Project HPASS is an Electrical and Computer Engineering Detail design project sponsored by Cobham Aerospace in Prescott. The goal of the project was to create a Head Position and Attitude Sensor (HPASS), and its purpose is to track the position and orientation of a person’s head. The specific design details could not be released however due to a non-disclosure agreement with Cobham. Because of this relationship with Cobham Aerospace however, this team was able to get a lot of unique experience, working in a real industry setting.

The project was split into two subsystems: position sensing and attitude sensing. Both systems use “an array of sensors typically used on robots, but arranged differently to make the measurements we need,” according to team member James Fernando. Both subsystems provided unique challenges, due to the different systems being used.

The group has had several challenges with their design, which have caused the group to do a lot of extra work. They were not able to obtain the appropriate number of sensors from the suppliers and vendors for one of the subsystems, and therefore are unsure whether or not it really works.

The other subsystem has been plagued by issues with a common communications bus that the sensors use. Even through all the sensors connect to this communications bus, they all work differently, and thus need a lot of individual fine tuning.

Other issues have included the need to lay out the circuit schematics in proprietary software, and correcting printed circuit board manufacturer mistakes by hand. In the latter case, the traces on the boards needed to be cut by hand with Xacto knives, and wiring used to make the right connections.

Even though the project has not been a complete success, the design team has been able to gain a lot of valuable industry experience. Projects like this also strengthen Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s connections with local industry, and the avionics industry in general, paving the way for future projects like this.

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