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Robotics / automation: automated microscope gantry

Advanced automated biotech company - project 1

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Closed Posted: 02 Jul 20. Closes: 23 Jul 20 Available: Semester 2 (Jul - Nov)

Semester 2 2020 project
UQ Engineering students only 

This project is for a UQ final year or Masters student in Mechatronics Engineering with an interest in robotics and automation.

The successful applicant will receive a $3,000 scholarship + academic credit for enrolment/assessment (4 unit final year thesis / 4 unit Masters project).  You must be available to work on the project onsite for 3 days/week during Semester 2 2020 (around lecture timetable). 

APPLICANTS NOTE: upload your resume with unofficial academic transcript/s (undergrad + Masters if applicable - combined into 1 doc/pdf). Also include your student ID number. Upload resume before OR after applying for project/s.  

UQ ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT: all CEED applicants must get a written study plan approved (by a UQ academic advisor) which shows thesis/project unit enrolment is possible for Semester 2 2020.

We cannot progress your application until you provide this info to CEED (please email to CEED before the project's application close date). Advise CEED if you need assistance or are experiencing delays in receiving an approved study plan.

Location: Noosaville (Northern Sunshine Coast) QLD
Category: Mechatronics Engineering

Project Background / Description

To enable the micro cultivation of living plant cells, the process of image capture and analysis must be automated. At one stage during the process we will use a micro-well plate miniature culture device that requires microscope and spectrophotometer images to be taken and delivered to our central database for analysis 4 times per hour. The images must be repeatable and consistent every time (from the same location) from hundreds of locations within a 50cm x 50 cm area.



** company name is confidential at this stage **

This company is working in an exciting field. Their work is commercially sensitive - therefore we are only advertising limited details.

Students who are selected for an interview will receive further information about the company and their technology.

Objectives / Tasks / Project Outcomes

Desired outcomes

  • A 2 head gantry will position a microscope and spectrophotometer precisely in hundreds of standardised locations on a 50cm x 50cm bed;

  • The unit will autofocus (Z axis) before taking a microscope photo and spectrophotometer reading;

  • The unit records the image locally then runs a cell counting Python script with a parameter of which chamber it is recording

  • Gantry system operation is flexible enough to be:
    • Paused, resumed and stopped
    • Able to go to a specific chamber rather than do all chambers

Suggested resources / approach

  • Please base the microscope component of the ​OpenFlexure Microscope​ project
  • You may like to consider a set size gantry and purchase a cartesian extrusion from Aliexpress
  • You may like to consider using 3D printer software and hardware such as GCODE and one of the many Arduino based MOSFET controller boards
  • You are free to assume that all fluids have been placed correctly and ahead of time in a set location without orientation correction required, on a flat surface
  • You may spend up to $1500 in hardware
  • We have 3 x Creality CR10s Pro 3D printers that can be used for printing oversize parts if necessary
  • We have a well-appointed electronics workshop for you to be able to work from


Limitations / considerations

  • All electronics software used must be allowed for commercial purposes
  • Use Raspberry Pi or and/or Arduino or embedded C (not PIC or STM32). We recommend the combination of ESP32 and ATMega 2560 boards for communications and control
  • Components should be readily available

Skills / Experience Required

  • 3D modelling in Fusion 360
  • Embedded programming in Arduino or embedded C
  • Programming on the Raspberry PI in NodeJS or Python
  • Hands-on assembly of both electronics and aluminium extrusions etc
  • You will need your own motorised transport to get to/from the company (public transport from Brisbane will take too long)

Note: Noosaville is located 2 hours' drive North of Brisbane (on the Northern end of the Sunshine Coast).

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