Category Archives: Electrical Engineering

EE Senior Design: Designing a Remote Water Quality Monitoring Device

Daron DiSabato

Daron DiSabato,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 February 2014 – With spring semester in full swing, our senior design group has been hard at work with our project. Our project was inspired by the increased use of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas and fossil fuels in the Appalachian region of the United States. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” believe that the process can and will lead to the contamination of groundwater.

My team was assigned with the task of designing a Remote Water Quality Monitoring Device (RWQMD). The purpose of the device is to be placed in a remote ground water well near a fracking site where it will measure a number of water quality metrics including pH, temperature and conductivity of the source. The constraints of the system are that it must generate its own self-sustaining power, collect water quality measurements and transmit that data to an offsite location. To achieve this, my team is developing a solar powered unit controlled by a central micro-controller. The device will take measurements using three connected sensors and will transmit the data using a GSM cellular communications network.

So far we have acquired our sensors, central controller unit and communications module and are currently in the software development and bench-testing phase of the project. Following spring break, we will begin working on our power system and will start assembling the device in its final packaging. The included photos show the current bench model and CAD drawings of what the final device will look like.

RWQMD

RWQMD

RWQMD

RWQMD

Internship at Electro Science Lab

Daron DiSabato

Daron DiSabato,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 17 December 2013 – Over the past summer I completed an internship at the Ohio State University Electro Science Laboratory where I worked on a graduate level research project for the U.S. Navy. The project dealt with designing and building a code division multiple access (CDMA) cellular communication transceiver which was more power efficient, more cost effective, and had a smaller package size than current models in production.

The project was still in the early stages of design when I joined the team, and we began working on the analog front-end of the receiver. The first job I had was to run simulations of the circuitry in PSpice and AWR Microwave office to verify that the proposed designs would work before we purchased components and built the device. Over several weeks I was able to gain some great experience working with the software. We ran simulations using various different chips and circuit components. The ones that performed the best in simulation were the ones that we selected to be implemented in the design.

The second job I had during this project was to order the selected circuit components and build prototype breadboard circuits in the lab. I spent the next several weeks running various tests and fine-tuning the circuits to make sure they were performed to the expectations observed in the software simulations. After settling on the most optimum circuit design, my final job was to design the printed circuit boards that would be used in the actual device. This was the most difficult part of my interesting but also the most exciting. I used the industry standard PCB layout software, Cadence Allegro, and it had a very steep learning curve. Despite the challenge of learning the software, I was able to design two printed circuit boards for the device, which I have shown in the attached pictures.

PCB Design
PCB Design

Finally after four months since I completed the internship, they are finally printing the circuit boards I designed. I can’t wait to go back and see them in action spring semester!

EE Senior Design Project: Water Quality Monitoring

Daron DiSabato

Daron DiSabato,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 3 December 2013 – Along with many other senior electrical engineering students across the country, fall semester marked the beginning of our senior design projects. The goal of our particular project is to design a remote monitoring device that can be deployed in a ground water well and transmit water quality data to an offsite location. We intend for the device to be deployed in locations where this information is highly sensitive, such as a hydraulic fracking site or in any place where industrial byproducts could potentially contaminate drinking water.

Due to our limited budget, our preliminary design will only be capable of measuring pH, temperature and salinity of the water source it is deployed in. The device will then take the measured data and transmit it via a cellular communications network to a cell phone. This product will be deployed in a remote outdoor location for an extended period of time (months or years), so it must be able to withstand environmental and weather factors as well as generate self-sustaining power from the environment.

Where the difficult engineering work will come is with system integration. Many of our subsystem components have been sourced from different manufacturers, and it will be challenging to integrate each part to serve the function of our device. We have just ordered our sensors, microcontroller board and communications module and are looking forward to spring semester when we will begin building and testing the device.

How I Build up My Motivation

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 8 November 2013 – As fall comes to an end and the leaves begin falling off the trees at an exponential rate, students will be trying to get their last fair share of partying in…or are they? Second round of midterms are approaching, which means students are trying to get back into the groove they may have lost from the first strenuous round of midterms. I myself need the new round of motivation to get the job done. How do I build up the motivation to kick my learning gear back in? Well, it’s as simple of a matter as following this flow chart.

Motivation Flow Chart

As you can see, sometimes the results don’t always end in the result of getting “good” grades. I am the type of person who usually learns by getting a problem completely wrong and then fixing it. I call it “paying my dues”. Also, getting motivated for a rough patch of the semester doesn’t always mean becoming sucked into the black hole of studying. Stress can build up fast, so, personally, I like extinguishing the stress fire by rock climbing. There are plenty of activities around campus students can take part in, which is good for the mental health along with physical health. Having dealt with many stressful times, my advice to share with any student is to not let the stress to build up. Relieve it before the volcano of stress decides to suddenly erupt.

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 October 2013 – The rock climbing wall here at Ohio University may just seem like just another rock climbing wall at any other school, but it really is not. See, people who aren’t regulars at this second home of mine may seem to miss out on the community we have settled closely in the Ping Center. Friends of all ages and years of school come together and have a great time together and work out and rock climb.

Climbing

Sometimes school gets stressful, and when it does there is always a cushiony place to fall into, and it’s not that rubber padding at the bottom of the wall. In fact, it’s the people who are there for you the entire way up that plastic rock climbing hold covered wall. I have to say that most of my friends outside of my engineering courses have been made here, and they are all wonderful.

Climbing

Here at Outdoor Pursuits, there is not only a rock climbing wall. There are plenty of hidden adventures any student can go on if they’d like. There’s anything from back-country backpacking trips to canoeing adventures to even rock climbing expeditions. For anyone who would like to get their fix of outdoor adventures while still managing to be successful in school, Outdoor Pursuits is the place to go.

Climbing

Climbing