Genetic Algorithm

TriE2I’m better than I once was.

My glasses broke a couple weeks ago while I was at work. The screw fell out of the temple and is lost forever. I did a quick patch job to make it through the rest of the day, and when I got home, I set out to fix them.

A bit of steel wire, a pair of pliers, and 6 minutes later, I had them Continue reading


Though the year is hardly ‘new’ at this point, I thought I’d share my resolutions. My wife is working on her 30 before 30, and she suggested that I work on a project each month.

It seems like a good idea to me. I have a lot of project ideas, and this project-a-month idea has already helped me focus on some of them. I started January with the Udacity startup class. I haven’t finished the course yet, but I will soon, and I’ve gotten quite a bit out of it already.

February I dedicated to finding a new job. That wasn’t really planned, but the interview process for a new job at Honda R&D seemed to take a significant part of my project time from the month. Continue reading

First PCB

PCB Layout for the Amplifier and Cell Connector

The second semester of Senior Design is all about making our project deployable. We want to put all of our circuitry on a printed circuit board (PCB), which is a nice professional option for a durable product. It is also a nice alternative to the board we have now with wires all over the place.

We’ve heard that it’s pretty easy to go wrong with PCB design, especially on your first design. Nobody seems to be able to tell us exactly where it is so easy to go wrong, so it must just be the combination of so many different things that all have to go right. One of the biggest challenges for this design is time, so we decided to get a jump on things when we can. Continue reading

Senior Project, First Semester Progress

The end of this semester means that I’m halfway through my senior design project. The Sixth Point car seat system is designed to prevent the dozens of hyperthermia deaths that happen each year when children are left unattended in automobiles. The system runs an array of sensors to detect when a child is in the seat, when the car is running, and the temperature inside the car. It can send a text message or call the parents if a child has been forgotten in the car, and call 911 and activate a local siren and lights if the situation becomes serious enough.

This video was shown in our end-of-semester presentation. It shows all the basic functionality: the sensors and the alert. For the demonstration, we had the alert activate after just 10 seconds, this will be more like 5 or 10 minutes in the production system. Our assignment for the first semester was to design and build a benchtop prototype. This version includes all the software and hardware functionality, but it didn’t need to be packaged up. The completed deployable prototype comes next semester. The deployable prototype will be packaged to be smaller and more robust, and will be easily installable in a vehicle and 100% functional. We are spending our Winter break making improvements to the antenna and experimenting with printed circuit board (PCB) production. We should be in good shape heading into the second semester of this project.

Line Following

Here’s another project I did for my robotics class this semester. The requirement was to create a line-following robot. The equipment given was a BOEBOT kit, and a handful of QTI IR sensors.

The first video shows one of our configuration runs. We were adjusting balance between the two IR sensors, by moving them relative to each other, and by adjusting their outputs in software. We’re running the bot at super slow speed here, that was also adjusted for later runs.

In the next video, we’re still running the bot at low speed, but our calibration was essentially done at this point. We actually found a defect in the track; it was hard to see from above, but a few inches of the dark tape had lifted up. Continue reading

Registered, for my Final Semester

Today was my registration date for Spring 2012, which is my final semester before graduation. My schedule is all set (pending a signature from the department chair and filing a change of elective form at the registrar’s office); it will be a tough one, but interesting. I’m looking forward to it. My list of classes follows.

CHEM 1A – General Chemistry I

PHYS 106 – Introduction to Modern Physics

EEE 130 – Electromechanical Conversion

EEE 178 – Introduction to Machine Vision

EEE 193B – Product Design Project II

Maze Solving

In my robotics class, we recently had an assignment to build a robot which could successfully navigate a maze. As in other assignments, we used the Parallax Stingray kit as our platform.

Overall, the project went smoothly. Our most significant issue is that when the batteries wear down, the response of the motors changes drastically. The robot doesn’t just slow down, the calibration we had done to match the motors goes out the window, and the radius of curvature becomes somewhat unpredictable. We used a closed-loop control system, so some mis-match between our expected and actual motor values should have been acceptable, but we were dealing with complete drop-out of the motors at what should have been low speeds. That was more than our system could handle, but with the batteries fully charged, it worked rather well. The video tells the tale.

So there’s no question, the cow thing was the goal.

Amelia’s 1st Birthday!

Mostly photos in this post. For Amelia’s first birthday we has a big family party at Grandma’s house. Amelia loved the whole thing, she loved opening presents and acted so grateful after each one. She had a great time and was happy for the whole party. I don’t know why we don’t just throw her one every day.

The Food

The Fun

The Birthday Girl

New York Times Crossword

I solved my first New York Times crossword puzzle yesterday. It was, oddly enough, today’s puzzle (12 September 2011); it was available to me last night though as the latest puzzle available in the app I was using.

It was rather enjoyable. I was introduced to a game called 7 Little Words last week, and I found it very enjoyable. I had never really considered word games, but after completing the first 30 levels of 7 Words, I thought maybe I would give some others a try, and what better place to start than the world’s best known word game.

It was a lot of fun. I was at it recreationally, but since my phone insisted on keeping some basic statistics, I’ll go ahead and share: it took me 1 hour and 35 minutes to solve the puzzle. My wife was very helpful, and we had a fun time working together on some of the harder clues. She is in general much better than me at games like this (I’m currently down more than 2:1 in an ongoing game of scrabble with her), so it was nice I got to fill in as much as I could on my own before her help came in.

I’m not sure when I’ll have time to do another. I certainly will do another though. I may even try a Tuesday, I hear they get harder as the week goes by.

State Fair

The fun’s about to get bigger!

Amelia at the Fair

It’s a rare thing for me to take a Tuesday off, but I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. We’re getting ready to go to the California State Fair with Amelia. Tonight the Neon Trees are playing, we decided to go see them and to avoid the crowds as much as possible by going on a weekday. The weather seems to be cooperating with us, with a high of 88°F, this should be a beautiful day at the fair.

This morning has been relaxing, Amelia and I did some dishes while Michelle was out helping her mom with some details of the move. We slept in a little too, which was nice (even getting kicked in the face).

I’m planning to update later with some pictures, etc. from the fair.