Tag Archives: The Future


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.

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.”









The Future – Linux

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 🙂

This Thursday 6-9pm and Saturday 12-3pm, I’ll be hosting the first of two Linux workshops. This first week will be an intro to linux based operating systems and a couple of hugely important but relatively basic command line actions. We’ll be using live CDs running Ubuntu for both weeks.

Linux has been hugely successful as far as efficiency is concerned but remains difficult to use for most. Come to this workshop to clear away the confusion! It will boost your resume skills, teach you enough that all UNIX based systems will make less confusion, and expose the awesomeness of the command line!

Send any questions to smklaiber (at) gmail.com



The Future – Arduino Workshop

Ahh, the Arduino. M5 loves it. It has sort of become to us what wikipedia is for new topic research. It’s been described on the Arduino homepage as “an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments”. Since I often find myself describing gadgets by their functionality, I struggle with this one just because it has tendrils in so many different places. At it’s core is an 8-bit microcontroller but its success comes mostly from how simple it is to program and get electronics projects working quickly.

This Thursday from 6 to 9pm and Saturday from noon to 3pm, I’ll be hosting an Arduino workshop. Anyone can come to the workshop but due to limited resources there will be a sign-up. Expect an email within the next fews days with more details.

If you’re confused what the Arduino can do, here‘s a (slightly) aged list of some of the best projects as listed by hacknmod.com.



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!

The Future – Make Your Own PCB

This upcoming Thursday from 6-9 and Saturday 12-3 (aka, the “hacker times”), ALL INTERESTED STUDENTS have the opportunity to learn how to fabricate their own PCB’s using the ‘toner transfer method‘! Even if you missed the maker times for learning how to design PCB’s with Eagle, you can still come to this.

No matter what field of electrical or computer engineering you’re interested in, home PCB fabrication like we’ll be doing will be useful at some point in time (probably a good deal of times).


PCBs or Printed Circuit Boards are the ‘board’ part of every ‘circuit board’. If you open the case on any electronics device, you will find a circuit board inside. Strip off all of the components on the circuit board (if you have lots of spare time) and you will be left with the PCB. Learning how to make these at your home will save lots of time and money when making high quality circuits. Or if you’re in SDP and don’t have time or money before FDR…

Also, M5 is getting a laminator to make the process easier than ever before!


Above is an example of what we’ll be making

Hoping your living arrangement has heat,



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’…