This summer, I worked on a project in Dr. Khismatullin’s Biomedical Acoustics laboratory. After completing this, I am able to reflect on what I have accomplished, changes in my plan, and what I learned.
The main aim of my project was to create a LabVIEW program that will automate the fluid drop modulation, image acquisition, and analysis that is currently being carried out as a part of the experiments in the lab. My first goal was to focus on the analysis portion of already acquired videos and that is what I accomplished during the first three weeks.
I started out by using the Vision Assistant toolkit of LabVIEW to detect the ellipse shape of the drop in the videos. This process took some trial and error but I got it to work using extraction of the color plane, application of a filter, and a shape detection function. This gives the major and minor radius of the ellipse which is needed for the analysis of the modulation of the drop.
I could then import this portion that I worked on into LabVIEW so that I could add further steps to it. The program needed to be able to go through each frame of a video, find the ellipse data for each, and output this data into a spreadsheet. I managed to achieve this by looking at example codes, reading documentation, trying different functions, and talking to technical support over the phone. It turned out to be more complicated than I had thought, but I finally got it to work and tested it with video files that the lab has.
I took longer than I had intended to in my plan on this first goal of the project. At the half-way point when I had two tasks left and only three more weeks, my PhD student supervisor advised that I prioritize by choosing the more attainable one to focus on. After discussing this some more, we concluded that I should focus on the control of the function generator using LabVIEW.
Previously, the person doing the experiment had to manually decrease or increase the frequency by 3Hz at regular intervals. This process would be much more efficient if the frequency was changed automatically, and LabVIEW has the capability of doing this. I worked with the capabilities of the function generator model that the lab has as well as the features that LabVIEW has. I had to download a driver for the specific function generator and then use that to automate this step. My LabVIEW program is now able to increase or decrease the frequency by whatever value the user chooses and between a range that they specify.
In retrospect, I learned that when it comes to research, things do not always go as planned and it is important to manage your time well and make adjustments to your plan as needed. I also realized that it does not hurt to ask for help if you are stuck on something, and that it is important to evaluate the efficiency of your methods along the way. As I complete my project, I hope to learn from my mistakes during my work over the summer and accomplish and refine this project to the best of my abilities.
Written by Deepika Rajkumar, Dean’s Grant recipient, 2018