This past week was the final week of our REU program. On Monday I submitted the rough draft of my final project report. On Tuesday we had a practice poster session with a few other REU groups and then Wednesday afternoon it was time for the real thing. Overall, I thought the poster session went pretty well and luckily I didn’t get as nervous as I was expecting to. Afterwards, Alex and I received a farewell gift and some final words of wisdom from Ajay and Ashraful. The banquet and the rest of our final day in Lincoln was nice, but it was also hard saying goodbye to everyone. It feels like I’ve known everyone a lot longer than the two months we’ve been here. I’ve had a great summer in Lincoln and have learned a lot including ROS, coding Arduinos, 3-D printing, LaTex, and a bit about building circuits. I was sad to leave Lincoln and UNL, but I am definitely hoping to be accepted for graduate school here in two years so maybe I’ll be back someday. For now, I plan to spend the next two weeks enjoying some free time before school begins and finishing the final draft of my project report.
Last week was the deadline for our poster submissions so I spent the beginning of the week finishing up mine. I think it turned out alright, but right now I’m too afraid of finding typos to look too closely at the finished result. We also have a final paper to write so I spent some time last week working on that. Aside from that we had some time to do a few more experiments. We added a pump and some ballast water to our system so we could ascend as well as descend. We did a few test flights on Friday and although we were able to get the balloon to release water and helium when they were supposed to, all of our flights ended up passing their target by quite a bit and overcompensating when they tried to correct it. I think more tests are needed to determine if slower ascent and descent rates can fix this problem or if it is again possibly a complication due to the air circulation in the building. Outside of lab, I spent our last weekend in Lincoln going to the Lancaster County Fair and visiting the quilt museum and diary store on east campus. It’s hard to believe we only have two more days until the poster symposium and three more days in Lincoln. This summer has gone by so fast.
This last week has been very long and busy trying to make some changes to the Arduino code and our circuit and then getting in some final flight tests before our posters are due on Tuesday. Overall, I would say this last week has had a lot of good and bad mixed together research wise. We added a PWM controller to our code to better control the descent which after several tests seems to be working well although still in need of some fine tuning. We also began using a moving average of the pressure to get more consist pressure readings and added batteries to our circuit so we can fly without being connected to a power source. However, during our flight tests we had a lot of difficulty maintaining altitude sometimes which we believe may have been caused by the air conditioning and ventilation in the building. This is not a good sign as outdoor flights will definitely mean some wind and our system right now isn’t able to handle that.
Also in lab this week, I took a break from my research to listen to John Paul’s dissertation. It was on dimensional analysis in coding which I thought was really interesting. It was also nice to get to see another example on how to present research while I start preparing for the research symposium. For this next week, we are hoping to add the pump to our circuit so we can add some ballast to our system to be able to ascend as well as descend. We will also have a lot of work to do to finish our posters and the project report draft which is due on Wednesday.
This week Alex and I have done a few more flights with the balloons, this time with the Nimbus sensor to get the pressure data for the flights. Our first flight was disappointing as we had problems with the sensor we were using and weren’t able to get any useful results. For our second flight, we used a different Nimbus sensor after rewiring it and were able to get some data that I have been analyzing some today. However, since we were using the power supply instead of a battery we’re going to need to redo our experiments as it ended up affecting our experiment more than we were expecting. We are hoping to do more flights soon, this time with a battery and some code to control the descent that I need to work on. Also this week, our poster first draft was due and it’s a little scary to think about how close the REU is to being over. We also had two more meetings this week, one on how to write a conference paper and one by a student panel of former REU students that are now graduate students at UNL. Outside of the lab, last weekend I went to see a Beauty and the Beast musical at the Pinewood Bowl Amphitheatre and the rest of this week I’ve mostly stayed indoors to avoid the heat.
This week Alex and I were finally able to fly some of our balloons. The first part of the week was spent mostly on setting up our balloon system including the solenoid valve, Arduino, and Zigbee. We also did some tests to estimate the volume of the balloon and see how much helium the solenoid valve releases in a given amount of time by blowing the helium into a full water bottle until it emptied. On Thursday we flew our balloon and were able to get it to hover at different heights by releasing helium wirelessly via the Zigbee which was exciting. Today we have been modifying our circuit so we can simplify it some and so we can attach the Nimbus sensor to our balloon to be able to get the air pressure data of the balloon while it is flying. This has been a bit difficult since we’ve been having trouble getting data from one of the Nimbus sensors and the other has some glitches that cause the air pressure data we receive to jump randomly. Currently, I’m working on writing some code to be able to filter out these jumps so they won’t trigger the solenoid valve.
We didn’t have any Wednesday meeting this week, but we did meet with Dr. Detweiler to discuss research progress and graduate school. Also this week , I went to see Yesterday at the movie theatre downtown and on Thursday there was a tour for the REU students of Memorial Stadium.
This week was my fifth in Lincoln and it’s hard to believe that the SRP is already half over. This week in lab Alex and I have been doing a lot of tests with the XQ2 sensor to determine the relationship between the air pressure and the sensor’s height to see if we can use the pressure readings to control the height of the balloon. This has been a bit frustrating as we haven’t been able to get very clear data from it so far. We also attempted an experiment to use the solenoid to release some helium from a balloon to get it to remain at equilibrium, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough helium to complete the experiment.
Our meetings this week included one on designing an effective experiment and one on writing personal statements for graduate school. I thought both had some helpful tips that I can use. Outside of lab, this week has been pretty exciting due to the Fourth of July celebrations. Wednesday evening I went to the Uncle Sam Jam in Lincoln to enjoy the fireworks and July 4th I went to another fireworks show in Seward, NE that was really cool.
This week in lab I have been pretty focused on writing my literature review. This was my first time writing a literature review and it was a slow process, but reading more about my project and then having to put what I’d learned into words really helped me to understand it better. Also, I used LaTex to format the paper as Dr. Duncan recommend and decided I really like the program. I’m hoping to spend some more time learning how to use it so I can work with it in the future. After finishing the literature review, Alex and I have been working with the solenoid valve and the Arduino. Today we tested using it to vent helium from a balloon and also did some calculations to figure how much power we’ll need for the valve.
Last weekend we had a trip to Omaha to visit the zoo and the Old Market. The zoo was great and I really liked exploring the Old Market and some of the shops there. We also had a meeting this week for a mock poster symposium which I thought was really helpful. We listened to a few graduate students give presentation on their research and then judged the best ones. I think it helped me to start thinking about what I’ll be doing for my poster at the end of the summer. The Nimbus lab also met this week for some pizza and to talk about where everyone was on their research.
The beginning of this week was spent continuing to work on ROS. First, Ashraful gave me a light sensor to connect to an Arduino to get data about how much light the sensor was getting on each side and using that to determine which side the light was coming from which I found interesting to work with. After that, AJay had Alex and I work on creating a ROS subscriber that could get data at different rates and then publish that data. I think both of those projects, as well as talking with AJay, really helped me to get a better understanding of ROS. Towards the end of the week, Alex and I spent more time thinking about our project (how to get a balloon to remain at a stable altitude) and considering how we were going to approach it and what supplies we’ll need. I have also spent some time this week working on the literature review draft that we have due next week.
Meanwhile, our meetings this week included one by Dr. Duncan about reading and writing research papers and one about professionalism, both of which I found useful. We also met with some REU evaluators to discuss how the REU has been going so far. I thought it was really nice that they’re so willing to listen to feedback and trying to make this a really great experience for everyone. Outside of the lab, this week I went to the Haymarket to visit the farmer’s market and a few shops there, went to the Nebraska History Museum downtown, and attended a game night with a few other REU students all of which were pretty great.
My second week in Nebraska has been just as busy as the first. In the lab I have primarily been working with ROS and Arduino this week. I’ve enjoyed being able to see some actual applications of ROS by writing a few simple programs to send and recieve information from the Arduino. I’ve also been doing some research into altitude-controlled balloons to learn more about the subject and determine some possible methods of allowing a balloon to maintain a stable altitude which is the project that I will be working on this summer. The research has been pretty interesting so far, and I’m looking forward to putting some of those ideas into practice.
Outside of the lab, I enjoyed taking advantage of the down time this weekend to get an awesome tour of the state capitol building, visit the natural history museum on campus, and enjoy a game night with the rest of the unmanned systems students. On Wednesday, all the REU students also attended another mini-lecture this week on writing scientific papers. So far, I have really enjoyed this REU experience and feel that I have already learned a lot this summer.
Hello. My name is Karissa Jelonek and I am a computer science major going into my third year at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. This summer I am participating in the Unmanned Systems REU at UNL to gain some experience with research and learn more about computer science and especially about its real-world applications. I don’t have any previous experience with drones, but I choose this lab because I thought they would be cool to learn more about and I really liked the interesting applications that the lab was exploring for drones. I hope that by the end of the summer I will have learned a lot and will have a clearer idea of what I want to do in the future with regards to graduate school and career paths.
This first week at UNL has been busy. In the lab, the three things I have been working on this week have been ROS tutorials, FAA part 107, and practicing flying the Hubsans a little. The ROS tutorials have definitely been the most stressful part, but after a week I am starting to feel slightly more comfortable with it. Meanwhile, I thought the FAA part 107 stuff was pretty interesting and easy to follow, but practicing flying has definitely been the most fun part so far. However, I still need some work before I’m ready for my flying test.
My time outside of the lab has also been busy. In the mornings, we had workshops on different topics like authorship, financing grad school, and mentor communication. We also had several social activities in the evenings and opportunities to go on tours to see the campus and downtown areas. Overall, I have really enjoyed my first week at UNL and am looking forward to week two.