Recently - June 5th 2020

Author: t. Macleod Sawyer (contact@macleodsawyer.com) - Published: June 05, 2020

This post is an experiment in an attempt to resume more standard ‘blogging’ activities. I don’t consume social media as I used to and I rarely provide updates on anything that pertains to my life in any practical sense on any platform, but given that we are in the middle of a pandemic (plague) I am beginning to become bored of existing purely in my mental bubble.

Years ago, when I was a teenager, I would blog nearly daily (sometimes.. hundreds…. of times a day) on my tumblr. This led me to some pretty cool things (a million subscribers and an unprecedented time of total productivity). I had a lot more time then to do as I wanted, but I think there were likely some benefits to the use of blogging that I overlooked in the grand scheme of things.

While still a proponent of the idea that we exist in a time of period that will be referred to as the ‘Digital Dark Age’, especially as SPA’s, walled gardens (apps, mono-apps particularly), isomorphic web development, and linkrot become more and more prevalent and cause the activities of archiving harder and harder, I think blogging on my own platform1 does not impede that directive of posting micro-updates as using social media would deem so. Anyways, I ramble - I’ll get on with the post as I should have about 163 words ago.

Arlo

I am working on a new very cool project called Arlo. This is a nano-sized 9DoF(2) Bluetooth IMU installation chip.

The first iteration I designed and tested was about the size of a quarter, ran off a coin-cell battery, and could give fairly accurate readings on position (X, Y, Z) and acceleration - but this only gave me a 6DoF rotational information thanks to the MPU6050. I also had a Nordic Nrf51 Bluetooth 4.0 Low-Energy (BLE) connection manager for relaying the information directly to most modern phones.

The second iteration, something I am working on now, has 9DoF(2) IMU thanks to a MPU9250 and I upgraded to the Nordic Nr52 chip, which allows for better coverage and far lower battery consumption (and reduces development costs as the dev boards are far cheaper to upload custom firmware). Not only is this better on power consumption, but I’ve gone ahead upgraded the battery capacity to 10x of the coin cell, built in a recharging station that allows me to safely recharge the lithium polymer battery with surge protection, and power load sharing, but I also shrunk the board/chip size to about the size of a finger-tip (its about 16x17mm currently).

The principle use of Arlo is simple: A modular, highly usable, motion positioning system. This has a lot of potential applications (my list has about 62 currently that are both reasonable, and outlandish). Currently, I am using this as a way to analyze my golf swings and strokes. Due to Arlo I will be able to ascertain my swing speed, acceleration, hit speed, backswing, angle and vector of attack, and a few more characteristics.

Since, I mainly program in Javascript (Node) as a backend (albeit, I program in Python, C, Ruby, and a few more) I built upon a project called Capacitor that allows me to connect to native device API’s (Bluetooth, Location, &c) using Javascript/HTML/CSS and used a SPA framwork (See Paragraph 3…) called Svelte so that I can create an app for both Apple and Android using one source code without getting into the nitty gritty of the backwards world of mobile development.

This app allows me to write HTML/JS with access to the Bluetooth capabilities I require to connect to Arlo, where I process the data and can calculate out the required information listed above for my swings in real-time (and ahead of time, but that’s a post for another time!)

I hope to reach market within the year, many more updates will be forthcoming.

Grad School

I was accepted into a masters degree program at the University of Colorado Boulder and I just finished up my first two sessions. This is an experimental remote master degree program and I am already about 6% of the way to receiving my degree within the last few months. I am, as you can probably tell from the section above, an Electrical and Electronics Engineer.

Novel

I started writing a novel about a year ago, I made it about five-thousand words or so before I reached a point of writers block. I will be getting back to that one in due time.

I started a new novel about two months ago - this one is a science-fantasy epic that has far too many characters, world-building, and culture that I am just beginning to flesh out. I have about seven-thousand words, and am hoping to reach the 20k mark in about a month or so. I have plans to self-publish in segments once I reach a point of quality.

Doc

I adopted a dog about three months ago, my family calls him the ‘plague doctor’ as I adopted him just when the Covid-19 pandemic of Sars-CoV-2 began to gain more and more steam.

The first day we got him, he is about 3x as large now.

He is a lovely, mischievous, seven-month old-man-puppy of a labradoodle. His name is ‘Doc’ and he has grown about 3x the size he was when I got him.

Other Ideas

I have had a few more ideas recently on things I could potentially make and/or patent.

  1. A rollerball finger-mounted braille scanner/reader/transmitter with a ferrofluidic nano-actuator for pinpoint action to create a 6x6 grid of actuators (total of 20mmx20mm size) to relay single letter/number combinations in braille for items the user would scroll over on paper, or more predominantly on computers and smart phones. I am working on this at the moment, still in the mostly planning stages. Ferrofluids are cool!
  2. The ferrofluidic nano-actuator that I wrote about above.
  3. A micro-actuator skin/muscle fabric using electromagnetic coils to tighten and give shape to movement of fabric. Similar to a muscle that would act not internally, but as a skin over a simple frame giving joint flexibility.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sensors and actuators recently….

That’s almost all on my mind at the moment

There are a few more things I am looking forward to posting about, namely my coin-paper problem in response to Information Theory, but much more.

I’ve recently added two new books to my /books page that I think anyone who traversed this post would likely enjoy. I have a list of books I’ve finished but haven’t been as active updating the page with those. In the coming week or two I should add about another five or so books that made the list (and at this point, I should make a negative list for all the books that didn’t deserve to be on any type of list).

Thanks for reading, you can subscribe to my newsletter to the right (or below on mobile) for more updates - as there will be more than a few that are forthcoming.

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1. This website is hosted using Gitlab, Jekyll as a static site generator, Netlify to automatically deploy, and NetlifyCMS as a GUI interface. \ \ 2. DoF - Degrees of Freedom