Wednesday, February 26, 2020

In Nature Robotics Expansion?

Thankfully my knee surgery on Monday went well (according to the operating surgeon) so this week is mostly being spent doing computer work in bed or on the sofa. Before leaving for the surgery though, I did manage to cut out a couple of pontoon shapes with the hot wire cutter, that will be later glued together. It was a bit harder to maintain a straight line than I had expected, so some sanding and smoothing will still be required after they are glued together.

I'll also need to cut out another pair of pontoons, so that they can all be glued at the same time.

On Friday of last week I carried AMOS across the University of New Brunswick (UNB) campus on a freezing cold -26 deg C morning to meet with some professors who might be willing to provide an evaluation of AMOS with respect to its mechanical and software design. The evaluation could include up to 40 hours of their time, but would require approval from IRAP in order to get funding.

The day before that, I had a Webex conference with some people from Esri, the company that makes the ArcGIS software that AMOS uses for posting data, planning routes, etc. This was to find out if In Nature Robotics would be a good fit for their startup program. Last night I got a confirmation email that In Nature Robotics was in fact accepted, pending some document signing. This could be a good opportunity to market AMOS to other companies that are already using ArcGIS for map-based data collection of environmental data. It also comes with up to 3 years of free usage of their software and support.

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, I got an email notification from the Venture For Canada website a few days ago, to let me know that they did not actually have an automatic notification system available to let employers know when someone had applied to one of their job postings. As I got absolutely zero traction with the posting I had created last fall for the winter term, I had assumed that the posting for the spring term had gotten a similar (zero) response. But actually there were 6 applications there, some of them quite good! So stay tuned to find out if In Nature Robotics will be doubling its work-force soon...

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Interpolated Data Maps & Cat Boats

Last week some more time was spent on adding a data interpolation feature to the data mapping software. The result turned out pretty good I think:

I would also like to create some mapping software for monitoring AMOS in real time or after the fact via a saved log file. It could be used to pinpoint exactly where AMOS was at any given point in time, the route that it took, what the diagnostics outputs were over time, etc. The mapping software I have done so far has used the ArcGIS .NET software development kit from Esri. I actually have a Webex conference with Esri on Thursday to discuss possibly joining a program for startups that they have. 

The other activity for this week was coming up with a basic layout / design for the catamaran version of AMOS:

I'm not really sure yet if I like it or not. It is shorter than the current version of AMOS (6 feet long instead of 8 feet) and approximately the same width and height, so that's good I guess. I'll think about it for a day or two maybe before cutting up a bunch of EPS foam with the new hot wire cutter (btw the new hot wire cutter works great, I tried it out on a few scrap pieces of EPS).

On a personal note, I am undergoing knee surgery this Monday to fix a small tear in the meniscus of my left knee. I'm not sure what it will mean in terms of mobility, so maybe next week will just be spent writing code in bed. 😊

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Better Data For 2020

There are at least a couple of ways that AMOS could be updated to provide users with improved water quality data. One would be to add some industrial water quality probes that are capable of collecting calibrated data for a wide variety of parameters. Another would be to improve the data presentation software that is used to represent the data that AMOS collects. Some progress was made on both these fronts this week.

In order to continue updating the map-based data presentation software that AMOS uses, I first needed to get a new Esri ArcGIS license, as the free one I was using had expired. Luckily Esri offers a free account with some limitations for developers, which turned out to be good enough for my purposes. Using some temperature data that AMOS had collected last October, I was able to generate this nice color coded water temperature plot:

I think the color coded points on the data map look better than having blobs of varying sizes on the map. With color coding, you can also imagine a feature where data could be interpolated in the locations between sampling points by taking a weighted average of the surrounding points.

I have also been asking around and getting quotes from 4 of the major water quality probe manufacturers. Basically I would like to have a multi-sonde that comes with probes for temperature, turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and blue-green algae. All of the manufacturers seem to support communications interfaces with 3rd party dataloggers, typically using RS-232 or RS-485. So far I have gotten prices from a couple of the manufacturers, and am waiting for quotes from the other two. The sensors are not cheap, so I want to do my research and make sure that the ones I decide on will be able to provide AMOS with reliable, accurate measurements.

In preparation for an experimental catamaran version of AMOS, I found a hot-wire cutting device on Amazon that looks like it should be suitable for cutting through 2" sheets of pink insulation:

Hopefully it will help me to make more even cuts in the foam with fewer gouges and less time spent sanding.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Workation Time

The update at the end of last week's blog mentioned that the presentation to the Raspberry Pint club went pretty well; if you would like to see the presentation (and the other presentations from that evening) you can do so at the following YouTube link:

The slides from the presentation can also be found here:

I find it amazing how much I say "ummm"  and "ahhh" when speaking. It's not something I'm actually aware of when speaking, so not too sure how to go about fixing it. Maybe hire a public speaker if AMOS ever takes off.

This week I had to travel down to San Diego for some meetings related to my job with Measurand. Luckily though, we got finished a bit early, so I was able to find some time to get out and enjoy the southern west coast sunshine and do a tour of this massive boat (the USS Miday):

I spent a few hours touring the boat, which was de-commissioned in the early 90's and converted to a museum about 15 years ago. Here's a nice pic of the San Diego downtown, taken from the flight deck: