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Pocket sized power generation?

Pocket sized power generation?

I was reading this article on Science Daily today.  At first I was fairly interested, based on my nuclear reactor operation experience.  Small nuclear generating stations, maybe even portable?  Sounds pretty cool, I wonder how they shrink them down.  Then I see that they are still talking gigawatt size reactors…

That’s still huge!  That’s bigger than any of the military reactors I operated, so I’d like to know what exactly is being done to move the technology along?  The Army, back several decades ago, did experiments with some portable reactors.  The results weren’t too pleasant.  Either way, this is concept is nothing new in the grand scheme of things.

As the article says, the issue is safety.  When I was operating reactors for the Navy, there was an operator at the control panel 24/7, 365 days a year.  Those reactors were inherently safe as well, it would almost require someone to intentionally cause a problem.  Additionally, there was an abundance of cooling water available (the ocean).

Cooling water availability is one of the top concerns when operating a reactor.  Even when shutdown, a reactor generates enough heat to melt many metals if left alone.  The only way to completely ‘turn it off’ is to dismantle it and spread the built up fission products far enough apart that they no longer generate an unmanageable amount of heat.  Until that happens, cooling water needs to be circulated nearly all the time.  Either way, my dream of a nuclear reactor that fits in my jeans is going to have to wait.

Hopefully someone will go more into detail about these Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), what style of reactor are they going to be, how are they different than the typical civilian plants of today? (other than size of course).

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Engineering a better drummer?

Engineering a better drummer?

I’m not sure Def Leppard would have been the same had this existed.  I can remember watching their music videos and being amazed their drummer could keep up.  But still, how great is it that people can keep doing what they love doing musically after a tragedy?

Here’s the article I’m referencing

One of my favorite parts of this design is the potential randomness of the third stick.  In making music, sometimes it’s the little accidents that turn into great ideas.  The potential happy surprises that could result here could make a lot of bands very happy.  It gives me an idea that I might start playing with, how to introduce randomness into a song, but still keeping it musical to minimize unhappy surprises.

In this case, keeping the third stick in time with the music was probably a bit of a challenge.  If all music were played at the same tempo, it would be easy to simply only allow hits at certain intervals.  Drummers specifically change their style of playing frequently during different parts of the song, it must have been an interesting process to solve.

So now I think I want to figure out a way to integrate some of the ideas here into my percussion foot controller.  (While there haven’t been any updates, I anticipate having a ‘finished’ prototype this weekend for both controllers).  Maybe a ‘random’ hit generator that calculated the probability of a hit based on the time and frequency of the triggered hits?  This should be fun!

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