Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer Break

I'm out of school until the 24th of September, which means I have time to spare until then... I figured I have time to make another contribution to the blogosphere. During the break, I have yard projects I am doing for my parents, I'm working on several organ and piano pieces, read, blog, and try to get my window fixed on my car (finally!!!) I've been waiting so long because I had a ton of large expenses due by the end of August, including annual health insurance, car insurance, rent, and vehicle registration renewal, so I wanted to make sure those were paid off first. The temporary window I fabricated out of clear packing tape (which I consider to be a milestone in my fledgeling engineering capabilities) continues to serve it's purpose extraordinarily well.

I did a bike ride up to Sunrise on Mt. Rainier the other day with my Dad and a friend from Church. I haven't been much of a bike rider, especially since my bicycle was vandalized at the University of Washington. I was using my Dad's 'rain bike' for this ride, but I am thinking about getting another one some day when I don't have a lot of expenses due and it's relatively good weather. Ever since my dad had stents placed in two constricted arteries, he has taken up bicycling, and even completed the Seattle-to-Portland this year.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brahms Sonata No. 1

Here is a video of Rosie and I practicing Brahms Sonata #1 in G Major that I shot the day before our performance at Faith Presbyterian Church. I have been working with her for the past year and a half. Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

End of Summer Quarter

Hello, friends and family!

It's been several months since I last posted. This summer has been pretty laden with school work. This quarter I took two classes, E E 271 Digital Circuits and Systems, and IND E Probability and Statistics for Engineers. This is the second time I'm taking a Statistics class; the first I took at Pierce Unfortunately, the credits didn't transfer for the course. The courses were pretty much the same material, except for that the one I just took uses a little bit more advanced mathematics...

For the past two weeks, I have been spending long hours and late nights working on a final project for my engineering class. The project is to design and build a game using digital logic. We were given a list of 9 different project ideas (or you could create your own). Here is the description for the particular game we chose:

This game involves dealing with some disgruntled chemistry and aero students who have teamed up and have taken over Bagley Hall. The are dropping balloons filled with synthetic and noxious scents…raspberry, strawberry, eau de skunk, greasy hamburger, cold pizza, Budweiser, oops InBev, …oh retched…, on the people passing below. Your mission is to stop this olfactory attack as quickly as possible.

This game is played on a 4 by 4 grid. Balloons are randomly loaded at the top of the grid and fall to the bottom. You can move a paddle left or right to block the balloons and thus prevent them from bombarding the folks below. If 3 balloons hit, the scent police haul you off to work in a paper company for the summer.

My instructor, Dr. Peckol, obviously has a really dry sense of humor. Anyway, my lab partner and I decided to build the project on an 8 by 8 grid, since there were compact dual color 8 by 8 LED (light-emitting diode) Matrices available at the UW parts store. The biggest challenge of the project was figuring out how to get the LED Matrix to work. Here is a schematic of the LED Matrix taken from the data sheet:

Since most of my readers aren't familiar with electronics, all of the triangle/line things are diodes, meaning that current can only flow in the direction of the arrow. When you apply a positive voltage to any column, and ground any row, current is allowed to flow through the diode at the intersection between the selected row and column. The problem is, how do you get two lights on at the same time that aren't in the same row or column? If you applied voltage to two of the rows and grounded two of the columns, you will have four LEDs shining, not two.

The trick to using an LED matrix is only having one column on at any time, and cycling through the columns at high frequency. The human eye can only notice a flicker of up to 50 Hz, and due to one of the properties of the human eye known as persistence of vision., an LED needs to be on for only nanoseconds in a 50 Hz cycle in order to appear as though it is continuously on. In our project, we have up to three objects on the screen during the course of the game, although the column and row display drivers cycle through displaying only one object on the screen at any given instance. We built a 555 Timer circuit outputting a pulse of 6.9 kHz, which is used to cycle through the objects on the screen.

Here is a block diagram of our game design:

The larger components of the circuit, including the Control, Sequencer, Row Driver and Column Drivers, were written in structural Verilog (programming language), then written onto generic array logic (GAL) chips. The random bit generator is a 3-bit linear feedback shift register, which is a common method for generating pseudo-random numbers. Here is a photo of the final circuit:

Well, I won't go too much deeper into all that boring electronics and stuff... I could go on for 26 pages (that's how long our lab report ended up being). Here it is in action!

There is one glitch in the final version I discovered last minute that I think is an easy fix... Once in a while, a balloon skips a row. I think this is because the clock signal to the Sequencer module has a race condition.

Anyway, that was my project. Digital Circuits is really a fun class. I get a month-long Summer break, so I think I'll do some hiking trips and some other fun things. Next quarter, I'm taking E E 331 Devices and Circuits I, E E 361 Applied, and Electromagnetics, and AMATH 301 A, Beginning Scientific Computing. It's not going to be an easy quarter! :(

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Finals week!

This coming week is finals week, so I have been doing my last-minute cramming. It's been a while since I posted last, so I decided to take a little break and update my blog. I have four finals next week, E E 233 on Monday, E E 235 on Tuesday, Math 308 on Wednesday, and CSE 190M on Thursday. In my E E 233 class, we learned how to design filter circuits, and how to understand the signal produced by a circuit using Fourier analysis. E E 235 was pretty much the same material, except it was for general signals.

My E E 233 teacher, explaining the Laplace transform. (I sometimes take photos during class so I don't have to take notes.)

In CSE 190M, we got experience with all sorts of different areas of web programming, including xhtml, css, javascript, php, sql, and more. Looking back, my understanding of web development dramatically increased this quarter, and I'm convinced I can now build a pretty high-quality web page.

I am now working full time playing the organ and piano for Resurrection Presbyterian Church. Resurrection is now leasing the property of Summit Methodist Church in Puyallup. My brother in law, Andrew, maintains the home page at http://resurrectionpc.org/, as well as print the bulletins.

Here is one of the tracker organs in the practice rooms at the University of Washington that I do some of my practice on.

I have been involved with the Alliance of Christian Musicians, which brings musicians from different churches in the area to promote more traditional forms of music. Last weekend, they had their third meeting at Faith Presbyterian, and a couple violinists (Rosemary and Austin) from Faith and I put together a chamber transcription of a Bach concerto for the opening of the third meeting. After which, Mr. Bechtel, the organist at Faith, moderated a conversation among four professors from surrounding churches.


I'm waiting to hear back from Crane Aerospace and Electronics. A week ago, I had an interview for an internship position at the company. If I don't get the job, I will be taking TC 333 Advanced Technical Writing, MATH 390 Statistics, and E E 271 Intro to Digital Circuits during the summer. I hope I get the job, because I need a little break from school -- I have been taking at least 15 quarter hours for the past 2 and a half years now!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My mad refinishing skills

About a month ago, I embarked on a project to refinish one of my grandpa's old desks. It had scratches all over the surface and nail polish and glue stains because of a special person I know (who will go unnamed, since I just now found out that he/she apparently is extremely sensitive to being called out on the internet for smearing nail polish on antique furniture and certain expensive musical instruments some time last decade). So I did a bit of research, got the necessary materials, and set to work on this project. I spent days sanding down the desk and all the drawers, during which the air in the garage became so saturated with sanding dust that my sanding masks were useless at filtering all the sanding particles, and I felt congested for an entire week. Unfortunately, I got sanding dust pretty much everywhere, and my dad wasn't too happy about that...

Anyway, I picked out a "special walnut" stain and glossy polyurethane, and by the end of spring break, I had the first clear coat of polyurethane on the desk and all the drawers. This was a ton of work for one week.

The next weekend, when I came home on Saturday, the top of the desk was smudged up a little bit, possibly to somebody setting down on top, destroying the finish. I guess I didn't give enough of a warning to my parents that it needed time to dry. I found it impossible to correct the blemish by sanding it down, and ended up destroying the stain. This is the destroyed finish after my failed attempt to fix it:

I ended up sanding down the entire top surface again, and applying a new stain and clear coat. I decided to take more precautions this time, and post some warning signs.

And hence, the final layer of clear coat, and the now fully restored and re-beautified antique desk. It is surely a work of art.

I am praying that nothing unfortunate happens to the desk this week. I am a bit tired of working on it. I didn't think to take pictures of the disk before I started working on it, which is a pity, because I didn't realize how unusually few pictures of the desk we actually have. I searched briefly through our family album of scanned and horrifically disorganized .jpeg files, and I could only come up with this one ancient photo dating from last decade (wow, computer screens used to be that big???):

Until I find better photos of the desk, you'll just have to take my word that it was quite unsightly.

(Help me out, family. If you know of any digital pictures of the desk before I started working on it, please email them to me. There might be a special prize.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ah, the smell of cherry blossoms!

I was walking home from class today, and I brought my camera along. It was a beautiful spring day, and the cherry blossoms in the "Liberal Arts Quadrangle" were in full bloom, so I decided to slow down for once and take a few photos!

Left: Miller Hall. Right: Raitt Hall (left), Art Building (right)

Left: Art building. Right: Music building

Smith Hall

And here are some more photos of my dorm, Hansee Hall. It's always good to know there are gargoyles on the roof scaring away evil spirits! (Actually, it is a chimnera; gargoyles in architecture are ornate gutters used to spout water away from a building!)

My bad omen car...

Hello, everybody.

This may be old news for some of you. I got one of my car windows shattered some time between March 14th and 15th.

If you remember, I've had my drivers side power window smashed in before early in the morning on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The repairs cost around $350, none of which my insurance helped out with. I'm hoping that repairs this time will be a lot cheaper! Ironically, both incidents happened before the Sunday when me and a friend, Rosemary, played part of the second movement to Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for church offertory. Just out of fear to losing more windows on my car, I don't think I will ever play that piece again. Anyway, here are the photos from a year ago which I haven't uploaded yet:

As you could see, this time, it was a much smaller window. Other cars in the same parking lot were also broken into, and some cars actually had their main driver power windows knocked out. I'm not sure when I'm going to finally get the window replaced, but for the time being, I have constructed a nice sturdy patch out of clear packing tape. It has been pretty weather resistant, and I wasn't expecting it to last this long.

At first, I thought they only got away with a 30 pack of top ramen packets. But I found out a week later that they stole a backpack full of ski equipment, including a new coat I had just gotten, ski pants, a hat, gloves, and ski goggles, which was in the trunk. Last time I had the car broken into, they got away with my iPod, which was in the glove box. I guess I finally learned my lesson to have nothing of value in my car. I also think I might just leave my packing tape patch on, so thieves have an easy way to break in that isn't going to cost me $350 to repair. Hopefully, they're smart enough to realize they don't have to break my windows to get in.

These aren't the only times my car has been vandalized. On four separate occasions, my car has been pelted by a total of 7 eggs, the most recent time (believe it or not) this past Friday night! I was driving home for the weekend, and a car coming in the other direction pelted my driver window with an egg. It didn't cause any damage, and it washed off pretty easy.

Four of the eggs that hit my car left marks, but here are the worst two:

This happened in August 2005 while I was in the military. I found it after I had come home from leave in Washington. I think the eggs may have been sitting on my car for three or four days, because it had completely cooked to the car and was beginning to smell pretty gross. It gets pretty hot in the summer in North Carolina. I could still see the stains where the egg had run down the side of the car. You can see the paint has been removed from where two of the egg shells had been sitting the entire time.

I also had my car shot with a BB gun some time in 2006. I'm not sure if I had gotten shot while I was driving home from JiffyLube that day, or if I had been shot while I was parked in front of my house. But I was typing up a report and my my roommate Matthew got home from work and asked me if I knew I had a hole in my passenger side door. I was shocked, and sure enough, there was a deep dent where the paint had been stripped. Here is a photograph:

I am so used to having my car vandalized that I'm starting to expect seeing something wrong every time I go to it. Every time this happens, I start telling myself that I should have gotten a beater. I just got a steering wheel club on my mom's suggestion, since Honda Civics are one of the easiest cars to steal.

Anyway, that is my bad omen car. If you like people breaking your car windows, throwing eggs at your car and shooting your car with BB guns, then you may be happy with a Honda Civic 2002 4-door, green with silver pinstripe.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The new Spring Quarter

Hello, my most esteemed readers,

I am just back from my Spring break, during which I labored all week to refinish one of my grandpa's old desk. I spend a ton of time sanding off the old finish, staining the bare wood and applying the new clear coat. This Saturday, I will place the final layer of clear coat on.I will be sure to post pictures of the final results so you could see the beauty of my amateur woodworking skills.

This quarter, I am taking four classes, which amount to 18 credit hours. The classes are Math 308 Linear Algebra, E E 233 Circuit Theory, E E 235 Continuous Time Linear Systems, and CSE 190M Web Programming. Unfortunately, my organ teacher told all her non-major students that she was unable to give organ lessons this quarter because of an overwhelming schedule over the next few months, especially with her doctorate students. For this reason, I decided to add on web programming as just a fun side class. (Although, she's allowing us to keep the keys to the practice rooms!) The class is around 200

The web programming class would actually not count for credits for my major. Although this is a freshman-level course (and I'm probably older than a good 95% percent of the roughly 200 students), I really haven't had much experience with developing web pages, which is something that is very useful to learn. The class covers a wide range of topics such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, PHP, and SQL (don't ask me what that means, I don't know). My current experience with web page design is to use crutches (Microsoft FrontPage). After this quarter, I will once again create a web page, and it will be totally AWESOME. And you will all marvel at my supreme web development skills. I decided to take this class because it got really high ratings, and everybody I've talked to that have taken it said it was a very fun course.

The web programming class is in Guggenheim hall, a really nice-looking Tudor-archetecture building completed in 1930 and just recently renovated.

And just a stone-throw away, the rest of my classes are in the Electrical Engineering Building, which is a six-story building which was built only 5 years ago, a labyrinth of staircases and elevators which I get lost in every time I go in. The Electrical Engineering building as well as the Paul Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering right next door are only five years old, and was a project that costed around $72 million.

Just for reference, I live in Hansee Hall, which is right here. It even has its own Wikipedia page with some very interesting information! Yeah, I realize I have to walk a long ways to my classes. I have to factor in at least 15 minutes of speed walking whenever I have to go to class. Unfortunately, my new bike got robbed, so I'm force to use the slower old-fashioned mode of transportation, using my feet. :(

Just for April Fools Day, click here for a compilation of some of my favorite pranks! I haven't tried all of them yet, but I got a rather strong reaction from my sister Diane when I tried prank #4 on her. I'll just say she is rather sensitive when you bring up the subject of broken laptop screens. That's all I'm going to say.

Happy April Fools Day!!!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ron Paul shows up to UW Campus

Today, Ron Paul stopped by the University of Washington to campaign. I brought my digital camera (I was meaning to bring my camera recorder, but I found out until too late that it was out of battery). But here are photos and my video from the event on YouTube. It was quite a wild crowd, I guess over 500 people, including a group of global warming activists. Anyway, here is the footage:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My new life at the University of Washington

Hello, all.

It's been obviously quite a while since I last posted. Just a quick catch-up with my life for anyone who might be wondering if I'm still alive, I finished up at Pierce College with an Associates of Science Track II degree, and now I'm living on campus at the University of Washington.

This is my second week at the University of Washington, and I've been enjoying it so far. This quarter, I'm taking differential equations, Java programming (part II), fundamentals of electrical engineering, and organ lessons with Carole Terry at the University Methodist Temple.

I just wanted to upload some photos of my new dorm room at the University of Washington. I am in the Hansee hall, which is located on the North side of campus. Hansee Hall is my ideal environment, since it has all singles rooms and they implement a 24-hour quiet time policy, and I don't have to deal with loud rap music in the hallways, and I shouldn't have a problem with other people being distracting.