After completion of my project (see DT009 final year project) it was submitted in to the Engineers Ireland innovative engineering student of the year (ISOY) award competition also referred to as the Siemens prize.
The first stage was submission of a 500 word essay about your project from which a judging panel selected the finalists from all over the country. the final 6 including myself were then required to submit a 2,500 word essay, take part in a 30 min presentation/interview with a judging panel of 6 CEOs and entrepreneurs including a representative from Siemens, then lastly present our projects to a general audience of which the judging panel sat in on and graded.
Footage from my finalist presentation
I was the only student from an electrical and electronic background and one of 2 level 7 (ordinary degree) students, The rest of the competitors consisted of level 8 (Honors degrees) and level 9 ( Masters degree) students. The work entered was very competitive and the standards astronomically high which made for a very interesting day. The other projects were Haelios Solar Technologies™ – Solar Updraft Tower Development, Design and build of a Human-Powered Washing Machine, Construction Sector Safety Hook Design and Development, The design and development of a under-actuated, compliant anthropomorphic hand capable of dexterous grasping for a Service Robot with the winning project being an Automatically fed post driver
Some photos taken from the presentation and awards ceremony on 10th of June in Engineers Ireland HQ, Clyde Rd
Unfortunately I was not the best on the day, but it was an immensely valuable experience. Provided me with great exposure and networking opportunities and hopefully I’ll be returning in time to come with either another project to compete or as an engineer seeking charter-ship.
The end of May ’16 saw the completion of my final year project entitled “Actuation and Control of a Trans-Radial Upper Limb Prosthesis”
The project successfully attained a grade of 84% which combined with my other marks granted unto me my BEngTech in Electrical and Control Systems graduating with a Merit, upper class (2.1).
The project still has some slight alterations necessary, mainly in the mechanical operation, this is due to my lack of knowledge in the area and as a result not foreseeing some of the problems encountered. The code however worked flawlessly and the circuitry required minute alterations.
Below you can see a slide show of the fully assembled project.
One of the key factors in completion of a final year project is your ability to assign a value or rating to your project on its ability to complete the design brief or task at hand. After the visit to IDS it became apparent that currently no such test or system exists for upper limb prosthetic in Ireland and that they are only now currently developing one for lower limb prosthesis.
Thanks to one of the student technicians I was referred to a research paper done that started to asses the difference between 3 types of prosthesis. It analysed the difference between the TRS hook grip 2S, the Otto bock VO hand and the Hosmer hook model 5XA you can find the study here. Although highly interesting and very useful there is still a lot more to be done in regards to further comparing the many many various types of prosthesis currently available. It would also be very interesting to compare these impressive and commercial models to those designed and developed by the average person with a 3D printer
Another study was done with subjects suffering from flail arm syndrome. This is where some type of accident or incident had occurred which severely reduced or completely removed all function in the patients arm, while still retaining the full or most of the affected limb. The study in question as you will see in the below video had patients execute various set tasks first with their impaired limb, secondly while wearing a prosthesis simulator and lastly post elective amputation with their prosthetic. we can see from this test very easily the massive improvement in the patients abilities and/or time in executing the tasks
You can read the report here
Both of these studies provide me with a great starting point for developing a functionality test for my end product prosthetic, which will in turn allow me to assign some grading or qualitative value to it but also allow me to develop a practical demonstration for my final presentation and submission
IDS Cappagh is the fore front of prosthesis and orthopedics in Ireland. In their hospital they bring patients through all the required steps from consulting,analysis fitting and maintenance of various types of prosthesis and orthopedics.
My connection with the hospital first began in 2011 when I visited it as part of research for my leaving cert technology project. I contacted them once again upon confirmation of my project proposal approval in hopes to gain more first hand industry insight.
over the Easter mid-term I had 2 appointments the first being a consultation with one of their foremost upper limb technicians. During this consultation I presented my project idea and discussed how I hope to gain a greater understanding of the prosthetic process as a whole ( from initial consultations, to selection of prosthesis and follow up consultations).
I learned a great deal from my visits, one of the most crucial points being the method by which they find and utilize the signals in the arm.Initially the patient flexes their muscles as the technician feels around the residual limb.In my case the technician examined my forearm (as if I were a trans-radial amputee), this is so as to find what they refer to as the belly of the desired muscle (or the largest/ strongest part) in which the patient will ultimately use to control their prosthesis. After the technician has found a desirable area they begin placing myoelectric electrodes at various points within the area and sampling signals till they find the strongest one. The electrodes used during my consultations were MyoBock Electrodes. Due to my desired operation within my own prosthetic I was fitted with electrodes which measured my protagonist and antagonistic muscles within my forearm. this allowed me to use each individually to open or close a simulated hand or simultaneously ( a code contraction ) to switch the simulation state. I also partook in typical pre-prosthesis training whereby I had to control a simulation hand and then play a game akin to “flappy birds” with sole control of the cursor coming from the signals taken from my forearm.
After the signal analysis was completed I went onto have a cast of my arm taken which I intend to use to manufacture my own casing for my prosthetic. The process was the same of that a patient would go through to have a socket made for their prosthetic
With the possible inclusion of FSR sesnors in this project a control method needs to be developed to correlate the readings from the sensors with tangible values.
There are many methods already existing that I could use but they require specialist equipment that is quite costly.
I have decided that the simplest way to obtain and quantify the force readings will be to take an object of known mass (confirmed by weighing it on a scales) then placing it on the FSR. It must also be noted that ensuring the base area of the object does not exceed that of the sensor is vital to ensure its true mass is read.
I believe this method to be the simplest and most efficient way to assign force values to digital units within my time and financial constraints.
An Idea I’ve developed that I believe will be the main focus of this project would be;
A closed loop feedback system that would allow the wearer to grip any object with appropriate pressure, by controlling the force applied while receiving feedback from the hand when the optimum grip is obtained.
This is still quite a conceptual idea but I have found simple and cheap sensors that would allow placement on finger tips. These would provide the measurement of force applied to the object by the hand that could inform my potential code and I’m currently developing ideas on how to inform the user when the desired grip is reached.
Before any of this system can be developed I need to figure out a quantitative method to measure and compare the sensors to. Although measurement and recording of the sensors will be straight forward obtaining a control method to compare against is yet to be found.
to be continued