At the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) I worked in the Electro-Optical System Laboratory (EOSL). My work focused on their airborne LIDAR system and improving several of its subsystems.
One of my main projects at GTRI was improving the precision encoder used on the optical scanner of a LIDAR system. Their current system uses a very accurate encoder, but many drawbacks came with it including size, cost, and attainability. The encoder is also likely more accurate than necessary. I analyzed encoder data from previous test flights in MATLAB and used the analysis to determine an appropriate encoder accuracy based on the desired overall accuracy. Using this data I researched commercial encoders and selected an encoder based on various requirements for accuracy, size, cost, environmental factors, etc. I then modified the current optical scanner design to integrate the new encoder. Below are the CAD models of my design. All parts that are currently used on the LIDAR system were replaced with simplified models to provide context for my design.
For a test stand I designed a gear train that allowed for very small angular position changes. It utilizes compound gears and allows for angular position changes on the order of 0.01°. This design minimizes the number of custom parts and uses almost entirely commercial-off-the-shelf parts for ease of manufacturing.