Kickoff Meeting for Piezoelectric Walking Surface

Multidisciplinary project! Great visibility! Huge resume potential! Leadership opportunities! Engineering challenges! Real-world experience! Physical production!

Come be a part of an interesting art and technology project! Landscape architecture professor and artist Carolina Aragon has asked M5 to join her in designing and building an interactive walking surface which harvests power to light itself as people walk by. M5 will have a kickoff meeting Saturday, 24 September at 2:30 to begin brainstorming.

Here’s the poster: PiezoFloor Poster M5-2

A Few Ideas for Independent Projects

Some of these ideas might spark your interest. Or your interests might lie well beyond anything included here. Come talk to me! You might (but you needn’t) be interested in signing up for ECE297DP (for individual projects and participants in group projects) or ECE497DP (for leaders of group projects).

For Beginners

  • work with transistors
  • learn how to make an astable multivibrator with a 555
    • generate PWM
  • build an H-bridge
    • learn about some commercial integrated circuits (L293 or SN754410); read a spec sheet
  • learn how to drive a stepper motor
    • wires or switches
    • using a driver chip ( and sequelae)
      reading a spec sheet
    • driving a sequence of LEDs using an Arduino
    • driving the stepper motor
  • drum module <

For More Advanced Students

  • FPGA drive for screen from dead laptop
  • use current amplifier to use an LED to *detect* (and measure!) light
  • build a differential amplifier

ECE297DP – Come Do Individual Projects at M5 This Fall!

Your ECE education at UMass is quite remarkable. You will graduate very well prepared with the theory and computational skills you will need to start useful work in the real world.
To have a really well balanced viewpoint, though, you need to have hands-on experience building stuff. M5 is the place provided for making things – electronic, mechanical, audio, RF, and more – or breaking things to find out how they work(ed), or fixing things. The M5 team is eager to help you with project ideas and pointers. Come get your hands dirty!
The 297DP course offers you one course credit, pass-fail, so you even get some academic credit for coming and having fun. You also get resume cred for listing the cool projects you’ve done.
Also – if you have a team project in mind, you can take ECE497DP as the mentor / project leader, and get even more resume cred!
Chuck Malloch is especially interested in distributed sensor systems and home monitoring. He has experience with ESP8266, NeoPixel strips, Node-Red, MQTT, Mosquitto, UDP, Python, Perl, and X-10 system components and would love to work with you on projects to monitor building systems and environments and provide assistive technology to the elderly and disabled. Come talk to him at M5! He’s there every Wed and Sat at least from 2:30 to 4:30, and usually gets there much earlier.

Chuck Malloch

Circuits and Code 2016S

Denizens of M5 and other interested people – rejoice!

Another exciting term at UMass is coming to a close, and with it three amazing prospects:

  • SDP Demo Days – Senior Design Project extravaganza (about which see,
  • summer vacation, but, most importantly,
  • Circuits and Code! People that have been making stuff at M5 – especially students in the Design Projects course ECE297DP – will be presenting their work on Saturday, April 23, from 1 to 4, in Euler’s Good Room at M5 in the Marcus basement. Community members will be welcome to come and see the projects, and there will be refreshments available.

If you’ve been working on something cool and want a forum wherein you can brag about it, Circuits and Code is just what you’ve been looking for!

Chuck Malloch

mbed Discussions and Workshops

M5 is hosting discussions during the Spring 2016 term addressing mbed-enabled ARM-based microcontrollers. On Wednesday afternoons at 2:30 we will be working with STM Nucleo microcontrollers and will address hardware and software issues. More details and a reading list are posted at For more information, visit the link or contact Chuck Malloch (CBMalloch /

Academic credit for tech explorations

chuck-malloch6 Feb 2016

Dear ECE students:

Here is yet another fantastic opportunity for you to expand your tech knowledge (and land those amazing internships and jobs): Chuck Malloch, ECE-lecturer-extraordinaire, is offering you, the lucky ECE student, the opportunity to get support and academic credit for extra tech work/play: ECE 297DP, 1 credit, pass/fail. Obviously. add/drop is over but Chuck can late-add you if you act FAST… by FAST I mean you must meet him at M5 today, Saturday, 6 Feb 2016 (2:30-4:30)… or, at the very latest, on Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016 (2:30-4:30). 

>>>>>> You will find Chuck’s announcement below. Please read it carefully as it explains the difference between his Wednesday and Saturday sections. 

Cheers, Baird

Baird Soules

…………………..Begin forwarded message: ……………………

From: Charles B. Malloch, PhD
CBMalloch at umass dot edu

2016 Spring Term — M5 According to Chuck

I (Chuck Malloch) will be available at M5 on Wednesdays and Saturdays this term. My core hours will be 2:30-4:30, but I will usually be here by 1 on Wednesdays and by 2 on Saturdays.

The ECE297DP course is offered as always for individuals with interest in completing independent projects. In addition, I will be hosting a workshop series on Wednesdays, exploring the ARM mbed initiative.

What is the ARM mbed initiative, you ask?

Look at for the official details. The short version is that these folks have identified a bunch of microcontroller boards that can be used in the development and deployment of embedded systems. Think automotive, industrial, instrumentation, and medical systems, for example. Also Internet of Things. The mbed idea is to provide a simple path to programming all these different systems with portable tools and code.

What will we be doing with mbed?

The Wednesday time slot will be primarily a workshop series for the mbeds. We’ll start by looking at the STI nucleo 32-bit boards and programming them using the on-line tools. Next, we’ll set up the freeware Eclipse development environment on our PCs and using that to work with the Nucleos, making up various tasks as homework exercises. While I will be emphasizing high-level programming techniques, we will most likely address many hardware-level concerns as well.

So how will ECE297DP be run this term?

As I indicated above, the Wednesday section will be workshop. Students in this section will be expected to attend that session each week, and do homework assignments in between. Nucleo development boards will be made available to the students enrolled in this section.

The Saturday section will be devoted to students with independent projects, as usual. Students will be expected to attend each weekly session and to make consistent effort on their projects.

All students will be expected to spend at least two hours each week on project work outside of the session meeting time.

 Students enrolled in ECE297DP will be required to prepare and deliver a 5-minute lightning talk (exactly 20 slides, exactly 5 minutes, auto-advance) at the mid-term point, present their finished project at Circuits and Code (the Saturday afternoon coinciding with SDP days), and submit a final report describing their project and their adventures in working on it.

See more soon on the M5 web site! C’mon down and join the fun. We’ll be looking at 32-bit mbed microcontrollers, Eclipse, SPI communications, C++, and will be having planned and ad-hoc adventures in all these areas.

       Chuck Malloch

Charles B. Malloch, PhD

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

M5, 5 Marcus Building

University of Massachusetts / Amherst

Win an internship at CERN

If you are a monster coder, you might be interested in this contest to streamline code used in a project to simulate the human brain. CERN and Intel are putting on the competition; whoever submits the fastest equivalent code will win either a visit or an internship at CERN. It’s not directly ECE, but I know some denizens of M5 who are mighty good codeslingers.

M5 Discussions

M5 is hosting discussions during the Fall 2015 term addressing several aspects of the Internet of Things. On Tuesday afternoons at 2:30, we will be discussing wireless communications in the context of smart sensors. On Wednesday afternoons at 2:30 we will be discussing issues of battery operation for wireless operation of smart sensors. More details and a reading list are posted at For more information, visit the link or contact Chuck Malloch (CBMalloch /

Circuits and Code – Spring 2015

imageCircuits and Code is coming! The end-of-term exposition of M5, its students, projects, and other amazing technological whizbangery is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, starting at 10AM at M5. There will be posters a presentation, and some delicious snacks. Please sign up using EventBrite (<link pending>) so we know how many people are coming!

If you have spent time at M5 this term, and would like to present your work, please use this template. Complete the template and get it to me by Wednesday for approval before I give it to Professor Soules at 3:00.

The 1:30 PM presentation by Chuck Malloch will feature Ultra Violet, the teleoperated robot M5 has made in collaboration with the Theater Department, and the differences between a project made for one’s own use and one made for delivery to another party.

See you there! Again, please sign up using EventBrite (<link pending>) so we know how many people are coming!

— Chuck Malloch