Introduction – The Blockchain, Digital Currencies, & Bitcoin
Bitcoin is a cryptographic currency also called digital currency or simply “internet money.” The Bitcoin protocol and Blockchain technology were first developed by a pseudonymous person(s) known as Satoshi Nakamoto when the white paper detailing a peer to peer electronic cash system was released through a cryptography mailing list. Since its development 7 years ago Bitcoin has become a technological phenomenon that has grown from an experimental project used mostly by developers, and tech-savvy early adopters into a fully developed financial system currently operating with a market capitalization of about $7 billion dollars.
Bitcoin runs on an online public database known as the Blockchain that stores the data of every Bitcoin transaction. Instead of being stored in a centralized place, such as a data center, the Blockchain is distributed across a global network of nodes that all work to check each other. This is known as distributed consensus.
The Role of Digital Currencies
Bitcoin remains the most widespread use of the Blockchain, but has potential applications in data transfer and storage, trustless ownership, and smart contracts. Bitcoin could be used as a secure payment option for e-commerce along with other online applications such as digital ownership, micro-transactions, and internet payment protocols. The most prominent current use cases of Bitcoin are as a rail system for remittance applications, use as a store-of-value (digital form of gold), and as an everyday currency.
Due to it’s still relatively young age it remains to be seen in which way Bitcoin as a technology will evolve. It could become an alternative payment tool similar to using a debit or credit card, or it might fall into the background operating as the technology empowering distributed ledger applications. Bitcoin and the underpinning Blockchain technology have the potential to change and reshape the concept of value in a world that is increasingly becoming more connected. Despite the potential benefits of such a system Bitcoin faces many obstacles towards widespread adoption due to a negative media image, and it’s own inherent complexity.
- Secure & instant transfer of value anywhere in the world
- User managed open network
- Free market economy
- Not owned by any single individual or company
- Don’t need a bank, ATM, or credit/debit card to access money (only internet access)
- Volatile market
- Scalability and governance issues
- Only used among early adopters
The Frak-tion Portal
Team Frak-tion set out to create a mechanical application that would encourage Bitcoin use, and spread Bitcoin awareness. The team decided to design a Bitcoin ATM that would accept coins, and paper bills in exchange for Bitcoin. Using an ATM as a way to facilitate a Bitcoin exchange provides an interface familiar to most people, and by accepting coins it provides an opportunity for anyone with spare change to buy Bitcoin. Providing a simple, and low risk way to purchase Bitcoin is the first step in bringing widespread adoption.
The team used a 4 Phase Design process to develop a full scale prototype:
FIGURE 1: ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS V-MODEL (1)
Concept development is started in Phase 1 with prototype development and evaluation. Project requirements are tracked in a Design Control Traceability Matrix (DCTM). In Phase 2 a final concept is chosen, and detailed drawings and models are created. Once the prototype is built verifcation & validation testing are performed to ensure that the design meets it’s initial specifications, and it’s operational needs. Phase 4 takes the product into large scale production, and commercial distribution.
Phase 1 – Design Inputs: User needs, system requirements, identification of hazards, literature research, and a Project Management Plan (PMP).
PHASE 1 REVIEW: 02/05/16
Phase 2 – Design Outputs: Product designs, packaging designs, and labeling designs are developed. Designs are documented through models, prints, and specifications.
PHASE 2 REVIEW: 03/01/16
Phase 3 – Verification & Validation: Verification & validation testing are performed on the design ouputs in Phase 2.
PHASE 3 REVIEW: 03/29/16
Phase 4 – Design for Manufacturing: All necessary documentation is completed, and the product is turned over for production revision and manufacturing.
PHASE 4 REVIEW: 4/24/16
Note: UNR’s Engineering Design Course does not include full production of senior projects, and so a discussion of the fabrication processes and technologies used to create the prototype will be presented instead.
PHASE 1 – CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT
Bitcoin is a complex subject. It involves distributed systems, cryptography, economics, libertarian ideologies, programming, and much more. One of the challenges the design team faced in the beginning of Fall 2015 was developing a physical application for something that exists almost purely in the digital world. Frak-tion’s research into Bitcoin led the team to focus on two very simple yet substantial problems facing Bitcoin:
- Not many people know about Bitcoin. Unless they’ve heard it mentioned in connection with drugs, terrorists, or the deep web.
- People need Bitcoin simplified.
Team Fraktion decided to design, and prototype a machine that would trade spare change for Bitcoin. This would give users a new alternative to traditional coin collection services while also providing a low risk entry point into digital currencies for the general public.
The team developed certain design criteria that focused on the functionality of the machine, the main objectives of the machine, and the overall aesthetic design. These were listed, and used to track the development of the product throughout the design process. Some of the product requirement specifications Team Frak-tion considered are:
- Product must have a small footprint (less than 4.5 square feet)
- Product must have accurate & precision coin counting (100% accuracy)
- Product must have an intuitive user interface with the overall interaction taking less than 5 minutes
- Product must educate the user to have working knowledge of retrieving & storing Bitcoin
Proof of Concept
PHASE 2 –DETAILED MODELS & DRAWINGS
- Models & significant drawings
- Schematics, coding
PHASE 3 –PORTAL TESTING PROTOCOL
- Test Plan
- Test results
- Pics (bonus)
PHASE 4 –PORTAL MANUFACTURING PROCESS
A custom steel frame was cut & welded together.
Sheet Metal Paneling
Sheet metal was tack welded to the steel frame.
The sheet metal paneling was customized to house the coin tray, bill acceptor, touchscreen interface, and the printer.
Component Assembly & User Interface
An raspberry pi is connected to an arduino that receives data from coin sensors, and a bill acceptor. The raspberry pi controls the 7″ touchscreen user interface, and connects to a printer for a final receipt.
Frak-tion Photo Album – For more pictures & videos be sure to check Frak-tion’s photo album.
- The project goal was to convert cash into bitcoin. In that alone Frak-tion failed, due to a plethora of unforeseen variables. These included transmitting different data types, integrating controllers with computer, and governmental red tape involved with actual money transfer. However, Fraction did manage to learn a lot from the mistakes we did make during this project. This include more accurate GD&T, better welding, and more experience programming in python. More prior knowledge to data transfer and electronic circuits would have also been useful. For the future, Frak-tion plans on continuing to develop the necessary software to get its machine to accomplish what it originally set out to do!
MEET THE DESIGN TEAM
Dakota Ward is a senior in mechanical engineering graduating with honors in spring 2016, and acting COO of Frak-tion. Dakota is a brother of Theta Tau and Lambda chi alpha. In his spare time he enjoys pursuing elite fitness, tinkering with stuff, and getting his company going!
Anthony Fernandez is a junior mechanical engineer with a minor in business and math graduation in spring 2017. Anthony is a brother of zeta psi. Anthony’s passions include producing electronic music, DJing events and concerts in Reno, and Public Relations and marketing of all things Frak-tion.
I’m graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering May 2016 from the University of Nevada, Reno. I have a passion for financial technology as well as an interest in the Internet of Things, robotics, Blockchain technology, wearable technology, and alternate/digital currencies. I hope to take my skills acquired through my time at Nevada to apply them to designing and developing quality products. I am looking to expand myself in salesmanship, marketing, and business management to apply towards a career as a serial entrepreneur innovating within the engineering industry. I enjoy creating things, and seeing them develop from an idea into full fruition whether that be product design, sketching/painting, programming, or creative organization. I see every opportunity, success, or failure as a learning experience.
Kevin Kengott is a mechanical engineering student helping with product design for Team Frak-tion. Kevin enjoys hockey, motor cross, and playing bass guitar for his church. He is also currently working to become an officer in the Marine Corp.
Dr. Wanliang Shan