Prototype Parking Meter – Phase 4

Project Plan

Project team: May06-02


Iowa State University Parking Division


John W. Lamont, Ralph E. Patterson III

Team Members

Michael Arens, Kristi Gavin, Mikael Nielson,

Ben Quach, Nichole Wittry

DISCLAIMER: This document was developed as a part of the requirements of an electrical and computer engineering course at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. This document does not constitute a professional engineering design or a professional land surveying document. Although the information is intended to be accurate, the associated students, faculty, and Iowa State University make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, quality, or adequacy of the information. The user of this document shall ensure that any such use does not violate any laws with regard to professional licensing and certification requirements. This use includes any work resulting from this student-prepared document that is required to be under the responsible charge of a licensed engineer or surveyor. This document is copyrighted by the students who produced this document and the associated faculty advisors. No part may be reproduced without the written permission of the senior design course coordinator.

September 30, 2005

Table of Contents

Item Page

Table of Contents i

List of Figures iii

List of Tables iv

List of Definitions v

Abstract 1

Figure 1: Current parking meter system 1

Acknowledgement 1

1. Problem Statement 1

1.1. General Problem Statement 1

1.2. General Solution Approach 2

2. Operating Environment 3

3. Intended Users 3

4. Intended Uses 3

5. Assumptions 4

6. Limitations 4

7. Expected End Result and Other Deliverables 5

7.1. User Instruction Sign 5

7.2. Multi-space Parking Meter System and Second Slave 5

7.3. Parking Meter System Simulation 5

8. Proposed Approach 5

8.1. Functional Requirements 6

8.2. Constraints Considerations 6

8.3. Technology Considerations 7

8.4. Technical Approach Considerations 8

8.5. Testing Requirements Considerations 8

8.6. Security Considerations 9

8.7. Safety Considerations 9

8.8. Intellectual Property Considerations 10

8.9. Commercialization Considerations 10

8.10. Possible Risks and Risk Management 10

8.11. Proposed Milestones and Evaluation Criteria 11

Figure 2: Relative importance of milestones 12

Table 1: Milestone evaluation 13

Table 2: Milestone evaluation form 13

8.12. Project Tracking Procedures 13

9. Statement of Work 14

Task 1 – Project Familiarization 14

Task 2 - User Instruction Sign 14

Task 3 – Testing of Current Unit 15

Task 4 – Preparation and Installation of Unit 15

Task 5 – Support Unit 15


Table of Contents

Task 6 – Building 2nd Unit 15

Subtask 6.1 – Ordering Parts 16

Subtask 6.2 – Hardware Assembly of Second Unit 16

Subtask 6.3 – Installation of Software 16

Subtask 6.4 – Testing of Second Unit 16

Task 7 – Parking Meter System Simulation 17

Subtask 7.1 – Ordering Parts 17

Subtask 7.2 – Hardware Assembly of Simulation System 17

Subtask 7.3 – Installation of Software 17

Subtask 7.4 – Testing of Simulation System 18

10. Estimated Resources and Schedules 18

Table 3: Personnel resource requirements 18

Table 4: Additional resource requirements 19

Table 5: Financial requirements 19

11. Schedules 20

Figure 3: Project schedule 20

Figure 4: Deliverables schedule 21

12. Project Team Information 22

13. Closing Summary 23

14. References 24


List of Figures

Item Page

Figure 1 – Current parking meter system 1

Figure 2 – Relative importance of milestones 12

Figure 3 – Project schedule 20

Figure 4 – Project deliverables schedule 21


List of Tables

Item Page

Table 1 – Milestone evaluation 13

Table 2 – Milestone evaluation form 13

Table 3 – Personnel resource requirements 18

Table 4 – Additional resource requirements 19

Table 5 – Financial requirements 19


List of Definitions and Symbols

A Assembly language

A low-level computer language that consists of mnemonic codes and symbolic addresses corresponding to machine-language instructions



A high-level object-oriented programming language

D Dec04-02

The senior design group responsible for the second phase of the project


Department of Public Safety, the division of Iowa State University responsible for monitoring parking on the campus

E – F – G – H – J – K


Liquid crystal display, a low-power digital display that uses liquid crystal cells that change reflectivity in an applied electronic field


An open source operating system based on UNIX traditionally used for servers.

M May04-02

The senior design group responsible for the first phase of the project


For this project, it is a main circuit board of the embedded computer through which all signals are directed.


MySQL is a fast-relational database manager. A database manager enables adding, retrieving, and processing information stored in a database. The relational aspect of MySQL means that data is stored in separate tables rather than one large table. Relations between each table can be established and information can be retrieved using structured query language (SQL).

N – O – P – Q



Random-access memory, the primary working memory in a computer used for the temporary storage of programs and data and in which the data can be accessed directly and modified


Software functional description


A standardized language that approximates the structure of natural English for obtaining information from databases



Universal serial bus, a plug-and-play interface between a computer and

peripheral devices, such as printers, modems, and keyboards


W Window XP Embedded

A compact and modular operating system provided by Microsoft Corporation that allows users to select the exact features and functionality of the OS required for the application or device.

Wired Ethernet

A trademark for a system for exchanging messages between computers on a local area network using wired coaxial, fiber optic or twisted-pair cables

X – Y – Z



ISU currently has two pay-for-parking lots that have computerized parking meter units (see Figure 1) with receipt printout capability. The cost of each programmable unit begins at $10,000 and rapidly escalates to more than $75,000 as features are added. By collaborating with the ISU Parking Division, the objective of this project is to develop a demonstrable, microprocessor-based parking meter unit with a number of features such as variable time-of-day rate, add-on time capability, etc. The May04-02, Dec04-02, May05-02, and Dec05-02 project teams have developed a complete design and implemented a parking meter unit. In conjunction with the Dec05-02 team, the new project team will assist in the continued testing of the unit, help design a sign for instructing users, and build a second parking meter slave unit. This project team will also develop a separate parking meter lab simulation system in order to further support the parking meter project.


The project team would like to thank the following people for their time, ideas and financial contributions to the project: Doug Houghton of the Department of Public Safety, Iowa State University and May04-02, Dec04-02, May05-02, and Dec05-02 electrical/computer engineering senior design teams. The project team would also like to acknowledge our project advisors, Dr. John W. Lamont, and Professor Ralph Patterson III for their advice and guidance with the project.

1. Problem Statement

The following sections will provide a general overview of the problem to be addressed, and how this project will provide a solution for it.

1.1  General Problem Statement

Availability of parking on or near campus has become a concern at Iowa State University. In an attempt to control the parking lot congestion, the University has chosen to install parking meter systems. Traditional parking meter systems require one unit for every parking spot. In contrast, two of the existing lots at Iowa State have been installed with centralized parking meter units that are able to accept money and track multiple spaces from one or two locations. This setup provides advantages over the traditional parking meters, such as the ability to monitor the entire lot and collect money from one location.

However, there are several problems with the current Iowa State parking meter system. The current parking meter units lack the ability to communicate with one another. This means that when the lot is checked for offenders, each parking meter unit must be checked individually. Also, if a user wishes to add time to a parking space for which they have already paid, they must return to the same exact parking meter unit. Finally, the lack of communication between the parking meter units means that if one unit is disabled, all of its stored data is lost.

Another problem is the current parking meter units are very difficult to program. DPS has requested the ability to program in university holidays, as well as change the hourly rates. The current units require that this be done by a specialist, who must be flown in from British Columbia, Canada. This is expensive and postpones problems that may need immediate attention.

1.2  General Solution Approach

This project will attempt to solve these problems by providing an improved parking meter system to monitor the pay-for-parking lots. This system will be similar to the current pay-for-parking lots implemented on the Iowa State University campus, but will allow for more functionality and flexibility. The new system will also be more affordable, user-friendly, and easier to maintain.

The parking meter system in development will be implemented with many units, all of which will communicate with a central parking meter server though a set of master/slave connections. Users of the lot will be able to add time via any parking meter unit. The new system will also allow DPS parking enforcement officers to receive a single list of lot activity. In addition, the system will have a redundant central processor and additional memory, which will create a much more robust solution than is currently available.

The new parking meter units will have an easy to use interface that will make them more user friendly, and allow DPS to effectively maintain the parking meter system. Finally, the system will be implemented with standard computer hardware, which will make duplication easier and decrease the cost of construction and maintenance of the parking meter units.

The May04-02 senior design team completed the first phase of the project. This group completed much of the initial design work. The second group, Dec 04-02, completed the design and partly implemented a prototype unit. The third group, May05-02, was responsible for completing the prototype unit and producing a user’s guide for the system. The Dec05-02 team is responsible for testing the prototype unit, and producing a parts list and assembly/setup instructions. This team, May06-02, will be responsible for assisting in the continued testing of the prototype unit, building a second slave parking meter unit, and developing a parking meter simulation system for use within the lab. The May06-02 team will also design an instructional sign to assist users of the parking meter.

2. Operating Environment

The new parking meter system will be installed in the north-east portion of the parking lot west of the Armory building at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. It must be able to withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -30° F to 115° F. The parking meter units will also be able to deal with all forms of precipitation such as rain, snow, and hail.

The parking meter units will be used on a regular basis, and often by users that may treat the unit roughly. Because of this, the units must be durable and designed to withstand extended users. Finally, because the units will be located on a college campus, it must be sturdy, and resistant to attempts at vandalism.

3. Intended Users

Three classes of users will use the system. The first class includes students, faculty and staff of Iowa State University, and all persons purchasing time in Iowa State Campus pay-for-parking lots.

The second class of users is DPS parking enforcement officers (administrator), students who are hired to monitor the lots. The administrators will need additional functionality in order to monitor the parking lots.

The third class of user is the supervisor, a permanent DPS employee. This user will have access to all the features available to the previous classes, in addition to the ability to change settings of the system, such as the rates.

4. Intended Uses

The system will have three classes of users (see Section 3), each of which has access to different functions. The robustness of the system is too great to include a comprehensive list of all features. However, below are some of the main functions that will be available for each class of user:

• For the first class of users, people that park in the lot, the system will:

o Allow customers to purchase time for a parking space by selecting one of three

options: specifying the amount of desired time, selecting an ending time,

or adding money until the desired time is reached

o Allow time to be added to a parking space from any unit connected to the

parking meter server unit

o Print a hard-copy receipt if the user desires

• For the second class of users, administrators, the system will:

o Allow administrators to monitor paid and unpaid parking spots in the lot

o Allow administrators to gather parking lot statistics

• In addition to the features above, for the supervisor class of users the system will:

o Allow supervisors to change hourly rates

o Allow supervisors to set holidays

o Allow supervisors to add administrator or supervisor users

5. Assumptions

Below is a list of major assumptions to be considered when designing the parking meter system:

• The lot size will be no more the 1000 spaces

• The units will not provide change to customers

• AC power will be provided to the unit

• The units will only accept nickels, dimes, and quarters as payment

• Iowa State University Facilities Department will install the system and build subsequent

systems based on the documentation the current project team will generate

• Adequate finances will be available to build a second slave unit

• Dec05-02 team will provide parts list and assembly instructions

6. Limitations

The system has a several limitations defined by DPS which must be considered when designing the parking meter system.