Thursday, September 9, 2010

RC Bike

In addition to my eventual plans for world domination via 200+mph superbikes I want some humble couriers. My partner in crime on this project's initial direction, Andrew Burks, suggested some clever double purposing of the required on board equipment. Considering the light weight of this bicycle it could easily and effectively by electric powered.

There would be three motors total on this vehicle.

1) The driving motor
  • An obvious purpose for this one: hook it up to the back wheel and make it spin. Perhaps we could do something clever like utilize the 21-speed transmissions standard on most bikes nowadays in conjunction with an electric shifter such as the one Nico Paris is trying to develop.

2) The steering motor
  • It'd be nice to be able to point the bike where we want it to go. Again, pretty obvious here. We'd hook up a nice torque-ful motor with position feedback and she'd steer up a storm.

3) The balancing motor
  • The trickiest of all the bits that make up a self riding bicycle I'd say. So, some physics explanations- human riders balance the centripetal force acting on them and their bikes by leaning into turns. Same goes for perturbations- if someone comes up and tries to push a rider off his or her bike all the rider needs to do is lean in the direction of the push and they'll recover if the push wasn't too hard.
  • So, we need a leaning device. This leaning device needs to be pretty massive, but just how massive is still up in the air. The real kicker is figuring out how quickly we can accelerate this leaning device, because the faster the mass is accelerated the less mass there needs to be to generate that necessary torque, err lean.
  • The clever part kicks in here. Since we need batteries and other weighty stuff to make this bike roll on its own, why not swing that otherwise dead weight around to act as our counterbalance? I thought it was clever anyway... I'm actually kind of excited to get into the numbers of this problem, figuring out just how much torque needs to be generated to get the bike to a) stand up on its own and b) react to outside disturbances.

[ τ = I⍺ ]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spreading it Thin, Enjoying the Sandwich

I came into college wanting to do everything. I got involved in everything- over ambitious perhaps. But then it worked out... I did everything I set out to do, and I did it well. So I wanted to take on more, and I did. I took on big things, because for some reason people liked what I did.

I sacrificed some things for that success, mostly on the social side. Sure, I made new friends along the way, but I lost touch with old ones. I couldn't make enough time for everything. To me, that's frustrating. To deal with that I'm employing a new value: apply myself fully to everything I do.

So far it's working, but it's frustrating none the less. Turning down opportunities, saying 'no' to friends on occasions, it's all a matter of tradeoffs. It's burdensome to need to be so picky. Maybe it's a responsibility thing? It'd be nice to live completely in the moment, but my goals simply don't allow for it. Things I do are too long term, too intensive to amass commitments.

If I were to give one piece of advice to an incoming freshman at a school like mine, so ripe with opportunity and option, it would be to concentrate yourself. Get passed classes, everyone takes them. Devote yourself completely to a project or goal. If your maximum level of devotion far overcomes what is necessary to manage that then, and only then take on more.

I am ambitious. I am confident. I'm pushing myself in new directions, trying to expand my professional network, expand my expertise and experience, maintain fruitful relationships, make new relationships. I like getting people excited about the things I work on and do.

Today at the activity fair I helped run the Robotics Club table. That was surprisingly enjoyable. Selling the assets of something good was easy. I felt amply able to communicate with everyone who came by- engage them with the goings on. But, the key is that I too am personally passionate about what goes on. I like to enable. And it's interesting, that guy Randy Pausch, may he rest in peace, is an amazing influence on me despite never having met him. I hear myself thinking about how to heed his advice everywhere. So far it's working out pretty well, and I intend to keep that advice in my head so long as things continue to go pretty well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Autonomous Bike. Now we're not talking about bicycles here. We're talking about 16,000 RPM, squealing crotch rockets.
Fantastic. Now, put a big ole gyroscope (or side facing rocket thrusters if I have my way), some laser scanners and cameras on the front, maybe some side mounted machine guns and then you have the most excellent car chasing / bad guy run-downing machine ever. Some silly sci-fi movie may or may not be inspiration for this project...
As it so happens Burks came up with the exact same idea on his drive home from the 'Burgh. Must be a good idea because great minds think alike?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sink Hole

Walking home after the cooling storms this evening I ran into an interesting scene. Take a gander at the following cell phone photo-

That vehicle is sad, as I would be if I was stuck in hole. The reason, as I've come to learn, for the road failure was a combination of old cobblestone road surface and a broken water main. Looks like there's a market for pipe inspectors...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Lab Partner

So, I'm working in a pretty cool facility this summer. Get to name my own hours, meet with folks three times a week and that's it. Big plus is that I get make, and work with robots.

Meet my new lab partner; his name is Little Dog.

He happens to be baby brother to Big Dog; here's an exceptional video of Big Dog for those who have not met.

Little Dog is the development platform for Big Dog where terrain navigation, gaits, and awesomesauce are all integrated.

Chub Dance

Just a part of an excellent Pirate's game.
I am sorry in advance if this video offends you, your moral compass points more north than mine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Snoop Dogg and Gummy Bear Minions

Never seen Snoop Dogg looking so fly... and with such a following!
Click fo hi-rez, foo.