Inspiration

Financial companies often have large displays in their office space to monitor the stock market in real life. The problem with these large displays is that they consume an excessive amount of power to display a slow changing graph. We sought to create an energy efficient alternative method for financial companies to display the data they need.

What it does/How it Works

The setup is a dry erase board with two stepper motors attached to the two upper corners. Fishing wires are attach to the motors via a machined pulley, and attached to the other end to a piece of plastic. The plastic acts as the mount to the dry erase marker, whose motions can be controlled by the motors. Stock market data obtained from the Market on Demand API, or personal accounting balances obtained from the Capital One Enterprise API in real time is converted to a coordinate system and sent to the Arduino to power the stepper motors and move the dry erase marker to the next point in the plot.

Challenges we ran into

Much of the time was spent on making sense of the math behind the coordinate system. In the beginning, we got very jittery, unstable movement from the motors, and spent a lot of time calibrating the motors to work together perfectly. We are able to now get smooth, straight lines in the bottom half of the board, but because we're first years and fell asleep trying to learn multivariable calculus, lines plotted on the top half of the board are still imperfect.

A few hours before pitch time, we accidentally blew the fuse in our circuit board and broke both our stepping motor drivers. We had only one backup. Luckily, we had enough resources to build our own stepping motor driver on a breadboard.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the mentors from Mitre and Capital One for their immense help. Thanks to the lovely volunteers for their encouragement throughout the night and providing an endless supply of candy and coffee.

What's next for Dry Erase Plotter

The plotter can be used for a magnitude of other applications. For example, small businesses can use the plotter to plot income trends, and hackathons can use it to plot trends such as social media engagement or total hacks. Because of the small footprint, our plotter can be left on for days with very little energy consumption. It can also be scaled up easily; a large dry erase display will use the same mechanisms and the same amount of energy consumption.

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