Quite a while ago (in the last century nonetheless) my idea of a productive day entailed writing a lot of code, measured by size in any suitable metric.
Lately I’ve been writing less in volume but I realize that I spend a greater time thinking about the problem at hand as a whole and that it happens mostly in the background while I’m doing something else. By the time I’m again at the workstation everything falls into place.
Also, when stepping aside and contemplating whatever I engineered I can’t help to feel anything but pride. Perhaps except for the documentation I build things from the get go thinking of what I would like to have were I a library user, on terms of building blocks.
During the last two weeks I built a library to parse a protocol called LX200 used to control telescopes and I can’t be happier with the result (for now it’s at https://github.com/telescopio-montemayor/python-lx200 ). The first one was a roller coaster, due to some other issues I went back to a night owl schedule and I can’t remember when was the last time I had such prolonged and intense periods of flow. I also taught myself asyncio.
It’s terse, concise, and (mostly) well structured. My former self would’ve made a mess of a state machine tied together with pages of if statements that worked, for sure, but was a pain to extend or correct. Of course looking down the path and leveraging years of experience this things seem obvious now.
A couple of days ago I started to learn FreeCAD, mostly for its FEM analysis mode and to build a couple of construction plans.
I made another part of the cable trays for our comms closet. Initially I wanted to use FreeCAD for that but at the end it was faster to do a bit of trig and sketch the cuts on paper. It’s held in place with a couple of rivets. I also added a layer of pvc to shield the cables from the metal edges. Fits like a glove.
I also started to build a steel support for one of the walls. We made a big opening for cables and I’m a bit uneasy about the lack of support.
These doors were waiting a long time to be installed. Now this looks a bit more professional than before, except that on the opposite side there’s a chunk of wall missing and a lot of dust on the new hole to feed another cable tray.
We have this old scope for the students. It’s been unused for a while as it behaved erratically and then stopped working completely.
After setting the trigger to a more or less sane value I had something on the screen but the controls where flaky. A heavy dose of our deoxit equivalent and twisting it sprang to life. I adjusted the dc offset (drifts a bit while warming up) and matched the channel gains as much as I could and called it a day.
Here at the Uni lab we have a nice articulated lamp that lacks a base. It’s been sitting on a corner for ages so I set to make a new clamp for it.
The frame is just a bit of T beam with a nut and some square tubes welded.
For the handle I used a bit of 3/8 threaded rod and a big washer I had lying around. In order to fix it I decided to make a hole along the axis and tap it to M3. After center punching the rod I screwed it to the drill press, using a center drill to align it. The plan was foiled when I tried to drill, as I left the base loose and it moved. But it’s good enough.
My initial idea was to use another nut and a locking pin behind the front washer but that used up a loot of the available space inside the clamp. After a bit of head scratching I ground a small taper and added a small washer to push the bigger one instead of a nut. I’m quite proud of how it turned out.