Spring 2015 Courses

My next term's classes are decided:

I will take my last transferable course at Ivy Tech: ENGR 297, which is an 8-week Matlab course. I've already done half the coursework on my own.

Everything else will be at IUPUI: a probability course, ECE 302; a further signals course, ECE 382; and a circuits course with lab, ECE 255 & 208.

All are required courses. Both 382 and 255/208 are spring-only courses that I will be glad to complete. All my courses should be interesting and challenging.

ECE 362 "Home Automation" Project

The final project in the fall 2014 ECE362 "Microprocessor Systems and Interfaces" course at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis had a couple of choices. My partner, Nathan Wheeler, and I got the "home automation" project. The project was written all in assembly, in the CodeWarrior IDE, for the Motorola HC12. We wound up writing 16K of code, but we met all the requirements and surpassed them.

  • Keypad for much user input, each key with a different sound
  • LCD display of menu options and various messages
  • Switches to control LEDs and climate control
  • Potentiometer to select menu options within a room
  • Push button for doorbell routine with tune
  • IRQ routine to simulate tripping of alarm with sound and LED pattern
  • Password options
  • Stepper motor turns clockwise for AC, opposite for heat, and slows down as it approaches desired temp
  • DC motor is system fan, gradually speeds up and slows down when changing between speeds

It was a hard slog but we enjoyed doing it!

Fall 2014 Term Completed

The fall 2014 semester is over. I had three finals: two on Thursday, one on Friday. I had been regularly checking for official grades, but for days only my t'ai ch'i course grade was up. Here's how things shook out:

  • HPER 148: T'ai Ch'i Ch'uan, 1 cr. A+
  • ECE 200: Engineering Coop, 1 cr., S
  • ECE 301: Signals & Systems, 3 cr., A
  • ECE 362: Microprocessor Systems & Interfaces, 4 cr., A+
  • ECE 311: Electric & Magnetic Fields, 3 cr., A

The three three-hundred-level courses were tough. The E&M course is widely considered the second-hardest class for electrical engineering; I invested plenty of hours in the course each week to be able to walk into the final with 95%. For the microcontrollers course, we learned to write assembly code for the Motorola HC12. That course's final project consumed the Thanksgiving break of my partner, Nathan Wheeler, and I. Eventually I will provide a short video of our "home automation system."

Not five minutes after writing this, buddy Nathan wrote that grades were up, so I updated everything. Despite concluding a 3.5-year divorce, without children, and taking three demanding courses, I think I did OK.

The Complete Smith Chart

For my last homework assignment of my electromagnetism course, I must work with Smith charts, which can be useful for working with transmission line impedance and other related values. With a compass to draw circles, a straight edge, a pencil, and a bit of practice, you can make some interesting calculations.

To get me started, I found the three Smith chart videos by Carl Oliver to be helpful. I plotted my homework on the Smith chart PDF by Black Magic Design that is available here (and elsewhere).


The other day I found that a fellow ECE 362 student lived in Tokushima, Japan, in 1990. His father was there on sabbatical at Tokushima University's medical school. Since my classmate was only 11, his memory is not the freshest but there were places we both knew: I lived there from October 1999 to March 2006. It was my favorite place to live and work in Japan.