M5 Saturday Arduino Workshops


Alex Maerko EE ’15
Arduino Controlled 3x3x3 LED Cube

Richard Mpanga CS ’15 and Albert Ung CS ’15
Blinking LEDs

Jose LaSalle EE ’16 will continue hosting Saturday Arduino Workshops in M5 from noon-3pm.

For those who are interested, stop by! And feel free to email Jose with any questions:


Alex_3x3x3_LED_Cube Richard_Albert_Blinking_LEDs



ECE students got up bright and early Thursday morning to meet the latest member of the faculty: Dr. Daniel Holcomb.


Thursday, January 29, 8:30 – 9:30 AM, at M5 (lower level of Marcus Hall – Room 5)


Before arriving in Amherst this winter, Dr. Holcomb was as a research fellow at the University of Michigan, where he did research on medical security, embedded systems and security, and approximate computing. His research interests also include physical unclonable functions, cyber-physical systems, applied formal methods, and VLSI design. His Ph.D. is from the University of California at Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. His B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering, summa cum laude, as well as his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering were earned at UMass Amherst.

Students enjoyed some Bruegger’s bagels and coffee and learned about Prof. Holcomb’s engineering career and current research projects.

This event was hosted by Prof. Baird Soules, director of M5.

Circuits and Code — Fall 2014

imageCircuits and Code is coming! The end-of-term exposition of M5, its students, projects, and other amazing technological whizbangery is scheduled for Thursday, 4 December 2014, starting at 6PM at M5. There will be pizza, posters, and a presentation. Please sign up using EventBrite (circuitsandcode-dec2014.eventbrite.com) 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 7:30 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 (circuitsandcode-dec2014.eventbrite.com) so we know how many people are coming!

— Chuck Malloch

Nico’s Pick-Up

pickup_2 pickup_3 pickup_1

Project: Single string guitar & pick-up.
Contributors: Nico Blase [EE ’16] & Jose LaSalle [EE ’16]
Explanation: A magnet is placed in a coil of wire such that a large magnetic field is imposed within the coil. We know that fluctuations in a coil’s magnetic field induces a voltage and mutually arising current.
So how does the magnetic field in our coil change? By plucking the metal string! When we strum the string, its vibrations effect the magnetic field at the frequency to which it is tuned (around hundreds of times per second). This, in turn, is picked up by the coil. The result is an voltage across and current through the coil that represents the sound of the vibrating string. All that’s left to do after that is to plug that into an amplifier and crank up the gain!

Micromouse Update

Andrew Sousa EE ’15 has been busy working on an amazing little maze-solving robot – a Micromouse.But what is a Micromouse you ask? A Micromouse is an autonomous robot that navigates a 16 x 16 maze, finds the center, and then calculates the quickest route to the middle, from the starting point.

Micromouse Update
As Andrew explains, “We are using stepper motors, an Arduino Mega, and various other components to achieve this goal. The IEEE Micromouse competition is an international challenge which was started by the IEEE in London back in 1987. Currently IEEE holds regional, national, and international Micromouse competitions; and the way to move onto the next one is to win at each level! UMass IEEE is entering a mouse into the R1(Region 1) competition for the first time in more than 3 years, better yet, we have two teams from UMass competing! If we do well in this one, we will move on to the national competition and eventually the international version, provided we can perform.”Keep up the great work!

For more info, seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromouse

M5 SPOTLIGHT: Christian Haughwout ChE & Physics ’15

M5 SPOTLIGHT: Christian Haughwout ChE & Physics ’15
This game is based on Lunar Lander, a 1979 Atari video game where the player has to control the flight of a small spacecraft as it descends to the surface of the moon. The game was constucted by Christian Haughwout ChE and Physics-2015 and Bob Jeffway CSE ’77, and uses an Arduino and a digital potentiometer to generate an analog signal which can then be displayed on an old school CRT oscilloscope set on X-Y mode. A PS-2 controller joystick maneuvers the spacecraft while an Atmega328 is used to playback recordings of actual Apollo sounds.


Senior Design Project Expo

Another year, another batch of graduating seniors displaying the best and brightest of projects. Last Saturday, the basement of Marcus Hall was converted into a design exposition featuring thirteen project from ECE’s outgoing seniors. The event went from 11-2PM, and the house was full the entire time. Children, grandparents, faculty, students, and purely interested people shuffled around the lower-level corridor in awe of the spectacular ideas brought to life by UMass’ own.


Many projects, like the EZ Parking System had obvious potential for mass implementation. The idea was put into real-world use by Krysten Moore, Myron Tan, Felix Lam, and Chi Ito Liem. The group was inspired by EZ Pass transponders, ubiquitous on the Mass Pike. It consists of an RFID transponder fixed to the windshield of a vehicle, and a receiver situated at a parking spot. The two radios communicate, automatically debiting a user’s account to pay for parking. The system was designed to remedy the issue of running out of time at a parking meter. Real life testing in Downtown Amherst was completed by the group, and they feel confident that it could be easily implemented in such a scenario.


Perhaps one of the most elaborate and eye-catching displays was the Real-Time Concussion Analyzer. The analyzer is a system designed by Scott Rosa, Kenny Van Tassell, Tim Coyle, and Justin Kober in response to the recent unearthing of a serious risk of brain injury among NFL players. The helmet collects data in real time, processed through a concussion detection algorithm, and sends reports to a coach’s Android device on the sidelines. The group decided to focus on high school and Pop Warner football, hoping to develop a more affordable alternative to a $5,000 system that performs similar functions. The RCA costs about $96.





Tim Hill, Shuwen Cao, Melissa Lau, and Andy Yee’s TAKtile seeks to incorporate a capacitive touchpad in a keyboard. Lau explains that she wanted to mix the world of a touch keyboard and a physical keyboard. As a result, the TAKtile provides both tactile feedback and touch capabilities in one device. It allows the user to click and scroll using the same surface that they type on. Additionally, the group hopes to incorporate multi-touch gestures, like those found on iOS and Android devices, that allow the user to perform a variety of tasks.


The SBox seeks to solve the ever-present problem of public bacchanalianism. Fabien Ahmed, Yulia Bulgakova, Arber Doci, and Christos Mpelkas created a system that uses an NFC tag (like one found on a phone) to monitor a user’s consumption of alcohol at an event. At each purchase, the vendor uses SBox to scan a user’s NFC tag. The system will then check if a user is “allowed” to buy another drink based on a predetermined limit set by the vendor.


Children with disabilities were the inspiration for John Jackson, Kyle George, Srideep Maulik, and Soaib Rashid’s Assisted Music Player. The AMP provides oppurtunities for independent stress, anxiety, and depression relief. The system consists of a stuffed bear outfitted with external speakers and LEDs that provide calming visual stimulation.


Children were also the inspiration for Joel Jean-Claude, Sachin honnudike, Anita Ganesan, and Eric Moore’s ClockAide. The ClockAide helps students how to read and set time on an analog clock. Each student is given a unique ID number, and they are allowed to practice reading and setting time. It has a quiz mode, and speaks and displays the current time to the user when prompted.


The PBB, or Personal Black Box, does what you would think: it captures data from a user’s surroundings. Ryan Holmes, Jack Vorwald, Mike Burns, and Brett Kaplan were inspired by the Trayvon Martin Case. It is there hope that a device that captures auditory data from the last minutes before a crime is committed will help the courts when little first-hand evidence is otherwise available.


Simon Belkin, Audrey Finken, Grand George, and Matthew Walczak designed a multispectral camera designed to be an option to outfit on a vehicle similar to the Mars Rover. The system is designed to perform analysis of samples at close to medium distances. Additionally, the group hopes that their system would allow amateur scientists to expand their hobby in an affordable way.


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The SFD seeks to remedy a problem plagued by swimmers: keeping time while underwater. The system consists of a pressure mat mounted to the pool wall, and a waterproof clock installed at the bottom of the pool. As a swimmer pushes off the wall, the pressure sensor is triggered, and they are able to see their time on the clock at the bottom of the pool.


The PowerPi by Chris Finn, Paulo Leal, Tim Mirabito, and Kevin Okiah helps users monitor the power consumption in their home. The device stores data and reports it back to the user in an understandable way, through a software application. Additionally, the system allows users to switch outlets on and off from the web-based interface.


The B.I.G. by Mike Barber, Trevor Elkins, Justin Mills, and Derek Thrasher seeks to help users learn a new skill faster. The B.I.G. consists of a guitar with an LED-equipped fretboard, strum detection, fret detection, and error feedback. The system combines these components to provide feedback and instruction, helping the user learn how to play guitar faster and easier than ever before possible.




The MARS is an avalanche-detection system designed around multiple components to help a user in the event of an avalanche.



With James cassell, Roland Du, Lawrence Hui, and Andrew Santos’ Fully Operational Opponent System, you can play foosball with an expert even if your skills are subpar. The system uses motors to push, pull, and rotate the goalie bar to allow handicapping of a game. Additionally, it implements image tracking software to track the location of the ball.