Archive for category Research

Hello World – Again

Hello world.

It has been some time since we visited.

Would you like to play a game?

Yes, it has been some time since I posted here.  My attention focused elsewhere and I forgot the value of sharing ideas.  But I’m back and I commit now to sharing.  Sharing ideas is like leveraging money, the more an idea is shared the more powerful it becomes.  There are so many exciting things happening now – and the web is a great place to discuss them.

I learn by playing, just jump in and much around.  I’ve had a chance to try some great MOOC – Massively Open Online Courses.  What a great way to learn – at my convenience, at my pace – and the courses are really good.  I’ll detail some of these in later posts.  I took some time to play with the onion router – TOR.  It is a very interesting piece of software (or environment, or browser, or whatever you wish to call it).  I was surprised to learn that is was developed by the US government and is dominantly funded by them today.  Stay tuned for comments on TOR and maybe even a little on the dark web.

I am very excited by the rapid expansion of capabilities seen in the commercial drones.  In fact, I love the selfie taking drones.  Tie all this into a cell phone and mobile ops become very interesting.  Then there is the explosion of cell phone apps to do amazing things – like take ones pulse, remotely.  Great things happening here.  Then there are all the advances in artificial intelligence and cloud computing (rah, Preakness).  We are getting ever closer to a genuinely workable voice interface with out cyber tools.

There are always more things to look at – and more people looking at them.  Our world is a very exciting place.  For me, I’ll follow the scientists and engineers who poke and prod things and ideas.  As I poke and prod, I’ll recap items here.  If you come back to look again maybe it will save you some time, maybe it will tickle the birth of that next idea.  And the world moves on.

Thanks for reading.  Come back often.  Think and share.

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day! And thank you to all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen who answered the call of duty.  Serving in the armed forces of the United States is an experience that is unique in our world.  We have the best equipped and trained fighting force on the planet.  To be sure there are still duty rosters, and weekend duty, and frequent moves and additional duties but when it is mission time we know that the best individuals are deploying with the best equipment and they know how to use it.

There are two groups that must also be recognized on this day.

Most of those warriors out there have families.  Sometimes the family moves with them and sometimes the warrior deploys and leaves the family back home.  So the family is either uprooted and starts over or manages the separation by keeping up a long distance relationship.  Either of these is hard but it gets done over and over and over.

Behind all those soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen is an unseen army of contractors, tradesmen, designers, engineers, farmers and a host of others who produce all the uniforms, boots, radios, vision equipment, meals, vehicles, shelters, weapons, drones and on and on.  Without this magnificent tail our tooth would soon stall.

Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber

Using the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber won’t make you Spiderman but it will get you up a sheer face without the usual grapples and ropes.

The Air Force Research Lab sponsored a contest challenging entrants to get climbers up a 27 meter concrete face without grapples or ropes.  The prize went to the team from Utah State University whose Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC) demonstrated its ability to hold a 300 pound load on the wall while the load climbed up the wall.

PVAC wall-climber

Climbers are supported by the suction generated by two battery powered vacuum pumps.  Each pump pulls 4.5 PSI which draws on metal pans fitted with soft rubber rims to stick to the wall.

personal vacuum assisted climber pods

The prototype unit weighs in at only 45 pounds.  Even now, a 200 pound individual could get up a wall with enough gear (55 pounds) to accomplish some significant activities.

This project seems to be seeking a stealthy way to gain access via or to cross a verticle barrier.  I don’t know what you do about the wail of two rather strong vacuum pumps – maybe only scale the wall during an artillery barrage.  My other question is how fast the user can scale the wall.  Surprise can be generated by speed as well as stealth.  My bet is tossing or firing a grapple over the barrier and scaling the barrier with a motor assisted climber (aka winch) would get you up much faster and probably quieter.

Hats off to the students at Utah State University.




FAST G3A – Facial Armor

Some days the world just turns to s*** (I’ll use the spelling preferred by the US Supreme Court).  Getting shot is not fun – any time, any place.  Getting shot in the face particularly sucks.  In the past you either had to be inside an armored vehicle or be a long way away from your target if you wanted to keep your yap out of the line of fire.  Well now you can get in there and mix  it up and stay as pretty as you were when you started – which ain’t saying much but is a nice thought.  The folks at Mtek Weapon Systems have a line of face shields that are truely amazing.  In this video a Predator FAST G3A faceshield stops a 7.62 mm round fired at only 25 ft.  Seeing is believing.  This thing is magic.

FAST G3A Live Fire Test

Check out all the Facial Armor Sys Tem (FAST) faceshields at Mtek.

The Engineering Tool Box

With each passing day it seems we are doing more and more of our work on the web or with web connected widgets on our mobile devices.  The onslaught is relentless – much like the Borg.  We will be assimilated.  And you know what, it is actually great to have rich resources available at our fingertips.  Even better is that we can touch them from anywhere and don’t need to remember to pack them for a trip.

One resource that I like is the Engineering Tool Box.  If you need to review a definition or the basic relations in an area of engineering, this is the place to come.  The unit conversion support is nice but there are widgets out there that are easier to use and convert on my phone.  I like the tie in to Google SketchUp – especially that the library all works with the free version of SketchUp.  Visit the Engineering Tool Box it just might save you some time.

The Engineering Toolbox


Drive A Car With An iPhone

iPhones are really nice.  And it seems there is an app you can download for most anything.  Now there is an app you can use to drive your car.  It will take some modification but it looks much easier than you might expect.  The folks at Waterloo Labs have been very kind in documenting and sharing their work. 

Driving a Car with an iPhone and cRIO (Part 1 – Overview)


Driving a Car with an iPhone (Part 2 – How To)


Drive a Car with an IPhone (iPhone Code Overview)

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Quick – Name This Goo

Remember organic chemistry?  Wasn’t it fun?  For today, we are going to see who is still with it in organics.  Name this goo.  What is the compound shown in the following diagram?

Send your response to mbyers at

Bonus round.  Name this goo.

Yuri Gagarin

Fifty years ago today, April 12th 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit earth aboard Vostok 1. Can you imagine how he felt while sitting atop that huge R-7 rocket waiting to be launched into space?

Vostok 1 is launched on an R-7 rocket.

Yuri Gagarin

Read more about this historic flight at Astroprof’s Page

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TechShop – A Place To Make Dreams Into Reality

TechShop is better than Christmas and heaven all rolled into one.  Here is a place – and the great news is that there will soon be a number of these places – where you can go and push your personal envelope as far as you like.


TechShop Opens In San Francisco

So now get those neurons firing.  What would you do if you had a numerical controlled lathe or milling machine?  Or how about an NC laser torch?  Or even just a well laid out, well equipped shop?  Got immediately to the TechShop website and check it out.  Keep a rag handy as this will likely make you drool.

TechShop The Ultimate Possibility Engine

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The Power Of Dreams

Just about everyone dreams when they are sleeping.  Those dreams are often foggy or simply forgotten upon waking.  But there are some people – often called appropriately dreamers – who dream when they are awake.  These dreams that come while one is awake are the drivers for research and innovation.  Maybe physics is a little more understanding in the dream world or maybe we just aren’t so inhibited as we dream. 

This clip on The Power Of Dreams was produced by Honda and, for me, is quite inspiring.  It is my pleasure to share;

The Undying Dream

 Enjoy Honda – The Power Of Dreams – Dream The Impossible – Documentary Series

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