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Work, Travel, Work: A busy month

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I've been busy.  Work got pretty exciting, and then I went on vacation.

The vacation was built around friends' wedding.  Since it was in Pennsylvania, I really made the most of my trip.

First, I spent two days in Pittsburgh, during which time I hung out with family: my mom, my grandmother, and my niece, as well as my aunt and sister, as much as the short time allowed.  We went to the zoo, and I watched the first episode of this amazing Turkish drama on Netflix that my grandmother is into (it's called Kurt Seyit ve Şura, you're welcome).  I also met up with two high school friend's for dinner, and in one case tennis.  It was like what a child imagines grown-up life is like.

Then, after about 48 hours of compressed bonding in Pittsburgh, I drove up to Erie with Jack, my mom, and my sister.  We biked along the beach, and hung out on the beach, and saw the new Mr. Rogers documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor".  I'd give it a B: it was surprisingly mi…

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#Table10 at the Schillo/Virant #wedding: represent! Link to Instagram

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I wish all my projects were this colorful #diy #craftday Link to Instagram

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Geez, I feel like I'm taking photos from this tree every month now #familiesbelongtogether #returnthechildren #icantbelieveimhashtaggingthis #abolishice


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Poor Seamus does NOT like the run-up to Fourth of July. #dog πŸŽ‰πŸŽ†πŸŽ‡πŸŒ‹πŸ”₯🌎πŸ”₯☣


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Building an Underwater Photo Booth: Pt 1

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My current project is a collaboration with Jack to build an underwater photo booth.  It lets users take four photos with the push of a button, then uploads them to a cloud drive so folks can post pics of themselves at the pool as soon as they dry their hands off.


There are numerous great online instruction manuals for building a photo booth using a Raspberry Pi, so that part was the first which we completed, and it went pretty quickly.

The hardware consists of five key parts:
A Raspberry Pi mini computer, which runs the camera.A Raspberry Pi camera module, which is similar to the kind of camera in most cell phoneA display screen.  This is a small LCD screen that cost about $40.A display control board.  I don't fully understand that magic that makes this work, but it takes the images that the Raspberry Pi sends over an HDMI cable, and it translates them so the LCD screen can make images.A battery to power it.And a button that works through the waterproof housing. The current step h…

Designing the kennel club of tomorrow

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If you aren't aware, the process of dog breeding is controversial.  On one hand, most of us love the products of breeding: the lovable Golden Retriever, the fearsome German Shepard, the whimsical Dachshund.  Unfortunately, these breeds can only exist so long as we continue to mate two dogs of the same breed to make a litter of new breed members, and the unpleasant truth is that we know that in doing so we're promoting birth defects.  It's long past time we thought about how to improve this practice.

Dog breeds are defined by kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC).  These clubs hold shows where judges assess which dog looks most like the kind of dog it is supposed to be, and these winners go on to sire puppies who will carry forward the noble blood line of the breed.  The concept makes simple sense.  In order to continue having Saint Bernards, gather a bunch together, find the male and female that look the most like a classic…

Building an ROV is hard

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If you've read this blog for a while -- a long while -- you might know that I have been working on an underwater ROV on and off for more than a year.  This is another update.

The good is that last year, I had a crude body for the Remotely Operated Vehicle.  It had propellers that were hooked up to a battery and spun.  It had a microcontroller that told them when to spin.  It had a Raspberry Pi single board computer to receive instructions over a USB tether and send them to the microcontroller.  And I had a program that would read data from a joystick over a long USB cord.  I finally thought that I just about had some kind of system I could put in water and drive around with a controller.
Not so fast.
The defining feature of an underwater ROV is that it goes underwater.  Which means that the electronics need to be inside of a waterproof enclosure.  And since radio waves don't travel underwater*, there needs to be a cable that passes from the user outside of the water, into the …