New Apartment

Hello, everyone;

Yet again, I need to apologize for not blogging in a really long time. Time just tends to fly between posts, and being in Engineering, it feels like I can never find any leisure time to update.

I just moved into my new apartment in the last week. I promised I would upload some photos of my new place. I decided to move off campus for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is that the UW Housing and Food Services decided on a new rule that if you live in the residence halls, you have to subscribe to the university meal plan. The food really isn’t that great, and it is way overpriced. To illustrate, for a simple breakfast of a waffle, scrambled eggs, bacon, and orange juice, you can be charged over $10. I found myself in the habit of eating out every day, since it was cheaper and higher quality than provided by the HFS.

So after a week of searching, a fellow Electrical Enginner colleague and I found a good 2 bedroom apartment at Travigne Apartments. Our place is located on 11th Ave in the University District. After spending a week of searching, we decided on this apartment, since it is unusually high quality for the low price. I’m paying just a little more than I was for the residence halls, but now I am able to cook for myself, plus it is a significant increase in quality.

Main entrance

Our apartment is the one with the balcony on the top floor.

Inside the lobby area

Coming out of the elevator, our apartment is the first door on the left.

My futon, which until just recently, served as a bed rather than a couch. I got the blanket when I was on my first deployment with the USAF to Qatar.

Bookshelf containing the textbooks my roomate and I have been accumulating over the years, as well as leisure reading.

Looking outside to the balcony

Looking down from off the balcony.

My roomate’s grill, so we could eat lots of barbecue.

 

Kitchen area

The coffee pot, which is now used primarily for making tea since I quit coffee.

My desk and dresser area

My bed.

The apartment opens up rooftop access to the residents.

Views from the roof of the apartments. Blessed Sacrament Church (catholic), and a view of downtown Seattle and space needle.
Right now, I’m taking the Summer off from school. I began the Summer Quarter out taking a full load of classes, although I began to have really bad anxiety attacks for some reason while performing coursework. I think the main causes for this anxiety are because for Spring Quarter, I was pushing myself too hard, pulling too many overnight study sessions, and drinking coffee. This combination can make you really go crazy after a while. A couple weeks ago, I decided to quit drinking coffee, because I think that was the main culprit. After I quit coffee and went through a period of withdraw, I felt a lot better.
Now that I’m off, I intend to catch up with a lot of things that due to my course load, I never really could find much time to do: reading, learning new music, exercising, research employment opportunities and organizing unsorted computer files and stacks of papers. I’ll also be looking for Summer jobs painting and doing yard work.
I intend to be complete with all my coursework after Spring Quarter next year, and I will have a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering. This next year is going to be my toughest year, since from the looks of it, I have a capstone design class every quarter. I’m intending on getting completing at least two areas of knowledge in the next year in Embedded Systems and Analog Circuit design, and if I feel like it’s not too much, attempt VLSI (Very Large-Scale Integration).
A couple weeks ago, I got called last minute to put together music last minute for a wedding. Due to a misunderstanding, the organist who was expected to do the wedding wasn’t in town for that day, so I was called up as a last resort a week before the wedding. I pretty much chose out all the music, and I got together with a good friend who plays the violin, and we put together a prelude. I recycled pieces I had used for another wedding a couple years ago on Bremerton Naval Base, and tried a couple other pieces that I used for Resurrection that I thought would work. Overall, I got very positive response for the music, so I was glad I could help out and remove that burden from the family.
Speaking of weddings, congratulations to my sister Rachel for her recent engagement to Alex! She is getting married on January 2 at Faith Presbyterian Church. May God shower his blessings on both of you.
In September, my Dad and I are once again hiking the Wonderland Trail (110 mile hike around Mt. Rainier), and we’re planning to spend a week doing that, so I’m trying to put together camping trips and day hike trips to make sure I’m in shape for that. Later this week, I will be at Eagle Creek for two days with my dad and some good friends.
Anyway, that is my spiel for the time being. I’ll try to update more often, although when classes pick up again, I really won’t have any time, so I’ll apologize in advance for not posting in so long, and I hope you understand.

Update

I just happened to notice that my blog was horribly updated, and my last post was from back in August. Last year I took a web programming class to motivate me to create a really decked out web page, but it only taught me that it’s way too time consuming and too much effort. So here I am, using Blogger.com still.

I’m now on Skype, which seems like a really nifty online phone service. If you want, you can reach me with my user name, jfeucht82, and I’ll try to leave it on as much as possible. My philosophy is that I should pay as little on telephone communication as humanly possible. If you’ve ever tried calling me, you’ve probably noticed that I rarely carry my phone on me wherever I go, and I respond to email a lot faster than I do via telephone. I currently own the cheapest AT&T pay-as-you-go phones I could possibly get, and it’s malfunctioning because the ringer doesn’t work anymore for some reason.

I was just looking through my online degree audit (or a listing of classes you still need to graduate), and I figured if I take the right classes, I might be able to graduate the end of Spring Quarter in June. I’ve been following mostly the program requirements of VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated) Circuits, although the final courses I would need for that program aren’t offered until the Summer or Fall quarter. On the other hand, I could take two engineering courses next quarter, and be done with the program requirements for Embedded Computing Systems, which is another field I have quite a bit of interest in. And I kind of want to exhaust the funds in my GI bill before I get out of the University of Washington, and I have funds to cover me through Fall Quarter this year, if I take classes over the summer.

So that’s something I’m going to have to start thinking about. I’ve been prettying up my résumé and cover letter for possible internships and jobs coming up, and I have some career fairs to attend…

This quarter, I’m taking two engineering courses, and a writing course (I have to take two technical writing courses). I’m also taking my first 400-level UW course, E E 471 Computer Design and Organization. This class seems like it’s going to be quite a bit of work. We’re learning how to design our own microprocessor using Verilog, which is a computer language designed specifically for modeling digital circuits. Over the course of four lab assignments, we will design critical components of the processor. The class pretty much deals with figuring out how a processor processes machine code, and how all the components in a processor interact with each other.

The other engineering course I’m taking is E E 332 Devices and Circuits II, which is a continuation of an engineering class I took last quarter. This class deals primarily with designing circuits with BJTs (Bipolar Junction Transistors), which are pretty much electronic parts that amplify signals. Our final design project is to design and build an audio amplifier.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now. Sometime in the near future, I might come up with something that’s actually interesting to talk about and blog about it, but as for now, if you’re too bored, you can check out my AC to DC in my previous post and marvel at how incredibly interesting it is.

An AC to DC Converter

In one of my classes, E E 331 Devices and Circuits I, our final project was to build an AC to DC converter. Our design specifications were to take a 10 Vpp 60 Hz DC input from a center-tap transformer and have an adjustable 10 V to 20 V DC output. It was expected to have output noise of maximum 100 mV, and able to deliver 1 mA current for all voltage settings. Also, we were graded on how cheap the circuit was to build.

Above is a block diagram of our design. The circuit works by rectifying an AC input, creating a high frequency square wave, and using that wave to drive a boost converter to amplify the rectified input signal to a level dictated by a differential amplifier you could control using a potentiometer.

And above is the circuit schematic as viewed in PSPICE schematic and simulation software. The circuit was designed mostly on computer, then built later when the simulated circuit met specifications. The square wave was provided by a 555 timer, and the differential amplifier was built using a LM741 operational amplifier. The amplifier compares the voltage at the anode of a 5 V zener diode with the output voltage, and increases its output voltage when the output voltage falls too low, and decreases its output when the output voltage gets too high. This feedback system maintains a constant output voltage, which is calibrated using a network of resisters to operate within the specified range.

Above is the circuit built on a breadboard. The total cost of all the electrical components is a little under $8. Our design had barely any noise in the output, and it met all performance requirements within a narrow error margin.

Summer Break

I’m out of school until the 24th of September, which means I have time to spare until then… I figured I have time to make another contribution to the blogosphere. During the break, I have yard projects I am doing for my parents, I’m working on several organ and piano pieces, read, blog, and try to get my window fixed on my car (finally!!!) I’ve been waiting so long because I had a ton of large expenses due by the end of August, including annual health insurance, car insurance, rent, and vehicle registration renewal, so I wanted to make sure those were paid off first. The temporary window I fabricated out of clear packing tape (which I consider to be a milestone in my fledgling engineering capabilities) continues to serve it’s purpose extraordinarily well.

I did a bike ride up to Sunrise on Mt. Rainier the other day with my Dad and a friend from Church. I haven’t been much of a bike rider, especially since my bicycle was vandalized at the University of Washington. I was using my Dad’s ‘rain bike’ for this ride, but I am thinking about getting another one some day when I don’t have a lot of expenses due and it’s relatively good weather. Ever since my dad had stents placed in two constricted arteries, he has taken up bicycling, and even completed the Seattle-to-Portland this year.

End of Summer Quarter

Hello, friends and family!

It’s been several months since I last posted. This summer has been pretty laden with school work. This quarter I took two classes, E E 271 Digital Circuits and Systems, and IND E Probability and Statistics for Engineers. This is the second time I’m taking a Statistics class; the first I took at Pierce Unfortunately, the credits didn’t transfer for the course. The courses were pretty much the same material, except for that the one I just took uses a little bit more advanced mathematics…

For the past two weeks, I have been spending long hours and late nights working on a final project for my engineering class. The project is to design and build a game using digital logic. We were given a list of 9 different project ideas (or you could create your own). Here is the description for the particular game we chose:

This game involves dealing with some disgruntled chemistry and aero students who have teamed up and have taken over Bagley Hall. The are dropping balloons filled with synthetic and noxious scents…raspberry, strawberry, eau de skunk, greasy hamburger, cold pizza, Budweiser, oops InBev, …oh retched…, on the people passing below. Your mission is to stop this olfactory attack as quickly as possible.

This game is played on a 4 by 4 grid. Balloons are randomly loaded at the top of the grid and fall to the bottom. You can move a paddle left or right to block the balloons and thus prevent them from bombarding the folks below. If 3 balloons hit, the scent police haul you off to work in a paper company for the summer.

My instructor, Dr. Peckol, obviously has a really dry sense of humor. Anyway, my lab partner and I decided to build the project on an 8 by 8 grid, since there were compact dual color 8 by 8 LED (light-emitting diode) Matrices available at the UW parts store. The biggest challenge of the project was figuring out how to get the LED Matrix to work. Here is a schematic of the LED Matrix taken from the data sheet:

Since most of my readers aren’t familiar with electronics, all of the triangle/line things are diodes, meaning that current can only flow in the direction of the arrow. When you apply a positive voltage to any column, and ground any row, current is allowed to flow through the diode at the intersection between the selected row and column. The problem is, how do you get two lights on at the same time that aren’t in the same row or column? If you applied voltage to two of the rows and grounded two of the columns, you will have four LEDs shining, not two.

The trick to using an LED matrix is only having one column on at any time, and cycling through the columns at high frequency. The human eye can only notice a flicker of up to 50 Hz, and due to one of the properties of the human eye known as persistence of vision., an LED needs to be on for only nanoseconds in a 50 Hz cycle in order to appear as though it is continuously on. In our project, we have up to three objects on the screen during the course of the game, although the column and row display drivers cycle through displaying only one object on the screen at any given instance. We built a 555 Timer circuit outputting a pulse of 6.9 kHz, which is used to cycle through the objects on the screen.

Here is a block diagram of our game design:

The larger components of the circuit, including the Control, Sequencer, Row Driver and Column Drivers, were written in structural Verilog (programming language), then written onto generic array logic (GAL) chips. The random bit generator is a 3-bit linear feedback shift register, which is a common method for generating pseudo-random numbers. Here is a photo of the final circuit:

Well, I won’t go too much deeper into all that boring electronics and stuff… I could go on for 26 pages (that’s how long our lab report ended up being). Here it is in action!

There is one glitch in the final version I discovered last minute that I think is an easy fix… Once in a while, a balloon skips a row. I think this is because the clock signal to the Sequencer module has a race condition.

Anyway, that was my project. Digital Circuits is really a fun class. I get a month-long Summer break, so I think I’ll do some hiking trips and some other fun things. Next quarter, I’m taking E E 331 Devices and Circuits I, E E 361 Applied, and Electromagnetics, and AMATH 301 A, Beginning Scientific Computing. It’s not going to be an easy quarter! 🙁

Finals week!

This coming week is finals week, so I have been doing my last-minute cramming. It’s been a while since I posted last, so I decided to take a little break and update my blog. I have four finals next week, E E 233 on Monday, E E 235 on Tuesday, Math 308 on Wednesday, and CSE 190M on Thursday. In my E E 233 class, we learned how to design filter circuits, and how to understand the signal produced by a circuit using Fourier analysis. E E 235 was pretty much the same material, except it was for general signals.

My E E 233 teacher, explaining the Laplace transform. (I sometimes take photos during class so I don’t have to take notes.)

In CSE 190M, we got experience with all sorts of different areas of web programming, including xhtml, css, javascript, php, sql, and more. Looking back, my understanding of web development dramatically increased this quarter, and I’m convinced I can now build a pretty high-quality web page.I am now working full time playing the organ and piano for Resurrection Presbyterian Church. Resurrection is now leasing the property of Summit Methodist Church in Puyallup. My brother in law, Andrew, maintains the home page at http://resurrectionpc.org/, as well as print the bulletins.

 

Here is one of the tracker organs in the practice rooms at the University of Washington that I do some of my practice on.

I have been involved with the Alliance of Christian Musicians, which brings musicians from different churches in the area to promote more traditional forms of music. Last weekend, they had their third meeting at Faith Presbyterian, and a couple violinists (Rosemary and Austin) from Faith and I put together a chamber transcription of a Bach concerto for the opening of the third meeting. After which, Mr. Bechtel, the organist at Faith, moderated a conversation among four professors from surrounding churches.

I’m waiting to hear back from Crane Aerospace and Electronics. A week ago, I had an interview for an internship position at the company. If I don’t get the job, I will be taking TC 333 Advanced Technical Writing, MATH 390 Statistics, and E E 271 Intro to Digital Circuits during the summer. I hope I get the job, because I need a little break from school — I have been taking at least 15 quarter hours for the past 2 and a half years now!

My mad refinishing skills

About a month ago, I embarked on a project to refinish one of my grandpa’s old desks. It had scratches all over the surface and nail polish and glue stains because of a special person I know (who will go unnamed, since I just now found out that he/she apparently is extremely sensitive to being called out on the internet for smearing nail polish on antique furniture and certain expensive musical instruments some time last decade). So I did a bit of research, got the necessary materials, and set to work on this project. I spent days sanding down the desk and all the drawers, during which the air in the garage became so saturated with sanding dust that my sanding masks were useless at filtering all the sanding particles, and I felt congested for an entire week. Unfortunately, I got sanding dust pretty much everywhere, and my dad wasn’t too happy about that…

Anyway, I picked out a “special walnut” stain and glossy polyurethane, and by the end of spring break, I had the first clear coat of polyurethane on the desk and all the drawers. This was a ton of work for one week.

The next weekend, when I came home on Saturday, the top of the desk was smudged up a little bit, possibly to somebody setting down on top, destroying the finish. I guess I didn’t give enough of a warning to my parents that it needed time to dry. I found it impossible to correct the blemish by sanding it down, and ended up destroying the stain. This is the destroyed finish after my failed attempt to fix it:

 

I ended up sanding down the entire top surface again, and applying a new stain and clear coat. I decided to take more precautions this time, and post some warning signs.

And hence, the final layer of clear coat, and the now fully restored and re-beautified antique desk. It is surely a work of art.

I am praying that nothing unfortunate happens to the desk this week. I am a bit tired of working on it. I didn’t think to take pictures of the disk before I started working on it, which is a pity, because I didn’t realize how unusually few pictures of the desk we actually have. I searched briefly through our family album of scanned and horrifically disorganized .jpeg files, and I could only come up with this one ancient photo dating from last decade (wow, computer screens used to be that big???):

Until I find better photos of the desk, you’ll just have to take my word that it was quite unsightly.

(Help me out, family. If you know of any digital pictures of the desk before I started working on it, please email them to me. There might be a special prize.)

Ah, the smell of cherry blossoms!

I was walking home from class today, and I brought my camera along. It was a beautiful spring day, and the cherry blossoms in the “Liberal Arts Quadrangle” were in full bloom, so I decided to slow down for once and take a few photos!

Left: Miller Hall. Right: Raitt Hall (left), Art Building (right)

  

Left: Art building. Right: Music building

Smith Hall

And here are some more photos of my dorm, Hansee Hall. It’s always good to know there are gargoyles on the roof scaring away evil spirits! (Actually, it is a chimnera; gargoyles in architecture are ornate gutters used to spout water away from a building!)

My bad omen car…

Hello, everybody.

This may be old news for some of you. I got one of my car windows shattered some time between March 14th and 15th.



If you remember, I’ve had my drivers side power window smashed in before early in the morning on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The repairs cost around $350, none of which my insurance helped out with. I’m hoping that repairs this time will be a lot cheaper! Ironically, both incidents happened before the Sunday when me and a friend, Rosemary, played part of the second movement to Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata for church offertory. Just out of fear to losing more windows on my car, I don’t think I will ever play that piece again. Anyway, here are the photos from a year ago which I haven’t uploaded yet:

As you could see, this time, it was a much smaller window. Other cars in the same parking lot were also broken into, and some cars actually had their main driver power windows knocked out. I’m not sure when I’m going to finally get the window replaced, but for the time being, I have constructed a nice sturdy patch out of clear packing tape. It has been pretty weather resistant, and I wasn’t expecting it to last this long.

 
At first, I thought they only got away with a 30 pack of top ramen packets. But I found out a week later that they stole a backpack full of ski equipment, including a new coat I had just gotten, ski pants, a hat, gloves, and ski goggles, which was in the trunk. Last time I had the car broken into, they got away with my iPod, which was in the glove box. I guess I finally learned my lesson to have nothing of value in my car. I also think I might just leave my packing tape patch on, so thieves have an easy way to break in that isn’t going to cost me $350 to repair. Hopefully, they’re smart enough to realize they don’t have to break my windows to get in.

These aren’t the only times my car has been vandalized. On four separate occasions, my car has been pelted by a total of 7 eggs, the most recent time (believe it or not) this past Friday night! I was driving home for the weekend, and a car coming in the other direction pelted my driver window with an egg. It didn’t cause any damage, and it washed off pretty easy.

Four of the eggs that hit my car left marks, but here are the worst two:

This happened in August 2005 while I was in the military. I found it after I had come home from leave in Washington. I think the eggs may have been sitting on my car for three or four days, because it had completely cooked to the car and was beginning to smell pretty gross. It gets pretty hot in the summer in North Carolina. I could still see the stains where the egg had run down the side of the car. You can see the paint has been removed from where two of the egg shells had been sitting the entire time.

I also had my car shot with a BB gun some time in 2006. I’m not sure if I had gotten shot while I was driving home from JiffyLube that day, or if I had been shot while I was parked in front of my house. But I was typing up a report and my my roommate Matthew got home from work and asked me if I knew I had a hole in my passenger side door. I was shocked, and sure enough, there was a deep dent where the paint had been stripped. Here is a photograph:

I am so used to having my car vandalized that I’m starting to expect seeing something wrong every time I go to it. Every time this happens, I start telling myself that I should have gotten a beater. I just got a steering wheel club on my mom’s suggestion, since Honda Civics are one of the easiest cars to steal.

Anyway, that is my bad omen car. If you like people breaking your car windows, throwing eggs at your car and shooting your car with BB guns, then you may be happy with a Honda Civic 2002 4-door, green with silver pinstripe.