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One team from ECE takes home two awards during the 2015 BOOM

Friday, March 27, 2015

Connor Archard and Feiran Chen’s project, Rapid Circuit Prototyping

ECE seniors Connor Archard and Feiran Chen’s project, Rapid Circuit Prototyping took home two awards during 2015 BOOM (Bits on our Mind), an annual showcase of student research and creativity in digital technology and applications. The team won both the GE: IT Imagination at Work Award and the Google Moonshot Award.

For their cumulative design experience, Connor and Feiran made a circuit printer that can be controlled and interacted with via web over a local network. Their pen plotter draws in electrically conductive ink to rapidly create circuits drawn on a web app. See a version of their web app here.

“People were more excited about the project than I had anticipated,” said Connor. “Now I think we are going to move forward to get a more polished product put together.”

Repurposing an old pen plotter, they fitted it with an electrically conductive pen and utilized an atmega 1284P to both control the x and y-axis motors and to raise and lower the pen. They then created a web app that allowed a user to draw out circuits quickly, and then send them to be printed out on the plotter over a Wi-Fi network.

The atmega 1284P receives vectors of x and y-coordinates from the host computer that instruct it on how to move the plotter head. By measuring the position of the plotter head on each axis through the on-chip ADC and two servo potentiometers, they are able move the plotter head to an accuracy of approximately 1/10th of an inch on a typical piece of A4 paper. Read more specifics of their project here.

According to their conclusions, “if this project was to be created on a larger production scale, it would make circuit design less intimidating and would help to get more people interested in electrical design. The idea that people would be able to trivially create physical, functional versions of .gerber and other layout files is exciting and could potentially spur on the genesis of an open-source hardware design community.”

Connor and Feiran developed rapid Circuit Prototyping during ECE 4760, Designing with Microcontrollers, and are advised by ECE Senior Lecturer Bruce Land.

For more about 2015 BOOM visit

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