Saturday, 30 April 2011

Friday, 29 April 2011

Arduino Mega

Since just before Xmas i've been playing around with a new bit of kit i got called the Arduino Mega 2560. Alot of you won't know what this is but it a rapidly growing community, any bit of hardware with the name "Arduino" will spark interest straight away. I genuinely get excited when i start to read about projects involving Arduino and my expectations have yet to be let down by an application utilizing one.

So what is the Arduino?

Well the short answer is its a open source electronic prototyping platform (according to the box). A more descriptive answer would be the Arduino is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega chip. The model i have is the Mega, which has 54 input/output pins which can be assigned for different uses depending on your particular needs. Anyone else see the versatility of this little board?

Adaptability? In my workshop!
What struck me as most unique about this piece of kit is the shear adaptability its open to. The way the Arduino is laid out it has opened a niche marketed for what have become known as "Shields" which get sandwiched on top of the microcontroller. All it needs to run is nifty coding and bobs yer uncle and fannys yer aunt!

<insert coffee break>

So when i got the Arduino i was also given a wonderful little book called "Beginning Arduino" by Michael McRoberts. It gives a brilliant foundation for the Adruino as a tool, because not only to you need an understand of simple circuit building (which i'm confident i can say i have) but also a breakdown of all the code that is associated with making the microcontroller tick (Which i don't have).

For my technical project this year in college i wanted to build a Temperature control system that would keep a Pulsejet engine in check. Now i'll make a separate blog about that but needless to say the Arduino would be the brains of the operation. I chose a special type of temperature sensor, scripted the code (with some help) to include a set point and once the set point is reached, a trigger that would activate some pumps to begin a cooling cycle. I (eventually) got a working prototype just in the nick of time! I think the only thing that would let me down is my presentation and lab book, i was never one for sitting down and filling out a diary... I do physics not heritage studies for fuck sake!

Future plans for my loverly Adruino?
I've had my eye on the AeroQuad project for a veeeeeery long time so i suspect the next step would be to get it airborne. Most of the parts and senors have been bought and will be arriving before summer i hope. More updates to follow i'm sure ;) Another option is to build a submersible drone for some underwater exploration... You might have guested that robotics and autonomous control is a fetish of mine.

On the subject of "getting in shape"

This can be a complicated subject.. but ill give you some tips and over view.

In essense looking in better shape is - Body Fat percentage Or gaining some more muscle

to over simplify- losing Fat is done by burning more calories everyday then you take in
one professor lost 20 pounds in a few months by only eating twinkies and some vegies.. making a point that counting calories Alone can help you lose fat. (although i wouldnt suggest a twinkie diet)

The Quickest way to lose fat and get in Shape
simply learning and reading about your options will give you motivation and even help you make subconscious choices
stay away from white carbohydrates as a start
bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta
count your calories, dont have too many sugars, stay away form ice cream, soda, candy
Eat Fruits and Veggies
good for health, energy, and everything else
when you substitute your food cravings with fruits and veggies, you lose your hunger, burn calories, and gain vitamins and energy
Don’t drink calories
we get a huge percentage of calories from drinks with sugar
Soda has absolutely no nutritional benefits.
Drink water
cardio vascular exercises-  certain exercises that get your blood flowing and heart beating at a certain rate.
Running, elliptical, quick set to set exercise stations, High Interval Training Sessions..
Do Complex weight exercise (target many diffent groups of muscles at 1 time)
Benching, squats, dead lifts, pull ups, military press (youtube them)
Bulk up in order to lose fat
simply making your legs more muscular will help you lose fat all over your body, and improve your build.
same with any other musle.
Working a muscle out will cause it to burn calories, recovering itself, for days.
Eat high in protein so the muscles grow back faster, larger, and stronger

Final Tips and specifications
Figure out how many calories you take in on a given day.
figure out how much someone your size and weight should be eating.
eat 500 below it.
 Do Hight Intensity Interval Training after lifting sessions

-when you lose fat, you lose it equally all over your body, in other words you can Not target areas.
so you Can Not get a 6 pack by just doing a lot of situps - you obtain a 6 pack by losing enough body fat that your muscles are visible, throught the fat over your stomach area.
-Eat foods that speed up the metabolism.
-Eat less food more often, so your matabolism is always in motion.
-Take one day off per week. You dont want your muscles getting used to the same exercises or they'll stop having an effect. if you're doing 50 push ups a day, it will get easier and easier and stop having an effect on your body. you want to come at them from different angles and different weights, with proper rest in between.
-Take in more calcium, good effect on metabolism
-i suggest going to chairopractors or physical therapists if youre having pain. they Are life savers
making sure not to make one muscle in a given part of the body too strong for the others surrounding it.. having spine imbalance and having imbalances such as your thigh being too strong for your hamstring.. you can cause imbalances in hips, feet, and so on. which led to Many bad leg injuries, or muscle, knee, bone pain..
-And if you want to Gain weight and muscles.. Take in more carbs and calories, lift heavier and take in More Protein!

College Exams = pain in my neck

3 exams coming up in the next 3 weeks

Electronic Instrumentation - Relatively sorted
Physics with Forensics - Haven't even started to study
Mathematics -

The class is getting together every few days for the next while to blitz past papers and the likes, should be a good help..

My first Ironman

The first time i heard about an Ironman was during a conversation about tattoos when i was in the Irish Defence Forces. The topic of "meaning" or something was brought up, and out PTI said the only one he had was the famous "M-Dot". I asked what this was and he told me about the triathlon. I was impressed, but not moved at that stage.

A few months after that i dropped out of training and began looking for my own new direction. I toyed with moving abroad, doing marathons, signing up to training again... nothing really enthused me, the circumstances of me leaving the army shot my confidence quite a bit.

On youtube one day i saw a video of Team Hott, a father and son Ironman team. It gave me the kick in the ass to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with it. I enrolled into a fisheries course in the back arse of no where, which got me a spot in college in Galway to do science. Things were looking up. I got word from the interwebz back in Xmas '09 that Galway would be hosting Irelands first half Ironman, RESULT! So for my Christmas my mum signed me up.

Up to now i've been maintaining my fitness, but with about 160 days till race day, i've decided to start documenting my progress and keeping a record of  what i do and when i do it, for your viewing pleasure of course.

So if there are any trainers, athletes, Ironmen or endurance sportsmen (or women) out there with any input or advice, leave me a comment.

I've a steep learning curve ahead of me...