Gas station without pumps

2018 November 17

New book cover draft 2

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:30
Tags: , , , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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.

Network of Concerned Academics

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:27
Tags: ,

The rest of this post is copied from, who asked that the letter be reposted on other blogs:

We in the United States are facing a dangerous threat to our institutions of higher learning from a political climate dominated by anti-intellectualism and willful ignorance. For more than forty years, the academic community has been the target of a sustained campaign of demonization and defunding that is designed to undercut its legitimacy as a source of expertise and a haven for dissent. The structure of this anti-education movement is deep, wide, and coordinated and the attack is being intensified under the current administration. Almost every area of academic life is now at risk: whether the threats come from the insistence of outside groups pressuring universities to host speakers who seek to affront marginalized members of the university community and others; or the federal government’s attempts to ban Muslims, “Dreamers,” and undocumented students; or the underfunding of public higher education and scientific research; or, most recently, the state’s attempt to reject years of scholarly work on the complexities of gender identity. This is not only an American issue; the world’s universities are in danger of losing the intellectual distinction and freedom that they have represented and defended.

The Network of Concerned Academics will act as a hub to bring together all those seeking to address these threats to higher education.  The originality of the network is its outreach to the three groups—faculty, students, and administrators—who are not usually in direct conversation with one another; indeed they are sometimes at odds.  Our goal is to unite these diverse constituencies in the face of unprecedented attacks on the entire enterprise of higher education, by providing information and updates on unfolding events, and by developing concrete strategies and blueprints, among them models of best practices for all those who are confronted with new kinds of provocations and threats.  The website is now live at

The effectiveness of this Network depends on its ability to bring together and activate people who are committed to preserving the university as a space in which diversity of perspectives, academic expertise, and critical thought can flourish. Please post this letter and the NCA link on your websites and blogs, and please inform your constituencies about this new resource.

We appreciate your help in spreading the word about the launching of the NCA website, and welcome your contributions to its resources and conversations.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the NCA by email or at .

« Previous PageNext Page »

%d bloggers like this: