Faculty Publications


Design and construction of a solar powered outdoor digital display as a capstone design project

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ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

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The senior design project is a capstone course taken in the final year of the Electrical and Information Engineering Technology (EIET) and Manufacturing Technology programs in the Department of Industrial Technology at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Both the EIET and Manufacturing programs have 2+2 articulation agreements with Iowa community colleges. This paper presents a detailed study on a capstone senior design project to design and construct a solar powered outdoor digital display for promoting environmentally friendly technologies in Iowa. This paper also illustrates how a student capstone design project can serve as an excellent marketing tool for engineering technology and industrial technology programs. The authors determined that an innovative use of environmentally friendly technology would be an outdoor marquee to advertise events and programs in the department. Students designed a panel mount frame using CAD software. Analysis of dynamic forces that could affect the outdoor display insured that the design could withstand strong summer windstorms. The system includes three 100 W solar panels, panel frame built by students and production lab technicians, electrical box, two deep cycle batteries, one charge controller, surge arrester for lightning strikes, switches, DC fuses, DC fluorescent lights directly connected to battery output, 120 ft underground data cable connected to a PC from the outdoor display, and a digital display with six inches letter size. Fabrication of the display framework, concrete footings, and electrical connection to the indoor control unit took nearly six months. The digital display has been an excellent marketing tool for the announcements of the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Industrial Technology Department at UNI.

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