OPEnS Spring Term Upgrades

The buzz of activity in the OPEnS lab is about to get louder.

We've added a new undergraduate researcher, Thomas DeBell, to the OPEnS Lab! He'll be working on getting OPEnS electronics to talk with your cell phone and sensors that send status updates to your email as part of the OPEnS Internet of Agriculture project. This work is generously funded through a competitive OSU College of Ag Sciences Beginning Researcher Support Program. We're delighted to have him join our team!

There will also be up to 30 students soldering away and new circuits as part of the BEE 222 "Ecological Engineering Computation" course co-taught by Drs John Bolte and and Chet Udell. To this end, we've added 5 new Weller WES51 analog soldering stations.

Finally, we've been designing several custom PCBs lately and need a way to shape these to specification, so we've also added a sleek PCB cutter, which essentially looks like a paper cutter amplified to an extreme level. It's fun to use!

New Faces in the OPEnS Lab

OPEnS is delighted to be working with the following student research awardees:

Welcome OPEnS Student Researchers!

Alex Grejuc is a freshman computer science major and URSA Engage Research program recipient. He will be working on the WiFi implementation of the OPEnS Internet of Agriculture project.

Brett Stoddard is majoring in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on analog systems and plans to minor in physics. URSA Engage and DeLoach Honors College Work Scholarship Recipient. He is evaluating SMARTRAC RFID Moisture tags to remotely sense soil moisture.

Marissa Kwon is a freshman in the pre-Electrical/Computer Engineering track and URSA Engage program recipient. She will be working on the LoRa implimentation of the OPEnS Internet of Agriculture project.

Jonah Seikmann is a freshman Computer Science major and URSA Engage Research program recipient. He is also working on the RFID moisture sensing project, specializing in the drone development.

Winter Design Class in OPEnS Lab

5 Teams, 5 Engineering Challenges, 1 OPEnS Lab

BEE 469/470, taught by Dr. Murthy Ganti, provides students with hands on experience in solving complex engineering design problems they are likely to encounter in Ecological Engineering practice. OPEnS Lab provides the space, tools, and guidance to help make this, and other opportunities like these, possible for our students. OPEnS staff talks students through various design issues, points to resources to get started, and suggestions on circuits, programming, CAD, 3D printing, and laser cutting/etching. Students, however do all of the work and thinking themselves.

Design Class Students Working on Engineering Projects in OPEnS Lab

Design Class Students Working on Engineering Projects in OPEnS Lab

The primary focus of the design sequence is an open-ended design project that promotes critical thinking.  5 teams create projects that have four major components:
1.    Develop a feasible engineering solution to a design problem.
2.    Perform quantitative evaluation of an engineering project considering ecological, social and economic impacts of the project.
3.    Assess project sustainability, economic viability and compliance to applicable laws.
4.    Present the results in oral and written form at a level commensurate with professional practice.

Wii Remote Smart Board

Notes on Installing A $3 Smart Board

... well, $3 if you happen to have a Nintendo Wii remote, projector, and computer on hand. With so many ideas, our physical white board space was getting cluttered and notes of "do not erase" were multiplying rapidly. A Smart white board was becoming appealing. With all of the components on hand, all that needed to be done was to make an IR LED pen and download the WiiMote Whiteboard App.

To construct the IR LED pen, I used a VishayTSAL6400 25 degree 25mW IR LED, a AAA battery socket, and momentary SPST N.O. push button. I designed and 3D printed the case in Fusion360.

Evaluation & Usage

This thing is really fun to use and nothing says high-tech like an interactive whiteboard. Some of the immediate advantages are access to cool, browser based drawing apps that let you collaborate with anyone in the world in realtime. Handy for long-distance white board sessions. These drawing apps are also much more heavy featured and nicer looking than ones available through WebEx.

Another huge advantage is being able to save and recall sessions or pull open multiple board at the same time. This ensures your whiteboard space is never cluttered and littered with "do not erase" signs. Designs can also be instantly printed, saved to file, and shared.

Primary disadvantage: Handiness. In the real world, one need only walk up to a whiteboard and begin drawing. The Smartboard requires the computer be on, the Wii remote paired up (which can be instant, or take a few min), the projector on, and whatever drawing app cued up. By this time, transient bright ideas have a way of escaping as you start up the equipment. This can be overcome by leaving drawing applications open by default and syncing the Wii remote first thing in the day as part of lab startup procedure.

Another notable disadvantage is an inability to write text without going to the computer keyboard, which ruins the illusion of smart-boarding. To overcome this is simple. Install the Unified Remote App and type into your computer through your smartphone! With a pen in the right hand, and phone in the left, you can do things just as intuitively as if you were at the computer.

Final disadvantage, Latency. Drawing on the Wiimote Whiteboard isn't as tactile or responsive as a whiteboard, far from it. Depending on what drawing app you use, it can also be a hassle to dig through tools to change color and size of your pen.


You get what you pay for. Still evaluating. Perhaps a way to have your cake and eat it too is to invest in a drafting tablet like Wacom, or invest in a real touch screen smartboard. But in many cases, nothing beats being able to walk up to an "analog" whiteboard and jot down a figure when the idea strikes.


OPEnS Calendar and Scheduling

OPEnS Lab users may both view the calendar and schedule work time in the same convenient place. Going to Lab Access and clicking on the top link will take you directly there.

We're using OSU's virtual MAKERspace client developed by Don Heer in EE to schedule 3D printer time, upload STL files, calculate cost, and procure payments. For scheduling, we are using Calendly, a free platform for scheduling events which automatically populates and displays on our OPEnS Google Calendar!

New Sign-in proceedure


QR Codes have been added to each machine to document usage. You'll need to have a QR scanner app on your phone (download one for free for your iOS or Android). The procedure takes 15 seconds to scan and fill out your name. Your entry is automatically time-stamped and enables us to track the whos, whats, and whens in the OPEnS Lab.