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Help a second year student from DIT this week.

13 Dec


I got the opportunity to help a second year student from DIT who was studying for his ordinary degree in Automation engineering. His project was on designing a machine that would sort red vials.

He had three sensors

The first was an induction sensor. This checked for whether the vial had a cap on it or not.

The second sensor was a colour sensor. Using white LED on the vial and shining a red LED the light dependent resistor will go high if the vial is red.

The third sensor was a sensor to know what position the motor was at, this is used to signal the motor to change the feeder’s direction so that rejected vials would go into the reject bin while the red vials with caps would go into the accepted bin.


He messaged me on social media asking would I be able to help him with the programmable controller programming. We discovered that the proximity sensor would go high if an object is present on front of it and low if nothing is there meaning that detecting the presents of a cap on the vial would be easier than using an analogue sensor.

I offered my advice on programming of the Omron PLC and told him to contact me if he needs further help.

It would be interesting to see the project completed and at a high cycle rate.


What is manufacturing and design?

27 Nov

Dublin institute of technology updated their video on what the manufacturing design engineering course is all about.

It might be an interesting video to anyone from secondary school considering doing the honours degree.

Preliminary presentation on DIT’s racing car

5 Nov


Submitted a preliminary report on telemetry of a racing car and presented some of my findings to a panel of lecturers.

The next stage in the project is to have sensors work by this Wednesday. We want to measure linear displacement so we can analyse the suspension of the car.

More pictures to come.

Will robots simply replace people on the job

13 Sep

I was watching TED the other day and found an interesting video on scaremongering of technology. As technology grows we do feel quite scared in the sense that as soon as we have learnt something new about technology and how to use it, it changes and we don’t change with it. But the reality is technology will replace people if they don’t change and I don’t mean line workers but we as engineers must design to assist people not replace them.

The following post below taken from TED website explains:

“Scaremongers play on the idea that robots will simply replace people on the job.

In fact, they can become our essential collaborators, freeing us up to spend time on less mundane and mechanical challenges. Rodney Brooks points out how valuable this could be as the number of working-age adults drops and the number of retirees swells. He introduces us to Baxter, the robot with eyes that move and arms that react to touch, which could work alongside an aging population — and learn to help them at home, too.

Rodney Brooks builds robots based on biological principles of movement and reasoning. The goal: a robot who can figure things out.

Rodney Brooks: Why we will rely on robots #TED :

I hope you enjoy.

The Raspberry Pi – a computer the size of a credit card!

1 Dec


The idea for a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006 but now the raspberry pi created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation has become a dream to anyone who is interested in electronics and programming.

After I heard that the raspberry pi; a computer the size of a credit card had been made and was for sale from farnell. I had to buy one.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation talk about the idea of why they decided to create the raspberry pi a little more in depth;

“Something had changed the way kids were interacting with computers. A number of problems were identified: the colonisation of the ICT curriculum with lessons on using Word and Excel, or writing webpages; the end of the dot-com boom; and the rise of the home PC and games console to replace the Amigas, BBC Micros, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64 machines that people of an earlier generation learned to program on.

There isn’t much any small group of people can do to address problems like an inadequate school curriculum or the end of a financial bubble. But we felt that we could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them had to be forbidden by parents; and to find a platform that, like those old home computers, could boot into a programming environment. From 2006 to 2008, Eben designed several versions of what has now become the Raspberry Pi” (, 2012)

Since it has arrived I haven’t looked back. I bought a four gigabyte SD card and flashed it with a copy of  Raspbian “wheezy” using Win32DiskImager for windows.

RaspberryPi Model B

When the raspberry pi finally arrived the first thing I did was inserted the SD card and peripherals but most of all I connected it to a HDTV to see what all the fuss was about.

raspberrypi on bigscreen hdmi loading

So it booted up and I had to go through the set up options. Finally it was ready for me to play around with it…but how? well along with the raspberry pi I picked up a copy of the Raspberry Pi – user guide.

raspberrypi user guide

It was handy to have and after skimming through it the first time, I was able to login with username: pi , password: raspberry.

the command: startx , launched the graphics user interface and I had a desktop!

raspberrypi on a big screen HDTV

What was on the desktop you ask? Well there was a lot of preinstalled software to play around with not to mention the raspberry pi was python ready.

Some neat features I found useful were:

  • Debian Reference – a great place to start learning Linux terminal commands. (I started here when I was learning to use linux)
  • Leafpad – this is a simple text editor, which is useful for making notes or writing programs.
  • Terminal – this allows you to use the linux command line in a window without leaving the graphical user interface.
  • Internet browsers – Midori and Netsurf web browser
  • For educational use the rapberryPi came with Scratch and Squeak both great fun to play with.
  • The GPIO (The Raspberry Pi – user guide gives great tutorials on how to use this)

I really think every school in Ireland should have these to teach computer/electronic skills to children. I’m not talking about getting rid of Microsoft office but instead add this to the curriculum. With I.T , Pharmaceutical/Medical and High Tech Manufacturing Industries being a big employer for future graduates it is essential to get peoples core skills in maths, physics,science and computers developed early.

With this I will leave you with what we discussed and a list of cool projects you can do with the raspberry pi.

Here is what I am currently doing with the raspberry pi ( making a small desktop computer)


My raspberry pi sits ontop of my desktop pc tower

rii wireless keyboard

The rii wireless keyboard + mouse I am using  for raspberry pi…it’s the size of a small remote but wireless with 30 meter signal distance and a month battery life!!

3.5'' monitor raspberrypi 1

3.5'' monitor raspberrypi 23.5” monitor for raspberry pi, it is an amazing little screen and after I found an old phone charger lying around I tore it apart and rigged it to the little thing to get it to light up. This would be brilliant gadget for cars as the raspberry pi is a fully functioning computer. Facebook/Twitter updates or watch HD movies while stuck in traffic?

Thank you for reading and your comments are welcome.

U.S. manufacturers are making more products than ever

30 Nov

Rock Center | Aired on November 09, 2012

A member of the society of manufacturing engineers posted a link to this video with the following caption:

” American manufacturers say that the idea that American manufacturing is dead is a myth. In fact, U.S. manufacturers are making more products than ever, and the United States leads the world in manufacturing” .

Mary is the ceo of the Vermier corporation in iowa, a company that builds an array of machinery sold in 70 countries around the glob for mining, farming, construction, landscaping. She explains the manufacturing sector and its innovations to grow during these financial times.

Looks like there is still hope for us college students.


Building a trebuchet with the dit engineering society

26 Nov

Building a trebuchet with the  dit engineering society

Last year I got together with DIT’s engineering society to lend a hand in building a trebuchet. Long hours and determination brought this project to its final completion. I was part of a team of around 20 or so people all engineering students from different years and different backgrounds. When the project was complete we successfully test fired it in front of a journalist from RTÉ radio.

The following pictures are the assemble of the rig.

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