Christmas in the Country

One of my favorite days of the year is Christmas. In general, everyone is themselves on Christmas, for better or worse. And the family and friends we reflect with during holidays helps us better ourselves. In lieu of bettering oneself, it's convenient that people are expected to generate 'New Year's resolutions' in less than a week after Christmas. As I reflect on the time between last Christmas and this one, I think that I have become much better at fitting context to a situation. In school, you learn that arguments need backup clauses but this is not always brought over in how a person acts. I have been spending the last year learning how to get better at developing those backup clauses, both in engineering and personnel contexts.

As for worse, I'm probably worse at being spontaneous. Which I think is probably a good thing, you see, you should try and pick 'worse' things which are actually positives... a little spontaneity is bad, a lot of spontaneity is bad. I hope I'm on the right side of the curve headed left.

Next year what will I do? I think I'll think about it for a few days and come back to this blog and write it down.

One of my favorite presents this year was a TS100 portable soldering iron

Slides from 2.013 CDR

My mechanical engineering capstone class finished only a few weeks ago. It seems like such a long time ago now but I'm happy my group was able to put together a solid idea in such limited time.

From the executive summary, the team is developing the Variable-Temperature Cryocooler (VTC), a freezer intended for biological research operations. RNA samples, crucial to research into many emerging diseases, need to be preserved at low temperatures of -80\degree C. Many emerging diseases are primarily found in developing countries in areas without reliable grid power, which makes reliable sample preservation and obtaining usable data difficult. Therefore, the VTC is also designed for off-grid operation.

In addition to the specific use case of RNA sample storage, the team also noted that the market for cryogenic cooling lacked compact devices that offered storage at temperatures below -80\degree C.  We saw this as an opportunity to provide novel innovation, as other biological samples such as stem cells are stored at -150\degree C. The VTC is designed to operate at temperatures between -150\degree C and -20\degree C.

The variable-temperature cryocooler uses a free-piston stirling cycle (FPSC). FPSC technology is smaller in size than traditional cooling cycles and minimizes moving parts for higher robustness. An electronic control system, connect to the FPSC system to adjust the set point temperature of the storage volume. To ensure temperature reliability, the storage volume also contains temperature sensors to monitor and display the interior temperature to the user.

The cold storage volume and surrounding structures are designed to minimize cold loss, offering more stable internal temperatures and reducing power use. The storage volume is surrounded by vacuum-insulated paneling, which greatly reduces thermal losses to the ambient air. The storage volume can accommodate 486 biological sample cryovials. The cryovials slot into a solid aluminum drawer, to maximize conductive heat transfer and minimize the amount of hot air that enters the system when the cooler contents are accessed. The system is also designed with a phase-change material chamber. Phase-change material panels are used for shipment of biological samples, and they can also act as a thermal battery.

In order to provide consistent power to the system in areas where the electrical grid experiences frequent outages, our system has a robust power management system comprised of a generator and backup battery. When there is a power outage, an automatic transfer switch will trigger the generator. The battery serves as a power source to bridge the generator startup time.

Link to Google Slides

Screen-capture from Michael's video of our presentation 

Back Home, Things to Do!

I've been home for three days now. On the plane, I was able to revisit the book I've been touching upon called 'The Measure of History' about the use of measurements throughout primarily the European middle-ages and Renaissance eras.

I'm happy to see lots of old faces. I stopped by my High School last Friday to see my chemistry teacher from those days. We still stay in touch and trade quips from our respective lives. My ole Science Olympiad team is up to good things and I was happy to see some old and plenty of new faces.

<-- Breakfast at the Friendly Toast a week before I left
I am helping restore an old reed organ. More to come later.

Some things I will work on while home (not in any order):

Undergrad Thesis
Shell Techworks Upskilling
NRL Requal and Retraining Materials
Advent Of Code 2019 (getting harder)
C++ tutorials
MIT Rocket Team code and parts order
2.013/2.014 details
pre-registration for Spring
Reading (history, novel, methods, etc.)
Writing (return to Humanism)
Music (listening mostly)
Eating (it's the holidays after all, also tracking macros)

Finishing up with Fall 2019

 As this semester turns down into an end, I am thankful for my good health and my great friends. Yesterday, my mechanical engineering capstone class finished with a final presentation about a free-piston Stirling engine powered cryocooler. It was great to see our work come to a collective summary and let us look forward to the development of a technology for a Spring class next semester. I will be posting the video of the presentation out to my YouTube channel in the next few days as well as some other media from over the semester either there or on this blog.

I am looking forward to this Christmas break. I will probably post about a variety of foodstuffs and relaxing computer projects I will be working on before heading back to Cambridge for IAP.

Also, heading to Vancouver in the third week of January. LA in the end of the 4th week.
My dog Bella at home chewing on a bone.

Building up skills with Advent of Code

I am spending this December working on the Advent of Code 2019 daily challenges. I will be using these fun programming questions to build up my C++ / Rust skills. If I run into harder questions, I may fall back on my stronger Python coding skills. My hope is that I can build better quantitative thinking with this endeavor.

Anyone interested in trying this on their part can check out (

Synchronous Fireflies and Summer Plans

I spent my birthday at the Elkmont campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). It's nestled into a beautiful and scenic p...