Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day In The City

On my last day of freedom, we decided to head into San Francisco ("The City" if you are a local) via the CalTrain. This is a nice commuter rail into the city that stops in all of the towns of the Bay area. It costs $14/person for a day pass and takes about 1.5 hours to get into the city (versus 1 hour without traffic if driving).

We didn't have much agenda so we planned to walk around and explore. Katherine has an interview in The City on Tuesday so we checked out what the walk would be like and made sure she knew where it would be.

We totally forgot it was Veteran's Day so a parade was a nice surprise!

Texting and driving!

We went down to check out the very crowded Ferry Terminal and managed to get some delicious donuts from Pebbles. Vegan too!

Without much to do we decided to take a ferry and see the bay. I had been to Sausalito before and figured any of the towns would be cool so we got tickets for the Larkspur boat. It was easier than trying to get to the bridge on foot and should have given us a view. We idled out of the dock and then both of were surprised at how fast the boat went. It was a full blown catamaran and we went fast! Really cool!

Foggy Golden Gate (classic)

Larkspur ended up being pretty small without much to do but they were doing a food truck day so we got a delicious "deconstructed Samosa" from Curry Up Now. Holy crap! So friggin' good!

Once we got back we did some shopping. I was on the hunt for some maroon/red jeans and Katherine wanted some wax cotton pants which we both agree as super bitchin.

Lots of walking and shopping and near meltdowns (from me) later and we arrived at Gracias Madre for a vegan Mexican dinner. Again, so good. Really light and simple Mexican food with tons of fresh flavors. I got Tamale which I really love and can't easily find on the East Coast and Katherine got veggie tacos.

After the train ride back I found the car battery totally dead. Guess who left the lights on. This guy! I'll have to get used to turning the lights off again as our Golf has the same system.

Overall, a great way to spend the day before starting work at Apple!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

We Have A House!

Our new place!
We don't really sit still well so we've been hard on the apartment search. We've been told about how we should relax and settle down but we really like apartment hunting, it's been really go for us to see the towns and options. Also, sitting around makes both of us go crazy.

Apple provides a relocation assistant whose job it is to find us apartments that meet our criteria and help get us settled into the area. We were told that since the market is so competitive we should go out and try to find some places on our own. I think in the end this meant that we stepped on the relocation's teams toes a bit.
ebay HQ: Just another day in the Valley
We found some pretty good places in our search. Rent here, by the way, is INSANE. A place comparable to our place in Portsmouth is at least $3,500! I guess it just comes with the area.

Our criteria was:

  • About a mile from some kind of a downtown
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 car garage (seems excessive but there aren't any basements here)
  • Not in a complex
  • Character is fine...wall-to-wall carpeting, not so much
  • 5 miles to Apple

Today our relocation assistant, David, drove us around in his way t
o fast BMW M5. It's a great car, no doubt, but he felt the need to put the pedal to the floor at every single green light. Katherine and I got pretty car sick. We went to a lot of places and most of them missed almost all of our criteria.

In the end we came down to two options.

Fancy pants Campbell
One in Campbell which was a gorgeous townhouse with a brand new kitchen, floors, appliances...THE WORKS. Both of us were kind of starstruck that we might be able to live in a place like that. It was a little above our price range but Campbell was a really cool town, kind of like Portsmouth as far as the restaurant scene. DOWNSIDE 8 miles to Apple which is getting a bit far for a daily, casual bike commute. Lots of compromises but it is FANCY.

Much more our level of fancyness (minimal)
The second was right near downtown Sunnyvale. Much more up our alley and much more like what we are used to: some character but not tacky. It was close to town, in a small neighborhood and had a great detached garage. It definitely didn't have all of the bells and whistles but it was considerably cheaper, closer to Apple, closer to a town and not quite so "fancy."

Even the Mini has a new home!
In the end we choose Sunnyvale and we're really excited! We're going to try and move in as soon as our stuff arrives which is hopefully by the end of next week! Sweet!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 3: We Hike

We've been spending a lot of time looking at apartments and exploring the towns. This has been fun but I think we have been stepping on our realtors' toes a bit so today we took a break and went out for a hike. We left early to get in one last showing and then headed up to the Western Mountains.

The around the mountains are so pretty and fun to drive, I've been spending most of the time lusting after a speedy "race car." More motivation to finish the Mini, I hope!

We started at the North Ridge Trailhead of the Purisma Creek Open Space. Unlike out East, the trails here start at the top and hike down to begin, before hiking up to get out. It's definitely a different experience but I'm not sure that I hate it. It's a nicer way to start off.

The trails and views were incredible! We did an 11 mile hike down to the creek, up the creek, and then back up to the top. Almost all of these were open to bikes and I spent a lot of time telling Katherine how much I want my mountain bike.

The trails don't compare to the White Mountains as far as ruggedness or difficulty (the entire hike bordered on a nature walk kind of feel) but the wilderness and scenery definitely rivals NH. We are both totally blown away at how quickly we can get away from the valley. I think that trail running will be a great way to explore these trails and keep in interesting.

After the hike we drove down to the coast on HWY 1, snapped a few pictures and then drove back, making a quick detour in Cupertino to take a lap of the Apple campus. Can't wait to start!

Big News




But, really, we did. 

Over the past two months I have been on the job hunt and, rather serendipitously, was contacted out of the blue by Apple for a Manufacturing Design Engineer position. Figuring I had no chance with Apple, I still applied since the position fit me very well. I'll post up another post about the full process but, long story short, I got and accepted and offer about a month ago!

Since then, Katherine and I have been hard at work figuring out how we are going to move across the country to Silicon Valley. Apple has a great relocation package so it was pretty simple on the actual moving of things end but everything else that goes along with a job change and move have been pretty stressful.

The Valley!
Here we are though. We flew in on November 4th and have temporary housing in Sunnyvale, CA for the next 45 days. It's pretty crazy out here. Driving around is like driving through the internet: Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Apple, etc. all have headquarters here. 

The traffic is no joke, we've been trying to hide in our apartment or at a coffee shop during rush hour since both of us HATE being stuck in traffic, I think we're going to have to get used to that. 

The roads above the valley. I'd better get used to climbing
I was really worried about being in a huge metro area and having no ability to get away from it. That worry was pretty quickly dispelled. We went out for a drive in the mountains to the West of the valley and it was incredible. 

There were incredible, small, twisty mountain roads. On the eastern side of the mountains it was dry and arid much like Tuscany but once we dropped down on the Western side we found lush, damp redwood forests that were INCREDIBLE.

I also went out for a run the other morning and explored some bike paths. In less than 10 minutes I was in a quiet nature trail running alongside the bay. There are literally hundreds of miles of gravel path that run around entire Valley area, I'm really looking forward to exploring them.

I start work on Monday and I'm really excited. Apple has been so helpful in the process leading up to this, I can't wait to start working there, it is going to be an incredible experience.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Custom Mini Tools

Stuck with a DIY obsession, a need for specialty tools, and full machine shop access at work I made quite a few tools to aid in rebuilding my engine. Many of these were simple presses/drifts to help get bearings in and out but some were more complicated.

Cam bearing installation tool
 The mini has three different sized bearings for the camshaft which all need to be carefully pressed in. I found some plans online and made the pieces. Each press is threaded so that it can be drawn through with threaded rod. In addition there is a guide sleeve to help keep things centered. I turned all of these at work out of aluminum. 

They worked fantastic!

Connecting Rod Balancer
 In order to balance connecting rods, a stand is need so that each end can be measure independently. Here is the stand:

 Vertical support showing two thrust  bearings and the linkage
The big end is held using a plug with two bearings in the center. This mounts to the stand via a pivoting bracket that is height adjustable. This allows the rod to move in two degrees of freedom. The little end is held on a dowel pin mounted to stand that sits on the scale.
This stand worked well but was fairly sensitive to the distance between the stand and the scale. In the future, I think that a bearing on the little end support would help eliminate this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mini Introduction

This will be the first of many posts about my most recent project. In August 2013 I purchased a 1979 Austin Mini from a friends roommate. It was his only car ands it’s a pretty silly only car so took it off his hands. I didn’t know much about minis but once I saw it, I had to have it. I didn’t do a ton of research and just jumped right in. There is some rust but it runs well and is a total blast to drive.

Last summer we used it as an excuse to drive all over our area and it was always fun. This past winter I got a second engine to rebuild and also put a turbocharger on. The intention was that I would install that this summer but I’ve only just gotten the engine done. In addition there are some body panel replacements and modifications I want to do before put the new engine in.

Where the car is now:

Ty helping to take out the engine 

I’ve stripped down the car to a rolling chassis and ordered panels to replace the sills and some floor pan pieces. My plan is to repair what is needed and replace the front end with a one piece FG item. In the back, I will debumper and deseam the valence. For the interior I am going to do a stripped out style interior with bucket seats in the front and most likely keep the rear seats.

Nearly completed new engine

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Frugal Horn Speakers

I've always been into DIY audio equipment. Something about it seems like such a no brainer to me since it is fairly low complexity, well test by the community and often much cheaper than commercial options.

I'd been wanting to build the Frugal Horn speakers for many years now: http://www.frugal-horn.com/ but never gotten around to it. After moving and getting rid of our old college speakers I decided it was time to upgrade. The basic idea of these is simplicity, one high quality driver backed by a horn. This means you get the speed and performance of a smaller full range driver without sacrificing too much bass. It also means you only buy one driver (instead of 3 usually) and don't have to deal with crossovers.

I built these using Fostex FE126 drivers which were eNabled by Plant10 HiFi. For the wood I used 3/4" baltic birch and cut it using the CNC at my dad's wood shop. By cutting rabbits into the side plates and have every cut CNC accurate the glue-up and assembly was trivial.

I hooked these up to my gainclone amp (which I also built) using banana plug speakers wires built from extension cord.

I'm really impressed with the sound from these! They are great with vocals and acoustic music (Tallest Man on Earth), the sound is very full and so incredibly clear. With deeper bass music (Pretty Lights) they are definitely lacking on the low end. I was most impressed listening to After The Disco (Broken Bells), the album covers a lot of the audio spectrum and these speakers keep up really well. The snare hits are really crisp and clear and every note and accent is heard, nothing gets lost.

I love them!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Updates on The Way

Every so often I get some fresh motivation to start up with sharing life again and I have a lot to update since the last time I posted. Expect some more detailed updates but here is the list of life events since we last talked:

  • Finished my 3D Printer
  • I used my 3D Printer for a bit but haven't used it in a long time now
  • My best friend, Katherine, is now my girl friend. It's great. We live together in Portsmouth
  • I graduated UNH with a BS in Mechanical Engineering
  • I bought a 1979 Austin Mini
  • I took apart my 1979 Austin Mini and will be rebuilding it with a turbo
  • I work as Product Engineer at Turbocam International. I work on developing manufacturing steps and process for making turbocharger compressor wheels.
Talk soon!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cat5 as Hookup Cable

Latest Thoughts on the Printer(cross post from my post in /r/reprap):

I work in the networking industry and it struck me that cat5 cable might make a pretty interesting option. It is really easy to come by as scrap and really easy to make/terminate with the right tools.
For those not totally familiar: This is the generic ethernet cable seen everywhere. The cable is 8 copper wires (stranded or solid) with 4 pairs that are twisted together, impedance is 50 ohm. Power over ethernet specs require max 57V or .6A on each wire.
My idea would be to put each stepper conductor wire on each pair (4 each). To do this I would make a small PCB with a screw terminal on one end (for stepper wires) and a cable jack on the other. For the electronics ends I would think to make a small board with a jack and 4 male headers to interface with the controller board. I gave a single strand 2.5A at work without any sign of heating up and only .4V. I think it could be really cool and clean and wanted to share the idea and see if anyone had done something similar.
Benefits: Easy to connect/disconnect
Single cable for each axis (organization)
Changing length is easy (with termination tools)
I'll definitely keep you posted on the developments with this

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Updates(of all kinds)

Been a short while since my last update so here is a big update.
Ron Paul came and talked at UNH. Considering that I am interested him as a candidate I thought it smart to get involved and go. Two things to take away: I would definitely get a beer with him, vote for him? Meh. And the dude is very old! Like yeah, he is OLD.

Last night I did a bunch of cooking with my roommates. We made a shit ton of Lemon Rasberry Marmalade and even canned it and some Meringue (using a heat gun to brown the top).

Mendel Max:
I received a huge pile of boxes earlier in the week, two first order catalogs from Igus and Misumi, Steppers, Motor Couplers, Stepper Drivers, PLA and the hot end.
I was a bit dissapointed on the pacakging of the steppers but they seemed to survive fine.
I ordered the rest from Ultimachine who included some extra free filament though I need to determine if it is abs or PLA. The hot end came with the first layer of ceramic all ready set and cured. I got to work putting the connectors on and sure enough I broke the nichrome wire. I had read about how easy it is to do and yet I still did it. Lame. I soldered and crimped everything back together and will test it out but I doubt it will hold. A problem to figure out when I get my power supply. I think the ceramic will help hold it all together.
(Free shit from Igus)

I also installed the drivers on the board which means that I am finally done with the electronics! I only got the 644P working and will try out the 1284 in the future. Still have to figure out what to use for wiring.

Also, I made a VERY last minute decision to drive to Florida tomorrow with some two friends. It is going to be awesome and very inline with my last minute travel decisions of late.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Once I got the boards all built up it was time to load up the chips. I dont have a programmer so I used the Arduino as ISP method. Bummer is that I needed a resonator to do this unless I wanted to use the internal clock (no thanks). Only resonator I could find at 16mHz was soldered into the Sanguinololu. Time to get out the desoldering tools!
I finally got everything set up and burned the bootloader using the Arduino IDE, put the resonator back in and then tried to install firmware. No dice on either chip. Bummer. Big bummer.
Continuing to take the resonator in and out is plain stupid so I've got a friend at work who is going to let me us his USBtiny and also a resonator. Hopefully by Monday I can get things going a little bit better.
Also, on Monday I should get my steppers, hot end, stepper drivers and couplers! Also, I think I'll be getting some catalogs from Igus and Misumi as I have UPS notifications of shipments from them.
Still no printed parts, I emailed the guy printing them and he seems to be having some trouble with his printer. Fixed now but a delay I'm not stoked on. Nothing I can do but wait (which is so hard to do) and get them when they arrive. I'm convinced that once those show up I will be able to complete the darn thing but I know that's not the case. I still need to source a build platform, get the rods cut and then order any parts I've forgotten about so far.
Project is going well but I am definitely getting antsy.