Still working on lesson 1 of Genki. Almost have all the greetings perfect. But some of the other words and time are still to be inured out. Seems I should spend a week for each lesson…. Maybe I can get faster the more confident I get with speaking and reading hiragana.

However, 20 kanji a day still… Better than that, I’m also learning 10 a day for 1st grade kanji with flash cards. Obviously some overlap. But I want to also have flash cards for learning the 1950 taught at the younger level.

Keep up the good work I guess.

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Unlike learning latin, memorizing words and phrases aren’t sticking like glue. I’m still practicing day 2 on the first 18 common greetings and I’m seriously struggling. I’m going to give it my all tomorrow. Seems the first month I really need to just focus on appreciating the language and it’s extreme difference from my own. Good morning, good afternoon and good night I think I have down:
およすみなさい – this guy was troublesome. For good night I decided to use a mnemonic: “oh ya? Sue me. It seems to work because I made another note it’s yo and not ya. Once I get the first part the rest come… Tomorrow maybe I’ll come up with mnemonics for them all. Ugh.

Anyways, no need to learn much. Just focus on genki 1 lesson 1. Maybe check out the foundational grammatical rules. That’s what I’ve been up to. Still learning 20 kanji a day.

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My path to Japanese

I decided this blog will track my efforts in learning Japanese. The idea is to show from start to finish the methods I used to fluency so others may follow in my footsteps. I will attempt to adhere to the strict use of daily blogging. I have already begun the first hill in learning hiragana and katakana. This was to make sure I was committed. Another note is that I’ve already learned roughly 40 kanji. I have learned minimal grammar. And so, to match my knowledge step by step (assuming I learn Japanese within a timeframe that seems worthy of you checking this blog) I will present you with what you should know before you start matching my progress… Day for day:

Smaller tsu replicates the consonant before it
The first 40 kanji from the book “remember the kanji”
romaji “desu” pronounced “Des” is used to be a linking verb “is”.
Subject-Object-Verb is the typical structure for Japanese.
If I’m missing some the next post will include it.

Note: I am using anki for kanji and will in the future start creating a deck from scratch that takes words and the most simplistic sentences I can get my hands on, but right now I’m using flash cards. As for anki and kanji I have TWO decks. The first says a word and I have to mentally conjure up the image. The second deck shows a kanji and I have to remember the word. I’m not interested in knowing the sounds associated yet since there are typically more than one, that will be when I start learning phrases and words.

Word of the day:
Romaji: ani
Hiragana: あに
Kanji: 兄
Meaning: Brother
Sentence: 私の兄は技師です – my brother is an engineer
The “no” represents possession. Watashi is I or me. Ha pronounced Wa introduces the object. Desu is the linking verb “is”

That’s all for this post.


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3V Micro Tesla Coil Design

photo 2

As I learn the theory behind tesla coils, I don’t have the money to make a real one right now but I figured I could make a small scale tesla coil:


* Bug zapper to step up the voltage. Technically since I was using 3V instead of the 2.4 originally in the device the capacitor is a little low for what could create better sparks.

* 2xAA batteries (and battery container)

* 2 metal rods for a spark gap (I used rounded end bolts)

* 30AWG magnetic wire for the secondary

* 14AWG solid core wire for the primary

* toroid (I used a 1″x4″ polished aluminum)

* 1(15/16) PVC pipe

Not going into theory but here is the gist:


Instead of AC mains I am using a 3VDC source from the batteries. Using diodes and a non-inverting switching driver to pulse the current it is then stepped up by a 1:100 so the primary circuit is working with 3000V and 0.0024A (roughly). Once the capacitor is charged up, the spark gap ignites because there is enough energy to bridge the dielectric of air. As the air ionizes the capacitor can pretty much fully discharge and you have an RLC circuit with a low Q that (hopefully) is at the same resonance as the secondary circuit.



There is a lot more calibration to do. This isn’t my final Ls or Lp. My final design will have a 960 turn secondary with a reverse conical inductor for the primary using copper tubing that can be tapped for calibration and better sparks.

Here is the result of my math:

Secondary Coil:

*resonant frequency: 602.157 KHz

*Cs: 4.06pF

*Ls: 8.24mH

*N (turns): 960

*H (height): 245mm

*AR: 4.98:1

*Ct: 4.418pF

*CT: 8.478pF

Primary Circuit:


*Cp: 0.0025uF (actual is 0.0022uF)

*Lp: 31.75uF

Reverse Conical Design using 1/4″ copper piping:

* N (turns): 20

*ID (inner Diameter): 3″

*OD (outer Diameter): 7.51375″

* W (“Height” of winding): 6″

*A (Average radius of coil): 2.62844″

(theta) angle from horizontal: 64.019 deg

Fun project. Should be able to complete it soon when I have the time. But the results so far have me entertained.

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KOI aquarium automation Chapter 2: Building and testing the circuit to feed the fish


Setting up a video feed to watch the koi fish online via a web browser or android phone as well as be able to feed the fish with a click or button press anywhere in the world. This will be done with a Beaglebone Black and a C920 Logitech webcam. As for feeding the fish, that will be discussed in greater detail in proceeding chapters.

Chapter 1a: Setting up the software for the webcam

Chapter 1b: Setting up an IP dedicated webcam

Chapter 2: Building and testing the circuit to feed the fish

Chapter 3: Writing the computer and android programs to interact with the Beaglebone Black Raspberry Pi


* circuit design

* picture of the circuit

* raspberry pi apt-gets (rasbian)

  – LAMP

  – no-ip


* php script

* webserver testings

* video of the test

* Done.

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Automated Tire Pressure Design


Using an air compressor, design a circuit to check the tire pressure and than fill as necessary.

This project really just popped into my head, and as I could see the whole solution along with two of our cars tires having leak issues, fluctuations with the seasons, etc. It’s such a beautiful solution to my apparent laziness for regular maintenance.

So here are the parts I am using:

Arduino Uno


3/8″ Electric Solenoid Valve 12-Volt Air, Water Normally Closed (~128 psi rating)


1pcs Pressure sensor MPX5500DP


As the Pressure Sensor is still in China according to the shipment tracking, I can’t help but already start playing with what I currently have…

Using an IRF540A MOSFET and a 12V power source I ran some tests on the solenoid. Very simple 3/10 of a second burst followed by 5 seconds of “cool down”.

Here is an example of the solenoid in action:

The pressure sensor is going to have an analog input, for the Arduino to handle this I wrote some code that I’ll eventually use when this component eventually arrives, but first some information:

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.00.40 AMScreen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.00.20 AM Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 3.58.48 AM Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 3.59.15 AM


Analog input, serial output

Reads an analog input pin, maps the result to a range from 0 to 1023
Converts this to a readable pressure value
Uses the result to print the pressure of a tire to the monitor through serial communication

The circuit:
* Pressure sensor connected to 5V, outputs to Arduino at 0.2-4.7V
created 29 Sep. 2013
modified 29 Sep. 2013
by Craig O’Connor

This example code is public domain.


// These constants won’t change. They’re used to give names
// to the pins used:
const int analogInPin = A0; // Analog input pin that the Vout Pressure Sensor is attached to

int sensorValue = 0; // value read from the Pressure Sensor

void setup() {
// initialize serial communications at 9600 bps:

void loop() {
// read the analog in value:
sensorValue = analogRead(analogInPin);
// convert the reading to voltage
float sensorVoltage = sensorValue * (5.0 / 1023.0);
// convert the reading to it’s PSI equivilant [(Vout = Vs*(0.0018*P+0.04)), (Vs = 5.0Vdc)]
// thus: P= (-V+0.2)/0.009 (kPa)
float kPa = (sensorVoltage – 0.2) / 0.009;
// convert to psi
float PSI = kPa * (0.145037738);

// print the results to the serial monitor:
Serial.print(“Pressure Output Voltage = ” );
Serial.print(” / “);
Serial.print(” kPa (“);
Serial.println(” PSI)”);

// wait 2 milliseconds before the next loop
// for the analog-to-digital converter to settle
// after the last reading:

ANNNNNNND That should do it. I realize now I will need one more solenoid to protect the pressure sensor when I have the whole thing hooked up together. When I am applying air pressure to the tire there could be more than the 75 psi rating of the sensor, but I can find a smaller and simpler solenoid that maybe runs off 5Vdc  to let air flow from the tire to the sensor. My next post should have a schematic and better photos of it all working. STAY TUNED.


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How to Think Like a Genius

I read recently in an article that to think like a genius there were nine steps:

Nine approaches to creative problem solving:

  1. Rethink! Look at problems in many different ways.

  2. Visualize! Utilize diagrams and imagery to analyze your dilemma.

  3. Produce! Genius is productive.

  4. Combine! Make novel combinations…

  5. Form! Form relationships.

  6. Opposite! Think in opposites.

  7. Metaphor/simile! Think metaphorically.

  8. Failure! Learning from your mistakes is one example of using failure.

  9. Patience! Don’t confuse inspiration with ideas.


Pretty interesting how there is such a simplicity to this philosophy. It makes total sense too considering it’s just a more intricate variation of the scientific method.

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Plasma Speaker (Senior Design Project)

While still enrolled at Wake Technical Community College as an electrician, I never graduated because I moved on to a 4 years school after I graduated high school; however I did take enough courses that my electronics professor let me take senior design. So I set out right away to build a circuit designed to do one of the most interesting tasks: produce sound by change the air pressure, not with moving parts and magnatism we are familiar with in speakers but no moving parts and ionized gas produced with a high enough voltage to overcome and produce a spark across the air gap between two electrodes. When the arc is stuck by high voltage supplied by a flyback transformer, it ionizes the air around it, which has two primary effects: first, the plasma makes a much better conductor that the normal air is, which allows better continuity of the arc, and allows the newly-found conductor to vibrate with varying magnetic fields. Secondly, and probably more importantly, the plasma is relatively massless, and as the current through the arc varies, the higher-resistance air around the plasma stays stuck to it, and is thereby driven by its vibration. As I mentioned, the plasma is relatively massless, so almost no energy is wasted on moving it. This allows for a much clearer, almost perfect, reproduction of the original sound.

However, it is important to note that plasma speakers completely act as a tweeter and can not reproduce bass frequency sounds.

Here is the circuit diagram:







Since at the time I had a lot less theory as I do now, it took me weeks of prototyping to get this project right, but I finally got sound the day before my presentation!

Some photos:


Flyback Driver and electrodes:Image



I’ll have to post a video of it working this weekend along with the schematic I designed myself to power the device.


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KOI aquarium automation Chapter 1a


Setting up a video feed to watch the koi fish online via a web browser or android phone as well as be able to feed the fish with a click or button press anywhere in the world. This will be done with a Beaglebone Black and a C920 Logitech webcam. As for feeding the fish, that will be discussed in greater detail in proceeding chapters.

Chapter 1a: Setting up the software for the webcam

Chapter 1b: Setting up an IP dedicated webcam

Chapter 2: Building and testing the circuit to feed the fish

Chapter 3: Writing the computer and android programs to interact with the Beaglebone Black



Beaglebone Black is a $45 device that runs a ARM Cortex-A8 processor rated at 1GHz with 65 digital pins and 7 analog pins including 2GB onboard memory and 4x UART, 8x PWM, and the ability to host a microSD card.

The primary reason I am using the Beaglebone Black over my raspberry pi is because the necessity for a fully functional USB interface. The Raspberry Pi as of yet still drops quit a handful of packets which could make the video feed excessively glitchy.

As this is still a modern topic of discussion, little documentation is provided. As I am using Debian over Angstrom I will post the details to getting started.


Have Debian installed (I kept Angstrom and have an SD boot for Debian on a 16GB microSD card, instructions are found in the sources section)

A secondary computer with VLC installed to test the camera

Lets Begin:

Since OpenCV is not pre-installed on Debian, lets fix this. First install the required packages:

apt-get install build-essential
apt-get install cmake
apt-get install pkg-config
apt-get install libpng12-0 libpng12-dev libpng++-dev libpng3
apt-get install libpnglite-dev libpngwriter0-dev libpngwriter0c2
apt-get install zlib1g-dbg zlib1g zlib1g-dev
apt-get install libjasper-dev libjasper-runtime libjasper1
apt-get install pngtools libtiff4-dev libtiff4 libtiffxx0c2 libtiff-tools
apt-get install libjpeg8 libjpeg8-dev libjpeg8-dbg libjpeg-prog
apt-get install ffmpeg libavcodec-dev libavcodec52 libavformat52 libavformat-dev
apt-get install libgstreamer0.10-0-dbg libgstreamer0.10-0 libgstreamer0.10-dev
apt-get install libxine1-ffmpeg libxine-dev libxine1-bin
apt-get install libunicap2 libunicap2-dev
apt-get install libdc1394-22-dev libdc1394-22 libdc1394-utils
apt-get install swig
apt-get install libv4l-0 libv4l-dev libav-tools
apt-get install python-numpy

Now its time to install OpenCV:

open your handy terminal and make sure you’re root type:

cd Downloads (or whatever directory you want to put this)
git clone

cd opencv

mkdir release

cd release

make (This is going to take a WHIIILLLLEEEEE, grab some joe or whatever… don’t recommend watching this part)

make install

Great! We are almost finished with the setup. Now we can use a premade script to send the files through using UDP

git clone git://

cd boneCV

./build (If you run into errors it will probably say it can’t find some dependency, Google and download it)

now open streamVideoUDP (nano streamVideoUDP) and change where its sending the packets (My other linux laptop I used the command “ifconfig” to find my local ip address). For me:

./capture -F -o -c0|avconv -re -i – -vcodec copy -f mpegts udp://

save it. (ctr+x>>press y>>press enter) if permission denied use the command “chmod 755 streamVideoUDP” and try again.

Run the script, “./streamVideoUDP”

go to your other computer and open VLC>>Media>>Open Network Stream>>Network tab type:


and with minimal lag and minimal processessing power from the beaglebone you can watch 1080HD footage provided by a C920 webcam.


This concludes the first half of all the computer science technology I will be using for this project. Next I’ll explain how to setup an IP address through a server and watch the feed from anywhere on any device.


Molloy, D. [DerekMolloyDCU]. (2013, May, 25). Beaglebone: Video Capture and Image Processing on Embedded Linux using OpenCV [Video file]. Retrieved from

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One Watch To Rule Them All

I can’t get over this watch, besides its magnificence and aesthetics, the engineering behind this bad boy is brilliant. This is a project I covet quite a bit.


Although the price is totally illogical, you can watch this bad boy in action HERE

I’m sure it drains the battery fast and yeah, he comments the noise is a little loud, but WOW, creativity and engineering makes this world so interesting.

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