Friday, May 28, 2010

Today's plans

I finally figured out why my OpenCV code didn't work: there was a transpose in one matrix and I didn't understand how OpenCV lays out memory (it pads each column so that it's a multiple of 4 bytes). In general, indexing in OpenCV involves a painful cast; this is the most helpful summary of how to do that.

I still can't get two XBee modems to communicate; I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I just found a nice howto and a tutorial which looks like the right things to try.

Plans for today:

  1. E-mail / admin
  2. Derive dynamics for the quad-rotor
  3. Work on a list of reviewers for my P&T application
  4. Start deriving continuum dynamics
  5. Order breadboards, PICKit2s, mini-Bullys, etc.
  6. Prepare for meeting with Jimmy, TJ
  7. Work on recruiting Summer Bridge helpers

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The morning disappears

The morning is disappearing. I worked a bit more on my CV, realized I'd forgotten to add my SECON paper and presentation to my list of publications. That took time to dig up (I still don't have the page numbers, can't access the ECE web server to post the PDFs, etc.). Going through my inbox, organizing some Summer Bridge things, etc. took a long time! I have just a few more admin tasks before I can (hopefully) be productive.

The good news is that my home publications page and research publications page are a bit more updated as well, with some additional citations found.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


It's high time to get a bit more organized for the summer!

I've noticed several things about my netbook
  1. It worked best before I installed lots of software. First, the more I install, the more updaters run in the background, consuming precious memory. I'm now in the process of gradually removing unnecessary programs in hopes of restoring some of that performance.
  2. I went through a series of bad turn-on problems after upgrading my netbook's RAM to 2 GB (I have an Acer Aspire One 531h). I finally discovered that powering on with the power supply attached produced failures, at times even reporting that I only had 1 GB installed. I'm guessing the supply can't handle the initial current demands. Likewise, restarting instead of shutting down then powering back on produces flaky behavior.
Things to do:
  1. Read
    1. The quad-rotor thesis
    2. Adam's paper
    3. Look at the QR decomposition in more detail. I'd always used the SVD for pseudo-inverse calculations, but wonder if the QR is more efficient.
  2. P&T
    1. Determine a list of reviewers
    2. Write a cover letter
    3. Fill out the forms
    4. Ask Tommy questions on his students for CV
    5. Get CV reviewed
  3. NSF
    1. Read reviews
    2. Look up references and incorporate
    3. Start reading and editing
  4. Quad rotor
    1. Order a MAX3232 to interface with the Microstrain / call Microstrain (look at IMU part number)
    2. Talk about DC-DC converters / power supply for PIC, speed controller
  5. Summer bridge
    1. Order parts: breadboards, PICKit 2s
    2. Debug / work around motor noise problems
    3. Build up alternate platform with encoders
    4. p14p development work -- GPIO testing
  6. Other
    1. Talk with Ben
    2. Schedule a meeting with TJ

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video tracking on a microcontroller

Wow; I'm impressed. Here's a great senior design project in which the students do video processing / tracking on an AVR. That's a good reminder that even low-resolution, low-speed stuff can produce some impressive results!

When we do image processing, the question should be "How little data do I need?" instead of "How large an image can I process in real time?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Promotion and Tenure

I started as an assistant professor in August of 2005, so I go up for promotion and tenure beginning this August. I'm trying to get started early and work on it gradually throughout the summer, in order to do a better job and enjoy the process more. The CAAD page on P&T has a great image!

As always, the process begins with some information gathering:
  1. The Faculty Handbook contains P&T procedures (also available as a PDF).
  2. The BCoE P&T policies.
  3. ECE P&T policies.
  4. The Provost's office page for faculty contains some useful info:
    1. Documenting teaching effectiveness.
    2. A list of peer research institutions from which I should get external letters.
    3. Tips on promotion and tenure.
  5. The UPTC website (which was very well hidden) has a suggested application organization document. Note: I've been told that the info on this web site is outdated and the site itself will soon be taken down. However, I still find the suggested application organization helpful and see elements of it in the P&T presentation given Spring 2010.

    Continuum robots

    Catching up on my e-mail, I've run across a couple of interesting links:

    1. A paper worth reading on a novel 3D elephant trunk.
    2. The ICRA workshop on medical applications for continuum and serpentine robots. A couple of paper listed in the papers section will definitely be worth reading.
    3. DuPont's latest work.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    At Eglin AFB

    I'm now at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It's beautiful here! I've been enjoying meeting people, but at the same time I'm still in the process of discovering a good project to work on.

    From some e-mail catch-up, the robotics podcast looks interesting.

    A member of the Eglin group is a big advocate of PythonXY. It looks like a nice toolkit for doing MATLAB-like work in Python. Very interesting!