Suicide of an Acquaintance

Last night I was very saddened to learn that a young man I knew at IUPUI had killed himself three days prior. He was a few semesters behind me, so I first met him when he was in ECE362, a required course on assembly programming, that I taught with my friend Nathan. He was a hard worker, often coding away in the lab, but he never seemed to get angry about it; the frustration he showed seemed quite minor. Indeed, I had contacted him about coming to work with me after he graduated.

It was a real shock to learn of his suicide.

Finals Finally Final

Today at 12:30 I finished my last final exam for my BS EE. Now I wait to see what grades will come back. There is a good chance of two As and a C, but we'll see. I have some grading of my own to do for the course I assisted.

What is curious is that I feel neither joy nor satisfaction at having completed everything. Rather I just feel exhausted from the stress of finals now in the past.

My girl and I celebrated at the Indianapolis Rock Bottom Brewery with some fellow engineering students, recent or current graduates. The bison burger was tasty!

On December 22, 2016, the last grade was submitted to the registrar, with the following results:

  1. ECE 321: Electromechanical Motion Devices, B
  2. ECE 421: Advanced Digital Logic Design, A
  3. ECE 463: Introduction to Computer Communications Networks, A

Now I wait for someone to sign off that my degree is indeed complete. My program GPA wound up 3.612, but my degree GPA was 3.803.

Final Semester

The first week of classes has ended, with both relief and repudiation. Since returning from my internship in Arizona, there has been much to do here in Indiana. I have also spent three days taking a Japanese friend to a doctor for a dangerous eye infection. My 2011 Honda Fit has all-electrical steering, no hydraulics, that has begun failing briefly and intermittently, so that is in the shop to be examined.

In addition to doing a final section of the assembly programming lab for ECE 362, I have three electives:

  1. ECE 321: Electromechanical Motion Devices about motors, generators, magnets, inductors, and such.
  2. ECE 463: Fundamentals of Computer Communications about networking, which looks to be quite interesting.
  3. ECE 421: Advanced Digital Logic Design, a VHDL course that requires much work with Xilinx' Vivado.

Down Time

Tomorrow starts the Thanksgiving break at IUPUI, and it will be welcome: Yesterday was an offensive dynamics test, moreRF assignments were assigned, and a filling was replaced this morning. Shortly I leave for campus to help a student with assembly programming, work on a lab report, and eat pizza served to my fellow lab students as thanks for our work.

I can use some down time, like this fellow, if not exactly like him.



Friday brought me halfway through this semester, autumn 2015. I have had just two tests to date, both fearsome. The first was three weeks ago, and I have yet to see its scores; the other, three days ago.

The senior design project is coming along. This weekend I must research some hardware options for it.

Work as a lab assistant for the assembly programming course is fine. This is my third section in two terms. While I don't write much assembly as a lab assistant, I do get more exposure to how others think and write it, which is beneficial to me. It has also led me to consider taking ECE 359, "C and Data Structures" in the spring, which uses C as a medium for teaching concepts about the stack, recursive functions, efficiency, and backwards engineering code.

Regardless of how things seem to be going presently, I look forward to the conclusion of the remaining half of the term.

ECE 362 "Home Automation" Project

The final project in the fall 2014 ECE362 "Microprocessor Systems and Interfaces" course at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis had a couple of choices. My partner, Nathan Wheeler, and I got the "home automation" project. The project was written all in assembly, in the CodeWarrior IDE, for the Motorola HC12. We wound up writing 16K of code, but we met all the requirements and surpassed them.

  • Keypad for much user input, each key with a different sound
  • LCD display of menu options and various messages
  • Switches to control LEDs and climate control
  • Potentiometer to select menu options within a room
  • Push button for doorbell routine with tune
  • IRQ routine to simulate tripping of alarm with sound and LED pattern
  • Password options
  • Stepper motor turns clockwise for AC, opposite for heat, and slows down as it approaches desired temp
  • DC motor is system fan, gradually speeds up and slows down when changing between speeds

It was a hard slog but we enjoyed doing it!

Fall 2014 Term Completed

The fall 2014 semester is over. I had three finals: two on Thursday, one on Friday. I had been regularly checking for official grades, but for days only my t'ai ch'i course grade was up. Here's how things shook out:

  • HPER 148: T'ai Ch'i Ch'uan, 1 cr. A+
  • ECE 200: Engineering Coop, 1 cr., S
  • ECE 301: Signals & Systems, 3 cr., A
  • ECE 362: Microprocessor Systems & Interfaces, 4 cr., A+
  • ECE 311: Electric & Magnetic Fields, 3 cr., A

The three three-hundred-level courses were tough. The E&M course is widely considered the second-hardest class for electrical engineering; I invested plenty of hours in the course each week to be able to walk into the final with 95%. For the microcontrollers course, we learned to write assembly code for the Motorola HC12. That course's final project consumed the Thanksgiving break of my partner, Nathan Wheeler, and I. Eventually I will provide a short video of our "home automation system."

Not five minutes after writing this, buddy Nathan wrote that grades were up, so I updated everything. Despite concluding a 3.5-year divorce, without children, and taking three demanding courses, I think I did OK.


The other day I found that a fellow ECE 362 student lived in Tokushima, Japan, in 1990. His father was there on sabbatical at Tokushima University's medical school. Since my classmate was only 11, his memory is not the freshest but there were places we both knew: I lived there from October 1999 to March 2006. It was my favorite place to live and work in Japan.


Final Project's Stepper and DC Motors Done

Yesterday, after much gnashing of teeth, I finally figured out how to make our evaluation board's DC motor speed up and down gradually when changing between high and low speeds. The number of hours I put into that is embarrassing, but it is now accomplished.

That follows on the heels of a solid eight hours sunk into getting the board's stepper motor to turn clockwise or counterclockwise (or not at all) in gradually changing speeds depending on switch configuration and the direction of temperatures (current and desired) in a given room; for example, if a room's desired temperature is below the current one but the switches for heating are thrown, the motor should be in neutral, not spinning to alter the temperature in the wrong direction.