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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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More recently...

Monday had my annual physical and everything went swimmingly. My blood pressure is still nice and low, my weight's been consistent, and there's no trouble signs. So yay me.

After that I made it to the gym for a half hour of cardio AND my pilates class, I don't often manage to combine the two so I ended up feeling extra virtuous.

After THAT I made it to the Canadian Space Society meeting, where the topic was the CanX-2 micro satellite being built at the U of T. They are actually building two, cubes 10 cm on a side, and plan to do some experiments with getting them to talk to each other in orbit, a precursor to much more ambitious plans to fly flocks of micros in formation. Assuming they can get clearance from US Space Command, which considers micro satellites to be one step up from space debris (as they are just big enough to track, but plenty big enough to do real damage if they hit something).

Anyway, launch constraint means they need to deploy the two satellites linked together, and then separate them and nudge them apart. The means they've come up to do this is brilliant. One satellite has a spring-loaded gadget that is pulled out, and then glued to the other satellite with a special epoxy. When it comes time to separate them, 12 volts is applied thru the epoxy, which causes its strength to drop over 10 times. The bond breaks, the springs snap back, and the recoil nudges one satellite from the other at about 1cm a second. Scarcely any moving parts to go wrong. Neat!

Last night I dropped by City Hall for a Sierra Club presentation on how California has promoted greater energy efficiency and how these lessons can be applied to Ontario. Due to a brain glitch I went to the Old City Hall first before realizing that when the listing said "City Hall", they meant City Hall.

The talk was reasonably interesting (I would have appreciated more facts and figures) and I just really like the Council Chamber setup, with built-in cameras, an amazingly powerful video projector, and plenty of legroom in the spectator seats. Best line of the night was when various people were being introduced and the MC said "And we have over there the leader of the Federal Green Party, and I think we have several candidates for the Liberal leadership scattered around as well."

I'm sort of inbetween projects at work again (feast or famine) so I've been spending the last few days getting some convention paperwork done (got the insurance application, all 30 pages, in with plenty of time to spare this year). And I've been troubleshooting a "recipe" I created two months back for preparing a computer model of a gearing assembly. As ultimately dozens of these assemblies will be modelled, i came up with a procedure to create the model, and someone else has been working to automate the whole thing. He was having a lot of problems getting the final computer model to run properly, so I was trying to figure out what the problem was. It turns out that 95% of the problem was that he wasn't using the settings I had specified in my "recipe". Putting this settings to what I had said they should be in the FIRST place has solved almost all of the problems!