting with the idea of sending the data in text messages. This works well in theory since currently the sensor that I have put together writes the data it collects into simple text files on an SD card. Eventually I envision a system in which we have the sensors collect data, save it to an SD card for safe keeping and then immediately transmit it through our network and return to sleep mode. This way we will be able to update our data in real time but also save that data in case there is some sort of complication.
Next week I am hoping to finally do some tests on the power consumption of the sensor I have put together, comparing its normal consumption to that consumption when it utilizes sleep mode and the other optimizations I've made. Additionally there's more work that needs to be done with the wireless communication, waterproofing, and of course dept sensing. Not all of this will get done within the next few weeks but hopefully we can at least make a good amount of progress on the wireless communication. I've also got a paper I need to start writing. Lots of work to do. Until next week!
Not a whole lot to report this week. I already posted about my major accomplishment this week which was hooking up the sensors to the arduino mini wireless. Now that we've gotten that done we can focus on communication and how we are going to transmit our data, waterproofing the device, and deciding what batteries we want to use and how we can optimize our use of power. So those are just a few things to think about.
Next week we are vising one of the sites where we hope to collect data which will be very exciting. I can't wait! Until next week!
Up until this point I've been working exclusively with the arduino uno. The uno is pretty simple to work with and was good for testing our sensors and getting acquainted with the arduino eco system but it isn't what we are going to be using out at the sites. Instead we want to use the Mini wireless arduinos. They are smaller, lower power, and have wireless communication (probably why they are called mini wireless huh). They are just going to be a better fit for the project, so of course this meant at some point I was going to have to take everything I did to the uno and transfer it to the wireless. I had been putting it off for a while but wiring everything up didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I got everything working today, as opposed to the several days it took when I was first learning how to use the uno. Guess I'm getting the hang of it. I still have some code to fix up so that it will work with the mini but that shouldn't take very long at all. Yay progress! check it out bellow:
I know I haven't posted in a while but that's because It's been a busy week and the river bed project team has been hard at work. My colleagues have been working hard on the radios that we are hoping to use for data transmission while I've been working on the arduino, temperature sensor, and SD card reader.
We got to meet with the biology professor we are working with this week and got a better idea of what she was trying to do. We made plans to go and check out one of the sites where we will be collecting data on July 1st. I'm very excited! While the professor was here we showed off what we had, I demoed my current working prototype(I combined the SD card reader with the thermometer we can finally log data!), my colleagues showed off the radios, which weren't quite ready yet.
Now I've got to work on taking the prototype that I have and transitioning it from running off the computers power source to running off of a battery. Because we will be running off of a battery we will have to factor in power consumption. We want our device to be low power and not require frequent battery changes. In order to do this we may need to build our own low power arduino on a breadboard, additionally we will also need to incorporate some sort of sleep mode so that not as much power is used when data isn't being recorded. To top it all off we are going to need to somehow get some water proof housing for this thing. So there's a lot of work still to be done. Hopefully we can have some sort of prototype that we can bring with us for our trip on the 1st.
Wish me luck, Until next week.
A lot of hard work went in to this week. I finally got the SD card reader working as I mentioned in my earlier posts and my fellow lab workers made progress as well. We also began to get acquainted with Latext, what we are going to be using to write our papers when the time comes. Additionally the river bed project group will hopefully be meeting with the other professor that we are collaborating with soon so that we can make sure everyone is on the same page, and start working towards building a prototype. Other than that there isn't too much else to report this week, we did a lot of hard work but don't have that much to show for it just yet, maybe next week.
On a note unrelated to the research we did have a fun get together Friday night with our whole lab group and another REU group living in the same apartment complex as us. It was tons of fun. If you ever get the chance to be a part of an REU make sure you make friends with people outside your research group, its a fun learning experience.
After a weeks worth of work I'm proud to announce that I got the Arduino to correctly hook up to the SD card reader. What was the issue you might ask? Well it was simple really, I had a single wire connected incorrectly which I believe was keeping the SD card reader from getting any power. Originally I thought the issue was the the Arduino wasn't connected to the correct chip select pin but it turns out that wasn't the case. It's an odd combination of joy and frustration that you feel when a solution was so simple and right under your nose. Oh well on to the next part.
This was what I had before I fixed the issue.
And here is after, it really is as simple as it looks. Can't believe it was right under my nose.
It's hard to believe that I'm already at the end of my third week here. The whole team has managed to keep very busy this week. Right now I'm working on integrating an SD card reader with an arduino for the river bed project. This has proven to be more difficult than I anticipated, mainly because I had to wire up SD card reader to the arduino myself, something I have very little experience with. I've managed to get it mostly set up, I'm just waiting for the rest of the team to verify that what I did is correct so we don't fry the thing when we power it up.
We hope to use the SD card to store data while we are testing, but ultimately the goal will be to just transmit the data as soon as its collected. This lead to the other part of the river bed project that is being worked on right now. My other two colleagues are building the radios we are hoping to use with our prototype to transmit data. We've also been busy learning how to use git for version control and searching for academic papers to support our research with.
The home automation project, that the other team is working on, has been making good progress as well. They have been learning to develop windows apps that use Cortana for voice control. Right now they have a calculator app that can be controlled with your voice through Cortana. Its pretty cool. Now that they're more familiar with windows mobile apps and Cortana I believe they will start working on a prototype home automation app. It will be interesting to see where they go next.
Week 3 has been productive for both teams, can't wait to get even more done next week! Roll Tide!
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jeff Gray about a week ago. He is a professor here at the University of Alabama who in working towards getting better computer science education to public schools nation wide. He asked me and the other students working in the lab if he could interview us about our experiences in computer science. It supposed to serve as a motivator to try and get others interested in computer science. You can read more about Dr. Gray here. And check out my interview too, try to ignore all the funny faces and weird hand gestures I make.
I spent the majority of the week working on the arduino assignment i posted about earlier in order to further familiarize myself with the arduino. It took a lot longer than I thought it would initially but it was a great learning experience and kept me busy while the professor has been away at a conference this week. Unfortunately this meant that I wasn't able to start work on integrating the SD card reader to the arduino till today. Thanks to help from one of my colleagues I was able to get it soldered today and next week we are going to work on getting it wired up. We are also working together to find a suitable water pressure sensor that we can use for the project. There is plenty of work to keep me busy going into the third week. Can't wait to get started!
Remember that tricky problem that I posted earlier, I figured out a solution. It's not perfect yet, I haven't cleaned up the code and I've only tested it a little bit but I believe that it works the way it should. I'll probably have to test it out a bit more and try to break it before I can confidently say it works. Check it out.
So before I even finished this post I found a bug in the old code. So me and one of my colleagues decided to fix it. After breaking what I had originally a few times we finally got a working solution. Yay for collaboration.
Found this while trying to figure out how to get my Arduino to read data from the serial monitor. Although this is completely unrelated to that task, I still thought it was interesting. This does a good job describing the difference between the two.
One of my colleagues gave me a little assignment to help me get more familiar with Arduino and Micro-controllers in general. I've made quite a bit of progress today but I'm not quite ready to put my solution yet. But just in case you were wondering what I'm working on ill post the assignment here so you can check it out. Think you know a solution?
So I'm finally at the end of my first week at the University of Alabama. I've started work on the riverbed project. I spent most of this week working with the Arduino and working on getting the temperature sensor hooked up and operational. The next step will be to do the same with an SD card reader. We may also need to test a pressure sensor on the Arduino as well. These are all things that will likely be tried next week. In addition to work on the river bed project I've also been trying to learn a bit of C#, XAML, and how to integrate Cortana into windows apps so that I can be useful to the other project if need be.
Coming from Informatics to this project so far has been interesting. It is requiring me to use my computer science skills, which I am still just starting to develop, a lot more than I ever have. I've never really worked with robotics, or Arduino, much less wired any of this stuff up or learned much about circuits. This is going to be quite the adventure.
On the bright side I'm getting pretty good at unix commands and using the terminal in Ubuntu, I've also learned a little C and C# in the past few days. So maybe there is hope for me after all.
I've been here since Sunday. The trip here was a bit of a hassle, I almost missed my first flight, but I made it in one piece. Yesterday I got to get my first view of the lab and meet the people I will be working with this summer. We got acquainted with each other and the work we will be doing. The project I will be focusing on will involve the collection of data from river beds. While normally this wouldn't be a difficult task, the site that we are working with doesn't have cellular service so we have to find a way around that. A possible solution will be to create a network of short range radio transmitters that will take the data that the sensors collect and transmit them to a relay station where we will hopefully have access to more power and a way to send long range transmissions. I will make another post towards the end of the week with more information after I've gotten more time to work. Until then check out the picture bellow drawn by one of my colleagues its a good visual representation of what we want to do.