Thoughts about Ruby, Rails, RubyMotion, iOS, and business growth.

Geekfest & OpenROV

Geekfest: Tuesdays at Groupon.Geekfest: Tuesdays at Groupon. Geekfest is a weekly event hosted by Groupon’s engineering team. Every Tuesday at lunchtime, the company invites members of the tech community to present topics that are interesting to a technical audience.

I wish to express my thanks to Groupon for inviting me to present OpenROV at today’s Geekfest.

UWI Computer Science Club & LinuxBarbados

Members of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Computer Science Club and LinuxBarbados just finished a joint session this afternoon. I am grateful that the group invited me to present. Outline (prepared in advance):

  • 30 minutes: Overview of Ruby, Rails, and some alternatives to both. What are the advantages and disadvantages of building web apps with Ruby? Can you build a business with this stuff?

  • 30 minutes: Questions and Answers. This will be a highly interactive time. Anything discussed earlier is fair game. We can explore technical specifics if you like.

  • 60 minutes: Deep dive into anything the group wants to explore related to technology, business, or the combination of the two. If the group doesn’t choose a topic, we will end early. But if the group is interested and engaged, we will continue.

RubyCaribe: Ruby Gets Hotter in January

RubyCaribe (pronounced ka-REEB) is a conference for intermediate and advanced software developers who use Ruby. The conference will be held January 27 – 31, 2015 in Barbados. January is a beautiful time to visit the Caribbean, especially if you’re coming from a colder part of the planet.

Barbados. You could be here in January.Barbados. You could be here in January. Intermediate and advanced software developers will find RubyCaribe valuable because…

  • Each RubyCaribe session features a 30- to 45-minute presentation followed by a 2-hour deep-dive lab. Learning is reinforced throughout.
  • The venue, Hilton Barbados Resort, sits right on the ocean. Need a stretch break? Take a walk on the beach!

Manage That OpenROV Tether, Or Else

OpenROV tether management, one way that works.OpenROV tether management, one way that works. Note: This article has been updated with more photos and details describing slip ring installation.

Youthful exuberance drove me to pilot my OpenROV before I built a good tether management system. Bad idea! It’s better to have a tether management plan (any plan) before you pilot your OpenROV.

This article describes a tether management system that works for me. Other OpenROVers have devices that work, too. Take a look at a few and eventually you will find one that fits you.

Off-the-Shelf Parts

This tether management system is constructed entirely from off-the-shelf parts. The main component is an extension cord reel sold by Home Depot for about $14.00. Buy it, gut it, add the slip ring using three screws (also from Home Depot) and you’re good to go.

Solar Powered Parallella

Give solar power to your Parallella with a few simple components.Give solar power to your Parallella with a few simple components.

This article describes a simple hardware hack: Making the Parallella run on solar energy.

Motivation: The fastest computers in the world gulp electricity at an alarming rate. For example, Tianhe-2 at the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, China uses 17.8 megawatts of energy per year. In dollars, that’s roughly $17 million spent on electricity spent each year, depending on how the electricity is sourced.

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories estimate that the earth’s surface absorbs enough solar energy in ninety minutes to power every electrical device on the planet for a full year. A year’s worth of energy in ninety minutes! Surely we can use some of that energy to power our supercomputers.

ESC Programming and Calibration for OpenROV

Three ESCs, one for each motor. Each ESC has a switch and a power/signal connector.Three ESCs, one for each motor. Each ESC has a switch and a power/signal connector.

ESCs: New Experience for Me

Electronic speed controllers (ESCs) were completely new to me when I first assembled my OpenROV. This article documents my initial misunderstanding (and eventual understanding) of ESCs so that future builders can move forward with fewer glitches.

OpenROV Assembly Challenges

OpenROV fully assembled.OpenROV fully assembled. I know this problem can be solved. I just haven’t figured it out yet, and I need help from the OpenROV community to do so.

Update: The OpenROV community delivered. Solution: ESC Programming and Calibration for OpenROV.

Parts That Work

Software image updates on the Beaglebone Black work flawlessly thanks to scripts written by Brian Adams and Dominick Fretz. The cockpit software shows a real-time image from the camera, the LED lights are super-bright, and the lasers hold steady at 10cm apart. My fully assembled OpenROV passes the water submersion test. Yes, it’s waterproof, thanks to O-rings and silicon-based lubricant!

What about the motors? The motors work, almost. Could it be the electronic speed control (ESC) settings, calibration, or less than perfect soldering? That’s where I need help.

Be Awesome. Tackle Big League Problems at WindyCityRails

Be awesome.Be awesome. Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios?

  • You have already built a successful Rails app. Now that you’re “done”, you know you can make it better, but you’re not sure how. You want to take your skills to the next level.

  • You recently graduated from Dev Bootcamp, Starter League, Mobile Makers or another school. You’re ready to meet and interact with your next generation of mentors.

  • You are no longer a beginner. You have seen advanced developers in action, and you are determined to get there yourself.

  • Software development is relatively new to you, and you built a successful track record in another profession. You want to meet people who can help you accelerate through the beginner phase so you can launch something useful.

Common thread: It’s time to unleash the awesomeness in your bones. You want to take your skills to the next level, and you are ready to tackle Big League Problems. WindyCityRails is for you.