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Link to the Bareduino notes

Arduino Club — Thursday, Dec. 7, 8:00 p.m., Coover 2011. (12.7.17)

One last Arduino club meeting this semester. Tonight at 8:00 p.m. in Coover 2011. We will try making our own Arduinos (Bareduinos). If you want to build one, the parts will be $7.00, payable to GT. Watching and listening is always free. Remember to bring your EE 201/230 tools if you want to build stuff. Also, if you have an Arduino, you might want to bring that, along with a laptop and USB cable for programming.

Audio Club — Thursday, Nov. 30, 8:00 p.m., Coover 2011. (11.30.17)

Link to the Altoids amp notes

After the aborted attempt to build the Altoids amp last time (prior to Thanksgiving), we will try again. It should go better this time, because I have the parts available now. So: Audio Club meeting tonight, 8:00 p.m. in Coover 2011. To complete the Altoids project, you will need to bring: an empty Altoids mint tin, 2 9-V batteries, and $9 to pay for the parts, which I will bring to the meeting. I’ll have a complete set of instructions available before the meeting. Note that it is not necessary to have the candy tin and the battery in order to build the circuit tonight — you can finish that later, if need be. However, you do need the nine bucks in order to get the parts from me.

Next week will be our last meeting of the semester (obviously), and we will try making the “Bareduino” — a bare-bones version of an Arduino.

The 10 happiest American cities. (11.24.17)

I'm not sure how this list was compiled, but the towns all seem reasonable to me. (Charlotteville, Virgina was not all that happy one weekend a few months back, but we will assume that was an aberration.) I'm not surprised to see San Luis Obispo, Califonia on the list — I've always thought that it was a particularly nice place. Like Ames, it is a smallish college town and has many of the same amenities. Unlike Ames, SLO is located near the ocean, and it has a very mild climate. SLO is roughly equidistant from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Sierra Nevada mountains — less than a half-day's drive to each, so there are many fun places to visit. (Ames is approximately equidistant from the Twin Cities, Kansas City, Omaha, and Chicago. No offense to these Midwestern cities, but I think the California attractions win out.) The city government and the residents of SLO seem to work hard to make it a nice place to live, as opposed to many places where every square foot of land is offered up to the highest bidder, and city "planning" is usually an afterthought. (An example of the kind of mess that towns can create with poor planning: South Duff in Ames.) You could certainly do worse than to end up in San Luis Obispo — or any of these cities.

LED lighting increases pollution. (huh?) (11.24.17)

LEDs are great in terms of energy (and money) efficiency — reducing the amount of fossil fuels needed to generate basic illumination. We like LEDs so much that we are putting them everywhere, including many places that were never lit before. All these extra bulbs are leading to greater light pollution. Although light pollutions is not one of the great scourges of modern civilization, it does keep us from seeing and enjoying the night sky. As someone who likes to head out at night to peer at stars, planets, comets, and the milky way, I find light pollution to be a bit of downer. When I take my evening walks, it is hard to find to find truly dark places where I can stare at the cosmos and contemplate our smallness in the vast universe. (This is the closest that I ever get to having a religious experience.) While the degradation in night-time viewing is not too bad here in central Iowa, in many places there is so much light reflected upwards from street lights and parking lots that the finer features of the night sky cannot be seen. I expect that there are many city-dwelling young people, who have never seen the Milky Way or the Big Dipper with their own eys. (I guess they will have to be content with Instagram images.) And light pollution is a major difficulty for astronomers. The effects of light pollution can be mitigated with better designed bulbs and alternative ways of thinking about lighting, but we first have to recognize the problems and then we have to put our engineering brains to the task.

Here is a similar article from CNN.

The FCC prepares to kill off net neutrality. (11.24.17)

Of course, this is total bullshit. There is no one that will benefit from reversing the net neutrality rules, other than the giant internet-service providers — Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and other similarly scummy corporations. For the vast majority of Americans, the result will be higher costs and poorer internet service. So not surprisingly, that's exactly what the geniuses that we have elected have chosen to do. It is not a bit surprising, given the history of these clowns, but it is extremely depressing. Hopefully, in 1 or 3 years, there will be a day of reckoning, and Ajit Pai will be bounced out of the FCC (hopefully receiving a good kick to the groin as part of the process) and the greedy ISPs will be forced to back away from their power grap and become simple conduits to allow the internet to flow more freely. However, I'm not holding my breath.

More young Americans are leaving desk jobs in order to farm. (11.24.17)

If the thought of spending the rest of your career typing shit into a computer is too much to bear, or if you can no longer stand living in a city filled with insufferable hipsters, this might be a way to steer towards something more satisfying. Obviously, this type of life isn't for everybody, but if you are tired of being a tiny cog futilely spinning away inside the machinery of a giant corporation, this may be something to consider. And it is not an endeavor for dummies — being a successful sustainable farmer requires careful planning, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge from a wide range of topics, and skill in "making things work". Of course, these are exactly the things that engineers are good at.

Javascript engineers. (11.24.17)

This is particularly funny for me, because the "javascript machine" in the picture is actually a version of a molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) system 1. I spent a couple of decades of my life building, maintaining, and using contraptions like this one. If only I had known that I was actually writing javascript all that time — I could have advertised myself as a software engineer and perhaps I could have had a real job. Snort.

1 The Wikipedia article is hopelessly lame. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything better on the internets. I guess that if you are interested in MBE, you can visit me sometime and I will tell you all about it for a few hours.

More on the Sander father/son engineering team. (11.21.17)

Includes a nice video. These guys will probably soon show up in one of those ISU promo commercials that air during football and basketball games.

Drowning in garbage. (11.21.17)

No extra commentary needed.

The Serial-Killer Detector. (11.20.17)

A retired reporter writes some code to find serial killers. It's really not all the profound — he is just looking for patterns in data. It is the kind of thing that data scientists do all the time. Of course, the cops are supposed to do it, too, but sometimes they can't or won't.

The Weather Channel televises the destruction of the Georgia Dome. (11.20.17)

This kind of thing happens to me all the time. Here are some un-impeded views.

Slippery Stairs. (11.20.17)

This is destined to become an Olympic sport.

Myths of the 1%. (11.19.17)

The 1% in the U.S. is not made of up of young engineers creating successful tech start-ups. In fact, the top layer has relatively few engineers or STEM workers. Mosty, the top 1% is made up of doctors, lawyers, financiers, and high-level managers in those fields. It's kind of boring, actually, but these groups enjoy systemic advantages in the form of favorable laws and policies that make it easier for them to make the big bucks.

Turning the tide at Stalingrad. (11.19.17)

Here is today's history lesson — it was 75 years ago that the Russian army launched the counter-attack that stemmed the advance of the German army at Stalingrad. Stalingrad was the furthest advance of Germans in World War II. Their loss at Stalingrad, coupled with a defeat at El Alamein in North Africa, put the Germans into retreat — a retreat that lasted two-and-a-half years before they finally capitulated.

Stalingrad is often considered to be the worst battle in history in terms of casualties and destruction. Here are some interesting colorized pictures from that time. And the very long and detailed Wikipedia article

The Leonids meteor shower. (11.17.17)

The Leonids meteor shower hits it's peak this weekend. It might be a good show, if you can find some clear skies, and it's not too cold.

Challenging a chess grandmaster. (11.17.17)

Set some goals and see if you can pull off the kind of self-improvement that this speed learner managed. (Spoiler: He didn't beat the grandmaster. But I think the other odd things he did during his year of self-improvement projects are kind of amazing.)

Audio Club — Thursday, Nov. 16, 8:00 p.m., Coover 2011. (11.15.17)

More building — we are going to try the Altoids amp. A number of past Audio club members have done this one — it is relatively easy, it's fun, and it works! If you would like to try building it tomorrow, please send me a note (email, slack, or yell at me from across campus) to let me know — I need a rough count so that I bring enough parts. The parts cost about $9 — I'll give a detailed BOM at the meeting — so you will need to pay me that amount at the meeting or before. You will also need an empty Altoids tin — you can eat the candy yourself or force feed it to your roommate — and two 9-volt batteries. I'll provide the rest. There are no worries if you can't join in tomorrow — I'll have extra kits around, and you can try the project later at your convenience.

Drumline at the ISU band extravaganza. (11.13.17)

Steve Warren, who is in EE 333 this semester, designed and built the LED circuits that flash in the bass drum and the quads. It was one of his class projects. Pretty cool. (Steve plays the sousaphone in the band — he needs to get some lights on that thing.)

Cheap Inexpensive signal generators. (11.12.17)

Here is a list of some affordable signal generators, if you are looking to add to your home laboratory.

Wendell Sander. (11.12.17)

A Daily article about an ISU EE grad who moved to Silicon Valley and made a career there. He was Apple employee #16. Also mentioned in the article is eminent alum Thomas Whitney.

Comedy wildlife comedy award finalists. (11.11.17)

AC analysis or PCB projects getting you down? Maybe these will help lighten your mood...for a minute or two.

3 = 160,000,000. (11.10.17)

There is no way that this is a good thing.

No Audio/Arduino Club this week. (11.9.17)

The EE 201 exam is imminent, and people should be freaking out about that, rather than goofing around with audio circuits. Plus, there is a talk on campus that I would like attend, if I can make it. There will be audio club next week, when we will try building the Altoids amp.

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