Contract Electromechanical Engineer

For the last ten months, I’ve been contracting as an electromechanical engineer at a research chemistry firm in Atlanta. They specialize in commercializing several patented processes and they have hired me to automate the processes for several applications. I have used this opportunity to refine and expand my electronics and process controls skill sets. They work with several Fortune 500 companies producing quick market solutions. In the interest of all of this privacy I am bound to a pretty strict confidentiality agreement. Unfortunately I can’t talk about details, however, I am working on some really cool projects so I’ll stick to the how’s and leave out the what-for’s.

I had this really long post in the works and was completing it piece-meal as I had time. Sad to say though, I’ve been so busy doing work that I haven’t had time to write about work. So in the interest of brevity and to start a format where I can easily add new posts as I finish projects, I’m going to limit my writing and let some pictures do most of the talking.

I am spending a lot of time working with LabView and I have become quite efficient at writing programs and designing process control systems. One of our processes requires monitoring and controlling seven gas flows, monitoring the pressure in two liquid lines, monitoring the temperature in ten locations, and moving a two axis robot to various positions and repeating several paths. The program can also export all of this data to an Excel file of the user’s choosing.

The motion hardware at ____ is antiquated ValueMotion driver and nuDrive amplifier hardware, which took me a bit of time to setup and get working properly. I’ve implemented both a mechanical and software emergency stop. The thermocouple and pressure transducer monitoring is accomplished with National Instrument’s FieldPoint modules, which while also legacy technology, are quite ubiquitous at ____.

I wrote a program that incorporated all of these features. I’ve removed any confidential information but here is a overview of the program and the necessary files.. I am in the process of upgrading all of ____’s Labview to LV2009 from the much older 7.1 (and even 5.0 on some machines). So this program is written in 7.1.

Front Panel

Block Diagram

LabVIEW 7.1 (files zipped)

2010 Cycling Season, Getting Started

Instead of waiting until the end of the year and writing a single recap, I’m going to split this year up into three separate posts, the first of the year being this one.

My plan for this year is to again focus on track racing by taking what I’ve learned and built up last year and improve, to be one of the more competitive amateur racers at Dick Lane Velodrome. To help with this, and to make the racing more enjoyable, I’ve teamed up with Chris Kelly and Faster Mustache: Race. I’ve been friends with most of the team for many years, but finally decided to join the race team this year. The team attitude has kept me motivated to ride more and added a new level of tactics to racing.

My goals this year are to place consistently in the Pro Race Series events at Dick Lane and do exceptionally well in the Working Man’s Madison<. New this year to Dick Lane’s results are a separate team competition which combines team members’ points on Wednesday races throughout the year.

This last weekend was the first Pro Race Event and I rode fairly well. I recently upgraded to lighter, more aerodynamic wheels and I’m still adjusting to them. On the Friday night sprints, I matched my best 200 m time of 13.44 seconds, despite feeling slow. Additionally, well-played team tactics put my teammates Chris and Justin into 1st and 2nd positions in our 10 lap scratch race.

On Saturday’s omnium, I placed 8th overall and scored my first points in this event (I rode two such events last year). I can feel that I have a lot of improvements yet to make. With most of the season ahead of me, I’m excited about preparing for the rest of the year.

Going the distance at the track. Photo by John Woodruff.

Continue reading “2010 Cycling Season, Getting Started”

Childhood Filmmakers

Every time I go home for Thanksgiving, I discover some new artifact from my childhood. This time, it was a video that my friend, brother, and I made sometime when we were probably 11 or 12. I remember our family had a big bulky personal camcorder that had a stop-motion feature. It looked something like this:

camcorder

Basically, you pushed a button and the camera took a short clip. We then moved the figures and pushed the button again. As with most things we did as kids, this was completely improvised. We also started experimenting by manually lengthening the clips and this allowed us to use a G.I. Joe toy to add sound effects. Its no Robot Chicken but we probably had fun making it.

[iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/7931447″]