New adventures

It was a busy week for me, starting off with a birthday celebration, culminating with Star Wars Day, and it happened to be my last week of teaching at Chicago State.

I have a fake facebook account floating around on the interweb. My original intention was to use it to snoop into other people’s lives and maybe take advantage of a special offer or two. Since the birthday I entered on that account is false, the few real friends of mine who found the account typically wish me a happy birthday some time in the fall. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t do facebook either, so she isn’t fooled by the alternative facts found on-line and knows when to really celebrate my birthday, and she did so this year with a pyramid of lava cakes.

Full disclosure, this picture does not have enough calories in it, so coffee ice cream and freshly made maple-syrup flavored whipped cream were added post production.

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Making electronics projects more accessible

Increasing accessibility to electronics projects is a mission that resonates with me.  Personally, I find the autonomy and self-sufficiency that comes with “making” to be very rewarding.  With hobbyist sites such as Adafruit and Sparkfun, we have plenty of (inexpensive) resources at our disposal.  As the technology advances, these resources become cheaper – which is a good thing – and smaller – which is a mixed bag.

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OMIS remix

Here’s the first published remix of my Open Millifluidic Inquiry System (OMIS) made by Thingiverse member Steve Gordon.  There are a couple of nice tweaks, including the use of epoxy to keep the support rods in place (a semi-permanent solution, since many epoxies can dissolve in acetone, and since PLA was used in this build, OMIS won’t be permanently damaged by an acetone treatment).  Another nice tweak is the use of automatic pipette tips instead of syringe needles to connect the syringes to the millifluidic device.  I’ve got some projects that will involve acid in one of the channels, so I need to explore this hack further.

More information about OMIS, such as the bill of materials, build guide, and some ideas on how to use it can be found on my OMIS page.

Of lightsabers and laser cutters

I just saw Rogue One and so I’m in a Star Wars mood.  A long time ago (March) in a galaxy far, far away (downtown), I went to C2E2.  (Here are the photos to prove it.)  I had purchased some nice Star Wars art and have been looking for a frame to display it.  I gave up (read: had to put the project on the back burner because of the piles of grading).  Recently, I revisited the problem (read: finished grading) and decided that the only way I was going to get the frame style I wanted at a price I could afford was to, well, you know:

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Predicting elemental properties for #RealTimeChem Week

Happy #RealTimeChem week everybody.  What, you don’t know what it is?  Neither did I, untill I happened to read about it over at Compound Interest . (You guessed it, I’ve got lots of grading to do so I’m procrastinating again.) Since the theme this year centers on the four new elements that have been added to the periodic table, and I have an affinity for the table and all its secrets, I thought it might be fun to take advantage of the periodic properties of the table and predict some of the characteristics of the new elements.

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Microwolf – running Mathematica on a Pi Zero

Wolfram’s Mathematica can run on a $5 Raspberry Pi zero. While it may be painfully slow, it does open up opportunities to use Mathematica in low-power, remote-sensing applications. This blog post is a first in a series highlighting the design challenges I’ve encountered (and in some cases overcome) building Mathematica on Pi (MoP) devices. (Hey, I think I just created a new acronym.)

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Adventures in PCB milling – journey begins

This is a short post to show off my first attempt at PCB milling. I’m a member of the Chicago Innovation Exchange.   Well, I was, but now it’s no longer CIE but the Polsky Center, or maybe the Polsky Echange North, I’m not sure, but that’s what happens when someone invests $35 million in your incubator; you change your name.  The center provides me access to a pretty swanky fab lab equipped with (among other things) an X-carve CNC mill. I recently completed my training on the machine and I wanted to put my skills to the test.

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Bake my Pi and eat it too?

Do you ever wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, so you decide to mess around with your Raspberry Pi, only to find out that the SD card has been baked and the operating system doesn’t load? This seems to happen to me more often than I’d like (both the waking up early and the baked RPi). There must have been something in that instant coffee (didn’t want to wake my wife with the noise of the coffee machine) and Italian Sweet Creme flavored creamer (instant coffee tastes awful without it) because I was able to come up with a reasonably clever solution to my problem this time.

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