A Bittersweet Farewell from the Prosthetics Group

SAU USRI Prosthetics Group Presentation (1)During our final week of the Undergraduate Summer Research Institute, our prosthesis group’s work began to wind down.  Justin and Nick were able to make some adjustments to their circuit and circuit box, and now there should finally be a working circuit ready for next summer’s students to use! In addition, Dylan, Kristin, and Holly finished their EEG user’s manual.  It is now a 35 page document with about a million pictures; therefore, it should be very easy for next summer’s research group to set up the EEG machine correctly and begin collecting data.  We were not able to get the print head in time to finish printing out all of our objects.  However, the designs for the objects are completely finished, meaning it should be very simple for the students next summer to print them out and assemble them.  We spent a lot of time working on and practicing our presentation, especially since Dr. Prosise would not allow us to have notecards or any type of notes with us during the presentation.  It sure was a lot of technical information to remember!  However, we felt extremely prepared for our presentation, and we all felt that it went even better than we anticipated.  Dr. Prosise always knows how to push us to do our best, and we couldn’t be more proud of each other!  We cannot believe that our six-week research project has come to an end.  We are definitely going to miss our countless hours in the basement of Hayes, our many volleyball games, and above all, the friendships that we have formed with each other.  While this summer’s project may be over, we know that we will always have each other’s backs and our cherished memories.  Where one door opens, another opens, and there is always another egg to crack out there in our future!  Thank you to Dr. Prosise and Dr. Drake for leading our research group, our donors, those who helped us in figuring out how to work the EEG machine, those who provided us with our equipment, our EEG user’s manual testers, and everyone else who made our research possible. We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Star Party!

During the last week of the institute, we took a break to have a cook-out and do some star-gazing. Dr. Robert Mitchell, SAU astronomy professor positioned the telescope so we could see a number of stars, and the planet, Saturn. I think most of us were shocked that Saturn looked like a cartoon image! Here are some pics from that night out…
DSC06959Starparty3 Star party2 Star party1

Heavy Metals update for the week of July 15

The week of July 15th has been relatively quiet compared to the previous weeks for the XRF Group. On Monday and Tuesday, Barb and Dr. Miller wrapped up the XRF scanning, especially concentrating on children’s toys and jewelry. Barbs was able to do a preliminary survey of the jewelry before the (rented) instrument had to be shipped back to the supplier on Wednesday.

The small sample set of children’s metal jewelry showed a surprising amount of heavy metals, especially lead. Lead contained in metal charms on a bracelet, for example, could be swallowed by a child. Barb will look further into the regulations placed on children’s jewelry for her final report. Also, more than 100 old plastic toys were analyzed, such as Fisher Price Little People, and many of these showed high levels of lead and cadmium.

The other students, Zoe, Kialee, and I, organized and reformatted the spreadsheets of the data collected, arranging all the information into different categories. For example, we looked for correlation of heavy metal contamination with date of manufacture or with color. In addition, each of us have been preparing to write our final reports by examining the spectral peaks collected from each sample to reconfirm the presence of the heavy metals.

-Alex Ducray

Stream Outlines Final Post

Last week we had our official field day to collect all our data for the 6 chosen methods, all in all meaning a productive 12 hours in the stream. The day began with a simple task of placing our thirty pre-made and marked control points. From there we then began to measure distances between the control points in two teams of two and then compared our results which surprisingly enough were spot on for the majority of them. Next we each began photo methods. We used the GPS feature of the camera to get longitude and latitude coordinates of the waters edge on the banks. We used a tripod stand for the “twinning” cameras method to take pictures that could be used to create 3D images of the stream. As with the first practice “field day” the square method was also utilized but with slight modifications this time. In addition to using the square to obtain horizontal and vertical lines, we also placed the square in three different locations and tried to include as many control points in pictures as possible as a means of testing the accuracy of the perspective correction. David and Kyle began the photosynth method which consisted of walking up and down the center of the bank, and up and down the center again first looking at one bank and then the other taking pictures all the while (over 500 pictures between the two of them for this method alone). Next was the video method wherein 15 second videos were taken while walking down either bank. The non-photo methods were pretty frustrating but they turned out a lot better than expected once we got a system down and started. Maybe we didn’t think them through as well as the others or expected the control points to be on the edge, but either way, we found a solution quickly.

Here are some field day pictures.DSCN2989DSCN2994DSCN3017 DSCN3019 For many more pictures and a time lapse video: http://streamoutlines.blogspot.com/

Since the major field day, we have spent all of our time analyzing data. The GPS method consisted of using an equation to convert degrees of longitude and latitude to x, y coordinates that could be plotted on the graph. This method had by far the highest percent error (over 200%) and therefore it was determined that the camera GPS was not precise enough. For the non-photo methods again, x, y coordinates were established and the angle was determined to graph the stream outline, both showing less than 3% error. The twinning cameras/3D/video we have not analyzed yet due to time constraints and focusing a lot of our time on what we believe to be the most effective method and certainly the most novel method of them all, the square method. In these last couple of days we have manually picked out the outline, the control points, and the square corners by hand using GIMP on hundreds of images that are part of the square method to upload eventually into a Matlab program that will automatically correct for radial distortion and perspective allowing us to create a map and calculate control point error for this method.  But before these images are able to be loaded into Matlab to correct for perspective and barrel distortion they are run through the StreamGUI.  This program allows users to load the images and click and label the corners of the square and the control points as well as setting the square’s side length and the horizontal field of view. We hope the percent error for this method will be the lowest of them all as it seems to be continually lowering as more and more pictures are completed. We are excited to share our results with everyone tomorrow!!

A Photo Finish

The neural group finished a project and began another entering the final stretch of the SRI. The number one goal of our research was to see if our EEG machine was a viable recording option for neural sign. After four weeks of learning how to properly use the machine, we collected data to support that it indeed does work. The next step was to create a manual outlining, in detail, the operation of the EEG. It includes the process of setting up the EEG, attaching electrodes to a human subject, using LabVIEW software and troubleshooting. Bryce Aitken and Dr. Opar volunteered to run through our manual as naïve users. Dr. Opar suggested changing the format to a more picture oriented approach. Holly took the lead and managed to make a much more user friendly manual.

Our new project was to create a camera setup to test the hand shaping of our final object series. We marked each of our joints on our right hands and took pictures grasping the different objects. Because the 3D printer head was broken, only 2 of our 4 object series were completed (Series A and C). The type of shapes in the series concentrated on certain aspects of hand kinematics. Hand3Series A examined the proximal interphalangeal (IP) angle for the forefinger. Series C focused on the linearity between the fingers not including the thumb. Hand2The IP angles increased over the series and the linearity decreased as hypothesized. Hand1

We are now working on our presentation and are very excited to present this Friday!
–Dylan Beyhl

Heavy Metals group update from Zoe Harris for the week July 8-12

Selenium, Iron, Zinc. These were some ingredients to make the perfect Barbie doll. But the manufacturers accidently-on-purpose added a hazardous ingredient: the element cadmium.

This week the heavy metals group has been busily working on scanning items and interpreting data. This week we tested more toys, dishes, eye-shadow, money, T-shirts, and even started looking at electronics’ cables. There were many toys that did not contain hazardous elements (yay!) but there were a few that did (). Two older Barbie dolls contained high levels of cadmium, ranging from 200 ppm to 600 ppm. These exceed today’s U.S. limit of 100 ppm. We plan to scan more Barbies, to see the differences and similarities between various eras.

Several ceramic dishes contained quite a bit of lead. The highest amount found so far was a Frankoma bowl. This was made up of 27.5 % lead. And yes, this is bad. As the glaze on the bowl gradually wears off, the lead in the glaze leaches out into food. A buildup of lead in the body can cause lead poisoning, especially in children. So, if you notice that one or more of your plates are chipped or there are places where the glaze has been rubbed or worn off, it would be best to buy new dishes. But do not worry that you are getting lead poisoning from every single dish you eat off of. If it is intact with no worn-out spots or chips, it is probably okay to use (no guarantees).

We have been using the software that came with the XRF instrument to analyze our data. It allows the data to be organized to show what elements were detected and how much; it also allows the data to be viewed in spectral form, revealing the spectral fingerprints of the elements in the tested object. We use the spectra to verify the presence of toxic metals. If a certain metal is present, we should be able to see its characterstic peaks.

In the next two weeks we will finish scanning, continue to analyze the data, and get ready for our presentation of our findings. It has been exciting thus far, being able to scan items with our XRF “gun” and see what samples contain what.

Update from the Prosthetic group

It’s not all EGGs and EEGs in the prosthetic group. While part of our group is working on figuring out how an EEG machine works and what the readings mean the other part is making pieces for grasping. blog picOnce all is understood with the EEG machine, volunteers will grasp different objects like the one shown here. There will be 22 different objects with force sensors in them for the volunteers to grasp. They are all different shapes to utilize the different shapes your hand can make. After making these pieces in proE we will upload them into the 3D printer and make the shapes come to life. Finding a way to make the pieces come out the way we want, while still being able to fit the force sensors in them and mounting them so they are stationary has been quite a challenge. It is rewarding to see the pieces come out of the printer, and to see how close we are getting to gathering information about humans and the way they shape their hands.