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What a concept!  How effective are you, when asking for help? Do you get what you want, when you ask for it? Or, are you often frustrated with how hard you need to work, in order to get valuable answers to your technical questions? I know exactly how that feels, as I have worked through quite a few difficult cases of acquiring technical insights, which were essential to meeting commitments that I had made. Fortunately, reflection on these stressful exchanges revealed an opportunity for improving my experience in a very surprising place: myself

 

What!?! It can’t be me!

No way!!!  The other person doesn't seem to want to help me!”  “ I am perfect (and humble, just ask me….LOL)!”  Perhaps nobody else has done this, but at times in my career, I have been unwilling (or too slow) to consider the influence that my approach (and behaviors) has on these important discussions.  As a result, many of these discussions took longer than necessary, they consumed more resources than were necessary and they created residual strain on important relationships. 

 

A better way   

Through careful evaluation of my experience and by observing people that I respect, I learned that I have a lot more influence over this process than I would have ever imagined.  Even better, I learned that the changes that I needed to make were fairly simple and actually helped me in other parts of my work.  Even better still, I found that these small changes produced very significant improvements in the outcomes of each engagement.  Answers came quicker, they took less effort and these important relationships were actually strengthened through the process.  There is nothing like developing trust, credibility and mutual respect…with people that you admire and respect!

 

So, what was it?

In essence, I learned that the quality of support that I receive from someone else is often going to depend on the quality of effort that I invest in helping myself, before I ask for that help!   Within that context, the “investment” refers to doing whatever is necessary to help the other person understand your problem, your desired outcome and all relevant circumstances surrounding your current situation. 

 

Before asking others, I ask myself.... 

  • What I am trying to accomplish?
  • How am I approaching this goal?
  • Why am I approaching it this way?
  • What do I expect to be observing?
  • Why do I expect this?
  • What am I currently observing?
  • If I was being asked to help with this, what information would I want to have access to?

 

My Personal Challenge

Fortunately, I work for someone that I respect, so I like ask myself the following question, as I prepare to ask for help:

“If my boss was on the other side of the world and could only use my initial request to understand my problem, what information would I include in that request?”

 

Some cool quotes

  • A poorly defined problem has no solution
  • A well-defined problem is nearly solved
  • Many fail to prepare, so in essence, they are preparing to fail!

 

How well do I do at this?  Not as good as I can, but most certainly better than I used to be! My encouragement to you is that when you spend time time thinking about the other person in a conversation, you are preparing for a successful dialog...you are Asking for Helping Yourself

Week 3 is over, and I have to say our team is feeling the crunch. With the robot still not 100% complete (fitting everything in this small volume is tough!) the mechanical and CAD team is feeling the heat. But with hopes high that we will have a done robot at Week 4, our team has started the process of selecting members of the drive team.

 

This year our team has a strategy/rules/scouting team for the first time, which has actually allowed us to devote a significant amount of time towards developing a strategy and getting a good idea of the kinds of robots we expect to see at competition. This also means we have students that likely know the rules better than anyone else on the team, and can effectively evaluate who is best suited to drive the robot or be the pilot on the airship. With quizzes and tryouts out of the way, our little group of 3 is evaluating everyone that tried out and our drive team is shaping up to be pretty solid. Check out this clip from driver tryouts! Driving the mechanum drive base from our 2015 robot (our temporary practice robot until this year's full robot is done) is Sheldon, and making a return from last year is Sir Lance-A-Bot, driven by team alumni David as a defense robot.

 

 

As competition season draws closer, people are beginning to pull together costumes for the event. I can't do much as a referee, but I do have some 3D printed goggles in the works. I still need a few finishing touches, but these are looking good so far!

 

I don't have a student interview for you this week, but I thought I would focus instead on robot photos and make this one quick. Next week we should have some impressive videos of a functioning robot.

 

 

Frame hinge system allows for easy service of robot's internal components

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

Another Saturday, another week gone in the 6 week build season. Week 2 has yielded a driving base and much of the top of the robot for the Flying Platypi. The climbing mechanism was also tested this week and our programmers made great headway on robot code.

 

The scouting team has been working on learning how to use some industry data analysis tools in order to find trends in other robot performance and strategy. One of our students on the programming team came up with an app to be used by students in the stands to record data on teams as they compete in their matches. We want to find out what they can and can't do, and what they can do well. This is a critical task at many levels of the competition, since good solid scouting data will translate to smart alliance picks should we wind up being an alliance captain in the elimination round. Good alliance picks and solid data can make or break an alliance, especially in a state like North Carolina where the robot capability is typically very closely matched and difficult to accurately distinguish the strongest teams from the weaker ones. The team did a lot of work on creating sample visualizations of data that we will later use once we begin collecting data during the Week 0 event live stream to test our solution. You can check out some of the visualizations our students created this weekend here: https://public.tableau.com/profile/frc.team.2655#!/

 

I also took an opportunity to talk to Susan Miller, whom is the head of our Awards and Marketing team.

 

KC: How did you get involved with FIRST?

SM: I got involved with FIRST when one of my mom's friends told me about the Flying Platypi. I decided to go to one meeting just to see what the program was all about. After that first6 meeting I was hooked, and I've been part of the team ever since!

 

KC: What is your favorite part about being a FIRST Student?

SM: I think that my favorite part about robots is learning something new every day and getting to meet new people. During build season and throughout the year I have the opportunity to learn new things about the robot, STEM, and FIRST. I also get to meet lots of new people. Whether it is a professional engineer, a student from another FRC team, or a little kid asking questions about our robot, I absolutely love talking to everyone and hearing about their experiences with STEM an sharing what I do on Team 2655.

 

KC: What is awards aiming to get done next week?

SM: We are shooting to have a finished Chairman's essay and finishing the questions for it. We also have plans to begin working on our Chairman's video. We are nearing completion of our outreach notebook, which showcases all of the community work our team has done. We will also start working on our Engineering Inspiration notebook now that we've completed gathering information and pictures from the many demos we have done this year.

 

KC: Where is the team at this week?

SM: We have a lot of progress done this week. Programming finished creating the dashboard for drivers to use to monitor key features of the robot during the match. They've implemented teleop driving code as well. Scouting team is working hard on a cool new scouting app and has committed countless hours researching rising strategies for this year's game to help keep us on track for what is important and what is not in case strategies begin to shift. The awards team has been focused on our Chairman's essay and Outreach Notebook.

 

Where is your team at? Are you excited for competition? Have a burning question you want me to ask a student next week? Join the conversation in the comments below!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

In the 1993 film, Jurassic Park, fictional technology helped recreate long-extinct dinosaurs. It gave us a thrilling sense of what these animals looked and acted like. What if real-life technology could be used in a similar way to recreate what a dinosaur might have sounded like millions of years ago?

 

(Please log in to listen) Turn your sound on & click play, to hear the dinosaur sound effects.

Not a member? You may listen to the attached files below.

 

The Parasaurolophus was a kind of hadrosaurid dinosaur native to North American during the Late Cretaceous period. Likely they traveled in herds for protection from predators, walking as easily on two legs as on four. Yet what’s most distinctive about a Parasaurolophus is its large hollow head crest. Of all the uses these wonderful creatures might have had for their crests, one of particular interest to sound engineers is their possible function as resonating chambers for vocalization. Imagine the racket a Parasaurolophus herd could make! But we can do more than just imagine it. Paleontologists at Sandia National Laboratory have simulated the sound, starting with a CAT scan of a fossil crest – see

http://www.sandia.gov/media/dinosaur.htm

 

Unlike the dinosaur cloning in Jurassic Park, recreating the sound of this crested reptile is one experiment that doesn’t need the usual warning of, don’t try this at home! Though ADI’s SigmaDSP chips are primarily for audio post-processing, there’s nothing to keep us from creating sounds with them. GUI programming via SigmaStudio, offering many analog-style processing blocks, makes this incredibly easy. Let’s start by placing feedback around a delay to make an oscillator:

 

Analog versions of circuits like this start up by themselves, except when they don’t. But with the mathematical-quiet of DSP, there’s nothing to get this oscillation going – so we need to provide a noise source. We can also add a compressor and/or a cubic clipper to help regulate the oscillation’s ultimate level:

 

Here, a white noise source starts up the oscillation – and perhaps unsurprisingly, this thing sounds much like blowing air across the mouth of a beer bottle. Not a very convincing animal sound, so we need to do better.

 

The head of our Parasaurolophus measures about five feet including the crest. It’s conceivable that a sound wave could make a ten-foot round trip inside this path— a delay of just over 10 mS. There could also be competing reflections around curves, so I included two more resonant tanks of shorter delay. Finally, we simply don’t know what vocalization the animal might make – so I assumed a trumpet-like series of harmonics to power the resonant chambers. The resulting schematic appears below:

 

What does it sound like? With this project running on a ADAU1452MINIZ eval board, playing with the Honk switch produced sounds we can capture with the Audacity sound recorder:

 

 

To hear the results, click on the Parasaurolophus image at the top of this post. There are two versions. The second one was made with different parameters and added “outdoor” ambient sound. Close your eyes and listen—and feel like you’ve traveled back 65 million years.

 

Even if creating an actual dinosaur remains science fiction, it’s easy and fun to produce “analog” dinosaur sound effects with SigmaStudio – making very old sounds with very new technology!

Getting the code.

It's already installed! The code was shipped with all FRC LabVIEW installations, so you should be ready to start using the software immediately. 

 

Using the code.

You can find the software libraries in the WPI Library>Sensors>Gyro pallet.

 

 

Integrating our ADI gyro into your project is as easy as initializing it in Begin.vi, accessing the data in Teleop.vi, and properly closing communication with the sensor in Finish.vi. 

Note that when initializing the sensor, be sure to set the "SPI On-Board, CS#" according to what the jumper on the sensor board is set to. See below for examples:

 

Close-Up of the Gyro Board. Default: CS0

 

Begin.vi

 

Teleop.vi

 

Finish.vi

 

Example and Additional Resources

The sensor schematic, layout, and additional design documents are also available in the links below. An example 2017 Mecanum project has also been attached to this post. Check it out and let us know if you have any questions!

 

-Juan

Note for 2018! This documentation is no longer up-to-date! Please see the GitHub page for more information. 

 

Getting the code.

First things first. In order to get the code, head over to GitHub (link) and clone/download the code. Be sure to check back often to download code updates! 

Installing the code.

Once your code is downloaded, extract the files if necessary and navigate to:

ADIS16448-RoboRIO-Driver/LabVIEW/

 

Copy the "ADIS16448 IMU" folder to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\National Instruments\LabVIEW 2016\vi.lib\Rock Robotics\WPI\ThirdParty\Sensors\

 

If LabVIEW is open, restart it to make the changes take effect. If the installation was performed correctly, you should be able to access the libraries like you would any other pallet. The code will be located in:

 

 

Integrating the IMU code should be as easy as setting up any other library! 

 

 

An example 2017 Mecanum project has been attached to this post. Let us know if you have any questions!

 

-Juan

Week 1 of build season has come to a close and 2655 has been hard at work prototyping and strategizing. The first few days of week 1 are usually the craziest of the season, with the exception of the final days of build. It's one of the most exciting times of build season as the community begins dreaming up strategies and finding ways to break the game.

 

 

As a mentor I primarily help out with strategy and scouting development for the team. We come up with the requirements that our scouting app will need this year and what kinds of metrics we want to track on other teams to make the best decisions we can on how to play a match. We are only two students and a mentor, but I've seen events where scouting was the game changer for match outcome. Our two scout/strategy students focus on learning the rules forwards and backwards including penalties for each illegal action, finding intricacies of the rules that affect gameplay and alliance selection, and of course we monitor Chief Delphi (a popular forum where many students across the program and across the world discuss strategy and seek technical help from other teams). We led the discussion for build priority and plan to focus this week on getting to know the data analysis tool we will be using to dive into the data we collect at competition. (I LOVE statistics! I can't wait to show the kids just how powerful data visualizations can be!)

 

 

I sat down with the team president and Mechanical Department Lead, Seth Brannan, to talk about his experience on the team and how he thinks we're doing so far. Seth is a senior on the team this year.

 

KC: How did you first get involved on the team?

SB: I was introduced to the team and FIST robotics by Ron Lamey, the owner of Blue Ridge Tool, He brought me to the team in 2011 and I have been here ever since.

 

KC: What has the team accomplished this week?

SB: Our team has made incredible leaps in the design process, and by the end of Saturday we had almost all of our major systems drawn in CAD. Our mechanical team has assembled the frame of our robot and is working on prototypes for the other systems we need this year.

 

KC: How do you feel about the progress this week?

SB: I think we are on track to have a finished robot by the end of week 5. We definitely have time to focus on some of the smaller details of the robot this year.

 

KC: What is your favorite part about being on the team?

SB: I love working out different problems and questions that come up when building a robot. The problem solving skills I have gained from the team have made a huge difference in my life already.

 

KC: What is Mechanical aiming to have completed by the end of week 2?

SB: We should have two driving bases assembled and ready for the programmers to start coding with. We also hope to start working on building the major systems for this year's game.

 

KC: What challenge did the team overcome this week?

SB: I think a big challenge our team tackled from a mechanical/design standpoint was creating a concept design that would fit all of our components within the allotted space.

<As a background to this answer, this year robots are confined to one of two volumes they can occupy, so all components and mechanisms must fit inside the volume, both when stored and when in use. It's a rule FRC hasn't seen in a long time.>

 

Outside of the normal build season activities, a few of the students also volunteered at the FIRST Lego League North Carolina State Championship this past weekend as referees. We also showed off last year's robot at the awards ceremony! Stay tuned next week!

 

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

TheFeminineEngineer

Kickoff Day 2017

Posted by TheFeminineEngineer Employee Jan 7, 2017

Well, this is not exactly how I'd expected to start kickoff day, but I suppose it makes up for the lack of a White Christmas. 

 

Snow. Everywhere.

 

That's right, Merry FIRSTmas everyone, it's Kickoff Day once again and we are ready.

 

Today we were "blessed" (read: cursed) with 7 inches of snow, canceling all kickoff events across the state. We were all forced to watch the reveal video from our homes at 10:30AM this morning. The stream wrapped up by 11:30 and let me tell you, I've never seen a game quite like this! Check out the game animation below! Or, if you prefer, see the game information page here.

 

 

For the first time EVER, there are human players on the field during the match. Yes you heard me. PEOPLE! ON! THE! FIELD!!!!!! The field is every bit as intricate and beautiful as Stronghold last year and I couldn't be more excited. Now with one season under my belt and a game where strategy and knowing your competition is key, I'm ready to go!

 

Right after the stream ended, our entire team jumped on a conference call to discuss strategy for the robot and our build priorities. Given there was no virtual whiteboard for us to use, sometimes this got difficult, but after the call concluded I'm quite proud of the direction we're going. This year, I'm heading up our strategy and scouting development team, so we will be working on an app to record scouting information during matches so that we can take stock of what our competition is capable of. This information is crucial, especially this year, as once we reach eliminations we need to know what robots are too similar to us and which mesh well and round out our alliance. We're also keeping a close eye on resources like updates to the rules and the Robot In 3 Days builds going on, which inevitably shape many teams robots and strategies.

 

A lot of our fellow mentors also met up and cleaned up our build space after the snow melted today, and we purged a lot of junk that was still sitting around. Next team meeting is Monday, weather permitting. It's going to be a good build season!

 

Once again, ADI has made available several contributions to the Kit of Parts and options on AndyMark for robot guidance and debugging. You can check out all of our offerings and find more information for each on analog.com/first, but here's a sneak peek of some of them:

 

FRC GYRO BOARD

This is the board that was in the kit last year minus the accelerometer. These are available on FIRST Choice now and will be on AndyMark soon. Code is also available for teams in the official FIRST libraries to get started quickly. This will give robots an ability to maintain heading throughout the match.

 

iSENSOR BOARD

Again, same sensor as last year, and are available only through FIRST Choice. These will give you more accuracy than the raw gyroscope, so they are a great way to give your robot guidance system a leg-up during autonomous operation. Code for these is available on github here.

 

 

Last year we introduced you to many of our ADI sponsored teams during each week of build season. This year, we'll follow my team, 2655 Flying Platypi, through the season with weekly build season updates. I'll show you what build season is like through the eyes of the students and the mentors. Stay tuned for competition season updates from many of our ADI sponsored teams as they compete and take flight!

 

Until next Saturday, happy building!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

The holidays bring family and friends together to enjoy delicious treats, festive decorations and perhaps a gift or two. Sometimes, however, the holidays can also bring frustration. When we are running at a frantic pace to deck our halls things don't always go as smoothly as planned. I asked ADI employees, how would you engineer your holiday? Please enjoy this compilation of holiday conundrums, potential solutions and one special memory. 

 

Tiago Amaral, Product Development Engineer, MA

It is one of my favorite times of year, not because of the gifts or the tree, I am horrible at that! But because the only thing I have in mind is to enjoy this time with family and friends. All my Christmas holidays have been surrounded by family and friends, amounting to a good number of them. And of course when we are all together, there's always that one person that brings up a conversation topic that's been politely avoided all night long. For that reason, I wish there was a smart system that would accept a list of banned conversation topics from each person at the beginning of the night. The system would continuously listen to the conversations and alert everyone (possibly with a bright red light on top of the tree?) when an undesired topic was started to avoid wasting time on controversial topics. But then again, it would make this time of year less interesting and funny if we took the drama out of it. 

Happy Holidays! For those who don't celebrate Christmas. 
Happy Christmas! For those who do celebrate with me. 

 

Lisa Allison, Enterprise Community Manager EngineerZone, MA

I am not an engineer but I am a genius with a glue gun. Each year I create at least one decoration, more like ten, that requires some creativity and hot glue. More often than not, I embark on these projects in the last minute while trying to finish a myriad of holiday related tasks. Generally it goes something like this: Plug in glue gun, wander off to another project, come back, "is it hot?" hmmm... no glue coming out. "Is it working?" touch the point of the gun and Ouch! 

 

What I need is a temp sensor that will attach to my glue gun. I want the sensor to tell me when the glue gun is hot. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well...I do not just want a light but perhaps a holiday song that plays loudly so I can hear it from another room. The holidays mean multi-tasking and I can use those precious minutes to be wrapping gifts, checking tasty treats in the oven or helping an EngineerZone user from another part of the globe. I hope that Santa and his engineers can combine an Analog Devices temperature sensor with a mini speaker and a holiday play list to make my holidays a bit easier.

 

Mark Cee, Product Applications Engineer, Philippines

Every first week of December when I was I kid, me and my friends starts collecting tin cans and bottle caps as many as we could. We will be recycling this garbage to become musical instruments for our Christmas caroling. The bottle caps will be flattened and pierced in the middle to have a hole using a nail and a hammer. Then a wire will go through the hole to group the bottle caps together. The result? A tambourine. And for the tin can, the opening will be covered with rubber balloons tied with rubber bands on the side. The result? A drum.

 

 

Using these engineered instruments and our little voices, we roamed around the neighborhood to sing lively and joyous Christmas carols in every house on our way. Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

 

Kristen Chong, Aerospace Product Test Dev Engineer, NC

As a kid I never did buy or pick out presents for every one, I made them. I suppose most kids made their Christmas presents but even after I was getting allowances I still preferred to make something. I had one of those Shrinkydink ovens so I would always draw some cute thing and make a necklace or a key chain out of the resulting teeny drawing. Now my husband and I have a 3D printer, so perhaps I might have to go back to making things just to have an excuse to print something. I could stare at that thing for hours, just like it was so fascinating to watch the Shrinkydink oven shrink my weird glossy plastic drawings.


Now as an adult I really just want a robot that can wrap presents for me while I'm at work - wrapping presents is much more difficult with a playful cat that definitely still thinks he's a panther stalking his prey. Then again our cat would probably just attack the robot or the wrapping paper anyway, given he loves eating paper and cardboard so much! 

 

Amanda Tucker, Global Social Media Manager, MA

I hung the Christmas lights this weekend! I waited until the unseasonably warm weather wrapped up, and it was good and cold outside before I located the bin of stringed lights in the attic and dragged it out to decorate our front porch. As usual, when I popped the lid on the overstuffed bin, I wondered why the lights were in a jumble rather than neatly sorted into individual rolls. Surely I didn’t store them in a tangled ball? Must have been Frankie, the Elf on the Shelf, my holiday nemesis.

 

I sorted the strings, laid them out on the floor, and readied to test them inside before braving the cold. As usual, the lights taunted me. Half on, half off. Working, then blinking out. Every other light lit…REALLY, how is that even possible? As I struggled to find the one light bulb out of hundreds that when replaced would magically restore the full strand, I wondered who in holy heck engineered these lights so that one little burned-out bulb could cause such havoc. There has to be a better way to light up our porch with holiday cheer. Can my engineer friends work on this please, because there isn’t enough eggnog to get me through this task another year?

 

Well Amanda it looks like our Director of Applications just might have a solution for you.

 

David Kress, Director of Applications, MA

Putting up and taking down holiday lights around the outside of the house is a major hassle every year.   You have to put them up in the cold and maybe snow, and then get them down by Easter. 

 

My Idea: 

Put small fluorescent reflectors around the gutters and door/window frames in September -- this could even be done permanently. Then build a laser driver that sequences between all the spots to light them up. ADI has a variety of laser drivers and also motor drivers, along with microcontrollers that could make this happen. You could even use multiple lasers with different colors. Fluorescence materials can be made with some degree of persistence so that the individual spots would glow in between illumination by the lasers and appear to on continuously. Or you could use non-persistent ones to get a flashing effect. Then all you need to do the day after Thanksgiving is put out the laser box and turn it on. As an added bonus, you could use red/white/blue lasers on the 4th of July and orange ones for Halloween.  

 

Julie Barbeau, Senior Product Development Engineer, MA

The compulsion to fix what’s broken is strong in engineers. So, when I think about how I would engineer my holiday, I think about reducing hassles. Putting up the tree is a big one for me. I’ve gone so far as to reduce the size and therefore the complexity, but the little “Charlie Brown Tree” we now have in my house is met with disdain every year. My family longs for the “real tree” to take its rightful place, center stage in our living room.

 

Before that happens again, the beautiful balsam fir has to be fixed.  And by that I mean, the needles need to be fixed to the branches. Try as you might, even with watering and vacuuming daily, you still find needles in strange places in July. Granted, the smell is nice, but who wants them stuck to your socks?  Hence, my solution is an artificial tree and a pine scented candle.

 

Then there is the decorating of the tree.  As my children grew, so did there reach; and so did their ability to cover every branch with some memento, rich with Christmas lore. Though the problem never was the decorating. That is the fun part.  Put on a little music. Add the ritual of opening the boxes from the attic and everyone has a great time. It’s taking them down and packing all that Christmas lore away for another year. Inevitably, one of our ornaments manages to escape notice and makes it out the door clinging to an interior limb of the balding balsam.

 

So this year, we will have another year with the Charlie Brown tree.  It really does work for my family. We can have it up and decorated in an hour which leaves us extra time for wrapping, but that’s another story.

 

Patrick Lee-McCarthy, Social Media Specialist, MA

As far back as I can remember, my family had cats. At any one time, no fewer than three and as many as five felines were living out one or more of their lives in my childhood home. Having cats around Christmastime is great because you get to decorate your tree again and again throughout the weeks leading up to the big day. Many a Christmas Eve my little brother and I were awoken by a crash in the wee hours. We'd spring from our beds to see what was the matter, only to discover not a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but a cat licking her wounds after surfing the balsam wave, toppling our Christmas tree from its upright and locked position.

 

In adulthood, I married a dog person and the tree-take-down tradition went away (though it threatens to return since the arrival of our twin sons 17 months ago).

The "new normal' in my house at Christmastime.

 

It turns out, however, that man's best friend has his own Christmas quirks. In particular, our dogs enjoy drinking water out of the Christmas tree stand. Now, I prefer a pet with pine-scented breath to one that goes all X-Games in the tree at 3 a.m. Nonetheless, it's a nuisance to fill the Christmas tree stand with water only to find an hour later the stand empty and the dogs panting with their legs crossed like they're 50 miles from the next rest stop.

 

So what do? Do I need a self-watering Christmas tree stand? How about a clever device that in proximity to a canine emits a sonic deterrent (preferably one that won't interfere with my "A Johnny Mathis Christmas" record) or an olfactory one that the dogs don't like but to me smells like gingerbread. Help me manage my canine Christmas conundrum, engineers.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our holiday musings. Do you have a different solution to one of our festive quandaries or one of your own? Please tell us how you would engineer your holiday in the comments. 

 

Happy Holidays from our family to yours! 

 

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Analog Devices has designed a sensor board to help make navigating competition fields much easier. The FRC Inertial Sensor board features a single-axis gyroscope sensor (ADXRS450). It plugs directly into the RoboRIO SPI port for easy installation and use. This board is available as part of the FRC Kit-of-Parts.

 

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADXRS450 Gyro board is a complete ±300°/sec z-axis angular rate sensor (gyroscope) mounted on a simple circuit board designed to plug into the RoboRIO SPI port. 

The ADXRS450 is intended for industrial, medical, instrumentation, stabilization, and other high performance applications. The advanced sensor design rejects the influence of linear acceleration, enabling the ADXRS450 to operate in exceedingly harsh environments

 

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The module senses angular rate (acceleration) up to 300 deg/sec around the Z-axis.  With this data, it can help improve autonomous performance and provide advantages in tele-operated control.  

 

HOW DO I USE IT?

The module gets inserted into the SPI port of the RoboRIO, and it can be programmed from there. Installation and application videos along with sample code can be found online at: http://www.analog.com/first

 

FRC Sensor board in roboRIO SPI Port.

More Information:

 

Product Specifications:

In Kickoff Kit?

Yes

Weight

 

Size

Input Voltage

3.3 V

Interface Port

RoboRIO SPI

Numer of Axes (Gyroscope)

1

Maximum Rotation Rate (Gyroscope)

300 deg/sec

 

More information and code examples will be included as the build season progresses.

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Analog Devices has designed a sensor board to help make navigating competition fields much easier. The FRC GYRO & ACCEL board features a single-axis gyroscope sensor (ADXRS450). It plugs directly into the RoboRIO SPI port for easy installation and use. This board is available as part of the FRC Kit-of-Parts.

 

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADXRS450 Gyro board is a complete ±300°/sec z-axis angular rate sensor (gyroscope) mounted on a simple circuit board designed to plug into the RoboRIO SPI port. 

The ADXRS450 is intended for industrial, medical, instrumentation, stabilization, and other high performance applications. The advanced sensor design rejects the influence of linear acceleration, enabling the ADXRS450 to operate in exceedingly harsh environments

 

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The module senses angular rate (acceleration) up to 300 deg/sec around the Z-axis.  With this data, it can help improve autonomous performance and provide advantages in tele-operated control.  

 

HOW DO I USE IT?

The module gets inserted into the SPI port of the RoboRIO, and it can be programmed from there. Installation and application videos along with sample code can be found online at: http://www.analog.com/first

 

FRC Sensor board in roboRIO SPI Port.

More Information:

  • Video Tutorials
  • LabVIEW Example. A working example project is included in the LabVIEW installation examples. These can be found in the LabVIEW 2016 installation directory in the examples\FRC\roboRIO\SPI\XRS450 SPI Gyro directory.
  • C++ Class Description. The C++ Drivers are included in the FRC2017 C++ Libraries. These can be found here.
  • Java Class Description. The drivers are included in the FRC2017 WPILib Java libraries. These can be found here.
  • ADXRS450 Datasheet

 

Product Specifications:

In Kickoff Kit?

Yes

Weight

 

Size

Input Voltage

3.3 V

Interface Port

RoboRIO SPI

Numer of Axes (Gyroscope)

1

Maximum Rotation Rate (Gyroscope)

300 deg/sec

 

More information and code examples will be included as the build season progresses.

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Analog Devices has donated the "M1K" kit to FRC Teams to assist in debugging Electronics Hardware and Software problems.

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADALM1000 Active Learning Module (“M1K” for short) is an easy to use tool available from Analog Devices Inc. that can be used to introduce fundamentals of electrical engineering in a self or instructor lead setting.

M1K

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The ADALM1000 enables the user to transform any laptop into a two channel oscilloscope:

  • Two channels signal generation—voltage or current output
  • Two channels signal measurement
  • Two fixed power supplies
  • Four digital signals
  • USB power/communications

 

M1K Specs

HOW DO I USE IT?

Work on code without needing to complete your mechanical system by using the ADI M1K to test your RoboRIO outputs before attaching hardware. Test out a control loop by using the M1K as a data acquisition system, or use it to generate a signal and see if your RoboRIO is producing the correct electrical result.

For more information, check out: https://www.analog.com/first

 

MORE INFORMATION:

From the analog.com/first website, scroll down to “M1K Included in the Kit of Parts” to find helpful demo videos.  You can also go to  the Active Learning Module  wiki page, this includes links for the software, datasheet, and tutorials. More information about how to use the "M1K" to help diagnose robot software and electronics problems will be updated here as the build season progresses.

 

Now that we’re into September it already feels like the year is winding down. With the final wedding planning stretch ahead of me for the next two months, and Thanksgiving and Christmas after that, I know the new year will be here before I know it. That said, I’ve been really taking time now to consider my planner strategy and how it has and hasn’t worked for me in the last year.

School and work, as I’ve discovered over the past year, require different kinds of planning for me. When I was in school it was important to see exactly what time things were happening, be it classes or IEEE chapter meetings or when was the best time to grab lunch and do homework to avoid being up until 1am every night. (Contrary to popular belief, it is definitely possible to be active, go to class, get homework done, and have some semblance of a social life without losing sleeping hours or too many points from your GPA!) Now in the working world, my days are far more flexible, and they almost have to be by design. With a wandering mind I have to be able to shift focus smoothly from one task to the next, let myself decide on the fly what has to get done that day. Some days are more suited to tedious tasks than others, and I have to be able to take advantage of what mindset I happen to be in. Completing projects is also no longer just a checklist of tasks I have to complete. There is much more involved and if my boss had to provide to me a detailed list of tasks to complete she wouldn’t be able to do her job. I have to be able to take a general list of things to do and figure out the in-between steps on my own and set my own due dates for them to ensure that the high-level milestones are met on time. And when something happens to throw the schedule off course, the best I can do is everything in my power to move from stormy seas to glassy waters again and make up for lost time.

I am a big proponent of writing things down with pen and paper, whether it’s ideas or to-do tasks or noting that yes I did in fact pay rent this month already. I tried using my phone calendar for a couple of years and never remembered anything even with notifications going off every 5 minutes for everything. Since I started using fountain pens almost a year ago I’ve been moving more and more things back to paper. Even two years ago, I never went anywhere without carrying a planner with me, one with extra pages for notes and goal setting and a timed schedule where I could plan every minute of the day if I needed to. It worked well for school, but now I need a new planner that is as flexible as I have to be for work (and one that I won’t wind up wasting valuable writing space should I have to move a meeting at the last minute). I’m jumping into the deep-end of the Filofax/Kikki.K planner community and have already started setting it up for next year. This included a front page with some inspiration for the years to come and I wanted to share it with you:

"The BEST way to predict the FUTURE is to CREATE it"

This spoke to me as an engineer who works to help with the invention of the future. The work I do now could someday put humans on Mars. It could send a space probe to our nearest earth-like neighbor. This front page reminds me that while I’m creating the future of the next generations, I also have to remember to create my own personal future, whatever that may be.

What is your perspective on planning? Do you like to plan every minute or take life as it comes? Are you already shopping for next year’s planner?

I've never been the person that can usually just bounce back from making a mistake, no matter how small. One of my personal development goals is being less harsh on myself. How can I expect to go very far if I want to shrivel up and die every time someone points out a mistake I made?

 

This ties in very well to taazone's last article on Engineering Mind and having no fears of a "don't know" mind. Of course no one person can be expected to have all the answers, but all the reassurance in the world still doesn't make it any easier for me. So how do you deal with mistakes when you're a perfectionist by nature?

 

Realizing you're probably not the only one that's ever made that mistake or wanted to run away is a good first step. I think many of us as engineers are inherently perfectionists, which can be a blessing and a curse. I've been reading a book recently about shame of all things and despite it sounding like a depressing book it's actually been very therapeutic. (If you'd like to read it, it's called "I Thought it Was Just Me" by Brene Brown, or you can check out some of her TED talks.) It talks a lot about how shame is different from embarrassment and why its important to fight back shame. But it helps a lot for that sinking feeling you might feel as a perfectionist when your mistakes get pointed out. Usually it's in a very constructive "build you up" way. "Okay, I can do better next time." But for that rare instance when it comes in the form of something that throws you into defense mode (despite whether the critic meant it that way or not), accepting that criticism can be very difficult, even if it is very valid and useful feedback.

 

So how do you get over the paralysis? One method could be to just ignore it or pretend it never happened. Numb the sting. But that's the wrong way to do it. If you ignore those criticisms, you can never accept that important feedback. Then there's the polar opposite, which is assuming these kinds of comments come from a place of malicious intent just because of the way they made you feel. How are you supposed to breed teamwork and cooperation with a mindset like that? We can't expect to learn anything that way. Neither of these methods do what we need them to do. We have to come at harsh criticism with an open heart and an open mind. Examine the feedback, figure out what about it pushes your buttons, and then try to rephrase what was said in your mind in a way that seems more constructive to you.

 

As a blogger and Instagram user with way too many pictures of her cat, or really anyone that publishes content of any kind on the internet, you have to deal with the internet trolls. Eventually you're bound to encounter them and it can be devastating if you don't take a step back from the comments and analyze them. Look at the comments of any news story or any YouTube video. You can never escape the numbers of people with nothing positive to say. So when I receive criticizing comments, I have to catch myself from spiraling down. Recently, I wrote an article for Planet Analog about radiation testing, and I mixed up Beta radiation with Gamma radiation. The implications in the explanation I was giving were the same, but it was an error nonetheless. This mistake went uncaught until it was pointed out in the comments section. Initially, I felt like an utter idiot, though in reality it was probably just an honest question from a confused reader. Imagine the thought process in my head: "Oh man, why did I even put myself out there if I was going to look so stupid! How can anyone whom claims to know anything about radiation testing possibly mix these things up!? I can never show my face again..."

 

But I had to stop myself there. "Now wait a minute, we're all human here, we all make mistakes. That's ok. What wouldn't be ok is if I just pretended this comment never happened." I took the comment and tried to determine the underlying meaning rather than pay attention to the words and how they were phrased. What are they really trying to say here? What do they have to say here that is helpful to me? "Hey, did you mean gamma or beta radiation? I thought gamma was photons and beta was electrons, but here you said gamma is electrons." Toss the rest, and respond to that bit of helpful information. Now I've taken harsh criticism, rephrased it in a way that was helpful for me without losing the underlying message, and reacted in a much more constructive way than ignoring or exploding or hiding ever could. "Hey, thanks for pointing out my mistake. I got mixed up my apologies. But the implication to the subject is the same, here's why." I also promptly had the article corrected to reflect more accurate information. As a perfectionist, this helps me now shift the thought process from "I am a flawed person" to "my work had a flaw, but I can fix this."

 

What's the harshest criticism you've ever been given? How did you deal with it? Tell me about it in the comments below!

taazone

We Are Not Afraid!

Posted by taazone Employee Jul 31, 2016

Yes, I am not afraid! Engineers should not be afraid! But wait, afraid of what? --- Afraid of a don’t know mind.

Don’t let the plague catch you! Do not abide to the know-all mind. The knower’s mind is full of itself and impedes progress.

 

In the engineering field, especially in the semiconductor industry you must be improving the existing technology to keep up with the technological demands of our society. But improvements needs a fresh start, a new approach to solve a problem, collaboration between engineers, it needs many iterations, it has many failures, it is a learning process where many times we need to let go of what we know. Yeah, I know! You’ll start all over again. And there’s nothing I can say to comfort you in this aspect of starting all over again, I believe life is great because it won’t let us sit still for too long. Every day is a different day and these days are days of change.

 

“At times of change, the learners are the ones who will inherit the world, while the knowers will be beautifully prepared for a world which no longer exists” (Alistair Smith).

 

 

fearless-money-life.jpg

Be courageous against a know-all mind; challenge it. You are not fooling anyone by trying to hide it. Remember, there are more experienced people around you. They might have gone through it. They CAN HELP you. It’s ok to get stuck, the problem comes if you pretend you’re unstuck. Even if you believe you’re the most experienced person on the block, if you can’t deliver… Well I’ll let you finish this sentence.

 

Don’t let the sour faces scare you. It’s ok to fail. Sometimes, it’s better to fail. Walt Disney got fired for a lack of imagination, Steven Spielberg was rejected multiple times by the University of Southern California, Thomas Edison was called stupid, and Albert Einstein was too slow. Do not be afraid, be susceptible to a don’t know mind, are you ready to inherit the world? The ball is in your court!
@EngCritics

 

 

 

Image Source: Chang, Julia. 6 Leaders Share Their Secrets For How to Be Fearless About Money and Life, Forbes.

                                  Retrived from http://b-i.forbesimg.com/learnvest/files/2014/01/fearless-money-life.jpg