Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quick thoughts

So, I am actually kind of impressed right now with radioshack and how they are really making an effort to start offering some more high quality tools for makers. They have this whole "pro line" set of soldering tools which actually look like they don't suck. Personally I actually use a radioshack iron because at the time it was what I could afford, and just never ended up upgrading. I did pick up a tip cleaner from them today, which is the ball of copper instead of a sponge. It looks like it is a nice addition to my tools, and well worth the investment to not have to deal with a crappy sponge for cleaning the tip of my soldering iron.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reichard magic

I got in my ALES shop the other day and am now starring on construction.  Yes I know I still have to post a build log for the other glider. But today I got the springs for the pull-push system and the horizontal stabilizer mount installed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

impressive build

Found this interesting

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homework and DARPA

So one of the homework questions that I had for my 'knowledge based systems' course got was about the major AI contests which kind of got me thinking a bit about why not smaller challenges. While there are some things that will only ever be answered by the large and expensive grand challenges, there is another aspect that is lost with them. It is important to note that participation in these projects like the DARPA grand challenge or DARPA urban challenge is a very exclusive thing and requires large interdisciplinary teams. While much good can come of this, I think there is also some harm in all the focus being placed on these projects.

First, a large portion of academia in unable to participate in these challenges. While my college has a graduate CS program, we lack ME and ECE programs, which would obviously be required for these projects. Additionally we are not a tier 1 university, but instead focused on professional development. However that does not mean that non of the students have anything to offer to hard problems, and by alienating so many smaller colleges and universities we loose a large portion of potential minds that could work on some of these problems.

Another problem that I see is that many of these research groups, because of the huge financial input into the problem, are likely to take risks on outrageous ideas. Sometimes these are critical for making breakthroughs, or even just seeing that another legitimate solution exists.

So why not mini challenges? What I see is that the Maker/DIY/Hacker community has incredibly sophisticated tools, everything from arduino, beagleboard, Digilent FPGA boards, Android devices, and the Kinect. As an R/C enthusiast I also know that we have quite sophisticated platforms. So it does not seem like there is a technical reason not to fund small teams of 2-5 individuals, probably university students, with a standard platform to perform some given tasks in a scaled down challenge.

In addition to the additional mind share working on the problem I think some other huge things will come out of something like this. First, we will see more people with sophisticated AI backgrounds graduating from ALL colleges and universities instead of just the elite ones. This is great for companies that might want a low cost/risk way to explore some of these ways of solving programming problems.

Additionally I think we will see one huge impact if standardized and smaller scaled hardware is used, that of massively filtered data. One of the great things that the human mind does is filter at various levels. Why can we not use the same ideas in AI to take real world problems and simplify them, but still come out with satisfactory results?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ADK adventure

Last night I tried working with the USB host shield on the arduino and ran into a number of problems. It seems that the version of the USB Host Shield library that is distributed with the ADK package does not work right on linux. This is kind of annoying. I then spent some time mucking around with version two of the USB host library, since the author notes that the first version is no longer being developed. It appears though that this is a major rewrite of the library, and in no way compatible with the androidAccessory library. I did manage to get the authors quality control test program functioning after correcting a case sensitivity issue.

I am now playing around with this again (yes, I am that thick headed) using the most recent copy of the first version of the library available on github. I also ran across this blog post which may be a tad helpful.

Lets see how this all works....

And it works. I thought I tried that last night, but sometimes things just work so much better after a nights sleep and starting over. Using the version from github works while the one from google does not. I connected it to the full version of the demokit android app, I will now add in some hardware and see what happens.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

so this looks like an interesting read.....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

cool things to play with sometime

and obviously