Course Overview


Welcome to ECE 445! If you've looked at the course Calendar, you've probably already noticed that this class is quite different from most other classes in the department. The class only meets as a whole for the first few weeks of the semester. During these lectures you will meet the Course Staff, learn about specific assignments, requirements, and resources for the course, and have a chance to meet other students to share ideas and form teams. These are some of the most important weeks for the class since the decisions you make during this time will determine what you'll get out of this class and, in many ways, how much you'll enjoy it.

Outside of lecture, you are expected to be working on your own to develop ideas and form teams. You are also expected to actively participate on the web board to exchange ideas, receive feedback from course staff, and eventually get your project idea approved. Once your team has a project approved, you will be assigned a TA, with whom you will have weekly meetings. Think of your TA as a project manager. Keep in mind that they are not there to do the work for you. Rather, they are there to keep you on track, point you towards resources (both within and outside of the department), and evaluate the result of your efforts.

Expectations and Requirements

We have high expectations for students participating in ECE 445. You are soon to be alumni of one of the top ECE departments of the world. Our alumni hold themselves to high technical and professional standards of conduct. In general, projects are expected to be safe, ethical, and have a level of design complexity commensurate with the rigor of the ECE Illinois curriculum. Requirements for specific assignments due throughout the semester can be found by looking through the Grading Scheme for the course. Please read through this documentation well before each assignment is due. Specific due dates can be found on the course Calendar.

Below are a few words of wisdom to keep in mind throughout the semester to increase your enjoyment and success in the course:

Master Bus Processor

Clay Kaiser, Philip Macias, Richard Mannion

Master Bus Processor

Featured Project

General Description

We will design a Master Bus Processor (MBP) for music production in home studios. The MBP will use a hybrid analog/digital approach to provide both the desirable non-linearities of analog processing and the flexibility of digital control. Our design will be less costly than other audio bus processors so that it is more accessible to our target market of home studio owners. The MBP will be unique in its low cost as well as in its incorporation of a digital hardware control system. This allows for more flexibility and more intuitive controls when compared to other products on the market.

Design Proposal

Our design would contain a core functionality with scalability in added functionality. It would be designed to fit in a 2U rack mount enclosure with distinct boards for digital and analog circuits to allow for easier unit testings and account for digital/analog interference.

The audio processing signal chain would be composed of analog processing 'blocks’--like steps in the signal chain.

The basic analog blocks we would integrate are:

Compressor/limiter modes

EQ with shelf/bell modes

Saturation with symmetrical/asymmetrical modes

Each block’s multiple modes would be controlled by a digital circuit to allow for intuitive mode selection.

The digital circuit will be responsible for:

Mode selection

Analog block sequence

DSP feedback and monitoring of each analog block (REACH GOAL)

The digital circuit will entail a series of buttons to allow the user to easily select which analog block to control and another button to allow the user to scroll between different modes and presets. Another button will allow the user to control sequence of the analog blocks. An LCD display will be used to give the user feedback of the current state of the system when scrolling and selecting particular modes.

Reach Goals

added DSP functionality such as monitoring of the analog functions

Replace Arduino boards for DSP with custom digital control boards using ATmega328 microcontrollers (same as arduino board)

Rack mounted enclosure/marketable design

System Verification

We will qualify the success of the project by how closely its processing performance matches the design intent. Since audio 'quality’ can be highly subjective, we will rely on objective metrics such as Gain Reduction (GR [dB]), Total Harmonic Distortion (THD [%]), and Noise [V] to qualify the analog processing blocks. The digital controls will be qualified by their ability to actuate the correct analog blocks consistently without causing disruptions to the signal chain or interference. Additionally, the hardware user interface will be qualified by ease of use and intuitiveness.

Project Videos