Recapping

Haven’t written a proper post for the longest time. Reason being I’m very busy with exams and it’s my final year so no more playing around. Time to be dead serious. Few of us have been called up for oral already so my turn’s probably just around the corner. Just hope my Boeing 777 type course finishes before the dreaded phone call arrives from DCA.

I can’t say studying is fun, because I’m sure there are more things that are fun to do. Like holidaying. But going through the type course has exposed me to many new things. Logics for one. The aircraft is designed to be safe even if several systems fail. The computer logic will isolate the failed system and make sure the plane functions as normally as possible without the defective part. It’s so amazing that it’s almost human. I can almost envision the AIMS (airplane information management system) computer taking over the world with so much logic, control and inputs going through it. Something like Eagle Eye.

So the bulk of the designer’s job is not to make sure the plane looks nice, but to incorporate numerous fail safe designs into a plane to ensure that in the unlikely event of a system failure, the plane will still be able to land safely. And yes, there are so many fail safes that even I can’t remember them all.

And not only do I need to learn how they work, I need to think of how they will cease work and what are the possible failures and what will result from the failures. I’m constantly thinking about how to make a plane crash so I can prevent that from happening. Ironic isn’t it.

Also been doing a lot of jamming recently. Been spending way way way too much time at the Nikonian Academy’s “jamming studio”. We recorded a few songs but I’m afraid more practice is needed before I dare to post them up. I don’t have them with me anyways. But just to let you know, we have some excellent drummers and vocalists!

I’ve also gone back to do what I love best: systems design. I’ve always love solving problems because I love coming up with solutions. It can be a simple and easy solution, or it can be complex but elegant. Or failsafe and boring. Tackling them gives you immense satisfaction.

My last project involved some logics so I had the chance to use my long neglected PIC programmer. 8 years ago when I started learning the PIC, I never would have thought how useful that 18-legged piece of plastic and silicone (16F84/16F88) would be.

Current projects involve interfacing my recently installed air conditioning unit with Twitter so I can turn it on or off by sending it Tweets. Will also be upgrading the CarPC. Now it mainly functions as an entertainment and navigation computer. I want it to help me more with driving, mainly to maximize the car’s potential and to replace the analog gauges on the dash. Digitized engine information will help me shift better and have an advantage because I will then know which gear I will need to downshift to for maximum power without redlining the engine.

For safety, I want cameras all round to eliminate blind spots, and extra sensors to detect if there are cars when I’m switching lanes. And infrared cameras for driving at night without headlights on. Unfortunately since I don’t drive a drive-by-wire car, I cannot make the car drive itself. If not, a distance sensor in front of the car will predict crashes before they happen, and applying brakes to avoid a collision, making this car virtually uncrashable. Unless someone rams you from behind.

So much to do. But exams are nearing so I’ll need to put these on hold for a few months. Keep checking back, will be posting project progress from time to time, and hopefully write more of these posts. Will definitely help jog my memory 5 to 10 years down the road. Continue reading

Transparent Nissan 370Z

I seriously wonder how much it cost to build such a car. Every part was converted to perspex and they had to build a working engine with real internal oil paths.

Although this advertisement is meant to show how good Shell’s engine oil is, there isn’t actually a lot of difference between the different brands of engine oil.

The most important thing to remember about engine oil is to ensure that there is enough oil by checking the dipstick regularly. An engine that has run out of oil can seize very fast due to the lack of lubricant and rapid build-up of heat. Continue reading

MD11 FEDEX at Narita investigation

I got this article from virtualmystic and I thought it would be interesting to share:

Japanese investigators have detailed the hard landing and roll-over sequence which destroyed a FedEx Boeing MD-11 freighter at Tokyo Narita a year ago.

In a progress report into the 23 March 2009 accident the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) has released surveillance camera images showing that the aircraft, while landing on runway 34L, initially bounced after touching down on its main gear.

It touched down a second time but bounced again, higher, then pitched down and contacted the runway with its nose-gear, then its main gear. The impact fractured the left wing, between the engine and the fuselage, and the first signs of fire erupted before the aircraft – with its right wing still intact – rolled inverted.

The aircraft was consumed by fire. It had 28,000lt of fuel on board, as well as 400kg of flammable cargo, and was completely destroyed.
Neither of the two pilots survived. The captain had accumulated a total of 8,132hr flight-time while the first officer had 5,248hr.

In its update the JTSB shows that preceding aircraft had faced turbulent winds during the approach to Narita. A Nippon Cargo Airlines flight landing immediately before the FedEx MD-11F informed the tower that final approach conditions were “really rough”, with winds “plus-minus 15kt below 1,000[ft]“.

Two minutes before the crash the tower controller cleared the FedEx jet to land on 34L and advised of winds from 320° at 29kt but added: “Maximum 36, minimum 17.”

Some 40sec later cockpit-voice recorder information captured the captain possibly referring to a turbulent approach – “Yee haw, ride ‘em cowboy” – after the jet descended below 1,000ft.

After the MD-11F’s central aural warning system called the height at 500ft, the captain stated: “Cleared to land 34L, stable.” Four seconds later, the first officer commented: “Sheee.”

The JTSB’s update does not indicate any further comment from the crew before the impacts at touchdown.

It states that the aircraft landed at 166kt. As it bounced the jet’s pitch reduced to level flight and the aircraft contacted the runway harder, with an impact of 2.21g.

The MD-11F bounced into the air a second time, pitching to 6.7° nose-up and reaching a height of 16ft before pitching to 4.9° nose-down. The third impact registered 3.06g and resulted in serious structural wing damage in the region of the left-hand main gear.

JTSB investigators have yet to reach conclusions on the crash. The broad dynamics of the accident sequence parallels that of several events in which MD-11 aircraft have rolled over after a heavy landing.

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06:48:20: Touchdown on main gear

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06:48:21: Initial bounce

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06:48:22: Second touchdown at reduced pitch

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06:48:24: Second bounce and pitch-up

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06:48:25: MD-11F reaches height of 16ft

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06:48:27: Pitch-down and nose-gear contact

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06:48:27: Heavy main-gear impact, structural damage

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06:48:29: Fracture and separation of left wing, initial fire

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06:48:28-06:48:31: MD-11F rolls inverted to the left

A bounce during landing on a small plane may get you laughed at, but a bounce on a commercial airliner may get you killed. A bounce happens when the descent rate is too fast. When the plane touches the runway, the large impact creates an opposite reaction which lifts the plane up. At this point, the speed of the plane has probably been reduced to below its stall speed. So after bouncing high up in the air, there is not enough lift to gently put the plane down on the runway a second time, and that’s when you have a crash landing. Continue reading

There I Fixed It

Creativity and ingenuity is what makes us humans special. The ability to create, modify and improve ensures our survival. Below are fine examples of those aforementioned abilities:

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No jacuzzi? No worries. Get a tub and light a fire under it and you’ll have an instant hot tub.

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Need something to replace that missing door? That will work.

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DIY de-mister: for cars that don’t come with them.

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Well, it is a wheel anyways.

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No more missing toothpaste! Or toothbrush.

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Multi-purpose drill. Beats eggs in seconds.

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Pringles air duct.

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Broken toilet ball float? Here’s the “manual override”.

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Toilet paper hanger.

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Liquor bottles double up as shift knobs. And I think there’s an anti-theft device in the form of handcuffs.

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Lamp protector.

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DIY badge.

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The art of getting better reception.

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An improvement over the door we saw above. This one has got a little lock installed too!

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DIY headlights. I sure hope they can control this from the inside. But look on the bright side, even if they leave their lights on they can still start their car afterwards.

Continue reading

Downloadr: Download Photos from Flickr

If you ever had to download a batch of photos from Flickr, you’ll know that there isn’t a batch downloading function built into Flickr. You would have to go photo by photo and download them manually. I recently wanted to transfer some of my vacation photos from a Flickr set to my Facebook so I went out and I found the perfect tool: Downloadr.

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Displaying my Australia trip set.

The nice thing about Downloadr is that I can search by “sets” and download all my photos from that set. This is very useful for me since I usually keep my photos in sets. I can also search by keyword, user, group and favorites.

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Just select which photos you want and Downloadr will download them for you automatically.

This has saved me tremendous amount of time and I probably won’t bother getting those photos onto Facebook if it wasn’t for Downloadr. So if you have tons of photos on Flickr and have no idea how to get them downloaded and sorted out, here’s your magic bullet. Continue reading