Past Project: Input Shaper Testing

As part of my ME degree from Georgia Tech, I had to take a class called Experimental Engineering (ME 4055). It was a senior level class where students worked in teams to complete a project that mimicked the research cycle of a PhD student or professor. The team was required to design and conduct a set of experiments, evaluate the results, and then write a paper. For most students this was a rather bogus class. Students were limited to a small amount of hardware and research areas, and each semester’s reports looked all too similar to previous. I, however, had the very special chance of taking this class with Adam Reich during my semester abroad at Georgia Tech Lorraine (GTL), which meant working with Dr. William Singhose and his PhD student, Jason Lawrence. They were at GTL to teach several other classes (another one I was also in, ME 6401 Linear Control Theory) and to continue/promote their research with a highly portable, miniature gantry crane.


The mini gantry crane setup at GTL.
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2008 Track Cycling Season

This year, I began cycling at the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point. It has been some of the most intense and exciting racing ever. I have been participating in the Monday nights “Advanced Training” and then the weekly training races. All competitors are split into 4 groups: A, B, C, and D, each decreasing in average rider skill and experience. Each rider starts his/her career in the D group and moves up by scoring points in the weekly training races. The points do not hold any real value and are mostly in place to encourage people to participate regularly. A new racer needs to earn 50 points to advance to the C group, an additional 84 points to advance to the B group, and an additional 105 points to advance to the A group.

The D group has its training races on 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, while the A, B, and C groups compete weekly on Wednesdays. The remaining 2nd and 4th Tuesdays host a Pursuit night where any rider can participate in individual pursuit, team pursuit, and team sprint events. The points earned during pursuit nights count toward a rider’s total when upgrading to a higher group.

Additionally, each rider is responsible for keeping an accurate resume of his/her points despite a master list compiled by the East Point Velodrome Association. My resume will be updated throughout the summer leading up to the 3rd Festival of Speed, a heavily spectated, tri-summer racing event boasting cash payouts!

My cycling resume at DLV for 2008:

Point Totals: 129 points
B-Group: 5 points
C-Group: 47 points
D-Group: 55 points
Pursuit Nights: 19 points
Friday Night Sprints: 3 points
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SLAM-5 Bot part 2: The Control Algorithm

After assembling the hardware for my SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) robot, I set about to write the code which controls the drive motors, senses obstacles, and records the robot’s path. Lego’s NXT kit comes with a rather basic visual programming language called NXT-G. This program, which constructs programs by creating essentially flow charts, is almost counterintuitive to anyone with command line programing experience. I decided instead to use the third-party programming language called Not eXactly C (NXC) and its associated IDE, Bricx Command Center.
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Reporting In From The FIRST Lego Robotics Competition

Last month the FIRST Robotics National Championship was held at the Georgia Dome, only several blocks from my house, so I ventured over to report on the events lasting from Wednesday to Saturday. The entire extravaganza was sponsored by Vex, Lego, and NASA, amoung others. The National Championship in Atlanta is the culmination of regional competitions throughout the US and Canada. Three separate events were simultaneously taking place under one roof. The FIRST Lego League (FLL) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) are both kit-based problem solving competitions for kids aged 9-14 and high school students. Additionally, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an open-ended design competition which allows high school students the freedom to construct their robot from the materials of their choosing. The three competitions are entirely different; each has a unique playing field, set of objectives, and scoring method.
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Coffee Science and My Octane Barista Certification

I regularly find myself explaining to people about my experiences working at the most forward-thinking coffee shop in the city. To paraphrase my usual explanation: “Octane Coffee is dedicated to a continual evolution toward providing the best coffee possible by endlessly educating its employees and customers about the many facets of coffee cultivation, production, and preparation.” This education is founded on both technical training and technical knowledge of coffee. I’ve done an extensive amount of exploring through my exposure to the coffee world. Several of these experiences are documented here.


Pulling two shots during my barista certification. Photo by John Cole.
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