Chris Gammell's Analog Life

Analog electronics and everything else between 1 and 0

Month: January 2011

The 555 Contest

I’m guessing if you follow me at all on Twitter or Facebook or just about anywhere else on the internet (I’m not too hard to find), you might know about the 555 contest. I have been talking about it quite a bit on various channels, all except here.

So I thought I’d discuss some of the aspects I might not discuss on other forums because they wouldn’t be relevant. But since this site is basically about me and my interests…well I get to write whatever I want! Sweet!

First off, I thought I should mention Jeri. Honestly, I didn’t know her well when we got started working on the contest. Mostly just talking on Twitter and watching her videos. It’s been nice getting a chance to chat though. She’s just as bright as her videos let on. And it’s always interesting meeting new engineers with similar past experiences. Many of the same struggles I’ve gone through in the past, she has as well. Since she has more experience than me, I’ve been learning stuff from her. When I’m not learning from her, we usually make fun of Dave together! (kidding Dave!)

Next, I thought I should mention the spontaneity of the articles about us and the contest. Have a look at some of them:

So here’s the dirty little secret: we know most of the people that wrote about us. Yup, it’s true. But the interesting part for me is thinking just how often this kind of things happens. A friend/acquaintance calls up and tells you about an upcoming design contest, you might want to write about it, right? Welcome to the world of PR! I’m super happy all these wonderful people decided to write about us, and I don’t think they would have unless we had something fun and intriguing; but still, I thought it was interesting and wonder if the contest could be even bigger if bigger names were setting up the contest in the first place.

And finally, I should point out that as much as I enjoy working on the contest, it’s a ton of work! I’m not trying to complain but it makes me appreciate those that run other similar events (and in the past I didn’t consider it). Sending emails alone and trying to coordinate sponsors across distances can really wear on you. If nothing more, it’s a lot of typing! So not difficult per se, but time consuming.  Not to mention my stellar timing of jumping into this project a week after started; I really set myself up for a bit of time sitting in front of a computer.

So that’s all from me for now. In case you’ve been lamenting my lax writing schedule, I’m signed up for at least one post a week over at Engineer Blogs, usually on Wednesdays. And I can continue to be heard weekly on The Amp Hour radio show. And if you really want to grab my attention, be sure to check out the 555 contest site and start your entries today!

A Proposed New Bench, Brought To You By Amazing Tools

After talking about my planned bench on Episode 26 of The Amp Hour, I thought it’d be fun to animate the finished versions of my plans (or at least where I’m happy with for now). I know Dave likes making fun of me, but the implications of such free and powerful tools cannot be understated. Even 10 years ago, CAD programs were inaccessible to the layman. Now, a very simple and intuitive program like Google Sketchup is letting someone like me design something like this. Amazing. It’s a subtle message for engineers to keep increasing their values and their skills over the years, as skills that were once coveted become more mainstream and commoditized.

Also, I should explain before I get more questions about it. The thing hanging off the left side of the bench is to hold the mixer for recording music and The Amp Hour. My drumset usually is just to the left of that and I’d be able to control it while sitting and playing as well as when recording the radio show.

Basically, I’m continually amazed at the power of the tools available to us today. If you’re not already taking advantage, I’d suggest giving it a try.

What kinds of tools do you use that you continue to marvel at their ability and power?

Burning The Candle On A Third End

Hey Folks!

Because my brain decided I didn’t have enough going on already (and a healthy dose of thinking “wow, that’s a good idea” when Cherish mentioned it to me), I’ve started with a couple other engineer bloggers! I’ve already mentioned it on Twitter, but I thought I should write about it here as well.

The lineup right now is me, Cherish, Fluxor and FrauTech.  But we’re looking for more! If you’re interested, check out the “Write For Us” page on the site and fill out the form there. We have some requirements, but if you’re a good writer and have been doing it for a little while, we’d love to hear from you.

As for me, hopefully posting there on a schedule (a requirement) will get me back into the swing of posting here. If not, you can always read some of my stuff over there or just listen to my nasally voice on The Amp Hour. Hope you enjoy the new site!