Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Stages of Grant Poposals

Several weeks ago, we were sitting here at Quanser brainstorming what we could do to help our clients gain funding for their projects. We’ve helped with writing proposals before, but wanted to create a more systematic approach to address the different stages of receiving a grant. Each one of these stages has unique opportunities and we’ll write about them over the next few weeks.

Here’s what we came up with:

1. “I’m thinking about writing a grant proposal”

2. “I’m writing a grant proposal right now”

3. “I submitted my grant proposal and am waiting for an answer”

4. “Yes! I won the grant and I’m waiting for funding to come through.”
Alternate: “Nope, not this time. What should I do now?”

5. “Received funding and am acquiring resources now.”

Which stage are you at?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Test Drive Quanser QNET modules with NI ELVIS II - and more

Traditionally, NIWeek gives us a great opportunity to highlight seamless integration of Quanser experiments with National Instruments hardware and software. This year, you can test drive some of the latest innovations Quanser is presenting at NIWeek 2009 in Austin:

Quanser Engineering Trainers for NI ELVIS (QNETs) extend the functionality of NI ELVIS and LabVIEW software and increase the value of your investment in NI platforms. Six different experiments for one platform give your students hands-on experience in the important aspects of engineering practice: control, design and simulation. Try all six boards and imagine how easy teaching control fundamentals can be. Find out which experiments are the best suited for your discipline - whether it is electrical, mechanical, mechatronics, aerospace or biomedical engineering.

Active Suspension with CompactRIO: integration with National Instruments hardware provides many options for prototyping, hardware-in-the-loop tests, or final implementation. Portable, configurable and simple to set up, while achieving high performance and reliability - Active Suspension with CompactRio brings real-world engineering into your lab.

Visit NIWeek 2009 Academic Forum to learn more about classroom innovations! And visit Quanser in the booth 807 - our engineers are ready to answer all your questions!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

President Obama Honors Young Scientists

On July 9, the White House announced the names of 100 young scientists - recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. The award, established in 1996 by President Clinton, is the highest honor young researchers can receive for the achievements in the early stages of their careers. Winning scientists and engineers will receive their awards in the fall at the White House ceremony.

One of those who will visit Washington this fall, is Dr. Robert Wood from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Wood's research interests spread from mobile and fixed microrobotics, micro air vehicles, biomimetic systems, composite materials for microrobotic applications, to surgical robotics, sensors and actuators. But he also teaches undergraduate students, introducing them to the fundamentals of robotics - with a little help from Quanser and its 5 DOF Open Architecture Robot. "...the robotics course was a hit!" Dr. Wood told us in 2007 about his 'Introduction to Robotics'. "The students seemed to get a great deal of insight from programming the arm to do various tasks." And you can see that the students had a lot of fun.

Everyone at Quanser congratulates Dr. Wood on being honored by President Obama. This is an amazing achievement that is well deserved. We wish Dr. Wood continued success in his research and teaching. In President Obama's words "With their talent, creativity and dedication ... they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

QUARC: Communication Capabilities and Framework

QuaRC is a multi-function rapid control prototyping and deployment environment. It extends the traditional design-to-implementation interface toolset to new levels by allowing more functionality, complete connectivity openness, and more development flexibility, all with low overhead and minimal training.

QUARC has in place a very generic, flexible and communication-protocol-independent framework allowing for carrying out standard communication not only between QUARC models, but especially between a QUARC model and an external third-party application (e.g., graphical user interface), or even between two external third-party applications!!

The QUARC communication framework, using the Quanser Stream API, follows the well-established client/server communication mechanism implemented in either a blocking I/O mode (i.e., asynchronous I/O in a separate thread) or non-blocking I/O mode (i.e., synchronous I/O in the model current thread). The Quanser Stream communication framework is open and structured to readily accommodate and integrate new communication protocols as required. To date, the Quanser Stream API has the following communication protocols available for the four Operating Systems that QuaRC can target.

The QUARC Windows (32-bit XP and Vista) target fully supports the following communication protocols:
The QUARC QNX (Real-Time OS) target fully supports the following communication protocols:
The QUARC Linux ARM (gumstix) target fully supports the following communication protocols:
Also the upcoming QUARC INtime (RTOS) target fully supports the following communication protocols:

QUARC also provides support for using:

The QUARC communication framework (i.e., Stream API) also allows for switching from one communication protocol to another by only changing the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) string defining the new protocol to be used. The rest of the blocks or functions used in the communication remain untouched!

This Quanser Stream framework is completely open-architecture and made available externally by its provided APIs. The Quanser Stream API is development-environment independent as it is currently fully implemented in:

It can be readily extended to other languages and environments as required. This makes any Quanser Stream protocol accessible from and to external applications.

Friday, July 10, 2009

CreativeIT - New Grant Program from NSF

Just came across an announcement from National Science Foundation (NSF) about CreativeIT, a new program that funds projects exploring synergistic cross disciplinary research in creativity and computer science and information technology. NSF is now accepting proposals for the program.

If you are studying creativity and computing to advance computer science and information technology, cognitive science, engineering, education, or science related to innovative approaches to education, submit your proposal to NSF by October 13, 2009.

For more details on the program, visit NSF's CreativeIT Program webpage.

For information on how Quanser can help with your funding application, please contact Sunny Ray.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Free Online Mechatronics Webinars

Our engineers would like to invite you and your colleagues to get a more detailed demonstration of the Active Suspension, 3 DOF Gyroscope or any other plant from Quanser's new Mechatronic Controls Collection you wanted to explore. Simply register for any of the free webinars listed below to see the plants in action and get answers to questions about technical capabilities or how we can assist with funding. When you attend a webinar, you are entered to win a SONY Voice Recorder!

Thursday, July 9 (all times are Eastern Standard Time)
21.00-21.45 Active Suspension Demo
22.00-22.45 3 DOG Gyroscope Demo
23.00-23.45 Hexapod Demo

Friday, July 10 (all times are Eastern Standard Time)
24.00-0.45 2 DOF Planar Robot Demo
1.00-1.45 Industrial Mechatronic Drives Unit and its Modules Demo

Thursday, July 16th
(all times are Eastern Standard Time)

9.00-9.45 Industrial Mechatronic Drives Unit and its Modules Demo
10.00-10.45 2 DOF Planar Robot Demo

3 DOF Gyroscope
Active Suspension
Hexapod Demo

More webinars for the summer will be scheduled soon - please check the webinar calendar.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Flexible link with flexible possibilities

There are many real-world applications for controlling vibration.

Objects connected to the ground can usually damp out vibrations with relative ease. However, stick an object in space and vibration becomes a serious concern. Whenever an object is moved or stopped, the resulting vibrations need to be controlled or they may continue for long and undesirable periods of time.

One of the experiments in Quanser’s rotary collection is the Flexible Link - a stainless steel, ruler-like link with a strain gauge to measure deflection. The link is placed on a DC motor and can be used to simulate how it might react to different inputs and how a controller performs in damping the ensuing vibrations. When the experiments are running, it’s very clear to see how the controller performs.

On a recent visit of Dr. Bogdan Udrea and his students at Embry-Riddle University in Florida, the students tested out vibrations on the link and brought out a slow-motion video camera. See that link flex…

Dr. Yunjun Xu of the University of Central Florida has been using the flexible link to create a vision-based controller to limit vibrations and is getting amazing results. The videos below are from his lab and show no perceivable vibrations.

Without controller...

With controller turned on...

Learn more about the flexible link experiment here.