Final year project narrowing help needed. IT/Network/Electronics

Posted on 2011-10-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi Everyone

I'm a student doing my final year project this year, and I've had a couple good ideas for projects. One was to create a simple tool that would allow a user to upload a file (potentially unlimited in size, within reason) which would be locally encrypted, sent via a proprietary protocol to a web server which could be retrieved using a generated key that the uploader could distribute. It has a few applications such as in the legal industry where the integrity of documents is important.

However, as great an idea as it was, it would involve quite a bit of code and programming isn't my strong suit. I can analyse, understand and adapt existing code but I'm terrible at generating it.  So I looked at what I was good at:

Various network-related skills
Databases, particularly with MS Access
Electronics, to a bread-board level (incorporating logic gates, environmental sensors, etc)

I was considering an RFID entry system for hospital use as the contactless technology would improve hygiene in a sense, but I don't know what kind of hardware is available. Whether I can get pre-paired RFID emitters and tags that would trigger an output from them, for example.

Sorry about the length of this post. Its gone on but hopefully you have an idea. Any help would be really, really appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Question by:noclip
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Jeffrey Coachman
    So what *exactly* do you need help with...?
    Selecting a project?
    Designing the project?
    Implementing the project?
    All of the above?
    Something else entirely?

    How "Complex" does this project have to be?
    What are the design parameters? (ex.: Must use MS Access,  Must involve custom electronics, ...etc)

    What is the scholastic level here:
    (High school, College, Grad, Doctorate, ...?)

    How much can you rely of Off-the-shelf technologies (SDK's, API's)
    Because creating these types of interfaces from scratch will be daunting...


    Author Comment

    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Sorry, I cut it off because I felt I was dragging on. I really need help selecting an idea or "title" for my final year project. Selecting it, as you said.

    I'm happy to do the design and everything else, but I'm lacking the ideas and inspiration at the moment. It has to be fairly complex, its for a BSc degree course after all. For example, an MS Access relational database with forms for data entry would be too simple. However, if there was a kind of register system using RFID that people would use to swipe in, and the database recorded, that'd be an acceptable level of complexity.

    Reliance on off-the-shelf technologies isn't prohibited. APIs and SDKs are encouraged, provided they're referenced properly and you show what you've done with them.

    Once again, thanks for the reply.
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Have you looked at the various sites with DIY electronics projects?  Perhaps extending them to include some database use would fit the bill?

    Author Comment

    Definitely. I've looked at various projects and I've got a few of my own, but I'm having trouble really bridging the point between the electronic circuit and the MS Access implementation. For example, a system that has 5 RFID keys with unique signals, all allowed to access a certain area. Each time a key swipes through, I'm just having difficulty thinking of how to implement taking the ID and inserting it into a database. Of course its heavily dependent on the RFID system in use but as I mentioned, I don't have any experience with these components.
    LVL 74

    Accepted Solution

    Two things are "Hot" now with MS Access.

    1. BarCode scanning.
    Especially now with the new "3D* barcodes for products.
    Obviously there are already "Apps" that compare prices, ...but they are mostly "Dynamic", meaning that can compare a few Items.
    Your app could store historical data (Price history) compare prices over time, geographically, ...provide Charts, complex queries (average price of all Black USB keyboards, in Germany, in March of 2011), ..etc

    2. Scanning images directly into an MS Access application.
    While there are programs that will do this (
    AFAIC, they don't take advantage of the new "Attachment" datatype in MS Access 2007 and newer.

    3. Interfacing with Google stuff, especially Google Maps, so from inside your app a person could access any number of mapping functions available in Google maps

    SDK's and API's are available for all of these...

    As far as RFID goes, you will need an interface to a port to let MS Access access things "in the outside world"
    (For example, there was a Q here a while ago where the member wanted MS Access to flash a standard 120v/60hz light bulb in another building)

    Following up on what Callandor posted, KipKay ( literally has a boatload of projects that involve electronics of all sorts.
    Perhaps you can combine a few, and control them via MS Access...

    LVL 2

    Assisted Solution

    the sky is the limit here, working with the idea you started with, an RFID receiver would allow you to capture the data, once captured Access can import it and work with it as desired. Look at this:
    It looks like it would be the cheaper level answer for your goal, no drivers, works like a keyboard, a small app could simply store the data with a time stamp into a file for Access, or ado connection to pump it directly into Access.

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks for the help guys. With a bit of chopping and a discussion with my tutor, I'm sure I can hammer out an idea with this information. Cheers.

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