I know Elon Musk is a busy man. I know that he has a lot to do running SpaceX, Neuralink, Tesla, OpenAI, SolarCity, and the Boring Company. But I am quite miffed with him for telling us last summer at the HyperLoop competition that there will be a 10km long tube, and then ghosting us for six months afterwards. Last year, we were given the hyperloop competition rules in the fall, and this year, we were given nothing until last week!
Anyways, we finally got a message from the Boring Company saying that there would be a Hyperloop competition in ‘the future’, but it would not be this summer. There may be a scrimmage this summer, but I don’t think we will be ready in time, seeing as the plan is currently for our pod to be finished end of winter quarter.
Two years ago, we used a linear induction motor, which is a type of motor typically used on high speed trains and roller coasters. It’s basically a typical rotary motor like you would find in most places, but unrolled. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well. This year, our motor is going to be designed by us, but built by professionals because SpaceX tends to prefer purchased parts. However, the science surrounding linear induction motors is very limited we are using our old linear induction motor to get data. We took it and mounted it on a board and then ran a bunch of static tests on it! It’s not a great motor, but it behaves in similar ways to how our motor will behave once we design it. The team has finally gotten upper and lower limits for the ideal frequency of the motor, which will be used for designing our new system!
There are still a few issues with the braking system, but things are slowly coming together. We are trying to create a halbach array to brake with, but similar to the linear induction motor, very little research has been done on it. The team ended up finding a graduate student who is doing their PhD research on the subject, so we know a bit more about it but it’s still going very slowly. Another issue of using a halbach array is that we now have a box in Chevron labs of 20 magnets, each generating 100lbs of force. If a person put their hand on a metal object, and held the magnet nearby so their hand was between the magnet and the metal, they might not have a hand for all that long. It’s not a huge danger because I don’t think anybody on the team would intentionally crush their limbs with magnets, but enough that we need a protocol for handling these guys.I am currently taking a class that teaches assembly code. Assembly code is very low level code, close to the hardware. You actually have to move data from register to register. It’s very unintuitive, and most people avoid assembly code as much as they possibly can, but I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m learning it because now I understand more about how computers work on a deep level. It’s still pretty hard though, and the conventions make no sense. Why is the top of the stack under the bottom? Isn’t that not what top and bottom mean?
Anyways, I’m not very good at assembly so I’ve been staying in Kemper hall until very late on Fridays recently. One time, I ended up being persuaded to do my work in the cybersecurity club room while they were holding a workshop. Part of my motivation was the fact that several times in the past, club members have taken me out to dinner, probably because two of them are people with jobs who like paying for college students.
Anyways, they ended up discovering a command line tool called cowsay. The command line is a tool that exists on all computer systems. On mac and linux you access it through the terminal app, in windows it is accessed through an app that is very unoriginally called command line. It has a sharp learning curve, but ultimately it is much more powerful than any graphical user interface. You interact with the command line by typing things, and get typed output. Cowsay allows you to get the typed output in a speech bubble spoken by a cow. Or a dragon. Or Darth Vader. We had a lot of fun.
It’s February, and in California, that means that it is the beginning of spring! This means that I get to be EXTRA mad about being locked away in the basement of Kemper hall because just outside, there are trees blooming! Can’t they please remodel the computer science instructional facility? It looks like a nuclear winter bunker and seems intentionally designed to make us sad and wishing we had chosen another major! I mean this is literally RIGHT OUTSIDE WHERE I WORK ALL DAY!!! BUT I’M IN A WINDOWLESS BASEMENT!!
May you be ever victorious in your endeavors!