Aug 04

Ramble update

Hello, no real purpose to this update, just wanted to get some things that I’ve been thinking “down on paper,” I guess. WARNING ALL TEXT!

For those of you out there that know me personally, you probably know that I moved not-too-long-ago (back) to Seattle. I’ve been here roughly three months, now. To preemptively answer the FAQ about my move: I’m working at a “software” company in the capacity of a hardware engineer. My work is a lot about working in lab, doing electrical measurements. I’m currently focusing on electrical (signal integrity) compliance measurements, and overall I’m liking my group and the company is relatively laid back in general. My hours are more fixed than before at my previous company, but I wouldn’t say I hated my previous company by any means. I have an interesting opportunity here in Seattle, and hopefully it results in some career growth, we’ll see. I’m riding ‘the bus’ to work, and living on the west side of Lake Washington in “Seattle Proper” (I hate that name, I think it’s pretty snooty). I have the suspicion that my personality and preference isn’t to live in the city, but I figured I’d take a year lease and experience/take advantage of the benefits of “real” city living. My long term goal is to “settle down” and find a sense of permanence in living. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a real ‘home’ since I started college, and I think it’s been taking an impact on my psyche and/or style/mentality of living. It’s kind of been a constant weight on me for roughly a decade now, and I’m not sure if it’s real or not.

With the big picture out of the way, in terms of personal growth, I picked up a Solidoodle 3 (8″x8″ build area) 3D printer. I’ve been doing little projects here or there, and I’ve been improving on my methodology and production quality of circuits, etc. I’ve never been able to build anything exciting/fun/interesting, though, a lot of my time has been spent on the process and/or reproducing stuff that has already been conceived and/or developed to the point where at the end of the day, I’m more of an assembly/technician rather than an engineer/developer. I’ve got some ideas bouncing around in my head, some that I think will take off in a (relatively) big way, so I figured it was time to get a tool that would help me (with a limited-scope skillset) produce more interesting things. One of the things always holding me back from creating things I’d be interested in sharing with others is the that the final product was always so hacked together. This could be anything from enclosures to hardware and mounting. With a 3D printer, the idea is that I’ll be able to build custom enclosures to really showcase and give my projects a more complete/polished feel. If I feel like taking anything a step further than “finalized prototype” (i.e. production), I’ll figure out a way to do that when the time comes.

Currently I’m working on a DIY ping pong ball “robot” with my buddy Vinh. We’re developing on the Arduino platform, I’m using this project more as a learning experience so I can get up and running with the bigger projects that I’m looking to do. I’ve felt kind of stifled with my personal development, so I’m hoping to be making a little progress on that front. I think microcontroller development is a really slick area to be personally interested in. Even moreso, I think the FPGA area is fascinating, but it’s so difficult to be using an FPGA for personal projects. I just have no need for the speed and configurability of an FPGA. Maybe I’ll chuckle at this post in a few years, who knows. In any event, I’m trying to tie a lot of interests together with my next project, I’ll post details on that later on. I don’t want to make false promises here and feel sad about it later.

Big picture goals (where I see myself headed) are: Microcontroller development (and as a result, coding), electromechanical knowledge (i.e. robotics, stepper motors, solenoids, servos, the basics), CAD and 3D development (enclosures, custom parts, etc), 3D printing as an appliance rather than a discrete hobby (although it may be a hobby just because it’s interesting). After that, I’d be pretty happy, but learning more about workshop tools to the level of CNC machining, laser cutters, etc would be pretty rad as well. After that, an “icing on the cake” type learning experience would be something like mobile app development. YEAH I’M PUTTING MY STAKE IN THE GROUND, WHAT ABOUT IT?

OK that’s enough for now. I’ll update when I feel guilty about it, or something interesting comes up.