91.548 home

mtg 13: Course Review
• mtg 13 html

mtg 12: Research Papers
• mtg 12 html

mtg 7: Robot Vision
• lab 7 html

mtg 6: LabVIEW Embedded for Blackfin
• lab 6 html

mtg 5: VDK (visual dsp++ kernel)
• lab 5 html
• VDK manual index html

mtg 4: laser cutter
• lab 4 html

mtg 3: FPGA design/implementation
• lab 3 html
• control eng 1800-1930, pp. 96–152 no link
• Xilinx Spartan 3E XC3S250E
  – promo pdf
  – homepage html
  – data sheet pdf
• Xilinx Quick Start pdf

mtg 2: sensors/motors/arch/control
• lab 2 html
• control eng 1800-1930, pp. 51–95 no link
• dynamic pwr mgm't, from BF537 data home page html • sensors html

mtg 1: intro
• syllabus html
• BF-HB manual & schems no link
• BF537 manual (pages 1-13) pdf
• DSP guide zip
• control eng 1800-1930, pp. 1-50 no link
• lab 1 html files

91.548 Robot Design Spring 2006

Prof. Fred G. Martin
Olsen 208 (office)
Olsen 306 (lab)
978/934–1964 (office phone)

Wednesday evenings, 5:30 pm – 8:15 pm, OS 401 and OS 306

We will typically meet first in 401 for lecture/discussion and then move to 306 for lab during class hours.

The class is scheduled for 2.5 instructional hours. We will take a 15 minute break in the middle and end (officially) at 8:15.

Office Hours

Course Web Site URL

Course Wiki

The class will make use of the following book:

  • The Scientist and Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Processing, by Steven W. Smith, 2nd edition, 1999. The book can be freely downloaded in PDF form from the site dspguide.com.

Additional data sheets and PDF documents will be handed out in class and/or linked from this web site.

Discussion Site URL

There will be a discussion site / bulletin board for the class. It will be linked from the course home page.


The Analog Devices Blackfin is new, high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) for embedded applications. In a joint venture between Analog and UMass Lowell, we have developed the Blackfin Handy Board, which mates the Blackfin 537 processor with sensor/motor/power hardware, forming a hand-held control board ideal for mobile robotics applications.

This semester's 91.548 Robot Design class will be all about pushing this new board to its limits, with robot applications custom-developed by students of the class.

We will work at four different levels of inquiry:

Board/Circuit/Driver/Electronics Level. We will delve into the design of the Blackfin Handy Board and the Blackfin chip itself. Also, we will learn how to develop FPGA-based circuits and systems:

  • BF Handy Board circuit and peripheral design
  • BF537 DSP chip details, including boot sequence, memory map, and specialized I/O
  • FPGA applications for sensor/actuator interfacing
  • FPGA programming using the Xilinx toolchain

Operating Systems/Programming Languages. Several development environments will be used throughout the class:

Robot Applications. You will be free to explore your own interests in terms of project themes, including (e.g.):

  • robot vision, using the Blackfin's native CMOS camera interface and Analog's existing code
  • mobile robot platform development, using the Engaging Computing Lab's Trotec laser cutter
  • interactive robotics demonstrations, focusing on systems that people can interact with

Applied Theory. We will take a combined historical and practical approach to learning the theory that underlies control engineering, as it applies to sensori-motor robot systems. A combination of materials, including older texts and historical analyses, will be used in combination with practical implementations to build up a basis for the theory:

  • history of engineering control from 1800 to 1950
  • digital signal processing
  • classical control theory
  • the underlying mathematics, including continuous and discrete formulations

Practical Overview

The course will be primarily based on design and implementation work. Students will conduct a series of lab assignments and at least two open-ended design challenges. In addition to the practical work itself, students will be responsible for several short lab write-ups and one significant publication-quality paper, which should combine literature research with presentation and discussion of your own investigation / design process.

91.548 is part of a 2-course graduate sequence in robotics. Its pairing, 91.549 Mobile Robots, is taught in fall semester by Prof. Yanco.

The course will be a combination of a hands-on, project-based class and a graduate reading and discussion seminar.


Students are expected to create/present the following deliverables:

  • Two substantial projects. The first project will be exhibited at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, CA (April 3, 2006) and at the UML Botfest on Saturday, April 8, 2006; the second is due at the end of the term.

  • Two detailed project write-ups. One of these will be a web site; the other will be a publication-quality paper in the style of a short CHI paper.

  • Various small labs assigned (all must be completed).

Looking Ahead

Here is a quick look at the semester with topics for the first few weeks. The course is not completely planned at this point.

  • meeting 1, jan 25. intro; lab demo of BF-HB and Visual DSP++; lab 1 handed out.
  • meeting 2, feb 1. projects with Analog's Visual DSP++ Kernel (VDK)
  • meeting 3, feb 8. intro to LabVIEW Embedded
  • meeting 4, feb 15.
  • meeting 5, feb 22.
  • meeting 6, mar 1. fred at SIGCSE
  • meeting 7, mar 8.
  • spring break, mar 11–19
  • meeting 8, mar 22.
  • meeting 9, mar 29.
  • meeting 10, apr 5. fred at ESC
  • Botfest Art & Technology Exhibition, Saturday, April 8.
  • meeting 11, apr 12.
  • apr 19 -- no class, Monday schedule
  • meeting 12, apr 26.
  • meeting 13, may 3. Final course projects due.
  • meeting 14, may 10. Final course writeups due.

Last modified: Monday, 04-Jun-2007 13:00:39 EDT by fred_martin@uml.edu