Blog Post 6

This week was pretty productive for me and Karissa – I feel like we actually are getting to some of the meaty part of our project, and we still have a decent amount of time left before the program ends. I did have a slow start to this week though – I’ve been having headaches for about a couple weeks now, so I finally went to go see a doctor Monday/Tuesday to fix them. But after that, Karissa and I picked up the pace and actually got a prototype working on Wednesday. It was really cool to see proof of concept and to show that our project was feasible (if Karissa and I have been working on this project to find out that it wasn’t feasible all this time, I would have definitely been very disappointed). By releasing some helium gas from a couple of balloons, the apparatus’ altitude would go down and then remain at stable at a different altitude. Even though all our hardware was packaged up into some really sketchy ball of tape, I was happy to see that our test worked out decently well. Here’s a picture of what the setup looked like (unfortunately, there’s no picture of Karissa):

We definitely still have a lot of work – Karissa and I weren’t actually able to test for the rest of the week ‘cause Karissa got caught up with the Nimbus sensor and I got stuck will some design implementation. Apparently, the Nimbus sensor Karissa was trying to use was fried or something, and I’m hoping that I didn’t do something to it while I was soldering some wires onto it… But also, we’re not sure what the right protocol is to use the Nimbus sensor, so we’re excluding the Nimbus sensor from the design for now and waiting till Monday/Tuesday to talk to Professor Detweiler about how we should be reading data from the Nimbus sensor.

On the other hand, I figured out the design implementation for the second prototype. The main difference between the first and second prototype was that we replaced a relay with a MOSFET switch. So I quickly put something together on a breadboard and tested the stuff out – it didn’t work initially ‘cause I ended up doing some really stupid stuff, but the MOSFET-based switch eventually worked after the second/third try. I didn’t get to finish soldering all the components to a PCB board before we all left for work, so I ended up finished it up last night. In total, I think soldering everything took about 3-4 hours. Here’s the (almost) finished second prototype:

Usually I don’t like to work late at night (especially on Fridays), but I needed to do something to relax – I’ve found out last summer that soldering and zoning out in music really helps with that. In reality, I think the soldering job should’ve only taken me about 2 hours, but I took my sweet time just for the sake of emptying my mind.

Something that I’ve been thinking about for a while is the fact that there’s not much time left. Ironically, I started out this blog by saying that Karissa and I still have time left to finish what we need to do for our project. But six weeks have already past, and I feel like that went by really fast. What’s to say that the remaining four weeks pass by even faster than the first six weeks? I used to not be afraid of that, but the idea of this program coming to an end kind of scares me.

About a week or two ago, I think I was just ready to go home – it’s not that I hated the work and was sick of being here, but rather I think that I just needed a break from everything that was going on. But now, we’re approaching the 7th week of this program, and I’m starting to feel a bit nostalgic. Once this program ends, will we still be in touch with all the people we’ve met here? Or will we go back to focus on our own lives at our own university? This is something that I’ve been thinking about recently, and I’m not sure what to make of it yet. But while there’s only less than half of the program left, there’s also still so much time to have fun and enjoy life with everyone – in reality, I shouldn’t be too worried.

Less than four weeks left – hoping to make the most of it.

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