Sunday, January 10, 2010

SPUD 0.1

I 'umbly present my new Sensor Platform Universal Device, better known by the tortured acronym of SPUD. This little guy has an Arduino Mini for a brain, uses an L297D motor controller chip from Solarbotics to power the motors, and has a detachable USB interface for programming. It can go forward, backward, turn right and left, and spin in place right and left, using only four digital outputs from the Arduino to the motor controller. This leaves eight digital and eight analog lines open for sensor input and/or other gadgets.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

You can put your arms down when you get back to NC

Another Christmas in New England. Another reminder that my once hardy mountain blood has thinned to water. It was all the way up to 14F, and I couldn't go outside to play without bundling up in the equivalent of two sheep and a yak.

When I started college, transplanting myself from West Virginia to Chapel Hill, NC, fifty five degrees was T Shirt weather. I openly scoffed at the pathetic weaklings who wore hats, jackets, and (giggle) gloves in an environment wherein water remained liquid. I never put on a jacket before going out to play, no matter how many times Mom told me to. (This was back when colds and flu were thought to be caused by low body temperature, before germs were discovered.) Now I'm the one telling my daughter to wear her heavy coat and not blame me if her fingers freeze to the swings. Truly, my hypocrisy knows no bounds*.

The answer, of course, is that kids are exothermic. They generate so much heat with their scurrying, fidgeting, and metabolizing that they light up the infrared frequencies like the Fourth of July. As we mature, our bodies settle down and focus on nourishing and nurturing our brains, magnifying our wisdom. With deep thoughts come certain endothermic tendencies. Yes. I'm sure that's it. My Giant Brain (tm) requires more energy than my body can provide on it's own so I must draw molecular kinetic energy from my environment. I'm not getting colder. I'm getting smarter.

*First Tombstone quote of the year!

Friday, January 01, 2010


A few years ago I found myself with enough time on my hands to start painting Warhammer 40K miniatures. I bought a bunch of these cool little plastic guys and started painting. Now, I didn't have the time or ambition to outfit a whole army. I just wanted a half dozen futuristic pieces for a game of 3D Frag.

They looked pretty cool, but what really inspired me were their hyperbolic names. Instead of being called "Infantry" they had names like "Blood Angel Angst Vindicator Squadron". Seriously. Would you rather be shot by an "Armored Soldier w/Jet Pack and Laser Blaster" or have your quarks blown to kingdom come by a "Chaos Space Marine Khorne Berzerker Skull Champion"? I know which I'd rather have on my tombstone.

I hold this up as a shining example of Trying Harder, and I resolve to also Try Harder in 2010 and beyond. I no longer drive a "Car". I now drive a "Quad Wheel Combustotron Interstate Vindicator". I don't pet the "Cat". I feed the "Feline Hellion Rodent Retribution Reaver". Here's hoping we don't run out of Science Diet...