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Automatic Actuation of a Windshield Wiper Mechanism
LaShanya Aikerson
Advisors: Dr. B. D. Huggins and Dr. J. W. Sennott

Present intermittent windshield wipers require manual control of the time between wiper actuation, thus causing frustration for many drivers. This motivated the development of the "Smart Wipe" device to adjust wiper actuation in accordance with the surface density of moisture on the windshield. Critical design aspects included the sensor, sensor location, low cost, response time, sensitivity, overall size, and ease of installation for the secondary market. An investigation of sensor technology to measure the moisture density on the windshield was carried out. This research led to several techniques including capacitive, optical, and ultrasonic. A capacitive sensor based on parallel wires was selected due to low cost, ease of implementation, and overall ability to generate an accurate signal. Next came the generation of a sensor model that related physical parameters and water density to the capacitance of the structure. A major step was the consideration of a circuit to convert this capacitance into a voltage or frequency. The NE-555 timer in the astable mode of operation, generating a square wave with a frequency inversely proportional to input capacitance, was selected. Windshield wiper control is accomplished by measuring this frequency in a microprocessor. The microprocessor monitors the changing frequency to generate an actuation signal.

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