February Blog Post
In the month of February, our team has learned that one step back can mean two steps forward. While we have added general code to each of the three parts of our system, we have learned the importance of going back and testing each specific set up separately in order sort out any potential problems. This process can take time and will carry into next month. For the Hardware, members from the design team and the sustainability team have created various prototypes for case designs for both the Baby BRD and the Mama BRD. One of our main designs was tested when flying our drone. On the other side of our team, we have fully set up multiple media outlets, and created professional business cards. Towards the end of the month, our team decided to break up the workload into individual projects that every member of the team can work on. It is important that each member adds to the engineering and design of our project to make us more connected and understanding on the things we are working on.
Our project description remains the same:
“Our project is intended to help search and rescue crews in a natural disaster situation. This system, also named as Beacon Rescue Drone Systems (BRD), has a total of 3 parts working together. The first part is a handheld GPS beacon device called the Baby BRD. This device will be a cheaper alternative to most personal GPS beacons, with replaceable 9 volt batteries and an easy to use interface. With the flip of a switch, the Baby BRD can locate itself and ping out the signal every few seconds. Our second part, known as the Mama BRD, is a receiver and transmitter which will be stored on a universal drone attachment that picks up the signal from the Baby BRD and amplifies it out to search and rescue crews. The amplified signal will be received by a master station called the BRD Nest and placed on a map interface, so search and rescue crews can more directly see the coordinates and terrain of the person(s) in distress.”
This month, our team has taken a step back to review parts of our system. During this process, our team discovered multiple problems with both the setup of the hardware and the programming in the software. These problems encouraged us to search for outside help. Around the end of this month, we met with Stephen Meers, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office SWAT technical team leader, who advised us that in order to troubleshoot, we need to have breadcrumbs continuously throughout the design process to be sure how to locate where a problem is. In other words, Steve asked how might we break our product into individual systems and develop test checks for those systems. For example, we can have an LED light up or a counter through a serial display to indicate that the system is transmitting and receiving GPS signals. He also discussed about using the default speed on the GPS first and then adjusting it when needed. In order to maintain a high signal to noise ratio, we will need to use a slow speed. Lastly, Steve advised when testing, make sure to use a programming plug with USB and terminal window software.
Steve’s recommendations for processing forward with our project includes; going back and looking at the GPS output signal with parsing, write a very simple input - output code to basically print out a signal that we're entering into the port that GPS will be inputting to, and warned that we will likely have a speed problem with 9.6 GPS that will need to resolved.
In February, one of the main focuses of the communications team was creating an advertising video, primarily to be displayed on the GoFundMe page. There are also shortened versions for the different social media outlets, because of their different requirements and limits on video length. The video is to promote our project for donations as well as providing a visual presentation and description of the BRD system.
In the first week, we researched tips on creating our advertising video and looked at several examples from other engineering teams. Afterwards, we worked on the script of the video and planning out the storyboard and assigning roles for filming or interviewees in the film. In the second week, we spent our time filming the interviews and B-roll footage. For those who don’t know, B-roll is footage that goes over what the interviewee is talking about. In the third week, communications team worked on editing the video using Adobe Premiere Pro in roughly four and a half hours. After peer review, we made last minute minor changes to the audio levels and posted it onto our GoFundMe page and social media accounts.
Goals for the next month
- Update Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts regularly
- Get word out to the community
- Planning on future events
- Reach out more to community for help with the project design
- Send emails to professionals for additional help with the project design or code
- Provide an additional hand with managing the social media accounts
- Plan out a community event for fundraising
- Work with the design team to purchase more materials
- Plan to spend $2000 by the end of March
- Test the transmitter/receiver from Baby BRD to Mama BRD
- Continue testing the drone attachment designs & emailing people to ask about checking over the code.
- Debug the coding for the Mama BRD and BRD Nest