Monday, November 22, 2010

INVENTION

Coconut topped chocolate covered chocolate chip almond coconut cookie dough balls.... You heard it here first... I'll post pictures if the next ones survive for long enough.....

HECTIC AND HAPPY

It has been a hectic few months, and I haven't taken many pictures or written down my thoughts frequently enough. That doesn't mean that nothing is going on, though... in fact, being busier has spurred me to do more than ever. I am loving spending time with my wife and daughter more than anything, and am more tired and more happy than I have ever been in my life.

Here are some of the non-family highlights that come to mind at the moment....

I'm almost done with my first semester of grad school at Cal State Fullerton. I have a midterm and a final for my math class in the next three weeks. The class has been really great and has definitely helped me to not only catch up on math that was shaky for me, but has extended what I already knew quite a bit. We started with differential equations, then went to linear algebra and complex analysis. These three topics were covered in my undergrad, but they were treated as separate subjects. The class I'm finishing up has combined these three topics, which was new to me... So instead of just solving a differential equation, now it is a matrix differential equation involving imaginary numbers. I think I'm still not there with combining all three together, but my understanding of each individual topic has definitely vastly improved through the combination.

On top of the math class, I started a robotics project worth two courses of credit. I am using a lego mindstorms kit with a gyro sensor, and am designing, building, and programming a two-wheeled balancing, maze solving robot. I am writing my own code in a program called "RobotC", which is basically C-Programming with a few add-ons. The technical term for the robot is an "inverted pendulum"... it's basically a miniature segway. I'm very proud to say that I've finally gotten the robot to stay standing until the batteries run out, which was not an easy task. I ended up using a double P-I control scheme, taking data from both the gyro sensor and motor encoders to balance the robot. It was surprising to me how much the data from the wheels mattered. I could not get the robot to balance using data from the gyro sensor alone, which was very counter-intuitive to me. Here's a quick video of the robot balancing...
video
The other thing that I am really excited about right now is the homemade smoker that my Dad and I are building. It is made from 3/16" steel... the grill is 20" around and 24" long, and the firebox is 12X17X14". I'm really looking forward to the food that is going to be coming off of this monster, but I'm equally enjoying building it. I will definitely be posting some pictures as soon as I can... My dad is really, really good at metal-working, and I seriously think this could very well be the highest quality smoker ever built.

That's it for now.....