Day 12: Not a workday

I decided yesterday to have a three-day weekend. I wanted to do some of the project I have not been able to do in the last few months.

I watched the House of Representatives pass the stimulus bill.

I started with finishing my game of The Architect of the West Kingdom. I was re-learning this game and also wanted to get the hang of the one-person game using the automatic play. There is also a two-person with the automatic player that looked interesting to try. I very much enjoyed playing by myself–unusual for me. The number of choices makes the game fun to play, and the automatic play was pretty good.

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I then finished my charger circuit for supercapacitors. I built this from specifications I on the Internet from Instructables. This has been an area of interest to me. Capacitors are safe, generally don’t start having problems charging like batteries, and are well understood. Supercapacitors are a newish idea that allows low voltage but very high storage without the chemistry of batteries (i.e. supercapacitors don’t wear out and/or explode when shorted). The small car starters you see for sale are actually banks of supercapacitors with a charger built-in. I am looking for a power system that is safe and small and reasonably long-lasting and quick to recharge. This may be the answer.

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Here is my board I built, and the big black thing is a 2.7V 400F supercapacitor you can buy on Amazon.

Of course, it did not work. I got out the schematics of the circuit I was supposed to build. My university did not have an engineering department or college but instead was famous as a teacher’s college. Instead of engineering, we had shop classes. Very very hands-on electronics and lab. Actually, 100% lab. I took all the courses on electronics and still fear no electrical shocks. I can build almost anything in low power electronics.

I found my bag of parts and noticed that all the 240-ohm resistors were still in the bag, oops forgot to put that in. Yes, there is a 240-ohm in the schematics that is not in the circuit. Solder that in. Now it works perfectly. I use silicone-coated wires now. More attractive colors and they take the heat of soldering better. Actually, I like the colors and the feel. After years of working with plastic-coated wires, it seems so modern to be using something like silicone wires.

That takes us to today’s song: Shock the Monkey.

I stop and talk to Peter Keller from SAP today. We have a group for the America SAP User Group (ASUG) on testing and test data. We do a little planning. Peter, he lives in Denver, tells me that they are too locked down.

I get the mail and a strange letter presents. My old Buick is being held in Astoria, and there is a lean against it for about $200. I traded it in years ago. This is the car I moved from Maryland in 1996. It is four cars ago!

(Loading up The Buick to ship to Oregon in September 1996)

I call the folks who have it. It was found abandoned on a farm field, striped, and left to rot for years. Nobody re-registered it. OMG, I still own it.

I remember that I had signed the power-of-attorney to have it re-registered and saw the payoff of the loan come in the mail when I traded it in for “The Volvo.” It seems that the car was stolen or lost or illicitly used for years until abandoned in Astoria, Oregon. I gave the car to the salvage company who recovered it. They will crush it soon and recycle it.

I was first sad; it was a beautiful car and it drove so fine I drove through New York City one-handed. Snow and ice were not a problem for this car. I called it, “The Buick.” Its hood was so long you could not see if you would hit anything when parking it. Apparently, after it left me, it entered an exciting life of crime. I choose to imagine it finished up crashed like in a Vin Diesel movie. Goodbye, “The Buick!”, Cuban Car Crash.

Lunch was also a challenge. Red Robin sent the wrong burgers. I called them, and they said it would require them to have me call in a new order to have it delivered. They would credit me the cost of the food. I was by then talking to the manager. I told them to keep the money, and we would eat what they sent. I told them they need the money, and I can manage a mushroom burger. It was great, actually. There is a chicken BBQ left still. I will likely have that on Saturday. The manager was grateful.

I have managed to charge some more supercapacitors. I have also added in an adjustable boost regulator to discharge a charged supercapacitor like a battery. Supercapacitors discharge by lowering the voltage. This change is at a much higher rate of collapse than a battery and will make a hash out of a DC circuit. The adjustable boost regulator can stabilize the voltage for a while and the DC circuit will work. A supercapacitor flashlight would be burning bright and then be dim for hours. The additional electronics evens out the light and would turn off the light when the supercapacitor can no longer support it. And I managed to get a flashlight circuit going. Small victories are how we progress.

I have not watched much of the news. Last time I saw the stock market was down a few percent. That is more normal. Liquidity is still improving, but some companies are starting to fail; energy industry supporting companies are headed to bankruptcy according to some news reports. They cannot get new loans to keep going. The Fed and other banks are already picking winner and losers. Bail-out always create winner and losers.

Over four-hundred people passed away from the virus today in the United States.

Today I picked something to remember all of these folks, not a hymn but close to a hymn: Over the Rainbow (Hawaiian version).

 

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