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Bill Marshall

United Kingdom United Kingdom

Engineer | WGM Consulting

Engineer, PhD, lecturer, freelance technical writer, blogger & tweeter interested in robots, AI, planetary explorers and all things electronic. STEM ambassador. Designed, built and programmed my first microcomputer in 1976. Still learning, still building, still coding today.

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56 Articles published
article
Bill Marshall

Electronics Design

3 days ago

Build a CubeSat Satellite that actually works, Part 2: Make it Reliable

The first interplanetary CubeSats MarCO-A and MarCO-B (AKA WALL-E and EVE) have just completed their mission to relay telemetry to Earth from NASA’s InSight probe as it lands on Mars. How do you make such low-budget spacecraft reliable enough?

0 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Electronics Design

3 weeks ago

Build a CubeSat Satellite that actually works, Part 1: Make it Resilient

Many low-cost CubeSat satellites have been built by teams of school and college students since 2003. But Space is a harsh environment and half of them failed to function as intended. What can be done at the design stage to improve the success rate?

2 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Electronics Design

1 month ago

Computer Memory Technology: From Ferrite Rings to FRAM

After magnetic cores came chip memories: Static RAM (SRAM), Dynamic RAM (DRAM) and then Flash. Here come the latest technologies: MRAM, FRAM and more. How do they compare with established technologies?

2 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Electronics Design

2 months ago

Saturn: The Apollo Programme’s Intelligent Rocket

The film ‘First Man’ celebrates the life of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon. But what about that unsung hero, the vehicle that took him there: that engineering marvel, the Saturn V rocket?

2 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Automotive

2 months ago

Powering Electric Vehicles: Fuel-Cells and Big Batteries

The UK government has a manifesto commitment for all cars and vans on the roads to have zero emissions by 2050. So, unless ‘wireless power’ can be developed quickly, cars will need electric motors with batteries or fuel cells for energy storage.

12 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

3 months ago

Give your Robot the Mobility Control of a real Mars Rover: Part 4

Wheeled robots take many forms: 2-, 3-, 4-, 6- or 8-wheels, with and without suspension. The type of terrain the robot will move over largely determines the choice: a nice, smooth warehouse floor or a rough, unpredictable Martian surface?

2 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Automotive

3 months ago

Driverless Cars: Are We Nearly There Yet?

In November 2015 I suggested in a DesignSpark article that ‘Your Car will soon be Driving You to Work’. After nearly three years of frantic activity by engineers and marketing people, are autonomous cars any nearer becoming a reality?

9 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

4 months ago

Give your Robot the Mobility Control of a real Mars Rover: Part 3

Part 1 covered the theory behind PID control. Part 2 discussed the practical issues of odometry and using PID for precise mobile robot navigation. Now let’s look at some more code and other features of practical rover design.

5 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

5 months ago

Do Androids live in The Uncanny Valley?

An AI-equipped ‘astronaut companion’ called CIMON is on its way to the International Space Station. With fictional androids starring in TV shows Westworld and Humans, just how close are we to creating a socially-acceptable companion robot?

1 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

5 months ago

Give your Robot the Mobility Control of a real Mars Rover: Part 2

Part 1 covered the theory behind PID control – a widely used method of ensuring that the mechanical output of an actuator (speed, position, etc) matches the value demanded by its controlling program. Now let’s look at practical aspects in detail.

0 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

6 months ago

Give your Robot the Mobility Control of a real Mars Rover: Part 1

Mobile robots can be divided into two classes: those that navigate around solely by sensing and avoiding obstacles, and those that move along a planned path using an internal electronic map. For the latter, you need mobility control.

9 comments
article
Bill Marshall

Robotics

7 months ago

Soft Robot Design with Biomimetics

What soft robots lack in hard strength and precision, they make up for with their gentle dexterity handling delicate objects, or their ability to go places other robots cannot reach.

0 comments