Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Only in the movies... :)

40 Things that Only Happen in Movies

13. If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.

17. If you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts, your opponents will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around you in a threatening manner until you have defeated their predecessor.

21. Cars will explode instantly when struck by a single bullet.

Note: The MythBusters definately dispelled this one ;)

29. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at once (it's called Stallone's Law).

36. You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Navy Battleships with satellite guided Rail Guns

Navy Battleships with satellite guided Rail Guns

This is actually a really good idea. Rail Guns have the potential to be able to be satellite guided much easier than standard combustion based projectiles: vary the current in the rails, get a different trajectory. Plus you can get them to go really friggin far :)

At one time we were considering making a rail gun for Capstone. ;)

I used to really be into the military thing, especially fighter jets, when I was younger. I knew all the names, shapes, and specs of all the US fighter and bomb aircraft. I surprised one of my friends who is in the Canadian military that I knew then name of the A-10 Thunderbolt AKA Warthog Tank Killer :)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What is research anyway?

Considering I'll be starting grad school shortly, I figured I'd ask myself what really is involved in this so called "research", and what control systems are all about.

What "research " really involves doing is first:
■ Reading lots of papers and other technical literature on the specific field you are studying in, to learn about existing state of the art designs, issues explored and resolved, etc. You don't want to re-invent the wheel persay, but perhaps add something unique to that wheel. You basically need to "build" upon the knowledge of others.
■ Then of course, thinking upon ways to improve things.
■ Trying out different ideas until you find one that works

Control systems, as studied at in my control system classes, were simply:

Given/derive a mathematical frequency domain model of the system, what are the performance issues and how can you improve them. Controls 1 included analog controllers, whereas Controls 2 included discrete control systems (digital).

Although this is an important aspect, it is only 1 side of the coin so to speak. There are many other considerations:
■ Given cost and physical implementation issues, what are appropriate
■ What type of feedback to use for control algorithms.
■ Sensors to provide required feedback
■ Actuators to yield best performance given the physical load you are trying to drive.
■ Power electronic circuitry to drive said actuators.
■ Microcontroller/DSP chip implementation issues.

All this above stuff is just abstrated away in control theory. But, from my experience with Capstone, the above things can be very rewarding.

The first thing I want to fully investigate is why DC motors are still the prime choice for electric power steering. I believe it's simply their ease of controlling the torque, coupled with the fact they are the most readily available/cheapest/oldest most mature technology. This is usually the prime factor in automotive designs. However, the mechanical commutator wear you'd think would be a big issue. Perhaps they've made them such that they last ~100-200K miles. Most new cars aren't designed to really be driven that long anway ;)

I had a good discussion of this stuff, and of gaming, with a retired fire fighter today while waiting for Dani's Focus to be serviced. He's more of a gamer than I am. I really got to get back into gaming.

So I bought a ATI 9800XT for $100 on Ebay. After exams... must study. Blah.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Profs you end up respecting the most

In the end, the profs you hated most during your undergrad career are the ones you look back on and like the most post-graduation. Dr. Miller and Dr. Ahmadi, for instance.

Ahamdi knows his stuff, and challenges you to really understand the material and think at the same time. That's why most students don't like him: to be honest, they don't want to think about the material, or barely think at all. It can be very boring sometimes, I guess ;)

Dr. Miller strikes you as the "zany old crazy" professor stereotyped in many TV shows and movies. Sure, he spends 80% of the class time in 1st year Electric circuits talking about detailed digital signal processing applications for "HI FI" audio, crazy applications for standard stuff , electrocution stories, and barely teaches the course at all. But hey! He knows his stuff, and his stories are remembered. :)

There always has to be a "stupid" class

Almost every semester there has been a "stupid" class. Professional development, computer aided design (which did not use computers...), economics, engineering economy, natural resources, and finally...

"Engineering and Society" --> this class was basically an excuse to get all the engineers together to announce things like the Iron Ring ceremony, etc. Too bad no one ever went.

I mean, the exam was a joke, the last 2 questions on the test (which were worth marks) were:

"Did you not have enough time to write this test" T/F . Even a double negative in there, kinda.
"Write down the time you left the test" _____

Perhaps the last question was a trick question, in that , if you left in under an hour, like I and many people did, he could ding you because the instructions said "do not leave until 1 hour has passed." :)

Normally I don't post political stuff.. but why not

President Bush - Genius Behind Stupidy:

You know, I'm kinda fond of Bush now. Sure, he can't speak, but who can? I fumble with speech all the time. :)

I don't really like Andy Dick, but his take on Bush was though provoking :)

I've always said- it's a good thing Bush is president vs Kerry. I mean, Kerry was really, really, boring, and had a very big head. At least there is something humour in Bush that never seems to get old :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Yeah, well, the past 3 days, 16 hours a day, have been a blast. It was quite an experience, testing everything and writing the report and presentation in 1 day. I usually don't set things off so late, but once couldn't hurt!

Just got back from our group presentation, and you know what, it went over awesome! The profs exclaimed, "you guys should go to grad school".

Even though our engine isn't running. Essentially, our control system functions perfectly, and that's all we promised to do. The limiting factor are the solenoids currently on the market (trust me, we bought the best ones possible.). They just can't "give 'er " enough (to quote Fubar). Although, for our proof of design on Friday, we are considering changing the valve springs so the solenoids will open quicker. This may get the engine to start, 'cause she sure does try. Doing this will limit the engine speed, however, it's not like ithe engine is going to reach a high engine speed anyway due to the solenoid response times :)

Research underway by various automotive suppliers uses custom designed electromagnetic linear actuators. No specs have been given, but my guess is they use better manufacturing processes to increase the # of turns (F=N*I where N is the number of turns) on the solenoid stator to get many times the force characteristic at similar power levels to the top-of-the-line solenoids we used.