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   James and I decided to try out a coffee shop in downtown Middleton.  Unlike the last place I visited with a fireplace, this one had an actual fire burning.  Nothing like drinking coffee next to a warm fire while writing.
   Here is James using his highly sensitive whiskers to analyze his drink.
   The lab in the basement consisted of... well, no one is exactly sure. 
   I filled several jars full of water and what claimed to be florescent food coloring.  However, the food coloring did not glow under the blacklights. Do, I added a bit of laundry detergent.  That did the trick and all the jugs began to glow.  Using the air compressor and a bunch of thin hose I was able to make the contraption bubble.  It wasn't fantastic, but it worked.  Add a bit of random wiring, and there you have it—my mad scientist bench.
   Today our role playing group spotted a sail off in the distance while we were on our secret island.  They took off in a hurry and it was clear we had been spotted.  Our group gave chase using our ship's ability to surround itself in fog to cover us during the day.  When we got close enough we had two members of our party who could fly move in for a distraction.  They set their sails ablaze during the night.  While their crew was busy combating this, our scrag disabled their rudder and our main ship sailed in next to theirs.  Most of the crew of this enemy vessel was above deck combating the fires.  As our ship came along side theirs we emptied two cannons of shot onto the deck, then boarded and began the attack.  Their captain was initially not to be found, but was disguised.  When found the most powerful of our boarding party began to attack the captain who when overwhelmed fled by jumping overboard.  Those who could fly gave chase, but that was all the time we had for the session.

January 24, 2015

Mad Scientists on Vacation

   Tonight was an other Elmwood Park themed event: Mad Scientists on Vacation.  Everyone who wanted was to dress as a quirky scientist ready to hit the beech at the Bikini Atoll.  I decided I was a young Dr. Merkwürdigliebe (that's Dr. Strangelove for those who are wondering).  Xiphos did a great job of pre-party planning and we had a great set for the evening's festivities.  A decent number of people showed up and several in costume.
   My polynomial regression site had been more popular than the King's Quest game walkthrough, but this month they are about tied.  I decided to see who was linking to the polynomial regression site and found it had been cited in a master's thesis paper for someone at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.  Unfortunately the author says he did not use my library but had examined it for his work.  I am pretty happy to know my library was considered as a tool for someone doing research—enough so it was cited in a paper.  Comments made on the online regression calculator page also show that people have been making use of the site.  One person says it helped them with an engineering project as they needed to calculate heptic (an 8 coefficient polynomial) regression.  I wasn't even sure what applications would need such high-order polynomials when I wrote the library, so I am glad to see there are uses.
   My bread boards have arrived at last, and I can start on my latest project.  I want to build a controller for some high-wattage LEDs.  After reading about how the circuit works I decided to give it a short.  I ordered an LED controller, some FETs, coils, diodes, capacitors and load resisters.  The controller will run directly from 120 VAC, and here is the first state.  A thermistor feeds AC into a bridge rectifier.  This creates full-wave rectified DC power that then feeds into a filter capacitor.  I put a 100 k resister across the cap for a small load, and sure enough I now have 170 volts of clean DC power.  The thermistor is to keep the inrush current for when the circuit first turns on to a tolerable level
   There is a lot of power available here, which is why I am doing this test.  The initial test will run a 10 watt LED, but I have been looking at 30 and 100 watt LED chips.  Running these devices directly from 170 VDC is the most efficient method to power them.  And if I have success Xiphos and I have some projects in mind we can do.
   An other view of my basement work area looking mostly at my work bench.  My entire setup in the basement uses LED lighting as the other day I retired the last of my compact florescent bulbs, and I have not used incandescent bulbs in several years.  The mess on my bench is typical.  Not too messy to be unusable, but not teribly organized either.