This week

monday: Out of the blue “WTF?!” condition…not documenting publicly since it involves a good friend and some possibly private stuff.

tuesday: “Need a valve actuator PID controller with 100ms settling time* for this project you’ve never heard of before, even though we’ve been working on it for $bignum time now, and have known we needed a controller for probably longer than that…anyway, figured we should probably tell you about it now since the project ends this month….so, by the end of next week, yeah, that’d be great…”

wednesday: “Need a shippable prototype of the TAPE electronics, full repeatability characterization, a few more lab prototypes just for good measure, how about next week? Yeah, that’d be great…”

thursday: IPF prototype thingymabob device works-works-works, so Je* schedules a demonstration for tomorrow. Just to make sure everything will run smoothly, we test-test-test, making sure everything’s perfect and all the specs are met. It runs 30 seconds (doesn’t sound like much, but that’s way longer than it’s designed to go in one burst) with all the settings maxed out, just beautifully. There are tears in our eyes.

Met up that evening for a first date with LJ**, where all my best-laid dinner plans were foiled by long waits. (I mean, who all decides Thursday evening is when all of Boston should be out on the town at once? Honestly.) Typically awkward first-date thing, we’re both a little too quiet maybe, but at least nobody ditched or showed up wielding chainsaws or anything. Just kind of…meh.

friday: “I smoke two FETs in the morning, I smoke two FETs at night. I smoke two FETs in the afternoon, it makes the lab all bright. I smoke two FETs on demo day, and two the night before. I smoke two FETs before I smoke two FETs, and then I smoke two more…”

Grr. How come stuff always works just fine until you schedule a demo of it? We charge up the battery overnight and run it once before the demo, only 10 seconds, just to be sure there are no surprises. Let it cool off for a couple minutes, run it again…


IPF demo postponed indefinitely… There are tears in our eyes again, but for different reasons. Prototype’s power section continues to blow up one or the other pair of MOSFETs repeatedly and without warning throughout the day, and we have no idea why. Je* is heading out bright and early Monday morning to show the prototype off to a bunch of really important dudes, so this is kinda trouble.

Also, “Hey, we just found this thingy for sale online that compiles LABVIEW programs so that they can run on that DSP-thingy you’ve been painstakingly coding on since last year. I bet it will run way faster than hand-optimized C, and then we can design all our filters in LABVIEW! Oh BTW, that needs to be working by next week….”

saturday: Up at the buttcrack of dawn to set out for Jaffrey, NH on a camping trip with some of the work crew. Alternatively, a drinking trip that also happened to involve camping. Bright and early we set off up Mt. Monadnock…it was a warm, beautiful and nearly cloudless day. Going up, it almost felt like deja vu…I could vividly remember last year’s trip to the same place, as if it happened the day before. I didn’t even take many pictures, because everything looked so eerily unchanged from the last time. I would be standing in a particular spot framing a shot, then realize I had already taken this exact picture, from the exact spot, a year ago. Even the lighting was identical; I was struck by the way the sunlight reflected off of a particular, dense array of already leafless twigs, just as it “always” had. It kind of made me stop and notice that in many ways, not much in my life in general has really changed since a year ago today. Kind of humbling; makes me feel as though I haven’t really been applying myself to anything important and meaningful of late… just kind of falling into the same daily grind.

Anyway, the trip turned out to be a lot of fun. My calves were rather tender the next day, probably from being “on the brakes” the whole way down waiting for people :) …by near the bottom of the mt., my leg muscles were getting prone to going unstable (oscillatory) in certain positions. After all that, fire and food all day; I somehow regained my “hollow-legged eating machine” reputation all over again (hey guys, I didn’t even eat that much). I could go on all day, but what happens in Jaffrey stays in Jaffrey, especially now that my bloggg has a cult following around the ol’ workplace (or maybe not really, but hey, I can be paranoid)….you don’t get to hear about all the gossip, embarrassing stories, work-related ranting, or who spooned who in The Rod’s tent; sorry :-)

sunday: Arrrrggghhhh….is it morning, already? Got home around noonish, immediately took an aspirin and crashed on my bed for a few hours, still smelling strongly of campfire. Woke up just in time to take a long shower and head off to see Bauhaus play the Orpheum. Awesome! I think I wasn’t paying that much attention to fashion when I woke up though, and came a little under/over/mis-dressed (meaning, reflecting too many photons) for the occasion. They did a cover of Ziggy Stardust that would have had K* creaming his jeans.

monday: 9:45am: “Yeah, I had a great time on our date, but you’re too young and too skinny. I should have realized that a couple weeks ago at Toast. Sorry.” -LJ

10:30am: “Yyyyyeah, we just bought that wankview labview cross-compiler-ma-dealy, only $3,995***. Do you know anything about it? Oh, documentation? Oh, I figured we would buy it first, then worry about seeing if it would actually work for our application, because hey, we’re on a schedule here.”

5:15pm: “OK, this demo is supposed to make the DSP board generate a sine wave…wait, where is it?” -J
“See those little spikes on the scope every so often? Zoom in on one…keep zooming…more….more…” -me
(zooming in) -J
“There you go, 512 samples of a sine wave” -me
“…but what’s all this empty space in between?” -J
“That’s where it’s computing the next 512 samples…” -me

Later on, went over to GJM’s house, where GJM and I reacquainted ourselves with the Cap’n (ahh, memoriesmemories…), then picked up some power tools and got the heavy swinging-trapdoor-and-ladder-to-the-attic-assembly almost installed.

tuesday: “Heyyyy…how’s that actuator controller looking?” -AL
“Working on it right now…just got the parts in, stole a spare processor board from TAPE, and just finishing up the DAC code now.” -me
“That’s great…hey, apparently we need a resolution of 5 microinches…can it do that?” -AL
“…microinch…?” -me
(a decimal point and zeroes start filling across my whiteboard, and eventually a 5 appears at the end of them) -AL
“Umm…” -me
“So, for the laser displacement sensor****, you’ll probably want to add some kind of a filter…when we were trying it on the valve, the output value had about a millimeter of jitter on it, and some kind of drift like this…” -AL

* “…I figure you could just reuse the code and design from the (other project) actuator (with the 2-minute settling time), right?”

** luckily this proto-relationship failed, otherwise this whole initials thing would start to get confusing fast for the people on LiveJournal.

*** that’s only one order of magnitude more than the board itself.

**** which will be the feedback source we use to tell when we’re within 5 microinches of the target deflection…


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