Goofy photo technique

I recently read about how out facial features (like all things) take on a distorted perspective as we get closer or farther away. Getting closer will make your nose bigger, and anything farther from the lens smaller. It isn’t just your nose- it’s whatever is closest to the lens that looks bigger.(I think this technique may be used in certain magazines that promote unrealistic body images) Things might look interesting when a wide angle lens is used to allow you to get closer, but they don’t look normal.

I don’t usually use image editing programs like photoshop, but I had the idea, “what if I pasted a close-up head onto a more normally proportioned body?”

Here’s the result:


Another soccer guard (3)

Here’s a picture of my setup for how I’m able to (relatively) quickly bang out some bars for the soccer guard.


When I set up the mill like this and use the vertical tube to orient and locate the horizontal tube, I just need to drive the X axis to the predetermined spot while squirting a little coolant, and all of the tubes I make are the same within a few hundredths of an inch. It’s not an accurate way to do it from setup to setup, but it’s good enough for what I need, and it gets the gaps tight enough for easy TIG welding.

It could be better, but with the tools I have at Techshop and the size of batches I do, this is working well enough for me right now.

Another soccer guard (2)


There it is- the new guard. I haven’t put it onto a chair yet, but I have a good feeling about it. I think I got things fairly straight. A jig to hold everything during tack welding would have made things go together easier. It also would have been nice of I had been able to mill the edges of the inside edge of where the horizontal tubes come together at 90 degrees. I had to grind off the interfering edges, and any imprecision created a gap that I had to bridge with filler. It’ll be strong enough, I think, but would have been easier with a nice tight fit all around.

It weighs 10.8 pounds, about two pounds more than the World Cup guard. I don’t have access to a CAD system that will calculate rotational inertia for me (and I don’t feel like doing it by hand for), but I suspect that the new design isn’t quite as good in that respect. Regardless, this is about $80 worth of steel, compared to $300 for the cheapest commercially available guard. It also has a much more square tip, allowing the player to hit the ball with a spot closer to the end of the guard where the speed is highest.

Another soccer guard

I’ve been working on a design for the team that will be somewhat light weight, and not as expensive, time consuming, or fragile as the one I made for Kendra.
Aircraft Spruce sells some 1″ diameter tube for $2.80 per foot, compared to $3.50 per foot for the smaller diameter tubing I used before, and I get to use less of it. I also don’t use any of the square tubing that costs $10.75 per foot.

More important than the cost of the tubes, the old design had a lot of semi-precise milling required, and had almost 50 welded joints. This design has simpler tube preparation and less than half the welds. Access to the joints is better, so it’s a little easier to get the torch into all the required angles. The tubes are much stronger than the 1/2″ tubes, so I don’t expect this guard to get dented in from any normal hit.

The guard weighs about half a pound to a pound more than the one I designed for Kendra, and a lot less than the guard I posted on September 24th. It remains to be seen if it gives a good hit on the ball, but I’m optimistic.


Building Power Soccer Equipment

This month I’ve been working on power soccer equipment for Borp. Not to brag or anything, but I think it’s OK to toot your own horn every now and then, and now seems like a good time to do it. Here’s a list of what I’ve been up to:

  • Installed extra-large motors in one powerchair.
  • Created a faster anti-wheelie method and installed it on two chairs.
  • Re-balanced two chairs (plus the chair that received new motors)
  • Created a new method of attaching a guard to a midwheel drive chair and installed it on one chair, letting somebody play who hasn’t been able to play for months since his last chair broke.
  • Welded a new foot guard.
  • Fabricated wheel spacers for two chairs, installed them on one chair so far.
  • Reprogrammed and reconfigured a donated chair to work for somebody who’s daily chair isn’t cutting it for soccer.

All in all, I have made about 80 welds, machined 13 aluminum parts, six steel parts, and spliced six wires. This allowed one person to play who could not play before, and hopefully improved the competitiveness of five other players. It has been a good month, and I’m not done. Hopefully I’m just getting started.

I have big plans for new things to build, and ways to get more people playing at higher levels of competition. Let me know if you want to help!

Totally should… hire me!

I’ve had an amazing time traveling the country, working on personal projects, and making new friends for the last few months. However, it’s time for a new chapter. My dream is to work in a product design firm, or at least the R&D department of a company that regularly makes new products. I have assembled my resume and portfolio, and have begun submitting applications.

If anybody out there reading this might now know a position, please email me and let me know. I am focusing on jobs within commuting distance of downtown Oakland, California, but for the right job I am ready and willing to relocate.

Also, if you looked at my resume and portfolio and you have any feedback or criticism, hit me! I’m all ears.

Keep biking! (and beat internet addiction?)

After my bike tour I spent the first couple of weeks off of my bike, and was slow to get back on. First I was trying to let me hand heal (trying to regain 100% sensation in the fingertips of my left hand!), and then I caught a nasty summer cold. I set up my desktop PC to begin my job search in earnest, since there’s only so much you can do from a cell phone. As I set up my PC and regained full connection to the world wide web, I noticed something was going on: I was spending too much time surfing the internet! This absolutely wasn’t something I had been interested in while I was riding 60 miles per day. I kept up with my blog and checked my email, but not much beyond that.

Just by chance (Or not? I was looking at a lot of websites as I recovered) I came across an article about internet addiction and brain chemistry. I don’t remember the exact article, but if you google for “internet dopamine” then you’ll see that there are a lot of articles on the subject. It boils down to the idea that there are a few psychological things going on that trigger a little hit of dopamine on a very regular basis while you surf the web.

The first mechanism that I find interesting is the way we’re wired to want to know our surroundings, and constantly scan for danger or changes. I think it’s one of the reasons that when we live in the suburbs we like to have wide flat featureless yards of trimmed grass around our homes, and why games like Farmville take off. This is a pointless way to trigger your reward center because the internet is always changing, and by and large those changes you discover are not relevant to your life in any way. You just see something that wasn’t there before, “Someone just posted a picture of a cat!” and you get a tiny hit of dopamine.

The second part that I feel more ambivalent about is the way we are rewarded when we learn something new. It’s satisfying to learn something new, right? Even if it’s some stupid little random factoid that doesn’t apply to our lives, and may not even be adequately supported- it feels good to learn. The internet is also a great source for learning, not just a constantly shifting sea of ‘new things’ to spot. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool for gaining useful knowledge, but it also lets you go and click on the random wikipedia article, and spend half an hour learning about things that have no relation to anything, at a superficial depth, and in such an undisciplined way that you’ll only retain a tiny fraction of that knowledge.

Social media also triggers this small (meaningless?) release of dopamine. Seeing a loved one’s face, or hearing of a friend, or thinking of somebody you have a crush on are all things that give this rush of brain chemicals (great TED talk on that, by the way), so by flipping all over the internet and revisiting facebook/etc, it’s possible to sustain a lot of little hits of dopamine, and something like an addiction develops.

I didn’t set out to write this post about internet addiction, although that’s how it seems to have turned out, I began on the subject because of what I noticed while I was riding 50+ miles per day. I had a constant ‘high’ going, and my level of interest in all things ‘trivial internet’ went down a great deal. I definitely had days where I’d take a break and surf on my phone, but I didn’t feel the same ease of losing an hour to it that I do when I don’t have a baseline level of exercise going on.

During my regular routine before the trip I had about five miles per day of biking, plus some walking. It was enough with a reasonable diet to not feel like a total slob, but I realize now that I wasn’t getting nearly the level of exercise that my body craves. Since the trip I start getting an itch to go for a ride. I guess that developing an addiction to real exercise is a great outcome from all of this. Hopefully it will allow me to remain more focused and relaxed, and maybe get down to a really healthy weight.

That’s all for now, I’m going for a ride!