Hello everybody! My name is Philipp Dürnay and I am a student of the Embedded Systems master at TU Delft. In my bachelor of Technical Computer Science I learned a lot about computer architectures, control theory, signal processing and programming. I had a lot of fun projects during that time and I could apply and deepen these skills in labs, an internship, my thesis and a short working period as a research assistant. I liked playing around with software and microcontrollers so much, that I started my own projects at home trying out stuff with Raspberry Pis and other development boards. However, in all those projects I was always missing one thing: a human aspect. Why would I “only” develop a smart light control if I could use the same skills to develop medical devices for example that enable somebody to walk who can’t walk? With this vision in mind I started my master in Delft and when I saw the posters of Project March on the campus, my decision was clear: I want to be part of this team.
Now, half a year later, I made a lot of new friends and after a lot of research I’m finally back to programming. In our exoskeleton we need four microcomputers that control the movement of each joint. They need to generate the electrical signals to turn the motors at the right speed and to the correct position, to enable a precise movement of the joint. For that we are using controllers that are slightly more complex than a Raspberry Pi, the so called Somanet.
Although, we don’t develop the whole Software for that microcontroller ourselves, we have to understand, adapt and extend software written by other people in a programming language called XC. This C-based language contains an extended set of instructions tailored to the computer architecture of the Somanet. To be able to understand and extend the software I had to apply a lot of what I learned during my bachelor and my first year of master about control theory, electronics, signal processing and about computer architectures. You can imagine that it took quite some time and work before I was feeling comfortable in programming the Somanet. However, as you can see (or hear) in the video we don’t forget to have fun, since there is no better moment than the one when it finally works.