Gas station without pumps

2017 October 31

Twenty-fifth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:04
Tags: , , , , , ,

This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.


My weight has finally gotten back within my self-imposed target region.

The recent rapid drop is probably due to the Mechatronics class—I have to bicycle up to campus almost daily, and I spend the day in the lab without eating.

The month of October had me riding an average of 5.23 miles a day. I’ll probably keep up almost this level through November, but my trips to campus will drop in December, but come back up in January.

Incidentally my cholesterol level is essentially unchanged several months after switching from 40mg atorvastatin to 20mg rosuvastatin—my HDL/LDL ratio may be slightly better, but that is probably just noise in the measurements.

2017 October 29

Futuristic Lights at Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:36
Tags: ,

Zohar Wouk (CEO of Futuristic Lights) will be speaking at the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup on Wed 1 Nov 2017. The meetup starts at 6pm at Cruzio.

Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp – November 2017

Wednesday, Nov 1, 2017, 6:00 PM

Cruzio & Ecology Action Green Building
877 Cedar Street Santa Cruz, CA

175 Technologists Attending

David Coulter, Kelly Wachs, Haven, SurfX, Futuristic Lights, Support Logic   We are going cosmic for this event!  Very exciting line up!• How We Got the First Image of a Gravitational Wave Source / David Coulter:   astrophysicists at UCSC led a neutron star shattering discovery this month, validating Einstein’s gravitation wave theory.  Learn wh…

Check out this Meetup →

Incidentally, I understand that Futuristic Lights has finally finished shipping all the pre-ordered Ion glove sets—their new low-cost, high-feature product.

2017 October 26


Filed under: Robotics — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:32
Tags: , , ,

I can’t share most of what I’m doing for the Mechatronics course, because I don’t want to put up things that students will blindly copy in future years, but I feel that I can safely put up pictures of MockRobot, the prototype we build in Lab 2 for learning SolidWorks, laser cutting, and foamcore prototyping.  The MockRobot is not very different from many other pictures students have access to, and pictures of other prototypes is not going to save them much (if any) effort.

A perspective view showing the overall shape.

The foamcore tower is properly bent with smooth paper on the outside. The lap joint was too weak with the glue I had available, so I used painter’s blue tape to hold the cylinder together. The box also has smooth bends on the bottom edge and mitered lap joints at the corners. The crushed foam was too springy, and one of the lap joints tore the paper, so again I used painter’s tape to hope things together.

The front view, showing the motor mounts on the edges of the platform, the foamcore tower, and the front skeg.

The top view with the tower in place does not show much.

Without the tower, the mounting holes for the tower and for a perfboard are visible. The tops of the two skegs are visible front and back.

The slots for the tower were a little too thin—fitted perfectly for aligned foamcore, but with slight misalignment of the tower, it was impossible for me to get the tabs in without crushing or buckling the tabs. More clearance is needed for foamcore.

The side view should show the screw holes for mounting the motors, but they are hidden behind the 3″ diameter wheels.

A detail of the motor mounting, showing the problems I had with having to reglue the parts several times—the glue kept the pieces from fitting properly after a while.

The motor mount was constructed with tab-and-slot construction on the very edge of the board, so that the wheels did not have to pass through wells. This turned out to be a poor choice, as the hot glue joints were not very strong, and repeated regluing ended up with thick layers of glue that spoiled the alignment.

In future designs, any parts that need to support weight (especially cantilevered weight like the motors here) will have slots that surround their tabs on all 4 sides (a full mortise and tenon, rather than a finger joint) and have bracing on both sides, probably using a crosslap joint. I might also have the tenon go all the way through so that it can be secured by a pin on the other side. I won’t count on hot glue to withstand any tensile forces, and only small shear forces.

I might also design wheel wells, so that when the robot bumps into things, it won’t be with the wheels. I already had trouble with the roach robots rubbing off their wheels if they had too much side force (while sliding along a wall at an angle), so I should have been more more protective of the wheels in this design.

I spent way too much time on this lab fighting the steep learning curve for SolidWorks.  It has a very arcane interface, where buttons do very different things depending where on the screen you are and what mode you are in.  Undoing things is difficult, and I frequently had to scrap several hours work and start over, because I could not figure out how to  reverse some poor early choice I  had made.  I’ve used a lot of software with bad interfaces, but SolidWorks has one of the hardest-to-learn interfaces I’ve ever been stuck with.  Despite the numerous features that SolidWorks has, I would never pay money for it—it is an experts-only tool, and I don’t want to spend the years it would take for me to become expert enough for it to be of value to me.

2017 October 25


Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:10
Tags: , , ,

In Shaving my head, I announced that I would be having my head shaved, but not my beard.

In Shaving my head (and maybe my beard), I offered to let my beard be shaved if the donations came up to $1000.

In Shaving my head, beard, and eyebrows, I announced that my head, beard, and eyebrows would be shaved, and that the next (and last) stretch goal would be shaving my chest hair.  That goal was not reached, so my chest hair is intact.

Here are some photos: before, during, and after the shaving:

This is what I looked like yesterday, before being shaved.

This is what I looked like after being shaved, wearing the silly medal they gave me for raising the most money at the UCSC event.

Just after I’ve been shaved. (photo by Kishwar Shafin)

Another shot of me being shaved (photo by Kishwar Shafin)

Being shaved. (Photo by Kishwar Shafin)

I was a little surprised by how much stubble they left me—it will save me a week on growing the beard back.  In the meantime, my wife has to put up with living with a stranger.

The pictures of me just after being shaved look to me more like my older brother than like me (he is naturally somewhat bald and stays clean-shaven).

I had to adjust the straps on my bicycle helmet before cycling home this evening—the helmet was a size or two too large without the hair and beard as padding.

On the walk home from dinner this evening, I noticed that I had the shadow of a stranger—I wonder who has my shadow.

With $2386 donated from 70 donors, the average donation was just over $30—it makes me feel a bit like Bernie, with lots of small donors!

Although the shaving event is over, you can still contribute to the campaign, either to express amusement at how I look, or (more importantly) to fund research into pediatric cancer, which does not get the research attention that adult cancers get from the government and major foundations.

The link for donating again:

With late donations, the total by 31 Oct 2017 was $2661 donated.  Thanks, everyone!

2017 October 24

Shaving my head, beard, and eyebrows.

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:39
Tags: , , ,

In Shaving my head, I announced that I would be having my head shaved tomorrow, but not my beard.

In Shaving my head (and maybe my beard), I offered to let my beard be shaved if the donations came up to $1000.  When that goal was reached one of my colleagues asked how much for my eyebrows, and I suggested hitting $2000.

Well that goal has been reached also, and one of my students asked what they could get for $3000.  I said that they could shave my chest hair if we hit $3000 by 1:00pm tomorrow (Wednesday 25 Oct 2017), but that is as far as I’m going.


The link for donating again:


Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: