GE 423 - Introduction to Mechatronics
GE 423 Mechatronics, is a hands-on lab course where the student learns to program embedded processors to interface and control mechanical systems. The homework in the class is based on the MSP430G2553 16bit microcontroller. Students learn to program this device and use its Digital I/O, PWM, ADC and Serial ports to read sensors and drive actuators. By the middle of the semester students are asked to build a small project that incorporates at least a single sensor and an actuator to control some mechanical system that they design. The Labs in GE423 are based on a robot car controlled by a dual-core DSP plus ARM processor. Students learn to develop C code for a real-time operating system running on the DSP core. This C code both collects the sensor data from the sensors on the car and also drives the motors of the robot car. Some of the sensors on the car are LADAR, color camera, rate gyro, wheel optical encoders, IR distance sensors. There is also a motion tracking camera system in the lab that gives the robot a type of GPS sensor. The ARM core runs embedded Linux. Linux main job on the robot is to manage WIFI communication and execute applications developed by students to be the human interface and debug interface for the robot. The last three weeks of the semester groups of four students compete in a competition that combines all the topics covered in lab assignments. The groups are ask to program the robot car to autonomously navigate a course in search of blue and orange golf balls. The robot car needs to collect the golf balls and bring them to a drop off location. Along the way the robot must also navigate around obstacles. Prerequisite: GE 320.