Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 7 Meeting: Summary, Part 4

Thank you everyone for participating this semester. See you again next semester.

December 7 Meeting: Summary, Part 3

The winner of the bridge building competition are:

3rd Place

2nd Place

1st Place

All of the bridges failed because of buckling.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 7 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

Here are the results of the non-member survey:

Not a member because:
-          A few did not know (1 person)
-          A few were not interested (2) or did not like the club (1)
-          Most were too busy (10) or the meeting time was not suitable (8)

Interested in joining:
-          Most do not know if they can join next semester (9)
-          A few know they want to join (5) and a few know they will definitely not want to join (4)

Non-member interests:
-          Non-members are very interested in projects (9), with 4 people specifically wanting building related projects
-          Fields trips are popular (7) while speakers are less popular (2)

Most people who were not members had time conflicts or were too busy, and many of these people will probably have the same conflicts next semester. Unlike members, non-members are more interested in projects and less interested in speakers.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

Here are the results of the member survey:

-          Majority of people want more speakers (5 More, 2 Same, 0 Fewer)
-          People liked the information they gained about life experiences, careers, and internships although it may have been too technical at times
-          People want more information about transferring, industries/technologies not covered (tech industry and signal processing), and entrepreneurship
-          Other speakers may include entrepreneurs and students who have transferred

-          Majority of people want more tours (4 More, 1 Same, 0 Fewer)
-          Overall people liked the tours a lot
-          Other tours people want are NASA Ames, labs, colleges, building sites, factories, and robotics labs/factories

-          The number of projects we had was about right (2 More, 1 Same, 1 Fewer)
-          People are split evenly about their preference for short-term and long-term projects (4 Long, 4 Short)
-          People prefer small groups over large groups (4 Small, 1 Large, 1 Mid-range)
-          People think the amount of time required for the projects was about right (1 Too much, 7 About right, 0 Too little)
-          People think the Arduino presentations were at least somewhat helpful (8 Help, 0 Not helpful)
-          Overall, people enjoyed the group projects. People do have concerns that the advanced and beginning students were not balanced evenly, there was inconsistent attendance, parts were too weak, and the projects felt too rushed and did not allow enough time for planning
-          People would like to see more building projects, programming related projects, roller coasters, and 3D printers

Club Management:
-          Majority of people visited the website (7 Yes, 1 No)
-          Majority of people are somewhat interested in being a club officer (1 Yes, 0 No, 6 Maybe)
-          Overall, people were happy with the efficiency of the club’s management
-          People would have liked more public interaction and events, bigger projects and contests, and study sessions 

We were going to have more speakers, but we were so busy with the projects that we did not have time. The last speaker was going to be a former student who had recently transferred, but this was pushed off to next semester. We wanted to do more tours, but many tours cost money or require a lot of planning. Some people want more long-term projects. This can be challenging for a club with members that have very different interests and amounts of time to spend. Also, larger projects can cost more and require more technical knowledge. A single large project with several small and medium size projects may be best. People want more programming. There is a computer science club, so the club may want to team up with the computer science club for help. The website was viewed more than I thought, but I do not think a lot of time and effort should be invested in the website because its functionality and viewership are limited.

December 7 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

The Tech Shop tour will be Saturday, December 8, 11:00 am.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 7 Meeting: Preview, Part 3

This is the last meeting of the semester. Come say good-bye, and help plan for next semester.

Here is the end of semester survey. Come to this week's meeting and fill it out to help us plan for next semester.


December 7 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

The Tech Shop tour will be this weekend, Saturday. We will need to finalize the time at this week's meeting.

December 7 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

We will finish the last bridges and test them this week. Arrive early if you would like to help finish the bridges.


Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30 Meeting: Summary

The Tech Shop tour has been postponed. We will talk about the tour at next week's meeting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 30 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

This weekend the club has an option of (1) going to the Tech Shop in Menlo Park for a tour, or (2) going to the Tech Shop in San Francisco for a tour and then going to the SOMArt Come Out and Play Festival. We will take a vote at this week's meeting.

CSM to Tech Shop Menlo Park: 12.3 miles, 17 minutes by car
CSM to Tech Shop San Francisco: 23.7 miles, 32 minutes by car

Tech Shop Menlo Park
120 Independence Dr
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Tech Shop San Francisco
926 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103

The SOMArt Come Out and Play Festival is a free public event, consisting of over 20 games played in the SOMA area. It has two locations: 934 Brannan St. (between 8th and 9th), and Manalo Draves Park (Folsom and Sherman St.) It runs from 12 - 5 pm.

Here are some of the events:

  • Propinquity (2–4pm): a mixed-media game designed to evoke both dancing and fighting that uses full body interaction and the use of sound and game play mechanics to produce an intensely social and physical experience.
  • Obtain the Briefcase (1–3pm): a street game of running, chasing, hiding, subterfuge, and the fight to locate one crucial briefcase.
  • Slothchase (1–3pm): a turn-based tag game of strategy and skill that slows players to a crawl as they navigate the cityscape.
  • Third-Person Outer Body Labyrinth (3–5pm): a maze players navigate wearing video goggles to dislocate the sense of sight to a point high above.
  • Sixteen Tons (12–5pm): a gallery-based physical and social strategy game that takes real money to win.
  • WANTED!  (12–5pm): an SMS-based work of interactive street fiction focused on the adventures of a wild cowgirl.
  • Lemonopoly (12–5pm): a real-world lemon trading game which pits Bay Area cities against one another to see who can share the most lemons
  • Hearst Collection (12–5pm): an in-gallery art heist game in which players navigate a laser maze to steal pieces from the Hearst family.
  • Doodle Defense (12–5pm): an low-tech, whiteboard-based tower defense game in which players race to draw game pieces to beat the onslaught of bugs.
  • The Board Game Lounge (12–5pm): a replication of your living room, but with brand-new board games made by local designers--the handmade Berlin Wall Game, The Cove, and Toy Fight, and the high-tech Sifteo cubes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 30 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The bridge building process continues. To help understand which bridges might do better, we will have a brief discussion of truss analysis. You can read the complete overview under the tab "Project 3: Bridge" above.

November 16 Meeting: Summary

Congratulations to the winners of the Arduino catapult competition. You can see all the winners by clicking on the "Project 1: Catapult" at the top.

The speaker John was asked to offer his own design for a catapult machine. Here is his design:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 16 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

We will look at the electronics necessary for the CNC project at this week's meeting. The base of the project will be completed later.

Here are the stepper motors, inverter IC, MOSFET, capacitors, and diodes:

Here is the circuit layout we will be building:

November 16 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

Finally, it is time to test the Arduino catapults. We will test the Arduinos in the computer lab at the beginning of the meeting.


Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9 Meeting: Summary

Some people joined in starting the bridge project. There is enough cardboard for three groups, so two other groups may be formed. Each group gets approximately 5.5 pounds of cardboard.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 9 Meeting: Preview

We start our new bridge project at this week's meeting.

Objective: Construct a bridge that has the largest load to bridge weight ratio.

Corrugated Cardboard 

1.   The bridge must span a 4 foot gap.
2.   The bridge can be no more than 6 inches wide and 3 inches below the height of the testing surface.
3.   There is no limit to it being longer than 4 feet and there is no limit to its height above the testing surface.
4.   The bridge will be loaded with a rope attached to a metal plate that must sit on the bed of the bridge. The bridge must have a hole 1 inch in diameter and a flat surface of 3 x 3 inches to support the plate. The plate will be placed on the bridge at the center of the 4 foot gap and at the height of the test surface
5.   Calculation of load to bridge weight ratio:
R = (weight supported by bridge before collapsing)
(weight of finished bridge)

Side-view of Testing Rules

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

The catapult project is finished. The catapults will be judged at a yet to be decided future meeting. Members may continue to work on the project during their own time up until the projects are judged. The club will now move on to a new project.

November 2 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

The CNC project was approved to move forward by the club's members. Parts will be purchased, and as soon as they arrive, the project will start on a Friday and continued to the next day, Saturday. This will allow for the project to be completed as soon as possible.

November 2 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

We are developing plans for our next project - a CNC mill. We will discuss design plans and programing requirements. Read more about the project by clicking on the tab "Project 2: CNC" above.

November 2 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

If you ordered a t-shirt, please pay for your order at this week's meeting. The price is $11.35 each.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26 Meeting: Summary

The Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) Unveiling the Universe Day is tomorrow, Saturday, October 27 form 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

We will be leaving from CSM at 1:00 pm.

Here are some interesting facts about SLAC: (read more at SLAC)
  • SLAC began in 1962 with 200 employees.
  • Nearly 1,700 people now work on staff plus 300 postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.
  • 3,400 scientists from around the world use our cutting-edge facilities each year.
  • 1,000-plus scientific papers are published each year based on research at SLAC
  • 6 scientists have been awarded Nobel prizes for research at SLAC that discovered 2 fundamental particles, proved protons are made of quarks and showed how DNA directs protein manufacturing in cells.
  • Our employees hail from 50 countries.
  • 150 buildings sit on our 426-acre site on the Stanford campus.
  • 3,073.72 meters (1.9 miles) long, our linear accelerator is one of the longest buildings on Earth.
  • Electrons zip down that linear accelerator at >669,600,000 mph – 99.9999999 percent of the speed of light.
  • 275 universities make use of our resources, and 55 companies use our X-ray facilities for research aimed at developing medicines and other products.
  • SLAC works with Stanford in 4 research centers: Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, Stanford PULSE Institute and SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis.
  • Our X-ray laser zaps samples with pulses a few millionths of a billionth of a second long.
  • The lab has had 3 names:
    • Project M (1956-1960)
    • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1960-2008)
    • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2008–present)
  • 3.2-billion -pixel camera we’re designing for the world’s deepest sky survey will shoot the equivalent of 800,000 8 -megapixel digital camera images per night.
  • 3.6-million -degree-F matter created in our labs mimics extreme conditions in the hearts of stars and planets.
  • SLAC managed construction of the main instrument for a space telescope that’s discovered more than 100 pulsars since its launch in 2008 .
  • The 1st website in North America was at SLAC, designed to help physicists share their research results.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 3

There are still spots available for the SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day, Saturday, October 27. If you would like to attend, register for the 2:00pm tour, here.

Tours Icon

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

The SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day is Saturday, October 27, 2:00 pm.

Some important information:

- Driver should bring a valid drivers license, photo ID or passport.
- Plan on arriving to SLAC 20-30 minutes prior to your scheduled tour time.
- Maps and driving directions to SLAC can be found at http://www6.slac.stanford.edu/maps_directions.aspx
After arriving at SLAC, you will proceed to parking lot C or E, park your vehicle, and then proceed on foot to the SLAC Visitors Center, Bldg 43, next to Panofsky Auditorium. Parking at SLAC is free.

The directions to SLAC from CSM are:

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The final t-shirt design is here. Place an order by coming to this week's meeting or emailing Laura at demsetz (at) smccd (dot) com.

The price is $11.35 each. Sizes are measured in adult male sizes.

October 19 Meeting: Summary

We voted on the final t-shirt design and took preliminary t-shirt orders.

We decided on turquoise as the letter color. Enough orders were placed so that the cost will be $11.35 each. Final orders and money will be collected at this week's meeting.

4 Turquoise
3 White
2 Tan
2 Lime

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 19 Meeting: Preview

We will continue working on the Arduino catapult project.

Here is one example of a catapult which uses a pulley system to pull back the arm:

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 3

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Open House is tomorrow. The directions to LBNL from CSM are:

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

There are still spots available for the SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day, Saturday, October 27. If you would like to attend, register for the 2:00pm tour, here.

Tours Icon

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

Members have asked about how much the current and voltage change when the analogwrite function is used. To test the current and voltage, I connected a multimeter to the Arduino across pin 9 and ground, and ran the following code:

int pin = 9;

void setup() {               
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);    

void loop() {
  for (int i = 0; i < 256; i = i + 10){
    analogWrite(pin, i);  

Here is the multimeter attached to the Arduino and meter dial:

Here is the graph of the output (10K Ohm resistor used to calculate the current):

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 12 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

We continue the Arduino Catapult project this week.

October 12 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Open House is this weekend.

Saturday, October 13, 10 am - 3 pm.

Free shuttle to enter the lab starts at The Crescent of the UC Berkeley campus.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 3

The winner of the T-shirt competition is:
The winning t-shirt color is black. To see all the votes, look at the tab "T-shirt".

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

Members are encouraged to attend the Unveiling the Universe Day at SLAC on October 27, 1 - 6 pm. We will be attending the 2 pm tour.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

"In celebration of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s 50th Anniversary, the laboratory, in cooperation with the Bay Area Science Festival, will open its doors for Unveiling the Universe Day. Activities will be targeted to high school students and above, however all those over the age of 12 are welcome to explore our world-class research facility on October 27, 2012 from 1:00 PM- 6:00 PM. Registration is required.

"Participants will learn about the cutting-edge science underway at SLAC in fields ranging from physics and chemistry to astrophysics and materials science that is revealing the universe at its smallest and largest scales, at its fastest and most extreme.

• "Special tours of the SLAC Research areas including our world famous two mile long linear accelerator and the lab's advanced X-ray facilities will be provided.
• "SLAC scientists will also share how we explore the cosmos, from the origins of the universe to the nature of dark matter and dark energy in our unique 3-D Visualization Center"

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

We started the Arduino catapult project. We will keep working on this for the next two or three weeks. If you could not make it to this week's meeting, there is still room for you to join.

Here is one of the catapult kits (the potentiometers have not arrived yet):

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 4

We will be voting on the t-shirt design, so please take one last look at the designs ("T-Shirt" tab above).

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 3

We finished introducing the Arduinos. If you were unable to finish all the sample circuits, do not worry - you will learn as we go. We will start the Arduino catapult project this week.

Objective: Construct a machine that throws a small rubber ball as far as possible. The machine that throws the ball the farthest wins.

    Popsicle sticks
    wood dowel
    foam core board
    thin wire
    rubber bands
    hot glue
    metal ballast
    manila folder
    hanging Folder
    paper clips
    cotton string
    Arduino kit

    1. The machine must be stationary.
    2. The machine must operate without human aid – only the pushbutton and potentiometer may be touched in order to launch the ball.
    3. The machine should be able to re-load and launch a second ball without the need of human aid other than touching the pushbutton or potentiometer.

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 2012 Open House is approaching. It is Saturday, October 13, 10 am to 3 pm. We will organize transportation.

There are many activities, which you can read in the program guide here.

10:30 am Manfred Auer — A 3-D Peek Into the Inner Workings of Cells
11:00 am Nathan Hillson — Synthetic Biology: What it Is and How it’s Useful
Noon Saul Perlmutter — The Nobel Prize One Year Later
12:30 pm Paul Alivisatos (Berkeley Lab Director) — Climate Change: What We Need to Know and What We Need to Do”
1:30 pm Ian Hinchliffe — Latest News on the Higgs Boson From the Large Hadron Collider
2:00 pm Blake Simmons — Driving the Bioeconomy: Advanced Biofuels at Joint BioEnergy Institute
2:30 pm Peter Denes — A Next Generation Light Source

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The SLAC tour is approaching. Journalist Nathan Mattise of ArsTechnica visited SLAC recently and posted this article: "A rare tour of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (in pictures)".

"Last month, SLAC Labs (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) reached its golden anniversary. After 50 years of operation the organization has built up quite a résumé. For instance, it claims six different Nobel prize-winning scientists for research that discovered two different fundamental particles. And today the facility keeps on churning out science: 1,000-plus papers come out of SLAC each year from the roughly 3,400 scientific professionals from across the world that utilize the facility."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 28 Meeting: Summary

We continued introducing the Arduinos this week. Here are some of the slides we covered. The complete collection of slides can be seen on the page "Arduino Intro".