Big Brother Energy Monitoring System

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[[File:Big Brother team picture. From left to right: Noah Mammon, Jenny Uhling, Yang Xu


Big Brother Play to Charge
Duration Spring 2019 - Fall 2019
Faculty Adviser Dr. Herb Hess and Dr. Law
Mentor Dr. Herb Hess
  • University of Idaho/ ECE Department
Team Members Big Brother
  • Jenny Uhling 1
  • Noah Mammon 2
  • Yang Xu 3

The goal of the project is to use a hand crank generator to convert mechanical power into electricity and save that energy in a battery that will be used to charge small devices. But with a twist; the hand crank will be used as a controller for a game that you can play on your phone.

Problem Definition[edit]

The goal of our project is to turn mechanical energy into electrical energy with the use of hand crank generators, we will use this energy to store in a battery and charge small devices like cell phones. But with a twist, the hand crank generators will be controllers for a game.


The background for this project goes back to the original prompt for our project. As a group we picked the most important aspects from the prompt and narrowed it down to three parts. The parts are: 1. To monitor power 2. To save electricity 3. To have fun We looked into this and decided to do a brain storming session about fun ways and accomplish all of these goals. We came up with this idea of creating a game that created power on its own and was monitored while playing the game. This energy can be used to charge a whole verity of small devices and is therefore saving electrity in the home.


The deliverable for this project is a combination of three main aspects. The first component will be the hand crank generator. This will physically be connected to multiple converters and then to a battery. Which is the second component, the battery will power a microcontroller and charge other physical devices. The third part of our deliverables is the game. This will be a game played on your phone and will be controlled by the hand crank, you will crank at the same time as playing the game, so it is very important that all three components work together to create our final project.

Hand Crank Generator


Our budget is shown below in ranges. It will fall in the range of 350 and 600 dollars most likely. We will have to purchase two hand crank generators, two microcontroller, a hand full of different types of converters, and a battery, along with a few other miscellaneous items.

Budget Design Review Capture


General Requirements

  • Generates power
  • Stores said power
  • Fun to play
  • Efficiently uses generated and stored power
  • Transmits through Bluetooth

Specific Requirements Hand Crank Generator Specifications

Hand Crank Generator
Hand Crank Generator Specifications from Design Review

AC/DC converter specifications

AC/DC Converter specifications from our Design Review
AC to DC converter from our Design Review

Battery specifications

Battery Specifications from the Design Review

Target Values

  • Safety to use for both users and devices
  • Generally reduces power consumption in the home
  • Fun to play and create
  • Compact and portable design
  • Final product functions as intended

Snapshot Slides[edit]

Page 1 of the snapshot; Group title

Link to Semester One SnapShot
Link to Semester Two SnapShot
Click on each link above to view the first or the second semester snap shot. These are the power point presentations that we printed off and displayed taped to a board for our snap shot. From the link you can view a break down slide by slide or you can access the whole power point. There is quite a lot of changes between the two power points. Some of them being our name got changed to Spin it to Win it during the second semester. We also found out that our hand crank was DC and not AC, this changed a lot of our power path information. The other biggest difference is the level and thoroughness of the contained information. The first semester power point contains a broader, general concept presentation. In the second semester you will be able to see much more in depth and accurate numbers and figures about the components we chose to use.

Design Review[edit]

Link to Design Review Material and Power Point Design Review: Date: 4/18/19 Location: NASA Conference Room BEL Time: 2:00 PM

Our design review was attended by 12 people plus the three presenters. We walked through the introductions and gave our elevator pitch first. Then we talked about the whole project in a physical sense and showed a slide with all of the physical components laid out on it. Then we went into all of the specifications. These can be found on the link in the powerpoint, or below in the specifications section of the wiki page. Next we went into the simulations. We discussed the power path and the signal path for the project. After that Noah talked about the microcontroller and communication from the generator to the hand crank, he also gave all of the necessary data for these components. After we got through the meat of the project we talked about the budget and the scheduled moving forward. Then we had a questions section in which Val Wold and Dr. Hess asked many questions and then we wrapped up. I am going to tell you our grade we received on the Design Review because I am proud of it, we received an A. Overall the Design Review was a success, for more information about it click on the link above or contact the team members.

At the Design Review stage we were responsible for having a deeper conceptual understanding of our project. While nothing, physical was necessary at this stage, it was still suggested that we were able to physically show that we had this conceptual understanding. To do this we made multiple simulations to show our goals for our project. Shown here are our simulations. Below is the simulation screenshot of our power path as well as our signal path. We explained these in detail during our design review. In a nut shell, our power path is responsible for getting power from the hand crank generator to the battery for storage. In order to do this, the power needs to first be changed from AC to DC. Then the voltage and current needs to be regulated to insure that the voltage only flows into the battery and not vise-versa. The battery is also responsible for outputting power to run the microcontroller and to charge small devices, both of these have mandatory voltage ranges that need to be met.

Here is our power path;

Power Path

The signal path is in charge of transmitting a signal containing the input for the game, voltage, from the hand crank generator to the phone or game playing device. This is done with the use of a voltage divider, a microcontroller containing an A/D converter and a Bluetooth transmitting chip. Shown here is our signal path;

Signal Path

Project Learning and Preliminary Design[edit]

Shown below is our hand drawn simulation of our plan, including the hand cranks, battery, microcontroller, and converters. As you can see, we start with the hand crank generators which outputs a AC voltage that goes to a AC/DC converer that outputs DC voltage to a battery. This battery in turn charges a phone or other small device as well as feeding a Arduino Uno. This is done by stepping down the voltage using a buck converter as shown. The last step, shown in orange is the voltage being read by the microcontroller using the analog in built into the microcontroller.

This is a hand drawn simulation of our plan, including the hand cranks, battery, microcontroller, and converters

Physical Concept[edit]


Team Members[edit]


Name:'Yang Xu'
Major:'Electrical Engineering'
Responsibility:'Budget Manager'

[[File: |thumb|left]]

Name:'Jenny Uhling'
Major:'Electrical Engineering'
Responsibility:'Wiki page'

[[File: |thumb|left]]

Name:'Noah Mammon'
Major:'Computer Engineering'
Responsibility:'Team Lead'

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule

[[File:Link to Big Brothers Schedule Semester One]]
[[File:Link to Spin it to Win it Schedule Semester Two]]

Meeting Minutes Semester 1

[[File:Meeting Minuets #1]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #2]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #3]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #4]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #5]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #6]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #7]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #8]]

[[File:Link to all meetings agendas]]

Meeting Minutes Semester 2

[[File:Meeting Minuets #1]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #2]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #3]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #4]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #5]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #6]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #7]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #8]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #9]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #10]]
[[File:Meeting Minuets #11]]

[[File:Link to all meetings agendas]]


[[File:Snapshot Power Point]]
[[File:Senior Design Review Power Point]]
[[File:Snapshot 2 Power Point]]