Elec 499/Ceng499 Project Website - Ken Anderson, Ryan Crawford, and Jason Work

Click here to see pictures:
Take a look at our pictures. We've got several snap shots of project progress.
Design Process Partitioning Difficulties Outcome
Design Process
Create Device Specifications
Outline Parameters and Requirements
Assemble Team Members
Draw Project Outline

Identify main parts of the system.
Create the algorithm to show subsystem interactions.
Allocate subsystem development to team members

Worked both individually and together to produce our finished product
Tested subsystems separately
and verified operation to specifications.
Assembled subsystems into full System.
Tested the operation of the system
Verity the system operation to the Specifications

A modular design scheme was implemented to develop the Checkmate. The following shows how the project was divided into subsystems for each group member.
Ryan Crawford
Database Design
Web Site Development
USB Interface
PC Application Development

Ken Anderson
USB checkmate Integration
Buzzer checkmate Integration
LCD checkmate Integration

Jason Work
RF Protocol
checkmate to checkmate Communication
Match Calculation Algorithm


Timing of Ping Sequence - During testing, the timing of pings sent out by the two devices began to become synchronized due to their interaction such that they interfered with one another. Addition of a random delay was required to solve this.

Two UARTs working together - Problems were experienced while trying to get both of the UARTs working simultaneously. One was used for the LCD display and the other for interfacing to the PC through the USB/RS232 converter.

Data Rate Through Serial Cable from USB Adapter to checkmate - Errors were experienced in data transfer at 19200 baud. The rate was decreased to 9600 baud to solve this.

Bug in Chipcon Library - A couple bugs were found and fixed in the chipcon library functions that were time consuming to track down.

Finding DLL Drivers to use for C# to Control Serial Port - Much time was spent searching for these drivers on the internet, and in the end a different method was used.

Chipcon Debugger not Available due to use of UARTs - Because both the UARTs were already being used by our program, none were available for use by the debugger tool. This made tracking down bugs more difficult and time consuming.

No Test I/O to Verify Results During Testing - Until the LCD was made functional, the lack of output from the checkmate (only 4 LEDs) to provide feedback on program operation made debugging more difficult.

System Integration - Various difficulties were experienced with merging sections of code developed by different members of the group. Also problems arose with the sharing of resources because only one evaluation board was available when different members of the group wanted to test code.

Learning C - Members in the group had varying levels of knowledge with C++, and needed to catch up in order to be proficient with programming the microcontroller.

Two Working Prototypes
Once the difficulties had been resolved, two working prototypes demonstrated the operation of the checkmate. The goals had been realized and were demonstrated during the poster presentation. The ideas, presentation, and demonstration of the checkmate in use was well received by the technical community and general public.

System Communications Link
The device's system level communication worked as expected in the goals and product description.

  • Computer to Device
    Web dialog created to enter profiles for checkmate users.
    USB interface established and checkmate application developed to run in order to load the checkmate with user profile and interests.

  • Device to Device
    Interaction between the two devices through the radio frequency link was created and verified. The protocol and data exchange worked reliably between the two devices.

  • Device to Computer
    A means of communication to transfer information back from the device to the computer was made which also utilized the USB interface.
    A database was put in place to compile information on the website database server to tabulate matches from each checkmate

The follwing diagrams depict the two operating modes of the Checkmate. The Roaming Mode shows how individual Checkmate devices would communicate with each other, passing user information. The Docked Mode diagram shows how the Checkmate device would interface with a user's computer and the rest of the Checkmate network.
Roaming Mode
Docked Mode


  • Beacon Communication
    The first part of the communication established between checkmates was the beacon used to communicate their presence to each other while they are in range.

  • Data Exchange
    The second part of the communication between checkmates was the data transfer. The information loaded by the user from the PC is successfully shared among the checkmates to generate match results.

  • Match Calculation
    The match result is the core of the comparison between potential matches. This is conducted in an algorithm written in firmware loaded on the checkmate microprocessor.

  • Daily Log
    The memory on board the microprocessor was successfully utilized to make a log of the daily matches for each checkmate. These will be stored until they are uploaded and cleared by the checkmate computer software.

Multi-User Network Extrapolation

The checkmate is designed to be a part of a multi-user network. At any given time, we estimate that the capacity of the network should accommodate up to about 100 users within any 20 meter radius. Our proof of concept design was made with this scalability in mind. While the end product for this course was a pair of only two checkmates, the system has been developed to accommodate our maximum total forecasted capacity (4 billion devices with up to 100's within range of one another).

Project Demo During Poster Presentation

  • Attendance
    The project demonstration was a success. Our booth had a stream of people who were interested to see the checkmate in operation and to hear about its features.

  • Active Demonstration
    A working demonstration of the two devices together helped to show the interaction between them. The successful interaction of the checkmates proved to the visitors the checkmate's design and operation. This part of the demonstration was a useful component to the display.

  • Contributions by Group Members
    Each group member contributed to the success of the poster presentation. Each of us contributed to the communication with interested visitors in the specialty we contributed to the project. The team efforts extended throughout the entire project.
  • Well Received by Public
    The interest in the checkmate was very well received: colleagues, the dean of the engineering faculty, our supervisor Dr. Driessen. In particular, the media took interest in the checkmate.

  • Times Columnist
    An article published on Saturday March 29, 2003 highlighted the checkmate and its operation. This article was started on the front page and references to the checkmate were made in the capital region news.

    New VI

    Ken Anderson was interviewed by the New VI. Information about the checkmate was revealed in that night's newscast.