Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thoughts about laptop

A story about my misguided thoughts:

current x220t

At the time the x220t model was going for 16 hundred, upwards to 2100+ for all the bell/whistles coming straight from the Lenovo website - brand new. And for weeks, if not months, I was searching online for deals. When I saw a “refurbished” x220t on ebay starting at ~600? USD I almost flipped. At the time, I had been searching for a laptop for over a month, and specifically a x220t for several weeks. It wasn’t the first x220t I had placed a bid on. I had already lost on two previous bid , and was even willing to settled for an i5 on one those those. 

3rd time’s the charm.

So, I had 5 x220ts in front of me, screen tabs. I kept my eye on them, every hour of every day that went by. I took track if the other bidders, guessing who they were by their masked names Joh****Doe87, Smi**12. I stalked them as far as I could and tried to determine their shopping habits, or anything I could get from the oh-so limited information e-bay provided. During these.. “researching” attempts, I came across one particular x220t posting on the site. It stood out. There was no buy-out price, only a bid, like all the others. But this one was an i7.. The last i7 sold for 1500. I remember the final hours I had looking at this particular posting, for it was the one that yielded me my sweet beautiful Lenovo that I’ve lived with till this day.

That morning alone, while I was asleep, my phone buzzed twice.. I woke up, saw the alert.. One of the other bids placed on the watch list had ended. No matter, this next one was an i7. Went back to sleep. Later that day, I was using my phone to check its status. In class (at school), I nervously had my eye on it, refreshing every other 10 minutes. I knew I wasn’t the only one on this. There were others.. The current bid was now at 750 USD.

After lecture(9:15 am), I headed towards Lied LIbrary where I could hide away in one of the quiet sections to think. I didn’t have a lot of money, and it would be careless to go anywhere above an average market price for that set-up (it was an i7* 2nd gen). An idea had come to me the night before. After getting tips from my Ma, and Tony on the different ways they used ebay, and reading a handful of tutorials on on-line bidding, a plot was created. Other people were watching. Other peole had already bidded. That Lenovo was MINE. It called out for me, she, called out for me. I set the phone in front of me, and watched the minutes roll by.

15 minutes left.. The current bid was 800 USD.
(I was in the 4th floor hidden away by one of the windows. My phone stood in front of me)
5 minutes left.. 800 USDstill
(I held my pencil tight)
3 minutes.. 820 USD
(My Casio calculator showed numbers.. forgot to include shipping..)
1 minute.. 850 USD
(I went through my browser tabs, having a final look at other sales going on)
40 seconds left... 858... USD
(I waited.. more seconds went by)
30 seconds..
25 seconds..
It was time for action. Two numbers were on that paper.
With sweaty fingers, I punched  in the first one.
My bid was 888.85 USD
The very second the phone screen went back to the place bid screen, I placed in the second number.
1337 USD...
15 seconds left...
3 seconds left...
No other bids

By rising the “maximum” bid to that value at that time, the other bidders would be forced to give some thought to their next move. Any future bids they put in, gets challenged with an automatic bid from me up to that value. With 20 seconds left, a future move from them would either have been impulsive (in which case they were more desperate than I was) or pre-calculated (in which case they had more $$ than I had).

I had defeated the enemies.

Of course, I didn’t have that much money in my bank account. But paypal didn’t know that (@_@), and neither did the other bidders ;p

At the time of the bidding, a brand new x220t /w i7 sandy bridge, biometric reader, and a SSH  went over 2k. The after market price for a pre-owned x220t went for 1300-1700 starting with an i3 and upwards with i5, i7. This one also had the extended battery pack (didn’t include the regular one though).

I was tired of searching.

There were other x220ts up for bid at that time. 2 of them were still at 700 USD. I figured the other bidders knew about these as well, I mean, you’d assume other people would have the same market knowledge as you did if you’re all using the same platform (later, I found out one of the other ones was sold at 1200, the other at some other price, but also sold). Thus, this wasn't the only bid on their radar. I had assume they would cease competing and decide to fall back on the other options.

With 20 USD shipping, I paid a little over 900 USD for a high-end refurbished laptop. It was an amazing laptop. I LOVED that laptop. The x220t, has its faults, but it's probably one of the best laptops of it's time. Did I mention it has a touch screen and you can flip the cover and draw on it like a tablet. Of course, you know that by now if you've read this far.

But, a year later problems started to arise. 

Nothing too extreme at first. Ubuntu 12.04 gave me no issues. It wasn’t until I upgraded to 12.10 that Windows kept deleting my partition (evil). From then on, I didn't get anything I didn’t expect to get from a linux. If something did go wrong, someone else somewhere else had already gone through the same problem, and you could usually sudo apt-get or sudo this-that a solution for it.

One Saturday morning. I woke up to find my monitor black. I needed to be somewhere at 6 (thank you Alex), left the house, went, came back in the afternoon. Stared at the x220t again. No diagnoses. The week went by, I kept looking for a solution. VGA worked, good. I kept thinking it was software related. Some recent updated, caused a serious error somewhere probably. A week went by.

Nope, still no solution. I went out an e-mail to everyone I knew who uses linux, or some form of linux. Got back several suggestions, but still no solution. Even worst, still no diagnosis. I asked my step-dad for help. I handed him my sweet Lenovo, then got it back a day later. His solution was to get rid of linux, reinstall windows (X_X) update drivers.. Somewhere during  the “get rid of linux” part I lost all linux. All my files, data, .log files, everything. I was upset of course, but whatever. I spent the next hour or so mad, angry, went through the 5(?) stages of grief, and finally landed on to acceptance.

The cycle lasted an hour. I had windows again, with updated drivers, and the problem persisted. Except now, the updated drivers didn’t include internet connectivity, and.. more issues. I was still thinking that the problem was software related. I was hoping it was software related. I was hoping the BIOS could be reset, if I removed the CMOS? if I tinkered with this, that? Since I had windows installed again, I might as well approach the problem from a windows point of view. The whole black screen thing was something common to many laptops, but the “before BIOS” thing was more unique. Maybe the Lenovo community could help?

Nothing.. I did a fresh install of Ubuntu. Read more forums, and it wasn’t until a month ago that I finally started to accept the fact that this was definitely hardware. Did the inverter not work, does it matter? It’s an LCD back-light. The digitizer works, and the serial connection isn’t read.  Maybe its trying to read? Since the VGA works, why don’t I just attach it to the internal monitor through that? Why don’t I just buy a portable external monitor? Maybe just give a signal to my phone and view it through that from now on?

Software solutions are free, hardware solutions cost money. I had time, but not money. Back in February, I didn’t have any money actually, but now I’m able to throw money at solutions. Thus, I’m really tempted just to buy everything and hope something works. Not a good lifestyle. I’ve constrained myself.. But it’s SOOO much temptation to just buy another computer at this point.

OMG, did you know you could JUST buy lap tops off the internet?! XD (On another note, the x230t came out recently. Also, the chromebook serves a different function, more on that later)

Continuing on:

More recently, I’ve been getting more clues as to what went wrong. Overheating issues. Kept getting an error. Some people have hinted at it being GPU related. Well, the GPU for the x220t is embedded like in most business-type laptops. Was that really the first thing that went bad?

Has my “refurbished” laptop simply met it’s end? lasted ~13months . Since February of 2012. Model came out in 2011.. weird.. It should last longer than this. Paid ~900 with shipping. At the time, it was worth it compared to the 1600 USD and 1900 USD with i7s.. I didn’t put too much critical thought into the consequences of it being refurbished. I knew that it would go bad in time, and that in fact, it had already been bad at one point. To the point that it needed to get “refurbished” and “certified” by the company that resold it. Of course, the 1 year warranty it came with it had already expired on me.

Think.. for that price, they probably used a 2nd hand i7 to begin with. (2nd generation at the time). Sandy bridge. The ram was given at 4gs (1x 4gigs ). But,  I replaced it with the x2 4gigs I won from CES back in 2012. The HDD hard drive was typical. Why would they sell a refurbished x220t (because they sell that's why)? I should have asked myself that when I bought it. There’s no way a company would sell a laptop like that when the MC cost +500 USD to begin with. “Refurbished”
IC = Intel® Core™ i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70GHz × 4

I’m really tempted to just get a new laptop. For the first time in a long while, I actually have money in the bank to do so.. This makes it even more tempting.

I came across this post, found it to be hilarious.

[Really?! People who’ve played SCII on their x220s start experiencing overheating problems? That sounds like exactly what I’ve been doing for the last year or so..]
But unlike the mentioned “4 hr sessions” I’ve had my Lenovo on for hours on end. I knew there was talk about the cooling fan being louder than usual, and kept it as a thought to consider while I was originally researching for it back in 2011. Why might a company compromise on the noise on the fan? Well, now you know.

Where do I go from here? Well, I know that my computer keeps freezing if I’m on it longer than x amount of hours. It’s when the fan starts to run that I get some error messages. I’m circling around the idea of heat damage to the MC. What I might do is buy a “refurbished” 2nd gen i7,or i3..

If the damage extends to the motherboard.. then I’m giving up. it’s too costly to replace at that point considering that’s basically > 50% of the computer’s cost from what I paid for it. Not good, not good at all.

The good news is that cost of these MCs have gone down significantly.

What is a cost/benefit analysis of this? At 10% if new computer is 15 hundred, 50% if new computer is 750 USD, 150% if new computer is 200 USD.. You see where I’m going with this? I don’t need another high-end laptop right now (My Lenovo works fine as long as I don’t use it straight for 8 hours, and I stay off the StarCraft, then there’s the whole need an external monitor thing.)

For the time being, I must keep myself from being one of 'em impulsive shoppers. Impulsive shoppers, :p. They just want to buy-buy-buy. Watch, the next blog post will be titled, "How I crumbled to temptation, and hooked up with a sexier Lenovo."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

An entry on things that have been on my mind lately

Hello World,

 I've been putting a lot of projects on hold lately. The LED's have zero omega (translation, not spinning). That pump (which, I do have photos of*) for the liquid dispenser has mass flux zero. Though, I did learn that some people like to solder capacitors onto the shell of DC motors. Not sure how the math works on that, but it might have something to do with damping out the voltage spikes that come from a V-i graph of an inductor (direct current motors are essentially inductors spinning a magnet), and there's always that spark that occurs when you simply attach a hot wire to it. This means something physically.. A spike, spark.. spike-spark. Mathematically, it means asymptotes on a voltage-current graph. I'm not really good with electronics, so my best bet is to refer to wiki for any reasonable answers.

According to wiki,


Nothing.. Except that "inductive loads" are weird, and follow a v = L*(d/dt)*q relation. So if you suddenly apply a current via turning on a switch leading to an inductor, the difference between the on and off state in the current occurs nearly instantaneously, therefore it's like dividing by 0, and thus the voltage theoretically approaches infinity.

[edit: Stephen brought this to my attention. http://youtu.be/BRRolKTlF6Q ,
 remark : okay, fine. point made. [-_0]

Though, according to other articles, diodes are popularly used. I'm not sure why these guys decided to use capacitors in this way. The cap. in the middle is essentially an element parallel to the inductor load, but I really don't see the logic behind the ones attached to the motor shell.  I should probably save up to buy an oscilloscope at some point in my life, just to see what's happening with these devices..

For this blog entry, I'm just going to post a bunch of old photos from months before and give description to them WOW.- for the shake of sharing. Hope you find some of them insightful.

As mentioned above, I was having a look at the pump from a liquid soap dispenser I blogged about once. The problem with that was that the circuit board controlling it suffered from some chemical damage during the product's short lifespan. At one point, I attempted to replicate its functions with another board, but the project was placed on hold (seriously don't remember why..).

The DC motor in question. 3 capacitors, 1 connecting each lead to one another, and 2 other caps. connecting each individual lead onto the metallic body of the motor. Mysterious..

This guy [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjlN-TitYsw] talks about using a capacitor to help start a motor. Calls it a "Start Capacitor". Similar to this maybe?

The pump for the liquid soap dispenser, looks like it could have been 3D printed, but upon closer inspection the individual parts seem to have been molded. It's really just tiny rotors being moved by a gear which is spun by the shaft from the motor. @_@. Simple..

link related*

The whole disassembled set-up is pictured above. Battery powers motor, which spins rubber band thingy, which is coupled to the pump. Pump, has spinning rotor which displaces liquid within. This is how a liquid soap dispenser works.

Here's something entirely different that I came across. On of the college campuses in Las Vegas, going down the stairs adjacent to one of the science buildings, there's this AC set-up. I took a few photos of, not sure what to call them, "metal slabs" running vertically up and down the set-up. They're bolted.. As wind travels through the area, these bolted slabs vibrate, and you can hear them throttle back and forth.

 Didn't figure out what they were installed for. They were slack, meaning there was was no tension on them. I'm just going to take a guess and say they're here for decorative purposes - like the capacitors on that previous motor :p

 Between then and now, not much happened. My friend Geoff, and I did attend CES. We probably took too many photos, and at one point went on a scavenger hunt to get as many "World's "something" TV" marketing phrases in photo. Maybe, I'll dedicate a future blog post to that.

The IEEE people were there. After talking to an retired engineer who gladly handed us some IEEE paraphernalia (USB drive, notebook, business card, etc) we got the chance to lay eyes on this machine. This wasn't exactly the newest technology [http://www.diginfo.tv/v/11-0070-r-en.php] of the year, but it was still pretty amazing. It's a fog dispenser slash holograph making thing. According to the article, and videos on the technology found around the net, the fog acts like a reflector which transmits multiple images at various angles. Theortically, if you had more hologram projectors around this thing, you could see a full 360 view of the object as your move around it.

We also got to see a dance routine of quadrotors. From the video below, notice how the one on the right is a little jerky (dancing*), and then does a full rotation in mid-air. Well, they're all in "mid-air".

Here is a power transformer? A something.. To myself, it was a gigantic wall outlet. Just look at the size of those plugs. Definitely something worth taking a photo of. This metal box, occupied one of the columns at the conference. People walked by, not realizing how much of a super-star it really was.

 And of course, hexapods:
It's like you can't go anywhere without seeing one of these guys. These came from a toy company which created a game out of them. They shot little plastic darts and disks at each other. Parts of their "armor" attached to their legs would spring off when the area was hit by one of the darts/disks.

 CES wasn't the only tech related event my friends and I visited. For the first since ever, Las Vegas hosted it's own Maker Faire! We went to have a look-see on what other people were doing.

There's a whole group dedicated to making R2-D2, some local companies attended, and a group exhibiting a laser cutter. There was also the arts and craft section, but they weren't as amazing as the electronic section (which included the R2-D2s and a freaking laser cutter). A comparison, we spent more time in the latter section.

Humm, maybe I did lie earlier.. There were no hexapods at this Maker Faire. I'm not recalling, and none of the photos I took include any. This needs to change.

 More recently, whilst along a journey of a daily jog, I stumbled upon something. It looks like someone had taken an old (OLD) car, disconnected the front panel, and then halved it with a welding torch along the middle. I was somewhat tempted to bring parts of this back home, but convinced myself that my dumpster diving days are long over. Not that I wouldn't, it's just that this thing was very heavy.

On the left you see a thermometer, and an amp-meter I believe? The reading on the thermometer starts at 200F. It seems unusual - whatever. The photos on the bottom show a lever-based controlled system for a car's fan unit. The opposite side of the lever case has a display panel for heat, air flow, and an on/off switch (the 3 levers), and the 2nd photo here shows how that "signal" was sent. It uses pulled wires, similar to the set-up with a bicycle brake you might be familiar with. Just looking through this vehicle was like looking back at our history from 50? years ago. I don't think we use this kind of technology anymore, except in bicycle brakes I guess. Everything has a LCD display with a capacitance digitizer, not an actual "analog" display with actual "wires" and actual mechanical forces involved. 

These next three photos are actually more fascinating. They include the brake and throttle pedal from the car. The video above shows how the system reacts when these get pressed down. I couldn't help but think, "omg, this is a prismatic connection" when I was dealing with the brake pedal.

I guess that's it for now.

Currently, I'm getting ready to head back to school now that Spring Break is finally over. Most of last week was spent doodling around with code, playing Heart of the Swarm (woot!), and learning how to solve inverse kinematic (IK) problems. I'm still not comfortable with the latter, but I'm hoping to write a proper blog post on the topic once I get a handle on it. Honestly, I thought it would be as easy as, "find the inverse of cosine," but it turns out it's more like, "find the transformation of the transformation of.." I managed to get my hand on some Springer books a few days ago, so.. Still researching. Oh, and those spinning LEDs.. that's also on hold until I can design a way to keep an LED powered as it moves. And the crayfish, thats been on hold since forever. DanceBot, SpinLED, and Project Cray. My 3 unfinished projects >_<!

The only real thing (aside from scripting) that I've accomplished so far was placed a glove on two moving sticks, and attached a dry-erase marker to draw with on a whiteboard. I got the inspiration from an instructables a lovely friend sent to me:


You'll notice that dustynrobots also included a PID_v1h library in her script. That stands for proportional-integral-derivative controller. It's basically a set of feedback algorithms that correct for position. So, since I don't like using code based on math I don't understand, I'll have to learn this as well. It seems pretty intimidating, but at least that library is well documented.

It's nearly 7 now (am). I should probably get some sleep.

Night World,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sunday is Funday

It's Saturday..

I've been a bit of a fanboy lately since HoTs will be coming out in less than a week. Though, responsible me knows better to be spending $60 (40?) on a game I could otherwise enjoy for free. Eventually I will purchase it, especially since playing on battle.net is where most of the fun really is. But, that takes hours from your life, and it'll probably be better if I restrain from this until summer comes.

On another hand, responsible me needs replacements. Transportation wise, one of my bicycle tubes can't stay inflated for more than 2 hours idle. The air manages to leak out of the valve somehow. Maybe sand particles? I've only rode on it a handful of times this semester since having to repump each morning and after labs becomes a slight hassle. Amazingly, the rear tube can last 3-4 days without needing a repump. I guess $5 at the Walmart would do, but those are never really reliable. Thorn resistant tubes at the local bike shop cost will bring me down ~$12, or ~$24 for a pair. On the plus side, commuting on a bike to and from school during weekends saves an extra 2 or 3 days of gas (nada on Fri). This translates to a tank of gas lasting ~2 weeks instead of one ~1.5. Sweet, but I'll probably just see this as an offset cost to some crazy road trip later on. Spring break starts in 3 weeks. I need to get out of here, preferable to a place with snow and mountains.

One of my multi-meters is busted. Another replacement? Just the fuse. I needed an excuse to buy from digikey again. Searched, but unfortunately they don't have the dimensions I need - weird. Mouser to the rescue - this will do. Great, only 22 cents, but the shipping is $8. Tempting.. Maybe I should add more to the shopping cart? I've been doodling in my notebook again. This time I'm reconsidering spinning LEDs.

 notebook - decided against series connection in favor of parallel

Last I tried that, 2 separate red-green blue (RGB's) were used.. It seemed simple, but 7 wires. I ended up doing something stupid and learned I couldn't apply solder to the nickel coated washers used. When I did finally set up the auxiliary circuit, getting constant contact to each washer became troublesome. Wires /= rigid bodies. RGB LEDs require a certain amount of pulse width modulation (pwm) signals running through them to get combinations of pretty colors to shine. Read more on pwm, clicky. The specs of the exact LEDs I used in the previous project were these. It was fail, and a shadow of regret lingers over never getting past the prototyping stage. A video of aforementioned solution is here, previous attempt here.

I want to revisit this idea again, because well, it never really happened. I mean, it happened, but the spinning part didn't happen. What's the point of keeping LEDs around the house if you can't spin them? Exactly. This time around, it'll be kept simple. Only 1 wire should be running through the spinning circuit board, and instead of RGB's, the goal will be to use a few regular single colored LEDs. Simple, easy. Nothing can go wrong. Also, I just bought a couple pink ones last night.

 pink-ish?.. purple >_<*

Monday, February 18, 2013

Update: Since Last December

So, I'm realizing I have 3 saved drafts since December relating to things I've been involved with. Much of it seems dull and non-technical though. For the most part, they're reflections. Here I highlight some.

Did a presentation on affymetrix gene chips and got to see an exam question relating to the topic on our micro final (woot!). Also, I'm getting better at the public speaking thing - significantly better than other times. Seriously, in the past I would freak out, talk at 200 wpm, then begin pacing back and forth while fumbling through index cards prepared the night before. This no longer happens as much..

During the winter break, much time was spent on this:
 Yes, it his a game history full of green. Granted I was in silver league back then, but if you played a StarCraft 4v4, you would want my zerg-ness on your team. Actually, a  fellow google+ user introduced me to "Stephano's 11 min roach max." These results are a testament to that success, but as time went by I learned how this could be countered in several ways - fun.

School started again, this time on MLK day, but by defacto the semester started the day after. Since the semester began, I really didn't know where I was anymore. We're having our first exam in 320 this Thursday. That's probably how I've been holding a sense of time. Time is measured by exams that come and go, not days nor weeks. I'm actually less apathetic to the whole schooling thing this time around, which is good,

So, I'm being "more involved"  with school stuff, and I've been around campus more. Actually, this is more due to the fact that:
  •  I'm no longer taking classes at CSN - thus no more cross-campus commute and all my time is spent strictly at UNLV.
  • My laptop has experienced issues - thus I need to use the school computers more and am forced to socialize with .. people. They're not people. And they all copy homework from each other. I dislike them for this. Seriously, let's see how well they do come exam time.
  • Getting RMC "formally" established - thus I need to often stick around random hallways and stalk professors to occupy their time in a polite and non-intruding way to pitch them our interest and secure resources for the club. Is this what lobbyist do? Have I stumbled down to an existence as low as this? They probably have blogs dedicated to this kind of thing. I should read those.
 Today I discovered that a lot has actually been happening as I wondered about aimlessly between buildings. Weird things happen, and I'm oftentimes not sure how to detail them with words. For example, this:

understand that this is now a "thing"

I mean, anyone's first expression on that would be, what the...? Turns out, a new dance meme caught on early February, and some students from our college decided it was our turn to contribute. I like this. This kind of randomness needs to happen more often. But the point is, this kind of stuff is happening right before my eyes, and I'm not even noticing. Also, that bass drop is pretty good.

So, due to becoming more social, a number of my colleagues (> 8 of them) have brought up the FB. As if I don't exist without one. This is not the only way to connect with another, but a lot of my colleagues use it. It's sad to note that some would respond via FB in mere minutes versus days through typical e-mail. I don't know, it's not like FB is any more private than what's in our e-mails. Another thing that came up was that I essentially have no voice on FB. I'm thinking this will become more important later.

p.s. Dulaya got inked! I'll post a photo here soon, after consent gets obtained.

 Back to that laptop thing. I submitted a "HELP ME!" request via forums.


That plus, a few e-mails sent to people I knew who might be knowledgeable with Linux issues. I received several replies via e-mail (thanks you guys! No really thank you. You rock, just for caring <3), but I've not been able to diagnose what went wrong. At the end of it all, I assumed that at some point the BIOS settings were changed. I took the CMOS battery out to reset the BIOS configuration to default. But then, upon restarting, my system would fail POST.


On top of that, the monitor was still black! One problem became masked by another, and nothing but a codified beeping sound was left for me to ponder on. I finally asked my step-father for help since this is his area of expertise. We're currently past BIOS (woot!), but operating under a windows OS to collect drivers which might have gone missing. Turns out getting a screen out before an OS booted was as simple as hitting Fn+7 (already programmed in) so that the screen would switch to an external monitor. This was a noobish overlook on my part, but I'm happy knowing my system wasn't bricked. I'm being very hopeful about getting that laptop back to work. Maybe I'll be less social when it does, because it'll just mean I'll hide out in the library versus being forced to spend hours within the CoE computer lab. I prefer hiding out in the library, but that isn't entirely healthy.

A couple weeks ago, I got the opportunity to volunteer at a middle school math competition. The event is known as Mathcounts. It's similar to a spelling bee, but for math. This was at the Nevada regional level.


I had originally gone as the a volunteer from the NSPE student chapter, but got to meet several other UNLV students (some Alumni) who had returned to help out for the event after having attended the previous year. There's a portion of the competition know as a lighting round, where two students (middle school) go head to head on a buzzer. It's a jeopardy style battle. We were impressed. No really, WE.WERE.IMPRESSED. Us, college engineering students, were impressed by these middle school kids who would answer questions given to them well before we even had the chance to finish reading them on the screen.

Aside from that good feeling of contributing to something like this, we also mingled with SAME members (apparently' I'm card-carrying member),  met other engineering professionals, and found one of our professors from within the crowd. Something worth pointing out were the parents. They took photos, oh the photos they took. Imagine being a parent, and being proud that your son/daughter was out there competing in a math tournament. That's what this was essentially. The smiles, the photos, the hugging. It was nice to witness this.

So yeah, the semester began, and is ongoing. This time around I'm only taking 15 Cr.Hrs. 2 of them labs.. 3 of them labs. We have a thermal lab. The school bought this 4 thousand dollar heat exchanger set up with various modulus because the one from the previous year broke, and guess what?

Above you see a tube and shell heat exchanger pinned down by one plexiglass brackets. There are supposed to be two. That experience was exciting, (the pop, and crack, and my paper got wet) though it still works. Except for the motor, which runs the pump. Actually, we believed there were some software problem where the pump flow reversed itself spontaneously without allowing us to reset the pump direction. Again, this was hardware that the school bought for 4k (we could probably make our own with a couple hundred and enough time), and I believe I understand exactly how the bracket blew off. Let it be known that no one within group 4 was at fault. The software issues were another thing. It wasn't bad, we managed to get all our data points from the experiments we ran, it just took a while and our group ended up being last to leave lab. I'll need to write up a report on this thing.. tomorrow. I'll do that tomorrow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Liquid Soap Dispenser? : A Ported Entry

First Friday.
Another project.
Here's an actual photo! Google isn't letting me insert a jpeg outside of my G-drive.. so.. "img src ="br />
chemical damage to a circuit
It's a photo that was uploaded to my twitter (or technically to bucketphoto) back in August. I never really went around to doing something with it. It's just been sitting on my table top all this time. It's the micro controller to a liquid soap dispenser (LSD). LSD's are cheap now-a-days. Cheap as in, 10-15 USD depending on the brand/model. The lame thing about this LSD was that we had it in the house for not more than a few months before this chemical attack to the interior happened. The batteries consequently leaked out, but this might have been due to a different cause? After having it sit in the kitchen idle for so long, the soap within the pipes and components dried out and cogged the system. I needed to disassemble it to clean out the soap and used a needle to clear out the nozzle piece. Actually it turned out I only needed to remove a membrane covering it and rush water in. Weird enough, after I scrapped off the "rust" and made a connection with some new batteries, the motor works.. or at least it wiggles, but it does so based on a preset value it's stuck on. Neither of the switches seem to adjust this. The LSD can manage to pump water out through the nozzle, but the pump pressure isn't high enough to yield us some actual liquid soap. I guess if we diluted the thing some.. Nay! I will not be forced to live life with diluted soap! I need a replacement augmented microcontroller. I can probably still use some of the components already on the chip. I think it's just the plastic on the board that's ruined. But the exposed copper is also rusted..
So I have a theory:
on top by the output nozzle there is an IR emitter. By the base on top of the two buttons of the LSD there's an IR sensor. When a person puts a hand to request for soap the LSD reads this by some discontinuity in its reading. Or maybe this is in reverse?
Found this video. Turns out my product comes from a company calling itself "Simplehuman," they make kitchen appliances. My model is the ST1008, the circuit was created back, at most in, 2010 though. I think I'll keep the peripherals, do away with their main circuit, and replace it with something holding an Atmel AVR microcontroller.

2nd theory: Recalling form memory, the bottom LED, or LED#1 serves as an indicator. LED#2 is definitely IR though. But there's a 2nd element on the auxiliary PCB of a type I don't recognize. serial # 503504-00-01. Also, I'm not sure what the 2nd IC on the main PCB is for. It's probably a H-bridge of some type. The main PCB also has a 4 hole-ed portion labeled "J2". I'm thinking ST1008 uses a generic PCB design. It looks that this model doesn't use that portion maybe, and therefore some of the resistors embedded don't really do anything? Or another theory, maybe J2 is a spot designated for a programmer to come in to prepare the main IC? It probably still works. I don't think anything on the PCB has been shorted, only disconnected due to the chemical attack that diffused through it. LED#1 is no longer turning on though. A multimeter does read a potential difference across it. I might be able to just replicating the whole PCB board again, but I really wanted to develop something from scratch. That auxiliary PCB is still an issue. Portion "J3" - I'll need to prototype with a breadboard and see what values come out as I run current through the leads. Or maybe I'll just use an Arudino for this since it's what I'm already more familiar with.

Textual Update: A Ported Entry

Photos, I believe people love to see photos..
Some updates concerning proposed blog entries/project topics.

Team isn't doing the car buying analysis. We're pretending to finance a fake toy operation now. We just grabbed/sky-blued numbers for raw materials needed from around the interweb and we plan to do a series of present worth analysis-s on it based on assumed minimum acceptable rate of return (MARR) values. Our progress report isn't due for another week or two (need to double check on this). Basically, we're mass producing a differential-drive toy robots on two assumptions (labor intensive and with capital investments on some hardware). Again, it's a fake on-paper analysis made with many assumptions. Professor basically told us to sky blue any numbers we have a hard time getting access to and to focus more on the analysis/spreadsheet comparisons. Let it be so.

The ratchet group project for my ME440 class is done and over with. I'm not particularly proud of it, and am somewhat reluctant to even speak of it more. I think our group got the highest score on it, but this was more or less based on our presentation (write-up/ and group presentation) of it as opposed to its real world functionality. I brought a carrot in during presentation day (this is irreverent information). A week ago (or two?) we made a 1:2 scale model with a rapid prototype with ABS plastic. It had.. issues. Which were addressed, but like stated, I'm not particularly proud of it.We did however, make springs. Almost "hand-made" with the assistance of a power drill. These weren't heat tempered or anything, we just rolled up guitar strings around a metal (bronze) stick with a hole in it. Working on the prototype in the Mendenhall/Machine Shop in TBE was pretty neat. I rarely go in there these days, and this gave me an excuse to look through the hardware and play around with the drill press some. A flesh wound on my right pointer finger now gives memories of this recent experience.

We do have a nice, privileged machine shop for the "elite" to use. But undergrads aren't allowed in there. Personally, I was told it's usually us who break stuff. I think in the past I've been guilty of having destroyed one or two drill bits, but nothing beyond that. It would be nice to access some of this hardware.. and not pay for it, but I guess those operations have to be financed somehow.

Oh, and I'm now suppose to do a 10 minute presentation for my microbiology class sometime within the upcoming month. It was originally going to focus on pig whip worms and their relation to autoimmune diseases, but I officially changed this "proposal" to the topic of genechip technology. It was mentioned during today's* lecture, and I just so happen to have one sitting on my desktop for no apparent reason. I believe it was Shelby's gift to me after attending that SWE conference back in '09 or '10?  I've had it since and never really did any research on it. I guess I'll be killing birds with stones.

So really, I've nothing but some short storys to share. I'll update on the aforementioned projects with photos in the near future. My camera/phone is sort of not reliable at the moment. I can take photos, but in a very blind manner. I'm still under my parent's contract, but  I can't say I'm a fan of Sprint's phone services or phone updates. I've definitely been looking into that new Nexus 4 that's about to come out, but I'm not sure if our plan will cover it. In fact, I'm almost doubtful. Sprint likes to keep control of what our phones do, they likely enjoy restricting the updates provided for us. Oh, and they keep spamming us with ads through their SMS system.. It is horrible, and I'm almost certain Sprint probably skins puppies for their fur and stuff. Also,  I've been considering getting a tattoo for the longest time. Right now, this comes to mind. Really digging the spiky spiral concept. It reminds me much of a zerg theme; and yes, caffeine is my favorite chemical. <3

This is starting to seem more like a personal blog than a project-blog type of thing. It guess it doesn't matter. It's just an update. I had some problems with my Ubuntu OS a few days ago. For some reason my memory was starting to get used like crazy. Haven't been able to troubleshoot it. It got so bad that start up wouldn't let me log in without calling out some errors with graphic settings (lack of memory) not being configured right. It's an issue with the 30 Gb installation (easy enough). Luckily, most of my important data is saved on a different partition than the root install, so I simply uninstalled the OS and I'm currently in the process of a fresh install v12.1 (brute force solution). Oh, and my laptop doesn't have a CD tray. Also not relevant in a way, but I haven't been able to do a "full" installation since I never bothered to redo this with a big enough flash drive. I assume this process could lead to a partition greater than the standard 30 Gb, or there's probably a way to increase the size after allocating of the space? This could use some more looking into.

Friday, October 19, 2012

MicroBiol Coredump E2

3 topics covered in exam
Microbial Nutrition and Growth

essential nutrients are needed for survival

general essential nutrients (GEN)
SPONCH = [Sulfur, Phosphorus, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Hydrogen] are needed at an absolute minimum (at the very least, not amt)

growth factor = organic molecule the microbe cannot make itself. Might need preassembled aminic acid. Includes amino acids, vitamins, nucleotides

S by proteins; P from ATP, nucleic acids, phopolipids (easy)
N: via proteins, nucleic acids (considered difficult)

Generally parasites use organic form for S

specific essential nutrients (SEN)
individual needs of microbes. Diatons need silicon, bacteria does not need Si, but needs Fe
Difference between (GEN) and (SEN)
GEN are universal, while SEN are specific? Not All SEN's are needed at an absolute minimum like GEN.

  • energy source types
    • phototroph
      • Get energy from light → photons
    • chemotroph
      • Get chemicals from inorganic chemicals
      • lithotrophs – Get E from inorganic chemicals
      • organotrophs – Get E from organic chems (C,H) at a min

  • Carbon source types
    • autotroph
      • uses inorganic CO2
      • mentions methanogens
        • 4H2+CO2 → CH4+2H2O
    • heterotroph
      • Obtain C from organic form
      • CHO's, proteins, lipids, etc
  • Some combinations
    • Photoautroph – E from light, C form CO2
      • eg. Thermus aqnaticus
    • Chemoheterotroph – energy from chem, carbon from organic source
//These are the 4 main arrangements, 16 possible combinations?

Know the various oxygen requirements/tolerances for the categories we went over in class

Oxygen is used in macromolecules and sometimes in respiration
organisms that use O2 as their final e- acceptors in respiration are called obligate aerobes. That acceptor needs to be there waiting at the end or you won't make ATP → dead.

Aerobic respiration
Glucose [(CH2O)n] + O2 → CO2 + H2O + Energy (ATP)

obligate anaerobes are killed by O2. There might be intermediate steps.. e- + O2 → radicals. They won't have the enzymes to break down these and they'll damage via free radicals.
facultative anaerobe → don't need O2 , but can use it
aerotolerant anerobe → don't need O2, aren't killed by it, don't use?
catalase : if bubbles are seen, it's not an obligate anaerobe since we can see that it can properly deal with O2, or at least is trying to

concerning hydrogen, don't worry about with with SPONCH. Too much of it is around already.

cardinal temperatures: set of temps unique to each type/species
minimum : lowest temperature for survival, they aren't dead yet but close. Just surviving, not much growth
optimum: best temperature for growth/enzymatic reactions, lots of growth
maximum: highest temperature organisms can survive at, not much growth

psychrophiles : 0(or below)-20C, opt@15
facilitative psychorophiles
mesophiles: 20-45C, opt@20-40
thermophiles: by plot 40-80C. Opt @~65C

//do not relie on freezing to kill a microbe unless if hyperthermohile, they can exist at low temps. Boiling is preferred
//Thermus aqnaticus

acidophiles 0-5.5 ph
alkaliphiles – 5.5 – 8.0 ph
halophiles - 9 – 30% salinity (exist in pink crystals)?
Halotolerant 5-6% salinity

Q: If you pull out infested Jam from fridge, wha tis it?
Osmotolerant and pschrotroph (possible)

    binary fission / transverse fission
    • Replication/Partitioning
      • 1 mother cell --> 2 daughter cells
      • origin of replication → start copying DNA
    • Septation/cytokenesis
      • forms a ring in the center of the cell, attached to cell membrane
      • add peptidoglycan
      • Z-ring contracts → splits cell apart

//cycle time = generation or doubling time
what happens during each of those two main stages to create two cells

Know the stages of the microbial growth curve and what is happening with the cells at those various stages

  • Lag phase
    • adjusting to environment, gathering nutrients getting ready to divide
  • Log/exponential phase
    • rapid cell division, more cells being produced than dying
    • Nf = (Ni)2n
  • stationary
    • net = 0, nutrients get used, waste products get made and kill off population
  • death
    • more cells dying than produced
there is a sample problem with this.
Q: to get n, n = (duration/standard doubling time)
thus, if sdt = 20, and duration = 240, n = 240 / 20, then Nf = (Ni)2n
//she used the book example*

Know the difference between symbiosis and non-symbiosis; know the various categories in those types of interactions

  • symbiotic
    • @least needs the other to survive
    • Mutualism
      • both benefit
    • Commensalism
      • one benefits, the other is unaffected
    • Parasitism
      • One benefits, one is harmed
      • //anytime we get sick..
    • //Termite example:
      • They don't have the enzymes needed to digest wood cellulose, but they have the enzyme cellulase
      • protozoa have bacteria on/in it
      • bacteria live on/in protozoa, helps them produce cellulase
      • termite gets glucose
      • err.. cellulose ---(with cellulase)--> glucose
      • orgs xfered through silava
    • another ex. Us e.coli, et other one
      • e.coli will take O2 in our intestents, and little pocktes inbetween cells won't have O2
      • now, there's bacteriodes → obligate anaerobes that live there. If they get hit with O2, they die

  • non-symbiotic
    • Synergism
      • both benefit
    • Antagonism
      • one benefits, one is harmed
        • ex. penicillum colony vs bacteria
        • fungi produces toxin...
    • interacts /w one another, does not need other to survive
    • Some are beneficial, some are harmful

-Know the stages of biofilm formation and what is happening in those various stages

  • Van Leeuwenboek via teeth scraping
  • microbes grow together in close assocation
    • symbiotic
    • non-symbiotic?
  • Bio-Films
    • attachment
      • Planktonic bacteria attachment
      • inducer molecules releases
        • these inducer molecules signal others to come over to initial attachment sites
        • /w enough they'll eventually reach a quorum
    • quorum
      • number of individuals needed to start forming matrix/biofilm
    • matrix development/maturation
      • cells act as a single unit, not individuals
    • matrix composition
      • polysaccharides, Proteins,Fimbriae, Pili
    • matrix function
      • Protection
        • film can block antibodies, keep antibodies from reaching cells
      • Genetic exchange
        • DNA binding proteins → help them hold onto DNA and maybe use it. One cell would spill its contents, another can pick I tup
    • matrix structure
      • differences in nutrients, temperatures, and oxygen levels
  • There are a number of quorum-dependent proteins (qdp)
    • inducer molecule → chromosome → qdp
  • //nitch concentration differences?
    • Top may offer most? These changes allow cells to behave differentially, than each other. They'll function as a unit and divide up tasks.
    • //@ top, lots of O2 and it's used for respiration → ATP
    • //at bottom, cells have acccess to a lot of nutrients
    • //cells at top will produce a lot of energy that they'll share with cells at the bottom, while bottom cells share nutrients with them. Thus, a biofilm can act as a multicellular organism.