Thursday, August 10, 2006

Model rockets

Gosh, I haven't posted anything for a very long time (and this isn't the first time I've neglected this blog). But an awful lot of things have been happening!

I spent most of the summer term working quite hard, and it paid off: I got a II.1 in my part IA exams, and I was only 1% off a First! If I hadn't spent so long playing GTA San Andreas when I should have been revising, I might have got that 1%. But Materials is such a boring topic! Also, Half-Life 2: Episode One came out, and that took a fairly major toll on my revision for a couple of days. It's a marvellous game: some of the best character interaction I've seen in any single-player game, as well as awesome graphics, especially the characters' facial animation and texturing.

Anyway, after relaxing during May Week, I went home for a couple of weeks, and spent some time working at DFx Technologies (an electronics firm). I was doing test & repair on their production floor, and it was suprisingly well paid! I learnt a lot about what to do (and what not to do) when debugging faulty electronics -- but several PCBs died to bring me this knowledge. I'm hoping to find similar work here in Cambridge this Christmas vac.

"'Here in Cambridge?' But it's the middle of the long vacation!" I hear you exclaim. Yes, I'm living at Wolfson Court at the moment, and working at the department. Dr Peter Long is paying me to work on gEDA, a suite of Open Source tools for doing electronic design. It's nice to get paid to work on stuff that I'd probably be working on in my spare time anyway! Unfortunately, I'm currently suffering a bit from RSI -- probably my typing technique at fault -- and it's causing a few problems. I've started using Workrave to help me cope with it, and it seems to be helping; I recommend it to anyone suffering from similar problems.

As far as the topic of this post is concerned, I just finished building a small model rocket out of paper, cereal packets, glue and sticky tape, and it looks like it'll work -- once I add the solid rocket motor! The parachute was fun to make, and I was dubious about its chances of working, but some tests involving throwing it up in the air attached to a small weight indicate that it should be okay. We'll launch it tomorrow or Saturday, and see how it performs, and I'll post some photos then.

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