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Give some advice on this, much appreciated ~>_<~

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Dear sir,

Today my supervisor asked me few questions,
1. "If i can buy the similar product from outside, what for to carry on this project? you must atleast show your product is better than the others"
2. "The originality of this circuit is important.if the software and schematic is available on the internet, this is not a good project"

For the Q1. I just found a company which offering the product that i am going to build.
**broken link removed**
it's nearly imposible for me to build a product that will outdo this commercial product.
Again, the ethernet controller used in my design can be replaced by network NIC card, which is quite inexpensive and easily to get from shops.

For the Q2. The internet indeed is a huge resource of circuit schematic. All most every circuit and uC schematic could be found online. I don't know how to avoid it.
He also mentioned, even you build it your own, but if the similar circuit could be found online, it is of no use.
For the tcp/ip stack which is available freely, he stated since the code is not written by me, it's not good.

According to my supervisor, the scope of this project seems to be "originality" and "uniqueness"

In order to make my design as 'unique' as posible, i have to come out with some 'special' application,
some one has suggested
1) Web based AC Power quality and energy meter - Measure how much power your house uses as well as how sinusoidal the AC wave is. The web interface allows you to monitor your power consumption from a centralized location. The idea behind this is it allows the power company to adjust electricity supply or price for dynamic pricing based on the demand. Might help prevent things like east coast power outage.
- The measurement of AC Power quality and energy meter itself can be a standalone quality project.

2) Web based EKG - measures a persons heart rate and sends it over the internet to a hospital for monitoring. A EKG analog circuit is actually fairly easy to build- just make sure its battery powered so you dont electrocute anyone.
- Again, a simple circuit could be found on the web.

3) thermometer - this one has been ruled out as too much of example available online.

Two weeks past already since the my project has been started. Everyone just concentrate on how to complete their project.
Apart from project specification, ethernet connection point availability, I have to do research on 'originality' of my design, I afraid that most of my time would be spent on those pre-project research, and end-up lack of time to complete my design,
since there still have unforeseen problem regarding the validity of this project title.
As the time pass by, my worry is increasing as i wont have much time to finish my work on time.

Sir, what should i do now? insist to carry on with my project, regardless it may run out of time,
or, stop and ask for changing topic immediately, even though much of my time has been wasted?
(although i wish to have a project that is product-based, rather than theory and simulation, but it seems that theory-based simulation is the only way)

I am totally confused now. Please give me some advice. I need the advice.

Make an online mood detector for chatrooms/MSN/Yahoo... It would be like a digital mood ring. Base it on skin temp, heartbeat, salinity etc. You could convert it in to a B.S. detector so that when your talking to that 21yr old model from who just won ms. univerese you can tell if she's you or not... You could also encorporate it into a biorythm monitor for stress reduction... Check out the "ambient orb", you could write a mood interface to it as well so you could take it with you on trips and check out how your honey is feeling or vice versa... Non-evasive sensors would be the bigget problem, I would think....
It isn't hard to add a small inprovement to a product. I'm constantly amazed how bad some products are. The EKG for example- add a tunable analog filter before you sample the waveform. You could add some signal processing to your data aquisition box - have it do a FFT on the Data before sending it. Your supervisor doesn't want you to just copy the schematic off the internet. If you understand the schematics and software and modify it to add your changes it should be fine. No design is ever 100% new - most datasheets include sample schematics for the IC. Use the samples as a starting point and change them as you add your own functionality.

As far as trying to compete on cost you need to remember that volume is key. The reason that NIC Card is so cheap is they made like 100,000 of them. Go to digikey and look at the price breakdown on any IC as you buy more of them. So to make a single device will always be more expensive than a mass produced product. To ask that your prototype be less expensive than a mass produced product is unrealistic. If you want to use price as an advantage call the suppliers for the devices you use and ask them for a quote for 10,000 devices and use that to calculate your price.

About the TCP/IP stack just write it yourself. You can optimise it for your design. But as an engineer being able to find solutions is very important. There is little need to reinvent the wheel.

Hope this helps
thanks! it really helps alot!

sometimes i really confused,
my supervisor also keep trying to tell me not to re-invent the wheel, but the other side he wants me to create the thing my own.

Do u have guideline that tell me in what situation i should go for readymade all-in-one ic, in what situation i should build it my own?

There really is no reason not to use whatever IC's are available to solve your problem. Even large companies try to use available all in one parts. IC companies try to make their parts as easy to use as posible so developers will use them. When thinking about a product it is important to consider the development cost when evaluating the cost of the device. So if you can buy a solution for cheaper than you can develop it its a good deal. Time to market (or in your case time to the due date) is also important. If there is a product that will speed up the development of your project its usualy a good deal.

The reason companies develop things themselves is usualy for two reasons. The first one comes down to volume - you can have a custom IC made but its not cheap. In order to make it worth while you need to order a very large quantity. Even with a custom IC companies will still buy predesigned CPU's etc. to go into their IC. The second reason is that the technology simply isn't comercialy available or is hard to get. There are more reasons but I think these are usualy the most important 2.

Hope this helps.
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