Another semester's worth of cool microcontroller projects has come to a close at Cornell University and Bruce Land sent us the results for the Spring 2008 ECE 4760 course:
Students in ECE 4760 at Cornell University were given the responsibility of choosing, designing and building a project using Atmel Mega32 microcontrollers. Over 30 projects this year include a trumpet MIDI contoller, a motorized guitar tuner, a eyeblink/head-motion computer controller, Biometric Authentication system, and a rocket inertial guidance system.
There are a number of projects worth commenting on, but I really thought the rocket guidance system that one of the teams created was a particularly smart idea. It's a bit of a misnomer - it's not the rocket that's guided during flight, but the post-flight payload. The microcontroller, an accelerometer and two stepper motors are employed to steer a simplified parafoil-style parachute on the descent, ideally delivering the payload to a specified location, such as the launch point.
It sounds like this particular project had some launch-day engine malfunctions, but the idea is great. Something like this could someday be used to help direct food payloads and other cargo drops to a specific, controlled destination.
I think this marks 10 years worth of great work that's been documented online for this course. As always, these projects are incredibly well documented, both on the hardware and software side.
Cornell University ECE 4760 Student Microcontroller Projects
Rocket Inertial Navigation System