Special Circuit :: ECE 445 - Senior Design Laboratory

Special Circuit

A student whose Senior Thesis Project (ECE 499) does not involve the design and construction or testing of electronic devices or hardware is required to complete a Special Circuit Project in the ECE 445 lab during the semester they take ECE 499. In addition, students enrolled in ECE 445 who are not undertaking a hardware dominant project are required to complete the special circuit (although this is strongly discouraged and the course staff will work with your team to make sure you have enough hardware in your project to avoid having to complete the special circuit.)

The special circuit is typically posted in the middle of the semester. Once you sign up for the special circuit (see below), you will be assigned a TA, a locker, and a special circuit which generally takes about 12-15 hours to complete. When you have it designed and built, you will give a functional demonstration to your TA, who will then inform the professor who will inform undergraduate advising that your task is complete. You are NOT required to attend any of the classes, reviews, demos, or presentations associate with the ECE 445 class.

Sign up for Spring 2020 is now open

Sign up for the Special Circuit assignment on the Lab Access page. Instructions for completing the special circuit will then be provided in the near future. Please check this page for updates.

Link to all Special Circuit design problems. 

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