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Time for Australian electronics students to shine

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AFTER months of searching, Electronics News has found the best examples of innovative Australian and New Zealand electronics engineering to highlight in the 2006 EDN Innovation Awards.

A stellar group of judges has also been assembled to select the best of the best. The judging panel for this year comprises Emeritus Professor Trevor Cole from the University of Sydney’s School of Electrical and Information Engineering; Matthew Henderson, managing director of Australian Technology Connections; Dr Alex Zelinsky, director of the CSIRO ICT Centre ; and Steven Keeping, Electronics News contributing editor.

All of this would not be possible without the support of the sponsors – National Instruments , Adilam , Altium , Arrow Electronics , Braemac , Soanar , Tyco Electronics – and the endorsement of industry organisations – the Australian Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association and Electronics Industry Association.

The finalists listed below are now in the running for the Best Student Project award, sponsored by Altium. The winner will be announced during a gala dinner on 5 July as part of the 2006 Technology Futures Conference at the Melbourne Crown Casino Complex . They will also be listed in the August issue of Electronics News.

Alfonso M Ocon III, Paolo Santos and Tony Tanoyo; RMIT University; Real-time control system for brushless DC motor in brake-by-wire applications

This research project involved investigating the design, simulation, implementation and validation of a proposed control system for a brushless DC motor in brake-by-wire applications. The student team designed and developed mathematical models and software/hardware aspects of the electromechanical brakes. The final product uses simulink models, xPC target, digital hardware, software applications and a brushless DC motor.

Peter Young; University of Adelaide ; Electrostatic loudpeaker

The aim of this project was to develop an electrostatic loudspeaker that could be incorporated in an audio system that was affordable to the general public. The student addressed all the inherent problems of electrostatic loudspeakers and has made significant inroads to solving them. He broke new ground in the physical construction of electrostatic speakers, impedance matching of the speakers to the power amplifier, the design parameters of the power amplifier, and the overall frequency response of electrostatic speakers. The completed project involved the construction of the loudspeaker, and the tensioning of the membranes and insulation of all exposed metal parts to reduce the risk of injury. All electronic circuitry, the DC power supply, the power amplifier and transformer impedance matching were also completed.

Daniel Stephenson; La Trobe University; Remote programmable logic controller

The remote programmable logic controller (RPLC) is an original project concept. The idea for the system came to the student as a result of time spent working with PLCs in an industrial environment. He noticed that some simple (yet critical) machines were controlled from expensive, ineffective and overly sophisticated control systems. The RPLC is a modular microprocessor based controller aimed at low level, general purpose control applications. Such applications may involve monitoring field devices as well as switching of light and potentially heavy AC or DC electrical loads. The advantage of using a system such as the RPLC is the ability to perform this control remotely over an RF link. The hardware prototype at the centre of this project has been designed to roughly emulate the functions, and modular design of other low level PLC products.

Simon Blyth and Kelly Poole; University of New South Wales; Design of three ZigBee systems

The focus of this final year project was the research and development of three distinct ZigBee systems (comprising a total of four PCBs) using a modular design methodology. Two systems are for use in educational institutions and one is for industrial automation. All systems were designed as commercially viable projects; designed and built from the ground up, focusing on hardware implementation. In addition to ZigBee, key technologies include an LCD touch screen, hardware for audio streaming, USB and CAN interface. These three systems have been successfully implemented, including PC application software and can operate at over 650m. The students’ thesis based on their project won the IEE Australian Thesis Competition and will compete in the international round in November.

Simon Dunn; Curtin University of Technology ; Converting analogue tapes to enhanced Daisy digital talking books for the blind

The aim of this project was to convert to a digital format the current library of audio cassettes that the Association for the Blind of Western Australia provides for vision impaired clients around the state. The raw audio was then modified to the current standard for Digital Talking Books, known as Daisy. The method of conversion included the development of a USB interface device to allow the connection of high speed duplicating equipment to connect directly to the computers. The primary purpose of this audio digitisation project is preservation and playback of the legacy audio contents on ether a MAC- or Windows-based machine.

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