LabVIEW Seminar

Some while back I received an email notification of a hands-on seminar, generously hosted at Ball Systems in Westfield, to introduce LabVIEW, software I had never used. National Instruments was sending people to provide basic instruction and seats were limited, so I signed up quickly.

The seminar opened at 9 this morning with perhaps 30 people in attendance. Two Purdue EETs sat next to me; they were both good guys who had some working knowledge of the software. The instructor repeatedly switched between talking about National Instruments' offerings and the software in question. Each table had a PC that was attached by USB to a box of data acquisition devices, including a light sensor, thermometer, and strain gauge. We used the software to collect data (DAQ, in their lingo), the collection and display of which was quite customizable. Some DAQ was tied to boolean operations to do things like cause an LED to light if the temperature went above a certain value. Very neat!

Three hours is not much time to learn how to do anything, but I now see why LabVIEW has been around since 1986. It's quite an impressive program, able to handle a huge selection of measurement devices, tweak input, output code to manage input, and more.

Conclusion: three hours well spent.

Photo Casualties

Recently I suffered the loss of my Velbon tripod. One leg refused fully to retract then finally broke. In trying to fix it, the lens cap--kept in place through "ingenious" Soviet design by the friction of a thin felt strip inside the lip of the cap--came off, skittered down the Peleng fisheye's convex lens, and left a big scratch. That has put paid to my VR photography, as I don't know when I will have the money to buy a new tripod and fisheye lens: Even old weighty Soviet military tech Peleng fisheyes are costly, at least $315 or more.

What a bummer. However, now that classes have resumed, I don't have much time to mess with cameras.

MathStudio Files

One of the best programs I have bought for my iPod is MathStudio, which is well worth its $19.99 price. The list of operations is extensive and accessible. The plots, especially the animated 3D ones, are superb (and quite useful). It exchanges files through iTunes nicely and offers other file-related functions.

MathStudio gets a regular workout for my Multivariate Calculus course. The files I create in MathStudio will be uploaded here, just in case someone else wants to make use of them.

Week 1

The first week is over. Multivariate calculus is going to be fun, but it will take some time to refresh my integration skills that largely turned dormant since August. Physics will be more difficult than last term, since we have more material to cover; however, it seems we will make greater use of calculus in working problems, not as an explanation of concepts.

The TIG welding class began with safety. The class is full, perhaps due to all the talk I hear about all those good-paying welding jobs out there. Welding is a very good thing and it is certainly enjoyable, but I do not see very many jobs for it in my area; of those I see, wages are not great. For comparable pay, it is a much better job--more productive, exciting, and physical--than sitting in an office shuffling papers.

Spring 2013

The new term has begun at Ivy Tech. My fellow engineering students are all taking fewer credits this term out of expectations of particularly difficult physics and math courses. In my case, that means the second 5-credit physics course PHYS 221, which involves electricity, heat, and optics. My math course is MATH 261, multivariate calculus.

Tuesday nights I will also have a TIG welding course.

Time outside those classes will go to independent study of chemistry.

This will likely be a tough semester, but it will be worth it. This summer I'll likely transfer to IUPUI and start my junior year in the fall term.