Thursday, January 31, 2013

Blue Sky "Doing"!

Oh, we made it hot!!!

In all seriousness though, we would most likely be considered second out of four. Not two shabby for two Mechanical Engineering students with no software background!

Needless to say, the event was a success and I look forward to the next time I can lend my talents and ideas.

I met new faces and Many, many movers and shakers in the Lincoln community. Hopefully some of these contacts can get an idea or two off the ground and into a nice start-up. Many Congratulations were to be had and even a few people seeking out advice for their firms projects. Fascinating stuff really.

Here's to Blue Sky Doing, Cheers.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blue Sky Dreaming Pt.2

I think that a good way to start this one off is with a little story.

Back in December of 2012 I had a little project with Christmas lights. Of course with any project there are fail, success, and "I wish I did this." moments.

I failed in that the system was complicated and cumbersome. This was an easy fix with more funds to buy extension cords and maybe some wireless transmitters (see XBee). The success? It worked! I also only got electrocuted once. :P

As for the innovative, great, and "I wish I did this." moment. There's no outlet on my porch and I had to leave my door cracked in the dead of winter. It was cold, Very cold.

This got me thinking, INDUCTIVE CHARGING! I emphasize the idea because it was a little bit of a eureka moment.

The Problem: No power outlet outside.
The Boundary: Glass window.
The Solution: Wireless Power Transmission

So the design would be really simple actually. Two coils opposite each other with magnetics to hold the two plates in the right position. The inside plate plugs into the wall the outside plate has a normal outlet. The part would be getting the voltage you need on the outside. This can be corrected for by stepping up the power on the inside.

It's easy and only might catch on fire.

Blue Sky Dreaming

Since it's impossible for me to have a new project everyday, I've decided to start what I like to call "Blue Sky Dreaming".

This essentially is me rambling about cool ideas and thoughts that might get the mind ticking and possibilities flowing. However, Keep in mind that this is in all actually just being silly and throwing things out there into the cosmos. (Hence blue sky dreaming)

I haven't been able to sleep well the past.. Week. I've decided that while I'm laying in bed maybe I'll "dream" of cool physics principles and applications of understood phenomina. I am not a physicist, but who cares. Call me out on it.

Magnets, How do they work?!
Let's get some basics with our friend Wikipedia.

Ignore most of that and focus on the well know fact that magets can generate electric currents and electric currents can generate magnets. Exciting right?

I was thinking about applications obviously. What would happen if we put two electromagnets in a triad type arrangement with the axis of action pointed off plane and merged at a singular point above the system? Honestly I'm not sure, but stay with me.

Provided the magnet fields play nice and the polaraties remain in the same direction, could we use this triad arrangement to create "Legs" and float a permanant magnet? I've actually seen magnetic levatation using PID control and some crazy sillyness with a single halleffect sensor and ALOT of math to back it up.

As a practical engineer I'd like to set this up. Try it out. Throw caution to the wind!

(some math might be required, but how about we avoid it as much as possible)

Imagine if you will, that this is possible. Now imagine having several of these in a 3D arrangment. Then imagine controlling them with PWM signals. Did we just create a 3 DOF (or larger) Haptic controller??

Let's put that in our pocket and hold onto it for a while. Let it sit and collect dust while we think it through.

Expect some more blue sky dreaming in the future, I've got some ideas using inductive charging. Should be thought provoking if nothing else. I've also got a buddy that's trying to talk me into vacuum tubes. So there's that.

Keyboard Phewy

Just got a new Keyboard mount for my tablet (The samsung 7.7).

Hopefully with that I can start making some more posts on a more regular basis. The future looks bright that's for certain.

On another note, Recently I have been involved in several projects of interest. The one being mentioned on this blog earlier has to do with hospital round optimization. This project might actually be in danger of being dropped.

This is only due to time constraints and the fact that I can't program more than a pretty picture in  Java. Yes, like it or not, a Mechanical Engineers forte is not programming Java.

That being said, I really do enjoy the IOIO project and overall idea of controling anything and everything with my android based device. The trouble is the overall complexity of programming it. I guess it's just "Easy for some, Hard for many".

Other popular projects include some Finite element analysis on a rover project I am working in a group with. Simple stuff, quick analysis of models they throw at me is all.

Hmmm.. Sparkfun products are hit or miss too. Ordered a power supply from them 1A and 5V. Not exactly a tall order right? Well, the darn thing broke and electricuted me when I tried to fix it. I'm done. I'm throwing it away.

Needless to say, I had to put together my own from spare parts (namely another powersupply and connector). Here's the kicker. It works better than the one I paid good money for!

Yeah, 120 Volts doesn't feel the best on your hand.

It's actually a funny story. I figured I could fix it, so I unplug and take it apart. From there, I adjust it and put it together minus a screw. Plug it in, still doesn't work. Try to unplug it, it comes apart and shocks the heck out of my hand/wrist/arms.

Moral of the story..... Actually I don't one...

Until Later, Here's a stick man getting shocked!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nook Simple Touch NST - IOIO for Android connected

Could it be possible? Is it possible? Did it happen?
Yes, Yes, and YES!

I have successfully controlled a IOIO development board using the Nook Simple Touch. Sadly, it's pretty late in the day right now for me to get a video of the sample blink program uploaded. So you'll have to take my word for it till tomorrow. I can post how I managed to do it though.

Hardware needed:
Nook Simple touch + Charging cable
IOIO for android board + Supporting hardware from Sparkfun
2gb or equivalent MicroSD Card

Software needed:

Apps from market:

Now this development took me a while, so I decided to help out by posting this.

First off, I am not responsible for you breaking, destroying, or rendering anything useless when going through this! Seriously, This is all test and prototype. What might work for me may not work for me. KEEP THIS IN MIND. However, should questions pop-up, Leave a comment. I will be in touch.

Step 1:
Follow the instructions at XDA-Developers for a proper root.

 Here's a quick overview of what you'll need to do on the nook side:
Update your Nook Simple Touch (NST) to the latest firmware (1.2.1) from B&N.
Root your nook using NookManager
Install Google Apps (Gapps) Via NTGAppsAttack

After all is said and done and the dust settles, you'll have a brand spanking new Eink Android tablet with Google Market. Google Market is key because it allows us to install software to utilize ADB

Step 2:
From here you will need to install ADB Toggle. Send it to your phone device and it'll install over wifi.

You will also need to install the .APK from the IOIO software download. To do this, simply mount your NST on your computer and transfer over the .APK. Then, find it using relauncher and install it.

Step 3:
Open ADB toggle and from there make sure ADB is enabled and "Mount on USB connect" is Disabled.

Connect NST to IOIO using your NST charging cable (No OTG cable needed).

Start IOIOblink and begin the magic!

Should everything work in the way that it worked for me, you should have a blinking status light on your IOIO!! Push button on NST, light on. Push again, Light off. From here you can utilize the other features on the IOIO like PWM, I2C, UART, Analog in, and others. 

Time for the fun! All great projects start with a blinking LED.

My Next Post will have a video I believe.

-- Jacob

Friday, January 11, 2013

Iron Man

Buddy of mine posted this video to my Facebook time line:

He also said, "Let's Make This."

I promptly agreed...

Now, time for an engineer/inventor's favorite part. Brainstorming.

Seriously though, I need some thoughts and ideas.

Movable Mask?
Crazy LCD displays in mask?
Light up power module (center of chest thingy)?
Cool mechanical sounds?
Articulating Armor?

Let's blue sky this for a moment and dream... What would make an amazing Iron Man suit?

Keep E-textiles in mind ;-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nook Simple Touch

Got some big stuff going on with the future of Nook and USB hosting/slave.

I've moved away from the typical Arduino and put in for a IOIO android board. It's rather interesting because it can work with much earlier versions of Android and doesn't require host support like the previous post does.

Here's a sparkfun link to the IOIO board that I want and probably will be getting soon.

Now the project is a little top secret to those of you who are not so close in my design group. Basically though I'm going to try to root a Nook Simple Touch to run the IOIO. This should give me basic I/O, PWM, Analog in, and other fun stuff with full support of an E-Ink touch screen.

The Nook simple touch of course can be found at Barnes and Noble.