Every great innovation began first as a simple idea. Our team engineers professional tools that are first created as ambitious projects.
Internal ITRSS Projects
In addition to providing support to specific research efforts at S&T, IT Research Support Services facilitates internal projects utilizing S&T student talent for purposes of creating new campus instrumentation and student development. The projects are all multi-discipline, and are developed by student teams which vary as students arrive and depart the team. These projects increase our campus research instrumentation with well developed, tested, and supportable systems. The projects have a focus on research support as service to the university, however, the overriding value comes from the student worker involvement and individual growth within the students.
MinerBytes is a robust and secure digital signage solution. RSS students selected the Raspberry Pi, a $35 credit card-sized computer, and a spare computer monitor as the entry level for hardware requirements, and designed the system so it could scale up to powerful workstations with 4K displays and beyond. The MinerBytes client is capable of delivering smooth 1080P video, YouTube content, images, web content, and more. The user friendly web-based user interface allows content to be displayed on a schedule to provide time and location sensitive information; for several signs to be grouped together in order to change all of the content at once; and can displays administrative information so that signs requiring maintenance can be found easily.
MinerBytes is cross-platform, meaning that it can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux providing not only the flexibility to run nearly everywhere but also the ability to act as a drop-in replacement for more expensive digital signage solutions. The server is housed in Missouri S&T's secure datacenter and all communications with the signs are encrypted ensuring data integrity.
MinerBytes provides a Broadcast Mode feature which allows all the signs (or a defined subset) to display the same content playlist in the event of an urgent message from campus authorities such as a schedule change at an event or emergency information.
Contact Research Support Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, to schedule a demo, or to find out how MinerBytes can help grow your organization!
The MinerFly project provides researchers access to a safe and field tested autonomous aerial vehicle service. This service includes an experienced human pilot, a payload operator, an option to select from an array of optical instruments, and general mission support, thus significantly reducing the amount of time, expertise, and money which researchers would have to invest in order to collect their desired data. Originally, MinerFly was conceived with the idea of taking high resolution LiDAR scans of foliage in order to detect pollutants near mining sites while still having the capability to perform a wide variety of other operations.
The Minerfly program is fully supported by the RSS team, removing the need for researchers to develop their own out-of-discipline flight-operations expertise when they have a need for aerial data collection.
The MinerFly Octo airframe is a versatile and highly configurable platform. Called MinerFly Octo due to its use of an 8-rotor airframe, the aircraft has a strong yet lightweight carbon fiber frame and optimized motor/prop/electronics combinations. RSS selected MinerFly Octo components and built the aircraft in a way that allows it to carry a large variety of instrument payloads.
The MinerFly Octo boasts 155mm wide rails, 330mm payload clearance, and the ability to lift up to 30 pounds of payload, though payloads of less than 10 pounds are typical and result in longer flight durations. MinerFly aircraft are capable of fully autonomous flight using GPS, a barometer, and an array of 3-axis instruments including an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer allowing the auto pilot to traverse flight circuits while requiring only human supervision.
Minerfly Octo is designed to utilize two crew per flight. One of these is the standby human pilot, who is responsible for the airframe and to ensure the aircraft is ready to fly, and who also is engaged during flights to take over from the auto pilot in the event of a system or component failure, ensuring the minimum risk to the payload and entities in the flight area. The second person involved is the payload operator. This person is responsible for configuration of the payload instrumentation and payload mounts to ensure that the data collected matches the researcher's directives. The two crew members work together to obtain the target data, and are connected to the MinerFly Octo and its payload in real time through telemetry and with first-person video feeds from the aircraft. Collected data is retained on board the aircraft and retrieved after landing.
The wide variety of payloads that MinerFly Octo can accept demonstrates its versatility. Payloads identified include the following:
- Infrared scanning equipment to determine areas of concentrated or disperse heat or to measure plant health
- Visual photos or videos to aid in surveying, disaster assistance, or risk management
- Radio frequency sensing equipment to survey cellular coverage or observe long-range signal degradation
- Carrying rescue equipment or providing long-range communications relays in the event of a disaster
- LiDAR scanning equipment to determine tree or building heights, foliage health, or explore oil and gas reserves.
- An array of optical and acoustic sensors to collect traffic data
- Other instruments that a researcher may require to collect aerial data
Payloads may be mounted directly to the airframe, or, if needed, they can be mounted to a stabilizing gimbal. The MinerFly camera payload utilizes a carbon fiber 3-axis gimbal which include a gyroscope and accelerometer and brushless DC motor. The gimbal provides a means to stabilize camera payloads, resulting in reduced image jitter and more reliable data collection.
The MinerFly project is on track to expand aircraft types available to support a wider variety of research data collection missions, and to develop a pilot-training program for students who wish to develop skills in this rapidly expanding area.
In 2014 Missouri S&T’s Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engagement (OSE3) brought the campus’ first fully electric shuttle online. The 30 passenger bus can reach speeds of 45 MPH and loops campus twice an hour. While the EBus is free to S&T students, faculty, staff, and the variable routes and traffic congestion throughout the day made it difficult for riders to predict departure times.
MinerTrax was developed by IT Research Support Services to bridge that gap. The MinerTrax client runs on an Android device on the EBus and updates the server with its GPS coordinates once every 2 seconds. This data is then overlaid on to a map to show riders where they can find the EBus in real time. Additionally, MinerTrax’s mobile-friendly website will inform riders of the next stop on the route as well as any important announcements. In the first 3 months of operation, the MinerTrax website has received over 50,000 visits.
Furthermore, MinerTrax is capturing data to expand research efforts on campus. By capturing time, location, tilt angles, and passenger counts, MinerTrax is recording information necessary to improve the EBus program.
MinerRide is a green, rapid personnel transportation vehicle developed by IT Research Support Services. MinerRide utilizes an inverted pendulum design and can safely reach speeds of 12 MPH. Its fully electric design allows riders to rapidly travel up to 6 miles on a single charge.
MinerRide is a self-balancing, two-wheeled, elevated platform operated by a rider standing on it and shifting their weight forward and backward to control speed and direction. The steering mechanism can be shifted to the right or the left to initiate turning.
Although there are many inverted pendulum transport devices commercially available, MinerRide focuses on low cost, unique features, and innovative designs. Among its features are a one-of-a-kind, color-based combination lock mechanism that doubles as a speedometer when the vehicle is in operation, infrared laser rider detection units to ensure rider safety, high-torque brushless DC motors to easily climb hills, and a unique wireless programming interface to allow the vehicle’s behavior to be modified on the fly. The distinctive aluminum chassis allows for maximum weight distribution and safety considerations and the innovative steering mechanism provides users stability and a satisfying operational feel.
Designed and built by IT RSS students, MinerRide is a shining example of cross-discipline engineering. The main chassis consists of a single piece of 1/2 inch thick aluminum stock with various pieces machined by both CNC mills and by Missouri S&T’s waterjet cutter, the same technology used to create the campus’ Stonehenge and Millennium Arch monuments. MinerRide’s internal components include a lithium polymer battery, dual motor controllers, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and various other instruments all connected by a custom printed circuit board. The vehicle is controlled by a single microcontroller that was programmed using the programming language C. In combining experience from engineering students from mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering as well as computer science, MinerRide has proven to be a true cross-discipline project.