‘Tis the season

Grades are in! It felt like a long semester for me, since I had to wait until the last day of finals to give my exam. Usually, the weekend following exam week is filled with holiday preparations, but this time, it was filled with last minute grading. Most importantly, I didn’t get a chance to fully decorate the cantina. Still, a few decorations were placed: sabers were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Darth Santa soon would appear.

The home Lego situation is a bit more festive. We enjoyed building this years winter scene, which added to our previous houses (this was last year’s addition) quite nicely. I also came across a company that builds blinky bricks, making my Lego illumination tasks a breeze.

I’m hoping Santa brings me a few more blinky lights so next year’s village can look a bit more like the Griswald’s. Merry Christmas everyone.

QSL

Note: I realized I made some mistakes on my QSL cards, which might be important for those who are working towards awards. If you happen to be one of them, leave a comment and I’ll get a card with the proper info to you soon. I’ve had lots of irons in the fire the past few months which means little time to actually post about it. Last night, I was able to hop on to my first amateur radio net hosted by the 3905 century club. A net – I learned – is an on-the-air gathering of ham operators, and this one was intended for making contacts with operators in other states. Apparently – and I don’t know all the ‘rules’ – operators get extra points for making contact with a noob (can we use [inter]net lingo with the [amateur radio]net?). I turned out to be very busy with 17 contacts from 12 different states.

First batch of QSL cards to send out.

Conditions were good for 40-m. Earlier in the summer, I tried to make contact with my Dad (WA1ITU) in RI and we were barely able to hear one another. It also helped that I was able to get a new antenna (23-m end fed wire with a coil) tossed into the highest trees surrounding my property and I recently visited my Dad and helped him tweak his antennas (yes, plural). In any case, we could hear each other loud and clear (59) and apparently, a good number of other operators could hear me as well.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the cards have different stamps on them. My grandfather passed recently, and we inherited a chunk of his vast stamp collection. My wife decided to match the operator’s home state with a relevant state stamp (we have a bunch of those). Sending out the QSL cards gives us an opportunity to share in one another’s hobbies. If you’re on the receiving end of one of those cards, and you happened to notice the stamps, let me know!

So, I’m hooked on another hobby. Not sure when I’ll find time to actually do work. If someone is willing to pay me to retire early, please leave message in the comments.

What is a feather?

Yes, I enjoy birdwatching but no, this is not some ornitho-existential question on the existence of birds. I just returned from the National ACS conference in San Diego, where I spoke about my feather-chem project. As this was the first time I’ve talked extensively about the project to someone who wasn’t a student or my wife, I realized there are still a number of concepts that I take for granted. One of those is related to the feather microcontroller development board created by Adafruit. Here is their 3-minute video introducing the product line:

I decided to use a feather microcontroller for my instrumental methods project because of the advanced microcontrollers used, the diversity of featherwings (and you know what those are because you watched the video, right?), and the small form factor which makes prototyping and creating custom featherwings pretty cheap. Plus, “feather” can be spelled with chemical symbols from the periodic table, which is something I like to do. That’s why you’ll see my project called FeAtHEr-Cm.

Now that you know what a feather is, head on over to the documentation for my project and learn a bit more about how I’m using feathers.