It’s not purple, it’s mauve…

My wife has been tending to these orchids for a number of years.  When we were in Chicago, they looked kind of sad.  They seem to like the Brockport air (which has much less traffic pollution, so I don’t blame them).

Click on the picture to get a bigger image.  The purple orchid seems to be very pleased by finally having a non-south-facing window to sit in.  Speaking of purple, today is Henry Perkin’s 180th birthday (thank you for honoring a Chemist, Google).  Perkin is known for discovering a way to produce purple dye.  His story, which is detailed in a very readable book by Simon Garfield, is worth picking up if you have a few hours to spare.

Prusa MK2S finally finished

I’ve had my MK2S printer sitting in a box for quite some time (I did have an X-carve to put together and a few assignments to grade – oh and I published a paper, but more on that later).  This is my second 3D printer, the first being a Makerfarm i3v.  I love my first printer, and it taught me a lot about the design and maintenance of these machines.  That said, I’ve always had a hard time with calibration and getting the prints just right.  My first successful 3D print with the i3v was a cube in ABS, and I was so proud.  Here’s my first successful print with the MK2S (brought to you from one of my students, Anusha Ventress, who is moonlighting as a videographer while she works in my lab):

OK, technically, this was the 3rd successful print on my MK2S, but all I can say is: wow.

 

 

Mandy – origins

I wrote this piece for a Wolfram technology blog a while back. It’s a bit Mathematica centric for that reason. The blog got delayed, then the editor left the company, then the new editor blew off the piece and I got tired of waiting, so here it is.

Not so long ago…

In 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the Raspberry pi, an affordable, credit-card sized computer originally designed to help younger students learn programming. It peels away the black-box of computers and exposes users to the fascinating world of how software controls hardware that control sensors that interact with the user’s surroundings. The computer science community refers to this idea as physical computing. As an Analytical Chemist, I call it a scientific instrument. Since much of my research and teaching deals with scientific instrumentation, the Raspberry Pi has turned out to be an excellent platform for exploring new ways to make measurements.

Continue reading Mandy – origins

Mandy, I am your father…

I could turn this post into a commentary  about the importance of doing a thorough literature search, and despite how thorough you think your literature search is, it is not thorough enough.  Alternatively, I can make some Star Wars references; let’s go with that.

Soon, my wife and I will buy our first home.  My wife and I just bought our first home.  I have been looking at videos on how to paint rooms and found myself looking at periodic-table wall-art.  I came upon this website which was coincidentally published one year ago today.  Until now, I had not seen an RGB blinky-light periodic table besides Mandy, and it appears as if Mandy was coming to life just as apaf1 (send me your real name and I’ll edit, if you wish) was completing his project.  What does that mean for Mandy?

Continue reading Mandy, I am your father…

Happy Holidays – from Mandy

I am teaching Mandy to sing (sort of).  Here’s Mandy playing along to Carol of the Bells in what may be the worlds “first” Periodic Table spectrum visualizer.  Now, before we blow up the Twitter sphere with allegations that Mandy belongs on the Top Ten List of Most Infamous Lip Syncing incidents, I’m not claiming that this is live.  Mandy wasn’t designed to do real-time spectrum analysis (she’s a Periodic Table, after all) but I wanted to see if some geeky visualizations would be possible.  So, I created my own version of Carol of the Bells (written in Sonic-Pi) and then analyzed the audio file using Mathematica, which has a neat function, SpectrogramArray[], that provides easy access to the frequencies in an audio file.  I then binned the frequencies into 118 buckets – one for each element on the periodic table, and converted the intensities into colors (blue for high amplitude, red for low amplitude).  I probably should have thought a bit more about which elements should display which frequencies, but time was running short so I simply made the heavier elements have the lower frequencies.  In any case – enjoy.

 

What the heck’s a popsocket?

I asked my students what these silly things on the back of their phones were, and why they were needed.  Apparently, phones are sufficiently heavy that you’ll drop them on your face while trying to read/text while lying down.  They also seem to help with taking selfies.  It turns out that they were thought up by a philosophy professor so tell that to your Mom and Dad when they ask why their paying so much money for your liberal-arts education.  Heck, I’ll even give you some inspiration, because one of my students bought me my very own popsocket (I feel sooooo millennial) and I just had to customize it.

My kickin’ T-Mobile slider phone – unlocked and now Popsocketed.

Continue reading What the heck’s a popsocket?

A Maker Family

A few weeks back, my wife (Rozenn) came home with a broken cane chair, which looked something like this, and wanted to try repairing the seat. A few tours through youtube videos, a visit to Amazon and some time with my Dremmel (she’s logged more hours on that thing than I have) and she managed to replace the seat.  Even I can sit in it!

Now that it’s completed, I think we both agree that the project was very doable.  The hardest part was removing the old spline (don’t believe those Youtube videos where it comes out with one tap of a chisel).  Once the spline was removed, however, the rest of the process was a breeze.  Yard-sale season may be wrapping up, but I’m sure we’ll find a few more broken chairs at rock-bottom prices that will not only give us a fun project, but also result in a nice-looking chair in the end.