Proposed Design Projects


Title: Supermileage Vehicle
Client: Mechanical Engineering
Supervisor: Dr. Julio Militzer
Project description:
The supermileage vehicle has been an ongoing ME design project for many years. Recently, in 1996, we finished 3rd with 780 mi/USgal, in 1997 we won the competition with 992 mi/US gal and last year we managed to finish 3rd with 560 mi/USgal. We had high hopes for last year's entry, however last minute unforeseen difficulties prevented us from confirming our favouritism. The objective this year is to modify last year's car by correcting some problems as well as carrying out dynamometer and road tests to compare the car's performance before and after the modifications, so that we can be sure of the improvements introduced. We plan on returning to Marshal Michigan for next year's competition with confidence that we can significantly improve on last year's result. This is a project that requires interest, dedication and enthusiasm from all members of the team. In addition to the technical activities, students will have to be involved in fund raising as well as PR. More details about the car can be found in the ME home page (www.me. tuns.ca) under Supermileage Car. Note: We will have a presentation of the car in its present state to be followed by a discussion of the proposed modifications, at a time to be announced during the first week of classes.


Title : HyPower Fuel Project
Clients: The MettNet Institute (contact Janet Peace - phone 826 7254.) and HyPower Fuel - Phone (403) 215 3485, email: hfc@canuck.com
Supervisors: Julio Militzer and Ismet Ugursal.
Project Description :
The High Power Pak uses patented technology to release hydrogen and oxigen in a unit installed by the diesel engine of a large truck. The hydrogen is then used by the internal combustion diesel engine to reduce emissions, increase the interval between oil changes, and reduce engine wear and maintenace cost by cleaning up carbon deposits. The proposed project has as its goal the development of a container in which all of the unit's components sit. In addition the HyPower Pak's hydrogen/oxigen mix needs to be further tested and optimizedto reduce combustion waste by as much as 50%.


Title: Lifting device for person afflicted with MS.
Supervisor: Robert Bauer Ext 3942, e-mail Robert.Bauer@dal.ca
Project description:
The following is extracted directly from our correspondance with this person: "So much appreciate your help-- I've sought out agreeable solutions to this lifting situation for some time-- (unsuccessfully). This is essentially what I want. Let me know what you think hopefully we can meet soon & talk in person. My name is Margot Parker and I am a woman on a mission! This mission involves maintaining the dignity in my life while battling the effects of multiple sclerosis. To this end, I need a personal lifting device that will be operated by an assistant and that will lift me to an erect position with NO assistance from my legs. Tall order! This difficult getting-erect situation has been foreseeable for the past few years and so I have researched possible solutions already on the market, and I am certain that a satisfactory device is not out there. A satisfactory device would lift my 100 lb frame without the use of a sling under me. Presently this lifting maneuver is performed by a helper who lifts me until my legs are straight, then pivots and reseats me. This lift is what I need the device to mimic. 1) Helper moves me to edge of chair; then squats so that we are at eye level. 2) Helper places my arms over her shoulders, then holds me tightly to her. 3) Helper then stands herself holding & standing me simultaneously. My helper will operate lifter when it's developed, and be very happy that she no longer must do it herself! Sincerely, Margot Parker " 


Title: Design and Build a Model Aircraft to Maximize Payload Capabilities
Supervisor: Robert Bauer, ext. 3942, email Robert.Bauer@dal.ca
Project description:
Each year the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) sponsors an Aero Design Competition. The objective of this competition is to conceive, design, fabricate, and test-fly a radio controlled model airplane capable of lifting a specified weight subject to several design constraints. The competition tests each team's ability to predict the performance of their original design as well as determines which entry will carry the most weight aloft from a specified length of runway.
This is the first year that Dalhousie is offering this design project; therefore, unless adequate funding can be raised, actual participation in this year's SAE design competition is not required. This year, the design project objective is to use the SAE design constraints and competition rules as a basis for the design, construction and test-flight of a radio controlled model airplane. These design constraints include: the size and make of the engine, type of fuel, type of propeller, cargo bay dimensions, wing area, take-off distance, flight path, and landing distance. The performance of the aircraft can be compared with the SAE competition results to help evaluate the team's design.


Title : Computer Control of Mechanical Systems
Client : Dale Retallack; 494-3170, dale.retallack@dal.ca
Supervisors : Dale Retallack, Ken Wilkie
Project Description :

The central focus would be to retrofit the Department’s RECO Fluid-Power Servo-Control Teaching Unit for computer-based data acquisition and control. As it stands, the Unit enables either of two second-order processes to be controlled by tunable PID controllers, in response to square-wave, triangular-wave, and sine-wave reference-input signals. All of the control functions are performed by analog circuitry, and the Unit requires a separate device ( oscilloscope, ... ) to record any results; the technology is decades old. As is often the case in industrial applications, the task here is to ‘modernize’ the unit, by replacing the old analog control circuitry with computer-based data-acquisition, control, and data-logging & display capabilities. This could be done a) in a DOS-based format, b) through LabWindows CVI, and/or c) through the MATLAB Real-Time Toolbox; in fact, the proposal here is to undertake all 3 configurations and then report the pro’s & con’s and recommendations with respect to these various possibilities. One of the design objectives would be to end up with a general-purpose Data-Acquisition & Control System which would be easily-transportable from one process-control application to another. Another objective would be to understand thoroughly how to work with the MATLAB Real-Time Toolbox, so as to be able to take full advantage of all of MATLAB’s analytical power (via other Toolboxes such as System Identification, Signal Processing, Control Systems, Optimisation, ... , which themselves are not intended necessarily to be included in this present project) in whatever real-world real-time situation we might face. The project should appeal to students who would like to learn more about Systems investigations & design in general, and about microcomputer interfacing in particular.



Title: Improvement of or relating to an air mattress

Client: Greenfield Research Inc. Email: pbxgri@hfx.anadara.com, Fax 443 6424
Supervisor: Prabir Basu
Project description
Two of the major shortcoming of the water bed is that it can not distribute the pressure uniformly over the body and there is very little perspiration though the contact point of the bed. The present project would develop an air fluidized mattress which will remove the above shortcomings as well as it would be as attractive to consumers as water bed.


Title : Micro "Flight simulator"
Client : Ted Hubbard; ted.hubbard@dal.ca, 494-3243
Supervisor : Ted Hubbard
Project Description
Robotic platforms and flight simulators allow six degrees of motion: x, y, z, and 3 rotations.
The purpose of this project is to build a small (hand-held) motion platform that moves an
object within 1 cm^3 with high accuracy (< 0.01mm).
The final device will have at least six actuators (lead screws, speakers, selonoids, etc.),
will be viewed through a video microscope, and will be remotely operated.
The client will cover material expenses and keep the prototypes.
IP belongs to the students, however the client may use the devices in his lab.
If you want more information or a tour of the micromachines lab, please contact T. Hubbard.


Title : Device to help handicapped person to open elevator door
Supervisor: Andrew Warkentin ext 3901, e-mail Andrew.Warkentin@dal.ca
Project description:
This device will help a person confined to a wheel chair to open a hinged elevator door in her house. Presently, this is a very cumbersome operation and very frustrating to the person, requiring quite a bit of effort and time. It is proposed to develop an electro mechanical device that will allow the person to open the door with a remote control attached to her chair. 


Title: Hi-Railer Transit Bus
Client: Marcus Garnett, MCI, Planner
Planning Services, HRM, telephone 490 4481, e-mail: garnetm@REGION.HALIFAX.NS.CA
Supervisor: Andrew Warkentin
Project description:
Many North American cities face mounting traffic congestion and reduced budgets for transportation infrastructure. Public transit offers some potential for reducing congestion, but to attract people from cars, transit must offer a true alternative to road congestion. While traditional bus service is a cost effective means for providing public transit, buses are subject to the same delays as automobile traffic unless dedicated lanes, transitways or traffic-light pre-emption are provided. In older cities such as Halifax, specialized busways also face the challenge of limited land availability and potential impacts on abutting land uses. As a result, some cities have been examining possible use of existing under-utilized railway tracks for commuter rail service. While new diesel light rail technology using existing tracks has significantly improved the potential viability of commuter rail, initial capital costs remain unaffordable to smaller municipalities, especially in Canada where no federal assistance is available. At the same time, existing rail lines do not necessarily terminate at convenient locations for commuting, requiring costly track extensions or an inconvenient bus transfer to complete the journey.

The opportunity: For many years, railway companies have adapted road vehicles for travelling along rail lines for maintenance purposes. Known as "hi-railers", these vehicles use standard, proven technology comprising small flanged guidewheels which can be quickly raised or lowered to allow travel on roads or rail lines.* The equipment can be installed on many different types and sizes of road vehicle, and is already applied to school-bus type vehicles used to transport railway personnel. This technology may have potential application to public transit, by enabling a standard transit bus to be adapted to run on rail lines for the main portion of its route, while beginning and completing its journey on the street system. Other important advantages appear to be the low capital cost of hi-railer equipment (K.W. Reese Co. recently suggested U.S.$25,000 to retrofit a transit bus), the flexibility to use the bus in regular service when not required for rail service, the ability to use the street system for back-haul trips (reducing the need for passing tracks and scheduled meets), the ability to do maintenance in existing bus garages, and the ability to remove the equipment altogether if the service fails to attract the anticipated ridership.

The questions:

1. How would hi-railer equipment be installed on a standard transit bus? Are there special challenges posed by the long wheelbase, chassis design and safety considerations associated with transit bus design and operation? How would these technical challenges be overcome?

2. Could hi-railer equipment be installed on low-floor or articulated buses? What technical challenges and possible solutions are posed by these newer types of transit bus?

3. What safety issues are associated with hi-railer applications to public transit, and how could these issues be satisfactorily resolved through appropriate design?

4. Is a viable operating speed attainable using hi-railer equipment on railway track? Heavy hi-railer equipment (e.g., a maintenance-of-way truck) is typically limited to 25 mph in rail mode, while lighter vehicles are permitted to run at 45 mph. Neither speed is sufficient for transit operations. Are there technical opportunities to raise the rail operating speed to the order of 60 mph?

5. What challenges to hi-rail operation are posed by Atlantic Canadian winter conditions, and how could these challenges be resolved? These include traction and braking considerations in wet snow.

Contact: Marcus Garnet, Planning Services, Halifax Regional Municipality 490-4481

*Technical notes: In hi-railer technology, the rear tires remain in contact with the rail to provide traction, while for the larger vehicles the front road wheels are lifted entirely off the rail and braking is provided on the railway wheels. The rail wheels incorporate a suspension system, and can be raised mechanically or by means of hydraulics controlled from the vehicle cab. The issue of crashworthiness between road vehicles and much heavier railway vehicles can be addressed by strict schedule separation. This is possible where rail lines are under-utilized but remain in place for occasional freight traffic.


Title: Design a Recycled Plant Pot Production Process
Client: Will Bisson, 827-2537
Supervisor: Andrew Warkentin, andrew.warkentin@dal.ca, 494-3901
Project description:

The client has developed a technique for creating biodegradable plant pots from recycled paper. The pots are created by submerging a core into a slurry of recycled paper. Suction is then used to form the pot around the core. The client has been able to produce pots one at a time using this method. Now he would like to build a prototype production facility in order to demonstrate that the process can be automated. A design group would be required to design and build this prototype facility.


Title: Design and Build an Improved CMM Probe (Normal Probe)
Supervisor: Andre Warkentin ext 3901, e-mail Andrew.Warkentin@dal.ca
Project description:
A touch probe (http://www.renishaw.com/) is often used in conjunction with Coordinate Measurement Machine (CMM) to measure machined parts.  The CMM is used to move the probe around in Cartesian space (X, Y, Z).  The probe basically consists of a sphere attached to a stylus.  When this sphere touches something a message is sent to the CMM controller telling it that contact has been made.  The controller then sends the location of the center of the probe to a computer where it can be stored, analyzed etc.  This measurement is taken at the center of the sphere not the actual contact point.  The actual measured point can be located by offsetting the measurement a distance equal to the probe's radius in the direction normal to the surface at the contact point.  This process is called probe compensation.  Unfortunately the surface normal at the contact point may not be known.  Therefore, the surface normal is usually assumed to be one of the coordinate directions (x-axis, y-axis, z-axis) or the direction the probe was travelling at the time of contact.  Probe compensation may introduce considerable error into the measurement especially when you are trying to measure a free form surface.  For instance a typical CMM is accurate to about 3 um but the probe compensation may introduce a 20-100 um error in the measurement, which in many engineering application is unacceptable.  If it were possible to measure both the coordinate of the center of the probe and the normal at the contact point this error could be largely eliminated.  Thus, the aim of this project is to design and build a prototype touch probe that would be capable of measuring the coordinate of the center of the probe and the normal at the contact point.


Title:        Wheelchair push-handles
Client:     Dr. R. Lee Kirby, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
                1341 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4K4
                phone:  473-1268,  fax:   473-3204   e-mail: kirby@is.dal.ca
Supervisor:     as above
Project description:
When wheelchairs tip over backwards (as they frequently do, injuring the wheelchair user), the push-handles are the first things that hit the ground. The object of this project is to determine if wheelchair push-handles can be designed to better absorb forces during such rear-tipping accidents.  A Kistler force platform and an anthropomorphic test dummy in a wheelchair will be used to compare any new designs with existing push-handles. The intention is to develop a commercially available product that could be retrofitted to existing wheelchairs.


Title:        Sliding seat for wheelchairs 
Client:     Dr. R. Lee Kirby, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
                1341 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4K4
                phone:  473-1268,  fax:   473-3204   e-mail: kirby@is.dal.ca
Supervisor:     as above
Project description:
Seat position has a profound effect on wheelchair stability and performance. A sliding seat for wheelchairs that would allow users to frequently adjust their fore-aft position relative to the wheelbase would be extremely useful. Prototypes have demonstrated "proof of concept" but, to date, have been too bulky, heavy and complex to be successfully commercialized.  The object of this project is to determine whether a "SLiCk" (Smaller, Lighter, Cheaper) version can be developed.


Title:        Improved crutch grip
Client:     Dr. R. Lee Kirby, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
                1341 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4K4
                phone:  473-1268,  fax:   473-3204   e-mail: kirby@is.dal.ca
Supervisor:     as above
Project description:
Conventional underarm (axillary) crutches force the wrist into an uncomfortable posture (extended and radially deviated).  The object of this project is to develop an axillary-crutch grip that can be angled to allow the
wrist to bear weight in a comfortable neutral position.  The intention is to develop a commercially available product that could be retrofitted to existing crutches.


Title : Pavement Marking Robotic Arm
Client:Stripe Works Ltd.
P.O Box 23163 Moncton NB, E1A 6S8
stripe@nbnet.nb.ca
800-281-1555
c/o Kevin Tracy
Project description:
The arm is to apply pavement markings on roads and streets. Mounted to the front bumper of a two ton cab over truck , the arm's main use will be for applying arrows, stop bars, crosshatching, and lettering (as per The Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices). Also, it will apply centerline and edge lines.
To be able to apply the markings the arm will have to stretch outward 16 feet. Operating the arm is performed from the driver's seat. It is to spray white and yellow markings, coated with glass beads.
To do this, one white, two yellow, and three glass bead spray guns will have to be mounted to the end of the arm. These spray guns will require upward and downward movement for varying spray widths. Paint, glass beads, and air hoses have to be connected to the arm. The paint and bead guns are turned on and off by 12 volt solenoids. The movement of the arm will be controlled by 12 volt stepper motors. All solenoids and stepper motors will be controlled with a programmable logical controler. The operator will control the arm movement with a joy stick. Funding will be provided for prototypes and full scale models. An in house wooden concept model is availableto help the development team.


Title : Improved Ergonomic MDI Air Chamber
Client: Paradigm Medical Technologies
Supervisor: TBA
Project description:
AeroChamber(r) is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim and consist of a plastic tube with a rubber sealed end, a mask, and a valve to control mist delivery (see diagram). The holding chamber assists delivery of inhaled medication from a Disposable Metered Dose inhalers (MDI's). MDI's are more commonly known as "puffers", used by people suffering from symptoms of asthma.
The AeroChamber(r) (and competitive products) provide a holding chamber, used primarily for pediatric patients (i.e. children from infants to 4 years old).
These devices are required to ensure that these patients receive the correct dosage of medication.
The opportunity exists to design a more ergonomically friendly chamber, which can be easily operated with one hand, by parents and health care providers. The product must be designed with all of the stakeholders in mind. These include the children (end user), the parents (end user) and health care practitioners (end user/purchase decision).

Key issues to be taken into account during the design phase include:
* An examination of patent "prior-art"; determine critical design parametersfor reverse engineering.
* Establishment of competitive product design and features
* Ergonomic design
* Cost competitive design

This project will explore such issues as plastics design, design for manufacturability, rapid prototyping, product architecture and ergonomic design. The project may also touch on such issues as aerosol fluid mechanics, materials science and tooling, depending on the interest of the students involved.
This project will appeal to students who are interested in multi-disciplinary product design, specifically in the medical device area.
NOTE: An intellectual property agreement will have to be interred into between the company and the students.

Product examples from the Canadian Lung Association page http://www.lung.ca/nonframe/devices/mdi.html
Examples of competing products
http://www.trudellmed.com/
http://www.aaabiz.com/AL/medx.htm


Title : Nebulizing chamber for Pediatric Inhalation Therapy
Client: Paradigm Medical Technologies
Supervisor: TBA
Project description:

PHOTO

Drug delivery to pediatric patients can take many forms, depending on the drugs prescribed, dosages and optimum delivery medium. For the treatment of asthma patients, nebulizers with pediatric masks and oxygen are used to vapourize a solution of saline and the appropriate drugs. This apparatus converts a liquid solution into an aerosol, which becomes the drug delivery mechanism.
The base-nebulizing unit is normally a standard issue and is adapted to pediatric patients (children) via a flexible plastic mask. This, effectively, is a way of adapting an adult apparatus to smaller patients. The opportunity exists to design a more ergonomically friendly nebulizer and mask combination, which is tailored to small children. The current apparatus is large, cumbersome, and easily displaced during drug administration. The product must be designed with all of the stakeholders in mind. These include the children (end user), the parents (end user) and health care practitioners (end user/purchase decision).
Key issues to be taken into account during the design phase include:

* An examination of patent "prior-art"; determine critical design parameters for reverse engineering.
* Establishment of competitive product design and features
* Ergonomic design
* Cost competitive design

This project will explore such issues as plastics design, design for manufacturability, rapid prototyping, product architecture and ergonomic design. The project may also touch on such issues as aerosol fluid mechanics, materials science and tooling, depending on the interest of the students involved.
This project will appeal to students who are interested in multi-disciplinary product design, specifically in the medical device area.
NOTE: An intellectual property agreement will have to be entered into between the company and the students.


Title: Exercise machine for disabled persons in wheel chairs
Supervisor: TBA
Clients: Michael Edwards P. Eng. , Vince Stuart C.M.W , Dr.Lee Kirby MD FRCP

Project description:

To develop a prototype ready for mass production of a device which will enable wheel chair occupants a source of exerc ise and development of upper body strength in the arms and shoulders. This will in turn provide device users with a cardiovascular "workout",and help them maintain a level of fitness.

Clare Machine Works ltd.is located in Meteghan N.S and has been in busness for the past 27 years. The main products and services are for the fishing and the forestry industry.