Highlights of CSEE 4840 Embedded System Design
Spring 2005
Columbia University, Computer Engineering Program
Prof. Stephen A. Edwards

The main focus of CSEE 4840 Embedded System Design is an independent group project on the design and implementation of a small system involving hardware and software. The students implemented the projects on an FPGA board (the XSB-300E) from XESS Corporation. This board contains a Xilinx Spartan IIE FPGA (an XC2S300E) capable of holding both a 32-bit RISC microprocessor core (a ``Microblaze'') and quite a lot of student-designed custom logic. Virtually every project incorporated a combination of C code running on the processor and custom logic written in the VHDL hardware description language.

Below are selected projects from the spring 2005 course to give you an idea of the breath and complexity of these projects. I must say, I was very impressed with what these students could create in half a term.

case with display and buttons six guys Scrabble Timer      PDF FileTheir final report
Nathan Hale      Gaurav Singal      Andrew DiMichele      Vishal Govil      Hubert Lin

This group built a timer for Scrabble games. We were approached by Murray Eskenazi (third from right), a local inventor responsible for the development of Super Scrabble, to build a prototype for a game timer that he wanted to pitch to Hasbro. After discussion, this group took his design, built a hardware platform (based on a PIC microcontroller and an LCD display), and coded the game in C.
I/O Board I/O Board

gameplay three guys Scorched Earf XESS      PDF FileTheir final report
Michael Sumulong      Jeremy Chou      Dennis Chua

This group recreated the 1990s DOS game Scorched Earth on the XESS board. They built custom graphics hardware that handled three sprites, text for the score and other information, a gradient background generator, and a terrain generator, all of which led to very small memory requirements. They programmed the game logic in C and made quite a sensation on demo day--every other group wanted to play their game!
you lose

Dashboard five guys and a car SAE Auto Shifter      PDF FileTheir final report
Ron Alleyne      Wade Brzozowski      Joseph Carey

This group worked in conjunction with a pair of mechanical engineers taking Prof. Anouck Girard's MECE E3410 Engineering Design class to produce the digital component of a dashboard and shifter for the SAE racing car being developed in the basement of the Mudd building. Easily winning the ``most exotic peripheral'' contest with a 45A solenoid driving a shift pedal on a four cylinder Suzuki motorcycle engine, this group had to deal with the challenges of the all-too-real world of embedded systems: gasoline fumes and an engine that would not start.
main processor in case main processor in case I/O Board

four guys Internet Radio Broadcaster      PDF FileTheir final report
Avi Shinnar      Benjamin Dweck      Oliver Irwin      Sean White

These four spent a whole term building a very expensive wire: an Internet radio broadcaster. This took line-level audio in through a codec, encoded it, and transmitted it over Ethernet as RTP (real-time transport protocol), which is a simple protocol on top of UDP (user datagram protocol), which is in turn on top of Ethernet. The final result: they could hook up an iPod and the campus network to their board and listen to it with mplayer anywhere on the planet. Their project and report are very carefully written.

Maze screenshot four guys MAYD: A 3D Maze Game      PDF FileTheir final report
Surag Mungekar      Vladislav Adzic      George Yeboah      Nabeel Daulah

These four built custom graphics hardware for displaying a first-person view of a 3D maze. The hardware is deceptively simple: each column contains three colors: the sky, a wall, and the ground. The software, written in C, uses raycasting to quickly calculate where these colors start and stop in each column. The result is a high frame rate and a strong sense of being in a 3D environment. I got dizzy running around in their maze!

four guys Voice-over-IP SIP Telephone      PDF FileTheir final report
Rajkumar Bakhru      Colin Gilboy      Sam Jenning

These three ``phonies'' used the board to build an Internet telephone. They used the audio codec's ability to do full-duplex audio (input and output), and wrote C code to speak SIP (session initiation procotol) over Ethernet. For their final demo, they snaked a telephone wire from the Gateway lab through the hallway to the embedded systems lab and called themselves. Embedded systems, phone home!