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August 20, 2008

Hospital Garbage

I found a little stool lying around in the garbage lately and decided to give it a new life. It turns out the stool comes from some kind of hospital and is actually pretty old.

In order to refurbish the stool, I simply applied a coat of anti rust spray paint, oiled the screw holding the seat, and put in some new rubber feet. My grandmother, who was visiting (from Argentina) was kind enough to make a new cushion for it.

This build was really simple but resulted in a nice, modern looking stool for almost no cost.

Lunar Excavator

I was lucky enough to help my friend Stephen and his team to build a lunar excavator to participate in the Regolith Excavation Challenge, sponsored by NASA.

We put lots of efforts and many hours to get the robot done in time and we managed to get it running before it had to be shipped to California (from McGill University in Montreal).

Unfortunately, despite the awesomeness of the lunar excavator and the fact that it was going to completely own the challenge, the UPS shipment went wrong and the robot could net get to the competition on time. Now the fight with UPS has begun to get a full reimbursement (~2000$) and the robot back.

UPS incompetence aside, I worked in putting all the electronics system together in the electrical box. This meant, I had to build two boards: one for the power management (transforming the provided 24V into a 12 and 5V in order to power the many devices and turning the latter ON and OFF), and one for the logic (interfacing the main computer with the various motor controllers and sensors).

This task was done using perfboards and lots of solder since we did not have enough time to consider designing and fabricating proper PCBs with nice places for all the components.

Note the nice (and very classy) wood finish of the electrical box interior as shown in the picture.

I will not give away any details about the excavator since it will compete next year, provided there is another Regolith Challenge.

I'm Popular (Science)

My compact keychain is featured in the August edition of the Popular Science magazine. Needless to say, I'm very happy about this.

Granted, it is a small article but it is still impressive to see how far blog posts can go.