Capstone Senior Design Project Selections from Recent Years

Front-End Protection for Data Acquisition

Team Members: Sylvia Ferragut, Caleb Wright, and Ben Veltman, Electrical Engineering; Matthew Zawisza, Computer Engineering
Advisor: Duane Bucheger, Electrical and Computer
Engineering
Sponsor: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Project Overview:
Often devices under test can behave in erratic ways, resulting in catastrophic damage to
expensive test equipment. By designing specifications based on National Instruments’
limitations and typical automotive testing requirements, the team created a buffer box to protect from over-voltage and add layers of isolation. The buffer box, used in conjunction with the $50k–$500k tools being regularly used by the automotive industry, is a simple tool, which can be used by a wide range of people with varying levels of expertise to keep expenses down.

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 Smart Grid Home Energy Management Application

Team Members: Matthew Alessi, Benjamin Ginnow, Amanda Rueff, and Noah Hagman, Electrical Engineering; Andrew
Hanson, Computer Engineering
Advisor: Don Moore, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: Consumers Energy

Project Overview:
Over the next several years, Consumers Energy will continue to deploy smart metering technology infrastructure throughout the regions it serves within the state of Michigan. The opportunity exists to employ smart metering infrastructure and mobile devices to benefit households within Consumers Energy’s region of operation. Consumers Energy
has challenged our team to develop a smartphone application that provides customers with an
interactive way to understand their home energy usage. This application will provide users with
the ability to view energy usage statistics over a user-defined time period, connect to a centralized household communication hub to control energy usage within users’ homes, and provide energy saving goals and opportunities.

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Geomagnetically-Induced Current Monitoring

Team Members: Rion Mott, Evan Bajek, Michael Spenle, and Daryl Bennet, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: John Lukowski, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: ITC Holdings


Project Overview
ITC Holdings is the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company. ITC has
transmission systems throughout the Midwest and supply a peak load over 25,000 megawatts.
Geomagnetically-Induced Current (GIC) is a phenomenon caused when solar winds interact
with the earth’s magnetosphere causing DC currents to be created in AC transmission lines that can damage transformers and other equipment. Transformers and GIC mitigation are both expensive. A GIC monitoring system can determine what protection and mitigation is required for ITC’s transmission system. The project is a continuation from last year to further develop a system not only to detect GIC but also communicate this data using the existing ITC networks.

System to Measure the Effectiveness of a Rail Shunt

Team Members: Samuel Scott, Alexander Pate, Frank BeFay, and Sean Massey, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Duane Bucheger, Electrical and Computer
Engineering
Sponsors: Union Pacific Railroad, Michigan Tech Rail
Transportation Program, National University Rail
Center (NURail))

Project Overview:
Our objective is to develop a system to measure the effectiveness of a rail shunt. Signalmen utilize rail shunts to test functionality of rail systems and calibrate signal equipment. The new system will provide immediate feedback and inform the signalmen when a good shunt is achieved. Railroads use different signals flowing through them to detect existing trains. Rail shunts are used to simulate a train so that an actual train doesn’t enter the area being repaired or calibrated. By retrofitting  a rail shunt using custom integrated circuitry and a micro-controller, we’ve developed a tool that not only effectively shunts the line, but also indicates when a good connection has been established.

Wireless Data Acquisition and Signal Processing Using Mobile Devices

Wireless Data Acquisition and Signal Processing Using Mobile Devices (Fishfinder)

Team Members

Yixiong (Elliot) Tang, Brian Vandevoorde, and Shane
Clifford, Electrical Engineering; Kyle Krueger and
Josh Frankovich, Computer Engineering

Advisor

Duane Bucheger, Electrical and Computer
Engineering

Sponsor

ZTA Technologies LLC

Project Overview

Our team determined the feasibility of creating a prototype of a wireless mobile fishfinder. The unit will look to use a commercially available sonar transducer and transmit the signal wirelessly to a smartphone to be processed.

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Intelligent Railroad Signal Maintainer

Intelligent Railroad Signal Maintainer

Team Members

Will Dallmann and Ron Campbell, Electrical
Engineering; Katherine May and Michael Mandalari,
Computer Engineering

Advisor

Duane Bucheger, Electrical and Computer
Engineering

Sponsor

Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad,
and Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program

Project Overview

In the rail industry, maintenance crews oftentimes have to disable railroad crossing signals in order to work on track near the crossing signal. The crews disable the crossing signals using jumper cables to deactivate the crossing signal system. Very rarely these jumper cables are forgotten, leaving the possibility of a train passing through a disabled crossing signal. Our goal is to develop a solution that could minimize the human error involved with forgotten jumper cables and use this solution to improve the safety of the public and rail industry.

Locomotive Sanding Container Level Sensing

Locomotive Sanding Container Level Sensing
Team Members

Andrew Ranta, Justin Breeland, Jacob Glair, Kellen Murray, and Meng Yang, Electrical Engineering; Jeff
Langlois, Computer Engineering

Advisor

Duane Bucheger

Sponsor

Union Pacific

Project Overview

Under conditions requiring improved acceleration, locomotives use compressed air to spray sand in front of the drive wheels. Such systems are referred to as “sanders” by the industry and are mandated by federal regulation. The sand is stored onboard the locomotive in tanks or sand boxes, and refilling
these tanks is performed at a rail yard via a sanding tower. Our team will be implementing a remotesensing system to detect sand levels in each of the sanding containers on the GE AC4400 locomotive. The data will be displayed to allow for quick and safe assessment of sand levels..

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Breaker Wear Monitoring

First Place Award Overall for Breaker Wear Monitoringthe 2013 Michigan Tech Undergraduate Expo
Team Members

Beau Baldwin, Matt Boersema, Nathan Rogers, Sarah Wells, and Elias Whitley, Electrical
Engineering

Advisor

 John Lukowski

Sponsor

ITC Holdings and Mitsubishi Electric

Project Overview

Our goal is to create a setup to test a Mitsubishi 120SFMT40J transmission breaker at low voltage/high current (40,000A) (LVHC) and to use interruption data from specific ITC breakers to estimate percent wear based on a new Mitsubishi wear curve. The LVHC test will use an SEL-351-s relay, determined to be the best by a previous Senior Design team, to monitor the current and the corresponding interruption. We want to verify that the wear-accumulation program on the relay is functioning as specified.

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