Archive for category Science

Wasabi NP-BX1: End-of-Life

As a followup to the DOT-01 battery status, I found the last of the Wasabi NP-BX1 batteries in a drawer where they’d sat unused for eight months.

Recharge and test to get the blue lines, with the red lines from the DOT-01 batteries:

Wasabi DOT-01 NP-BX1 - 2019-11
Wasabi DOT-01 NP-BX1 – 2019-11

The double blue line came from a second recharge of that battery, just to see if more electrons would help. Nope, it’s still dead.

The Wasabi battery with the highest capacity also has the weirdly rippled voltage trace and, when I extracted it from the test holder, came out disturbingly warm and all swoll up. This is A Bad Sign™, so it spent the next few hours chillin’ on the patio and now resides in the recycle box.

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Monthly Science: Weight

After another two months:

Weight Chart 2019-10 - Ed
Weight Chart 2019-10 – Ed

The trend is definitely not uniformly downward, perhaps due to my increasing ability to accelerate (small) masses against the local gravity vector and, definitely, garden harvest season. My pants still fit fine, if that’s any indication.

I’ll add a skin-fold caliper dot to the weekly record after I can get repeatable measurements, perhaps by marking the test spot with a Sharpie.

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Alead Telecoil Receiver: Magnetic Field Check

I got an Alead / Nolan HearLinks (many adjectives) Telecoil receiver to boost my ability to hear music & presentations at Vassar, because they recently slotted telecoil loops into the floors of their public venues. It took a few concerts to get the appropriate volume setting, after which I wondered how sensitive the receiver was:

Alead T-coil receiver - test setup
Alead T-coil receiver – test setup

The small T in the upper right corner marks the receiving coil location, with the coil oriented parallel to the body’s long axis. It’s the secondary winding of an air-core transformer with a single-turn (perhaps using Litz wire) primary embedded in the floor, with the induced voltage obeying the usual transformer equation:

V = 2π µ₀ µr N A f H cos θ

Definitions:

  • µ₀ – vacuum permeability = 4π×10-7 H/m
  • µr – relative permeability
  • N – number of turns
  • A – receiver loop area, m²
  • f – signal frequency, Hz
  • H – magnetomotive force, A/m
  • θ – angle between windings

For a given installation and receiver position, pretty much everything is fixed, with the voltage depending only on the H field caused by the primary winding current.

The induced voltage is linearly dependent on the frequency, but the transmitter equalization filters apparently flatten the spectrum to get equal receiver amplitude between about 100 Hz and 5 kHz.

The coil in that picture has nine turns, with four passing through the Tek current probe. Applying 10 mVpp to the winding produces a corresponding current:

JDS6600 10mVpp 1 kHz - 4 turns - 1 mA-div
JDS6600 10mVpp 1 kHz – 4 turns – 1 mA-div

The scope sees 14 mVpp = 1.4 div at 1 mA/div = 1.4 mA. Dividing by 4 turns means the coil actually carryes 350 µA. The signal generator has a 50 Ω output impedance, so 10 mV should produce about 200 µA, which seems a bit low. On the other paw, the signal generator sees the coil as a dead short at 1 kHz, so I don’t trust the numbers.

Whatever magnetic flux it may be produces a 1 kHz tone at a somewhat higher volume (for the same receiver setting) than the fancy Vassar loops, so the flux is in the right ballpark. With a bit more attention to detail, perhaps I can tinker up a current-mode loop drive amplifier.

The Alead receiver has an internally generated tick audible at the audio volume I need for the Vassar loops, which is 5 to 7 steps down from the maximum volume at 15 steps. It seems related to the internal Bluetooth hardware, although it’s present even when the receiver is not paired with my Pixel phone and, in fact, is unchanged even when 100 feet from the nearest electronic device.

When I reported the problem, they said:

Yes, you can hear very minor tick sound on telecoil mode. It is caused by some electronic and current to make those tick sound. Sorry for this defective on the design.

It had one job that it doesn’t do well, so it’s on the way back for a refund.

Evidently, I must build an audio loop receiver to get what I want …

,

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Monthly Science: Concrete Bridge Flexing

Riding south on Rt 376 takes us across the Mighty Wappinger Creek on a four-lane concrete bridge built about 1995. This Dutchess County Aerial Access photo shows it in 2016:

Rt 376 - Wappinger Bridge - 2016 overhead
Rt 376 – Wappinger Bridge – 2016 overhead

A pothole opened up on the south end of the span last year:

Rt 376 bridge deterioration - marker 1102 - 2018-05-07
Rt 376 bridge deterioration – marker 1102 – 2018-05-07

NYS DOT patched it a while ago:

Rt 376 - Wapp Bridge - 2019-09-11 - 0490
Rt 376 – Wapp Bridge – 2019-09-11 – 0490

This year, we’ve been avoiding a new pothole opening on the north end:

Rt 376 - Wapp Bridge - 2019-09-11 - 0295
Rt 376 – Wapp Bridge – 2019-09-11 – 0295

It’s difficult to ride between the right side of the hole and the weeds growing from the curb joint under the guide rail, so we take the lane whenever we can. The extensive vegetation growing in the bridge structure can’t possibly be a good thing.

The bridge deck rests on steel beams across the creek, with plenty of corroded concrete along the edge:

Red Oaks Mill bridge - dangling concrete
Red Oaks Mill bridge – dangling concrete

The concrete seems to be failing by tension overload as the beams flex downward under traffic loading and pull the top surface apart. The surface has irregular transverse cracks across the deck width, not all of which look like control joints.

With potholes and surrounding cracks allowing brine into the deck, we expect much worse deterioration during the next few years.

My Professional Engineer license has long lapsed, not that I ever knew anything about bridge design, so this is mostly observational.

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Praying Mantis vs. Bumblebee

The Butterfly Bush outside the living room continues to attract flying insects, but, with the arrival of this year’s bumper crop of Praying Mantises, it has become something of a killing field.

If I hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have believed it:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - grapple
Mantis vs Bumblebee – grapple

Perhaps grabbing the bumblebee at the tip of the abdomen neutralizes the sting, but I only saw the flash of motion, not the actual capture.

The mantis changed her (?) grip several times while removing various accessories:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - disassembly
Mantis vs Bumblebee – disassembly

Although a bee’s leg may not seem edible, she chewed through them like Pocky.

Minus most of the bits and pieces, serious eating commenced:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - lunch
Mantis vs Bumblebee – lunch

Having watched several insects go through this process, the mantis proceeds from the head downward, eventually squeezing the abdomen like a tube of toothpaste.

A mantis can eat a bumblebee in about twenty minutes, from capture to discarding the empty husk. After a few minutes of body maintenance, ranging from leg cleaning to eye scraping, she begins waiting for the next meal to arrive …

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Cateye Astrale Cyclocomputer Battery Life

The display on Mary’s Cateye Astrale “Cyclocomputer” had once again faded to gray, so it’s time for a new CR2032 lithium cell:

Cateye Astrale - battery change 2019-09-22
Cateye Astrale – battery change 2019-09-22

The old cell read 2.5 V, well below what it should be.

The notes scrawled on the cell become readable under better light:

Cateye Astrale - CR2032 life
Cateye Astrale – CR2032 life

Seven years (at 1942 mile/yr) ain’t bad at all!

To replace the cell fast enough to maintain the odometer reading, just unscrew & remove the battery cover, slam the back of the Astrale on the bench, and pop in the new cell.

Maybe I should replace the cell twice a decade, regardless of how feeble it might be?

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Funnel Weaver Spider Season

Two Funnel Weaver spiders spun their webs across diagonal corners of the garden tool rack and appear to be peacefully sharing the bounty attracted by nearby lights.

The one on the left vanishes instantly into its funnel, deep inside the corner post, nearly every time we step onto the patio:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack left
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack left

The other spider worked around a stick emerging from its refuge:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right

But it’s doing all right:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right - detail
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right – detail

Their less adventurous compadres build webs on the plaintains festooning what might be called our lawn, making me feel awful while mowing in these months. I hope the mower’s vibrations drive them deep into the grass before it roars overhead, but I’ll never know.

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