Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Final Self Evaluation

This is my final self evaluation of my blog.  I feel confident in my blog content and the number of blogs I have posted.  In total, I have posted twelve (12) blogs including two (2) video posts.  My blogging style has not really evolved over the course of the semester.  I have pretty much kept the same tone, slowly increasing the multimedia content in my blogs.  The major difficulty I have encountered is trying to come up with new material to write about every week.  Improvements I would make to my blog would include more interactive posts that I did not have the time for.  My blogs did not effectively educate the public, as I did not have any listeners or followers.  Not sure what happened there.

Goodbye Blog

This will be my last post (besides the final self evaluation post that will be posted next).  I would like to thank my vast number of readers (which is zero) for turning in.  It breaks my heart to inform all my readers that i will not (ever) be starting up another blog.  I hope you all have learned a lot from what I have to offer.

Thanks again.

Analyzing the World with Data Acquisition Systems

Data acquisition systems, or DAQ systems, are the the next generation of tools built for analyzing the world around us.  DAQ systems are an essential engineering tool that allow physical conditions to be converted into electrical signals, which can then be analyzed by a computer.

To start off simple we can look at a simple system, such as a digital thermostat.  Just like the old school thermometers on the wall that you adjust with a lever or dial, a digital thermostat controls the temperature with a digital controls utilizing data acquisition.  First, a temperature sensor produces a signal that is analyzed by the DAQ system.  The DAQ system analyzes the current temperature then adjust the heater or ac to establish the set temperature.

Larger DAQ system record multiple temperatures and pretty much any other type of sensor that produces an electrical signal.  Below is an image of a few type of DAQ systems by National Instruments.

National Instruments is the industry leader in test system and automation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Physics of a Dog Fight

This video blog takes an in-depth analysis of a dog fight between two dogs, one named Buell and the other Heli.  Pay close attention to their styles.

Leatherman MUT: Only the greatest tool ever in existance

I really don't need to say anything more about this tool.  It is simply the greatest multi-tool ever invented in the history of everything.  If I hadn't already proposed to my current fiance I would have asked my the Leatherman MUT to marry me.  You name it, this thing has it: Super-sharp-ass knife (a technical term), firearm disassembly, C4 punch, brass scraper, screwdrivers, cutting hook, wire cutters, saw, hammer. Just watch the video and tell me you aren't drooling.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Electrical Motors

Exibit A: Electric Motor

Electrical motors, just like Legos, make the world go round.  But seriously, they do make the world go round.  The earth spins on a giant motor, you didn't know that?  Anyways it would probably be a good idea to tell you about the basic types of motors: AC and DC.  AC, or alternating current, motors are driven by AC power and can power anything from a refrigerator to HVAC system in Brown Building.  Typically, AC motors are used for constant speed applications.  DC, or direct current, motors are driven by DC power and are typically used to power anything that operates on a battery.  Robots, automobile starters, and the playstation 3 controller are all powered by batteries and require DC power to drive their motors.  One significant advantage of DC motors is their ability to provide a high starting torque, approximately 6x that of AC power.  This large starting torque is need for various applications, such as starting your car on a cold winter morning.

Below is a video demonstration of how the internal components of a DC motor work together.  It is a bit technically but honestly the only way to understand a motor is get technical.  Here is the untechnical side of a motor:  I plug the electrical cord into the wall and it starts spinning. Done.

For the techs (do not read if you do not have an engineering degree, it will only melt your mind): So basically an electric DC voltage is applied across the green +- potential, which induces a current in what is called the rotor.  This current thereby creates a magnetic field which interacts with a permanent magnetic field provided by the stator in blue.  This interaction between the two magnetic fields results in a force which caused the rotor to spin a specific direction.

Clean Power

When dad brings home a brand new TV on Sunday afternoon that he just picked up from Ultimate Electronic's going out of business sale, he usually doesn't think twice when plugs the power cord into the wall for the first time. Most electronic consumers are not aware of the 'unclean', or dirty power delivered to consumers,  or the fact that it can and will be very harmful to your electronics.

The electrical companies won't tell you that they really don't give a rat's ass what kind of power is delivered to your house.  As long as they get close enough to 120V+/-10V, that's good enough for them.  I am sure most of us have randomly turned on our TV or some other electronics to find it exploding or simply not working.  Ever seen the lights dim when the refrigerator turns on?  These are all example of dirty power that can harm electronics.  Below is a plot of clean and dirty power constancy.  Granted the plots have not units, what they are really illustrating is the RMS (root mean square) power delivered to a device.

Below is a video (courtesy of Monster Power) that explains exactly what is going on with electrical power.

The point is, it is essential to provide & protect your electronic devices with surge protection, noise filters, isolation, and voltage stabilization.  This protection significantly increases the longevity of your electronics as well as their overall performance.  I have personal experience with failed equipment that was not protected.  Even after one of my pieces of electrical equipment had failed on standard power, I was able to power it with clean power and the device started working again just because it had the correct power.  

Moral of the story: If you have any respect for your equipment, you should think twice about plugging it into any random outlet.