Tag Archives: Cool Projects


Moving data across a wire, definitely cool.  Doing it wirelessly?  Even better.  Doing it (legally) at ranges exceeding 2 miles?  The best.  You can do it easily with these guys:  The XBee radios from Digi, at prices ranging from $19 bucks and up.  With a little bit of cash, some research online, and a few hours on a rainy day, you can port all sorts of data via these guys.  There are many different flavors of XBee, from the simple point to point, the standard range vs. long range, Series1 and Series2, or even Mesh networking.  It’s all just so cool!  Here’s a pic of an XBee Series 2 Pro ZB radio on the Ladyada 5 volt logic converter board pulling duty on SDP Team SAFE-T’s project (check out all Senior Design Projects here:http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp12/).  Neat stuff. (and so tiny!)


If you are interested in working with the XBee radios, check out Digi’s website located here:


(HEY! While you are there, why don’t you check out some of the other cool stuff they’ve got!)




UMass Amherst engineering students get into Intel sponsored competition

In exactly 5 months and 7 days, two senior design project teams along with their faculty advisers from our ECE department will be participating in the Intel-sponsored Cornell Cup USA competition that will be taking place at Disney World!!!!!

The two teams are the Automated Aero-Painting System (AAPS) and the Augmented Reality teams, whose advisors are Professor Moritz (with Professor Grupen from the Compsci department serving as co-advisor) and Professor Wolf, respectively. To find out more about these teams and their projects visit the links bellow:

AAPS –  http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp12/moritz/

Augmented Reality – http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp12/wolf/

For those who don’t know about the Intel sponsored college-level embedded design competition please visit http://www.systemseng.cornell.edu/intel/. The competition is a great way to apply the skills you attained throughout your college career, and it is an exciting way to wrap up your college career as well. I mean its Disney World!!!



-Edmar G.

Tubs of M5

Come to M5 and take a nice soothing bath…. NOT!

Tubs at M5 aren’t for taking care of your personal hygiene, we assume you’re at college so you are capable of doing that yourself!  I’m talking about these tubs:

If you’re working on a project and need a spare part, or helping out a DP class and need that 9pin to 34.52 pin Serial to ethernet adapter with three red blinky lights, chances are that we have it in one of these tubs.  If you are unsure whether the part you’re snagging needs to remain in M5, just ask a staff member!  So have fun taking your projects to new levels with some of the neat stuff at M5!


Haaaave you met Sean?


Mister Sean Moritz Klaiber. What a guy. What a guy.

You probably don’t know this, but SEAN actually stands for “Surreptitiously Eavesdroppey And Nosy.”

“It does,” says Sean. He’s got eyes – and ears – and he knows how to use them. He’s kinda sneaky. He knows everything about you. Yes, you. Everything. He was a failed government spy project; it turns out he was just too nosy for the government to control. So now, we’ve got him. Win.

You may have seen Sean hanging around M5. For you freshmen readers, he’s the dude that makes announcements often during the Engin 112 lab, and occasionally helps out during the lab. He’s got a long and colorful history, but lately he’s been running workshops at M5: EAGLE and toner transfer using the laminating machine, for DIY PCB awesomeness; intro to Arduino; magnetism and DIY inductors; Linux; and a “Hidden Sounds” workshop which dealt with identifying signals that are always present around us and pulling them into the audio range. Cool stuff. If you’re around on Thursday night or Saturday afternoons, be sure to catch his next workshop.

Sean currently plays the trombone and keyboard in Bella’s Bartok. “I write like, all the songs,” he says. All the good ones. They’re a pretty rad band, in my opinion. My favorite song of theirs is “Science.” You should listen to it. They’re also coming out with an album before New Year’s. If you’re around this weekend, they’re playing at the Iron Horse in Northampton the day after Thanksgiving. See their page here: http://www.bellasbartok.com/

So Sean, what are you plans for the future? “The freaking Bella’s Bartok album. And I need to take the GREs.”

The GREs? Are you planning on attending grad school, Sean? “I keep going back and forth, so it makes sense to just take them.”

Sean’s also working on DIY things for live music. Two of his current projects are speaker balloons (yes, balloons of the party variety that can act as speakers) and a plunger mic for his trombone, with effects.

So, that was Present-Sean, and Future-Sean. Now let’s talk about Past-Sean.

Sean grew up in the town of Northborough, Mass., which is just a little northeast of Worcester. By his own admission, his high school days were normal and boring, marked primarily by his preoccupation with music: he played the trombone in the school jazz bands, cello in the orchestra, dabbled in both electric and upright bass with his spare moments, and frolicked with the keyboard from time to time. Oh-so-normal and boring, by day. We all know that Sean was saving the world by night, utilizing his awesomely nosy eavesdropping powers to conduct secret spy missions for the good of all mankind. You should ask him about it sometime.

When he arrived here at good ole’ UMass Amherst, he decided on EE as a major: he was good at math, and he really liked music. It seemed the logical choice. In 2008, Professor T. B. Soules hired him as a staff member of the fledgeling M5 makerspace project. Much like how the responsibilities of the “M5 Staff Member” are largely unknown even today, Sean’s role back in 2008 was just as varied and mysterious.

His favorite class in his undegrad years was DSP, Digital Signal Processing. Why, you ask? The reason: Professor Kelly. “Really freaking informative,” says Sean. In the classroom, he wanders with a purposeful stride onto relevantly tangential topics, guiding students towards signal processing nirvana with the poise and skill befitting of a wise and experienced professor. His class is a masterpiece. It was fun. It was an experience, highly educational. Sean also just really enjoys signal processing.

For his senior design project, his group developed a physical therapy device called MAPT: Motion Analysis for Physical Therapy. It basically records and analyzes the technique of a patient during his or her physical therapy session, comparing it to a pre-recorded therapy sequence. The information can then later be viewed by a physical therapist for a more in-depth analysis. See their website here: http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp10/soules/

He graduated with his UMass Amherst EE degree in February of 2011. Do you have any comment on this, Mr. Sean? “Magna cum laude, beaches.”

In the Summer of 2010, he designed the Klaiber1, a musical drum machine. The ins and outs of this machine were taught to Springfield middle school students during a summer camp program; they were introduced to the awesome world of electrical and computer engineering and had fun doing it. The children proudly built and took home the beat machines, with the guidance of Sean and his fellow staff. He repeated this summer camp the next year in 2011 with a new machine, the Spinning Drum Machine 1, which is based on a spinning disc and infrared light sensor concept. There was an article about Sean and the Spinning Drum Machine 1 featured on the College of Engineering site. Sick. Read it here: http://www.engineering.umass.edu/news/m5-marches-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer

Between September 2010 and March 2011, Sean worked with CASA, “Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere” located in KEB. Their purpose is tornado detection through infrasound, with the goal of tornado prediction to increase response time in preparation for incoming tornadoes. So here’s basically how it works: “All tornadoes give off pressure wave energy around 1 Hz, which is in the infrasound or sub-audio range. Lower frequencies can transmit great distances: infrasound around 1 Hz can transmit about 1000 km. It can be hard to pinpoint the tornado’s location, but through triangulation we hope to get pretty close.”

Infrasound – like dub-step? BWONGG wubwubwubwub BHOOOmmmm. Wubwubwub.

“Tornadoes created dub-step, yo.”









CIRCUITS and CODE Fall 2011






Come see cool projects at M5!  Circuits and Code is our semesterly project showcase.  M5 DP123 projects, some senior design projects, and individual projects will be demonstrated by their creators and inventors.

If you would like to show off a cool project of yours at this year’s C&C, send me an email!

patrick DOT m DOT estabrook AT gmail DOT com


Linux Workshop

“An older computer of mine once had a string of blue death screens and so I deleted Windows. Then installed Ubuntu. Then was happy again :)” ~ Sean Klaiber

On Saturday November 19th, Sean Klaiber hosted the second Linux workshop ever in M5, followed after the first one on Thursday the 17th. With a really cool PowerPoint presentation Sean took 12 engineering students through the basics of Linux based operating systems. Students engaged in basic yet very important command line actions that involved creating/deleting files/directories, directory navigation, sorting words within a text file and more.

So, Sean, why Linux?

Well…”Linux has been hugely successful as far as efficiency is concerned but remains difficult to use for most”. With this workshop Sean hoped to clear away some of the confusion and give students the opportunity to “boost their resume skills, teach them enough that all UNIX like systems will make less confusion, and expose the awesomeness of the command line”.

The presentation slides will be posted on M5’s website soon for those of you who would like to take a peek at them. For more info, reach out to Sean.

Attenders: Shamit Som (EE ’14), Matthew Wojick (EE ’15), Trevor Elkins (CSE ’13), Fabien Ahmed (EE & Physics ’13), Michael Brown (EE ’15), Colin Morrisseau (EE ’15), Andrew Sousa (EE ’15), Scott Arnold-Stanton (EE ’14), Guillermo Velasco (CSE ’14), Sharon Santana (CSE ’15), Chris Paika (CSE ’15) and Christian Haughwout (PoliSci & ChmE ’15).

-Edmar G.



MIDI ArcAYde – The First M5 Arduino Shield

Did you ever play an old PacMan arcade game and think, “Wow those sounds are awesome!  If only I could make them with an Arduino shield and a MIDI controller…”

Your prayers have been answered.  The AY chip is an arcade sound chip used to generate effects and music for a number of old arcade and console games.  M5ers made a circuit last spring that takes in MIDI information, such as that from a keyboard controller, and translates it into AY chip-speak.

The end result?  You can play note on a MIDI keyboard and generate big buzzy awesome arcade sounds.  All you need is an Arduino with the right software on it, our MIDI ArcAYde shield (get it?) and a MIDI controller, all of which we have at M5.  So come check it out!

Your M5

If you haven’t checked out M5’s WordPress Blog before, welcome!  This is where the staff will be updating the happenings of M5.  Don’t be a Scrooge! Check here daily to see what is the ghost of M5 past, present, and future. (You see what I did there?)

So Fall 2011 is half way over!  Its time (already!) to start picking next semester’s classes and get your notes together for finals.  We are going to be doing the same thing here at M5!  We want to make Spring 2012 at M5 the most student interactive it has ever been.  To do this, we’ll be continuing some of our great programs, clubs, workshops and Saturday hours, but we want to serve you better by knowing what YOU want.  If you have any ideas, we will be looking for them in the M5 suggestions mailbox, located at the main entrance.  Whether you think M5 needs to build a Hadron Collider, or just needs to add a part to the Part Wall, all ideas, suggestions, and feedback will help us get Spring 2012 rockin’ and rollin’…