PEC projects

PEC: Project Objectives

The Very First Step

Starting a project is exciting, but most importantly it responds to a desire or need to fulfill a particular demand. Whether you or your customer initiate this project, a good idea to start with consists in writing down the list of objectives it should aim for.

This Power Electronics Cell (PEC) project will be an open-design process, where I will share on this blog my raw thinking process. I hope that the benefits will be twofold. First, the community (mostly students) could observe and appreciate the messy process of conception – hopefully feeling better about their own design process. Second, I hope to potentially get feedbacks from the wider community about mistakes or improvements which could be brought into this project – whether it will happen live as I’m going through the design motion or pointing out where the project took a wrong turn at posteriori…

A (Christmas) Wishlist

The list of objectives that a project should fulfill is often non-exhaustive and most likely longer than truly desirable (let alone technically or economically possible). For this PEC project, I will write below a brain-dump of what I think this project should achieve and then will highlight the common features:

  • Small form factor
  • Cheap to be ordered in quantitities
  • Easy to pick up, learn how to use, and fun
  • Communication through UART; potentially USB, I2C, or even Bluetooth
  • Multiple bridge configuration, minimum 4
  • Integrated capacitive and inductive elements
  • High switching frequency for small volume and high waveform quality (e.g. 100 kHz)
  • A few indication LEDs (not a Christmas tree though…)
  • Access connection points to the DC bus
  • Integrated voltage (output voltage + DC bus) and current (bridge output + DC capacitor) measurements
  • Local microcontroller to handle switching, measurements, estimation, protection, and communication
  • Compatible with USB Power Delivery protocol

A Summary

The PEC should be a small, cheap power electronics module to be used in numerous projects, whether it is to build small power electronics-based projects or combined to make larger modular power electronics converters. We will see together over the next few weeks how it grows.

PEC projects

Let’s start a new project

My absence from this blog has been for too long. Not that it disappeared from my mind, far from it; like any good academic, a combination of having too much to do + a dread to start yet another big project + the feeling of guilt for having yet another neglected project… Let’s forget all these bad habits and let’s get cracking with an exciti my new project.

The Lego Piece

Many of the ideas and projects that I want to push will require some some of power electronics in them. Instead of designing a power conversion from scratch every time, I suggest to focus on one module to build them all; thus a basic Lego piece of some sort.

To keep track of this project and ensuing numerous blogposts, I’ve created a new page in the project area. Stay tuned ;p

diary Teaching

Starting a New Side-Project

In the Look for New Posting Theme

With this blog going on for more than two weeks already, I thought to start another series, more technical.

Don’t get me wrong, I will carry on the daily blog, using ideas popping up during the day. After all this website is about presenting myself in a more open way rather than only through the prism of ideal image. However, I would also like to share about (interesting) projects that I work on.

In a sense, this aligns with the original purpose of this website, publishing and sharing about my work.

A Teaching Project

My teaching revolves around power engineering and control, and I’m always looking for ideas to improve the student’s experience and learning.

One of the effective teaching medium remains experimentation. The ability to test an assumption by yourself and observing the impact of our actions constitutes one of the most powerful learning tool. For this reason, engineering studies rely a lot on laboratories to teach engineering concepts.

They remain however very challenging to design since the right balance between difficulty, freedom to explore, and resource limits must be found. Missing the right mark often leads to the lab becoming ineffective, or even a waste of time. Make the objective of the lab too hard and the students will run out of time before learning much / Make it too easy and the intended new notion will feel too trivial to be learned. Write the lab assignment like a very precise recipe book and the students will just memorise the steps without developping the intended skills / Write it too loosely and the students (and even the demonstrators) will be completely lost. Use too much resources (e.g. purchasing expansive equipments or using too much staff time to design a tailored rig) will render the lab impractical to both create and maintain / Use too little resources and it will look too simple to be taken seriously.

I won’t claim to have cracked this balance, in fact far from it, but I’m keen to explore.

A Low-Voltage Motor Control Rig

The objective of this project consists in design a simple experiment to teach student about advanced motor control.

The characteristics of this rig must include:

  • Simple to design, build, and maintain
  • Safe to use by inexperienced users
  • Allows enough freedom to explore

Solutions to the above requirements could be:

  • Use off-the-shelf items from established companies, e.g. TI, Trinamic, Arduino
  • Focus on low-voltage (<50V) solutions
  • Use high-level programming language, e.g. Matlab or C/C++

This is a starting list. Let’s keep thinking and hopefully I will share an update on this project.

Closing Words

What do you think of this type of content for this blog? Do you have any suggestions for this project?

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.