My design dilemma

Should I or should I not?

This is the question that has been bothering me (that is, whenever I remember to think about it). This is a Lighting system for the Polar Lights's 1/350 Star Trek Enterprise which I finalised the design in 2009. What is does is to light up and strobe the appropriate LEDs (Navigation and Strobe lights) for FOUR different Starfleet ships, namely:

1. Star Trek NCC-1701A from the Motion Picture,
2. Star Trek NCC-1701A from Star Trek VI,
3. NX-01 Enterprise, and
4. NCC-1701 from the 2009 JJAbram's movie

Yes, I spent quite a number of hours searching, rewinding and forwarding on each DVD and using my watch's to get the timing on each flash/strobe. Its not easy because for each movie, the Enterprise has different timing, thanks to different SFX companies doing them. In the end, I analysed the timing and sort of compromised them a little so that I have enough memory on the chip to give me at least four different timing options. (I mean, hey, I want to build those models too)

This is also the first time I actually had a Professional PCB done and I was quite excited about it until I realised the consequences of accepting the MOQ conditions (Minimum Order Quantity). In the end, I had way too much PCBs on my hands and even if I decided to give it to some of my friends, they would not even know what to do with it. So, I decided to sell them. Yeah but unfortunately, there were a lot of things I have not experienced yet, some of which are manufacturing problems, doing the instruction manual and also, getting people to buy them.

So, it was not until this year that I more of less have a little bit more confidence in getting the product out. But man, there are so much soldering to do...

And so, this is one module out of four which I am still designing.
There are still the Photon Torpedoes, the Ward/Impulse system and also, the Navigation Dish. And all to be controlled by one optional main controller board.

However, the Cylon Raider have overtaken this project and so, I'll start with that first.

Mass Ridsecticide

I am not sure what came over me for the past decade. Usually, when there are insects, especially ants, I would just step over them or kill them without any thought but nowadays, I caught myself sparing their lives as often as I could. Instead of killing them, I usually just 'blow' them away.

But for the rest, it was business as usual. Still, I think the girls are following my example.

Oh, but oh, the poor lizard. I don't kill them as they did nothing to me.
But for one certain family member, its instant death or something like that.

And the poor Ants trying to salvage the situation too.
All done my Mr. Ridsect.
Still, how did the lizard lose its tail? It seemed fresh...

Where is the Tooth Fairy?

And so, this is a first for Kristine. One of her teeth has fallen out. It was not painful but more of a normal expected thing for her. When it was during my time, all I could ever remember was the ickiness of it all and the metallic taste of my blood.

There you go, one small teeth.
And she kept asking about the Tooth Fairy, of all things

Well, at least she can use the straw creatively now.

A typical morning...

Very simply put, this is mostly what I do nowadays...

1. Wake up and fetch Kristine to school
2. Wake up Kaelynn for breakfast if she's not up yet
3. Make breakfast for Kaelynn
4. Dry the Laundry
5. Get Mom & Dad to the Hospital
6. Check e-Mails and Forums for more sales
7. Call friends for Jobs
8. Prepare lunch for Mom
9. Fetch Kaelynn to school
10. Make or buy lunch for Dad and the kids
11. Drop by for some components
12. Fetch Kristine and Kaelynn back from school
13. Make then eat their lunch
14. Make them shower or change clothes
15. Make sure all the Homeworks are done
16. Wife takes over
17. Design stuff and bug other people to buy my stuff

Kaelynn sometimes help with the Laundry

She's always in Uniform because she is excited about going to school

Guess what I am going today?
Fried rice with sausages

When I was young, the rice would not stick but now, its more like glutinous rice.
Then again, the wok I used last time had a big fire and also, I used lotsa oil...

Kristine checking out my cooking

One of the hidden shots the girls took from my Nokia n8 when I was not looking

Oh, she loves my cooking.
Yeah, she loves my cooking

Minutes later, it was cheesy toast

I hated this toaster because it leaks cheese

Which then melts onto the metal plate and takes ages to come off

Oh, someone has taken over Kaelynn's table

How do I know?
Because the sign said so

Monday Bluezzzz

Not sure why they're so sleepy today.
After coming back from school, I left Kristine to do her homework

In the meantime, I have to make sure Kaelynn, who just came back, finishes her lunch

I am so used to the DBKL role by now, it just a matter of sandwiching her leftovers as my lunch.

And when I returned in less than 7 minutes to check on Kristine...

An hour later when Kaelynn changed and does her homework...
No, there isn't a photo of me sleeping since its not possible to take photos even when you're sleepwalking. But pay close attention to Kaelynn's makeshift table...

1/32 Moebius Cylon Raider Part 006

OK, while waiting for the circuit board to be ready, I have also ordered the SSOP to DIL adapter. In the meantime, its time to fine-tune the electronics. I have done this design late least year but because there were no physical model for me to design the PCB, it was kept on hold. I have, by this time, decided on the battery pack to be 4.5 volts since a White LED needs at least 3 volts to run.

So, with the Youtube videos of the actual prop as source, I got the timing as close as possible.
But not too close since in this scale, the light from one LED to another would be 'jumping' instead of 'sweeping'.

Reversed bang

Of all the @%$#!!!!

Suffice to say, I got into an accident. And vee-Chai is just a year old!

It happened when My Dad wanted to buy some boxed tissue paper and so, I decided to take him. I know he's worried about my Mom and all and so, its safer to drive him there. And so, while we were there, my Dad spotted a potential parking spot after we drove past it. Potential as in the car in that spot is about to leave.

So, against my better judgement, I actually listened to him and reversed my car to that potential spot since a quick glance showed no car behind us. Somehow, before I know it, the car reversed and hit into Vee-Chai. We were sort of panicked and because of that, for a few moments, I forgot the car uses Automatic gear and tried to 'shift' to first which as you know, failed. what the car did was to stop moving despite my pressing on the gas. And so, before you know it, I was watching the car reverse into the read passenger door.

And so, being a Lady who drives a big expensive car, she claimed it was my fault. I literally screamed all over the place because I too, was very stressed up with all the Hospital things lately. In the end, I went to SOP mode, exchanged details and drove off. Once I get the tissue paper my Dad  needs, I plan to make the Police report asap.

And my Dad, being so obsessed with my Mom's condition and his weird sense of thinking, blames the Lady Driver too. I for once in my Life (that I can remember) scolded him that is was MY fault for listening to him. I scolded him because I do not like his ways of last minute decision making as I know its not compatible with me. I mean, once you have made your plan, stick to it and not change it because you either felt like it or thinks conditions have changed. He sort of kept quite for a while.

As for that lady, through our info, she came to our house minutes after we came back. She offered to pay for the damage since her Husband was in the Hospital too and she could not go to the Insurance. WTF. Lady, I don't care if you look beautiful or pitiful. I don't like to deal with people like you.If you can drive that expensive Porsche, you have the means to settle this the LEGAL way.

In the end, my Wife took over since I was really in a foul mood and in no condition to speak further. This was also the first time I turned my back to a woman.

Working at the secret Recipe

After being the nice guy, it was back to normal. Normal as in my 'normal' schedule. After dinner, it was time to visit my Mom to see how she is. She's been moved again.

Now, she is sharing a room with another patient.
In the meantime, I decided to take my chances and park the car. So, the girls can do their homework in a more comfortable manner.

However, come 10PM, the aircon is shut and so is this restaurant. But to us, it does not matter much since as long as there are lights and no one chases us out, its OK. However, after a while, it gets kinda stuffy...

Driving all the Miss Daisy-ses

Maybe I am a good guy at Heart. Or maybe, I'm an idiot. Then again, I am not sure because I felt it was both and then some. What I did today was basically fetch three relatives from Damansara Heights, Ulu Klang and Ampang to visit my Mom and then drove them all back again. If you ask me even now, I could not answer you.

But I am very sure it was not the case of 'Mouth first, think later' but more of ..erm... never mind.

It was so hot today, poor Hydro-woman was gone in minutes

In the end, the three ladies enjoyed their trip and I get free lunch too. Still, two of them were very helpful when I was just a small kid. In fact, they were too helpful but then again, looking back, I am grateful for their assistance.

O nom nom nom nom

nom nom nom nom
So, when someone says 'Yes' without thinking or even offer his help which, you think is too good to be true, that's me. Its a sincere gesture with no strings attached. That's me alright.

Sleeping Positions

One of the funny moments in sleeping

Moebius 1/32 Cylon Raider Part 005

Because of  the size of the PCB, right from the start, a normal 18-Pin DIL chip is out of the question. This is because the chip is almost the same size of the PCB. And so, I have two other choices, which is either the SOIC or the SSOP package. I chose the SSOP package and proceeded to order it from Microchip directly since there are no shops in Pasar Road that have them.

In in just three working days, the package was delivered to me (from Thailand)

And so, there it is. With Microchip, there is no minimum order but with the shipping charges, it makes sense to order a lot from them

And so, I ordered 20 of the chips in SSOP packages

And there you go. It fits the mock-up PCB nicely.

I shouyld have taken a 18-pin DIL for size comparison too. But the SOIC (left) is more than half its size. The SSOP (right) is the one I ordered.

Trying a different approach

OK, enough waiting at the Hospital. Even by now, the Security Guards know who we are and although they won't say it, the mere appearance of our car means we're going to be parking and waiting on that spot for hours. So, I decided to try something new.

Knowing the kids, this pattern is monotonous and would be so boring, they would be dreading the trip every night. And so, I decided to take them elsewhere...

Which is actually a Chinese Restaurant nearby. Just a little snack then its homework

Kaelynn seems to be enjoying all this because not only does she do not have any homework, she gets to binge on food and fresh orange juice.

Moebius Cylon Raider Part 004

Here is another development. With the Model Kit, I can now confidently get its correct measurement instead of guesswork. And looking at the design, it is not going to be cheap...

The shape of the circuit board means the manufacturer would need to cut it to shape. A normal PCB is rectangle. This is not.

Its business as usual

So now, every evening, after dinner, we would go to UH to visit my Mom. She has been changed from room to room. I am a bit blur on this but the last change, she was closer to the Nurses Station which means, its very serious.

Already some of the family members have made preparations to accompany her throughout the night. And everything that is needed, must be given fast. No excuses. Just fast, even if you have to die or something.

I want to do something but I do not know what. Or how. 'Everything' has been taken away from me, as if I am the pariah.

While I parked outside the Hospital, I have to make sure Kristine still does her daily homework

Kaelynn being bored, slept. I don't blame her as its very tiring and boring because all the waiting.

Finally, she finished her Homework but there is still no sign of Mommy or Grandpa.

And so, she did what a small child does when the hour is late.

Moebius 1/32 Cylon Raider Part 003

OK, a snag in the planning stage. Apparently, there is a problem with attaching the 0805 LEDs to the edge of the board for soldering. One way is to use White glue. Which was all fine but there is a long drying time and not only that, the glue dries very fast by the time you apply the second dot for the second LED. And I have not even attached the LEDs yet.

So, not wanting to give up easily, I decided to use another approach with is to solder all the negative tabs of the 0805 LEDs to the 'simulated' copper track. But alas, it failed too.

What am I going to do?

Once you solder the second LED, the heat from the Soldering Iron would melt the solder on the first LED. This is not good because if this was to be done en masse, it would be very labour intensive and hair-oulling experience.

A day in the Life of a (Temp) Househusband Part 2

By mid-afternoon, its times to fetch Kristine back from the school. But before that, I have to get Kaelynn first since hers finished minutes before Kristine. I guess I can get used to this for a few weeks, I suppose, or until my Mom gets back on her feet.

Some parents are already starting to wait outside the school.

The girls making their own lime-ade after lunch.

Come Dinner time, it was off to Mid-Valley to get some much needed items for Mom at the Hospital.

Our Dinner at the Foodcourt.

The girls are enjoying themselves with their meal, esp the one with the big sausage
So far, so good. But I sense that something is going to break, being the pessimistic person that I am. Already I have seen signs that my Dad's attention goes to Mom instead of anyone else.

Mom's Stroke II

I think I am still stunned from all this. I mean, just this morning, even when I had to turn back to get Kristine's glasses, I did not feel much anger nor the impulsive feeling of making everyone knows that I am pissed off. Maybe its me aging, or maybe, its just shock.

My Wife told me that Mom's left side was affected and apart from that, she was quite alert although she could not speak much.

So, with everyone sleeping while I was the chauffer for the girls, I just felt that there should be something more I can do. My sister would be rushing back from Singapore today too, to see what else can be done. So, right now, I just need to do what I can do for the moment. But I did some small talk with the Wife, perhaps, I can just resign from the current company, and hope to do part-time with my ex-Boss, at least this will solve the problem of chauffering the girls and still be able to pay for the bills.

And just this morning, when I saw RM20.00 lying on the floor near when I was buying some nasi lemak for the family, it just did not occur to me that I could just scoop it up and take it. Rather, I was standing guard on the crumpled notes and looking around, seeing which person dropped it. After feeling that none of them was the one, I just left.

Something is wrong with me. I could still have just taken it...

Moebius 1/32 Cylon Raider Part 002

So, how?
With my Mom in the Hospital, I guess the only thinkg I can do now is to just make sure the Family is OK. And this project, I guess, could be the way to my freedom. So far, I have examined the Model Kit and but the looks of it, lighting is possible. Not only that, if I do this carefully, there would be no cutting or any plastic deformation if i can help it. My hopes with this Kit is to help generate some in come for the months to come.

But its also a challenge I could not resist.

I have temporarily set up my R&D 'base' on this table

Looking at the Model part, there is no way a 3mm LED would fit

And looking at the kit's visor, the only choice would be to use SMD LEDs.

I am planning to use the 0805 LED, which is thick enough for a PCB so I can solder it sideways on the board's edge

Time to dig out my old Notebook because I would need it for programming the chip