Gas station without pumps

2018 November 17

Another book cover design

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:47
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A former student (a Danish exchange student) sent me an SVG file with a couple of book cover designs.  I liked them better than what I came up with, but found them a little too grey (like some of the old Springer monograph series), so I redid one of them in brighter colors:

This design avoids the border symmetry that Bob Therriault rightly criticized and looks a little better than the flat background I was using.

Because it is an inkscape svg file, it is moderately easy for me to modify (my previous designs were done in Photoshop Elements, which is both harder and easier to work with, depending what you are trying to do.  I may want to redo the EKG trace from the original data, as he was working with just the low-resolution image I had posted, so the Inkscape object is a bit cruder than I’d like.

What do people think of this design?  What can/should I do to improve it? Colors? Fonts?



New book cover draft 2

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:30
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Based on comments by gflint, I tried changing the colorway for my new cover:

new blue cover

The new colorway looks a little less generic, but it is still a boring cover.

I’m still looking for suggestions for a better book cover.

I also got one more to-do note removed from the book today, by beefing up the soldering instructions a bit and drawing a new figure:

Cross section of a good solder joint for through-hole soldering.

I drew a crude sketch on a whiteboard, then edited an SVG file to produce the image. I’m getting a little better at creating SVG files (thanks to the practice for the FET image), but it is still a slow process—not as slow for me as trying to draw with a tool like Inkscape, though.

2018 November 16

New book cover draft

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:11
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I did a slight redesign of the cover of my book with the tentative new title.  I’m not a graphics designer, so all I’ve come up with is a rather generic book cover:

Tentative new book cover

I’m open to ideas for better cover designs.

Other than the cover, I’ve been making decent progress on the book—I even got PteroDAQ recompiled for the FRDM-KL25Z board and Arduino boards, which I haven’t bothered with for a couple of years, as we’ve been using just Teensy LC boards in the class.  ( had to make some tiny fixes to the PteroDAQ code, but nothing that took more than a couple of minutes.

I’ve got 4 to-do notes left in the book, only one of which is important (including some theory of soldering).  The other three are all optional material which needs to be cleaned up a bit or thrown out.  I think I’m still on track for a release by Nov 30.

2018 November 14

Large thermal mass

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:52
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Our poured-in-place concrete house has a very large thermal mass. We have not turned on the heat yet this year, but the temperature inside the house does not vary much. The outside temperature today varied from 38.1°F to 76.5°F (3.4°C to 24.7°C), but the inside temperature only changed from 58°F to 62°F (14.4°C to 16.7°C).  The outside temperatures are from a home weather station a couple of blocks away, and the inside temperature is from the thermostat, so they may not be identically calibrated, but both should be good to about ±1°F.

The breakfast room, where I do most of my work, fluctuates more than the thermostat, because the breakfast room gets bright sunlight once the fog burns off in the morning until about mid-day.  I’ve not measured the temperature where I sit, but I generally don’t need a sweater in the breakfast room until sunset.

We put off turning on the heat until it gets too uncomfortable in the house, even wearing sweaters. I expect that we’ll be turning on the heat around the end of November—at least, that’s what we did last year.

The natural gas we use costs about $100 a month for the four-to-five months a year when the heater is turned on, and about $30 a month the rest of the time (mainly for heating water, but also for the gas clothes dryer and the gas stove).  Switching from natural gas to electricity would be good for the environment (our local electricity is supposedly all from renewable sources), but would cost us a fair amount, both in replacing appliances and in increased energy costs—I don’t think we’ll be doing it in the next decade, unless electricity costs come down a lot or natural gas prices go up a lot.

2018 November 12

Note that

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:04
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I’ve been making pretty good progress on my book: I have only 9 to-do notes left in the margins of the book (and one of those is in the solution set, not the book itself).  I had well over 100 such notes at the beginning of the summer, and almost 100 at the beginning of fall, so it feels good to have cleared so many. I think I’m on track to hit my self-imposed November 30 deadline for the next release.

The book is now up to 573 pages with 294 distinct images (only 242 numbered figures, but some have multiple parts so there are 83 subfigures).  The solution set is another 118 pages with another 76 images (though a few of them are identical to ones in the book).

Because most of the remaining 9 to-do notes are ones I’ve been putting off because I’ve dreaded doing them, I started on doing some global corrections that did not have associated to-do notes.

For example, tonight I removed about 200 words by removing “Note that” from the book and the solution set.  I looked at each instance, and every time I saw that I could remove “Note that” and capitalize the next word to make the writing better.  I also removed another approximately 50 occurrences of “Note:”, though a handful of those required some modification to the sentence.

I should probably also scan the book for overuse of parentheses (another of my bad writing habits), but that scan will be harder to do, as there are many legitimate parentheses in the math formulas.

I probably need to dedicate a day or two towards the end of this month just to running the spelling checker.  The book is broken up into about 60 LaTeX files, and I have to run the spell check separately on each.  Some are fairly trivial, like the top-level one that has just


but others are quite long: about 30,000 words in solutions.tex and 16,000 in lab-report-guidelines.tex.

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