Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring 2013 State of the Union

Hello Peeps!  :P

I am happy to report to y'all that I did make it through the thesis defense and that all went very well.  It was originally supposed to be a 40 minute presentation, but I had 50-some slides and so it took me about 65 minutes to get through it.  Since I have spent a few years on the research and analysis, I was hoping that I would get tons of probing questions, but alas, I could only garner 2 questions from the audience (Thanks Uriel)...

I am also very happy to report that I am officially done with my formal schooling!  That is a weird thing to write and an even weirder thing to think through (if you are inside this bear's head), but I am getting used to the idea slowly.

On the topic of significant others, I cannot claim so much success.  Perhaps the Lord is teaching me a lesson in patience at the moment... hard to say.  I guess the only thing is to keep on keeping on.  I have been wondering if I need to change my approach or point of view on things; that is a very hard thing to do since I don't know what to change it to.  Even biblical models are all over the board.  LOL, in any case, I can still find enjoyment in eating and drinking and pleasure in my work under the sun (I've been reading a lot of Ecclesiastes lately). 

I was so happy to celebrate and be a part of my good friend John Miller's wedding last month; that was was nothing short of inspiring.  It is always a refreshing drink to see friends and adopted family in the Petaluma area as well!  :)  John and Ruth (if y'all are reading this), may God grant you two peace and joy!

On a totally separate note, I have now stopped working for the family company (ENE) and have started out on my own by starting my own little engineering firm.  I am hoping to be finalizing my situation and receiving some income soon, but I'll do my best to keep you all posted.  I have to say, working on your own and starting a company with the intent to do that in the long-term is a very different sort of feeling.  I started my business in late February and I have never felt as exposed and vulnerable as I do now.  It is very strange.  It doesn't feel dangerous per se, but there is a very lonely feeling to it (I don't think it has much to do with significant-other-type loneliness, but rather business team-type loneliness).  With that in mind I can hardly wait to increase my team to a number larger than one, but all in good time.  Presently, I just need to survive and figure out how to get ahead of the curve.  :)


One other thing that happened is that my aunt Sharon went to be with the Lord about a month ago.  That was sad news to everyone and she will definitely be missed, but I am glad that she doesn't have to deal with the pain of this world any more.  :)

What else to talk about?  My family is generally doing well, although my dad is still struggling in some areas.  My sister Ashley had her baby "Ada" who is now 4-5 months old I think.  She's definitely a cutie-pie.  My seven other nieces and nephews never disappoint with their unique perspectives on different things happening around them.  What treasures children are, right?

It wouldn't be right to post without some pics, so here are some good shots or things that have happened...

I need to diet more...  look at the size of my head!!  :)

the beautiful view off the porch of my parent's home

one of the revised drafts of my thesis work...  that fish was like 170 pages!  no joke!  :)

my bro Garrett: how does he DO that??  (I don't know, but I can tell you what it smelled like... Death!  LOL)

a beautiful sunrise one morning before I left for work in Orland.

my nephew Case...  this one is a turkey!

Case's argument went he wants to be fed... lol

just a cool car in Chico that I keep forgetting to tell my bro about, haha

The monster pizza that me and the boom's had one night...  this pizza was literally huge... there is no trick lens or effect going on here.  :)

the Case machine is coming along.  gonna get painted and in the field this year!  yay!

gotta love brothers... they are playing with knives and putting each other "in jail" (Zackers and Joshy)

I have had the distinct honor of mentoring a few young men from Hamilton high...  Christian and Adrian.  Here was the whiteboard after a bit of lecture on electronics...  man I love teaching!

Garrett and I set up Ryan's old room as our temporary office.  Here is a rare pic of Garrett working on solidworks!  haha!

there are few who can put the honey on the bread like I can...  just one unique pieces of art that is completely edible.  :P  yum!

my little niece Sadie.  I think... she is up to no good...

Jessa, Hanne, Joshy and Sadie over at the boom's house.  This crew is trouble brewing!

Jessa and Hanne...  what?  do I smell bad?

ahhh.... little Ada...  my mom is a good grandma I think...

papa Nate... there he is!

another good shot of Ada sitting up by herself on the couch with her mommy making her comfy :)

me and Zack hanging out.  more bread art for my hungry public!

This is the "shock cylinder" for the Case machine.  kinda cute, huh?  50,000 lbs of force for 4" of stroke!  yeah baby!

the memories table at my aunt Sharon's memorial service.  I am gonna miss you Sharon.  :)

a breath-taking sunset at my parent's house.  The Lord is the master artist and we are a bunch of phony copy-cats!!

The freak hail/snow that we had in Orland.  that was weird.

another shot of the Case machine, this time with some of the brush-guards in place.

One of my closest friends John Miller, right after he and his bride Ruth were married.  :D

jelly-filled?  anyone?

okay-then... don't mind if I do!  lol!

Bidwell park, 1 mile rec area.  out for a walk with my dad.

doesn't Garrett look a bit like Luke Wilson?

hmm....  that boy can eat!

ahhhhh... back to our hero....  
Aight, y'all.  there is a little roll-up of my current events and hopeful directions.  I keep saying i'm gonna try to update this blog more often, but like Mark Twain once said: "I don't have time to write you a short letter, so will write you a long one..."  Until the next long update...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thesis Defense Today!!

Hey Peeps!

I promise to give a better update ASAP, but here's the announcment:

Zero Hour is 3 hours away!!  at 4pm, today (Friday, 11/30) I wil be defending my thesis in OCNL 120.  If there is any chance you can make it, come and listen to me drone for an hour or so...  and then... let's party!  LOL  see map in figure 1.

(figure 1: the map)

And... just as a tasty morsel to get you to come on such short notice, check this sweet, sweet figure out!  Wanna know what it is?  Gotta come!!  (or just ask me later, that'll work too, haha)

Okay, that's it for now.  See you on the other side!  :D

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Number Games

They say that you should always make your title last, after you've completed whatever it is you're gonna write.  I, respectfully, disagree.  I think you should write your title first and then you can know how to stay on track so your mind doesn't wander!  ;)  j/k.

Truly, I am playing number games (and no, this is not an allusion to the movie in theaters).  I have completed something that now must be undone... I need to count down from 248 LBS to a reasonable weight.  That is just WAY to heavy for me.  I think my target will be in the 200-210 range, but I haven't been that weight since high school and I'm not quite sure what's healthy for me yet.  At any rate, I know I can get below 220 and be feeling good, so that (at a minimum) is my target).

On the other side, I have begun something that must be completed.  I began graduate school in Jan. 2009 and I need to button that sucker up.  All that remains is for me to finish research on my thesis and actually write the paper.  Funny thing, that I find it so much harder to find motivation now that I am really doing an academic exercise (the Army Research experiment is completed).  Also, the lack of due dates is really wreaking havoc with my psyche.

speaking of psyche, have you read that book by C.S. Lewis, "Til we have faces"  Psyche is the main female character.  Great book.  ;)

Anyhow, back to the topic of number games, I'm thinking that I'll make those two projects something that I can regularly report on here.  I apologize if you (whoever you find yourself to be) do not care much for my academic and physical goals, but then of course you find yourself here at this blog by your own volition, so my sympathy for you is limited.  :)

Right.  I do promise to report on those two topics, but at least I can derive some motivation from the prospect of public humiliation or lack of progress in the public eye. 

So, in other news about me, I've finally gotten the right license plates on my truck, which is one small step for a screwdriver and nerves of steel, but one giant leap for the legality of my ride!  haha. 

Hmmm.... what else can I update you on?  I was dating a girl named Kristen (see previous post), now we are not dating anymore.  Definitely not parting on bad terms, so that's a plus.  A blog in many ways seems like an inappropriate place for an in depth discussion of this topic, so suffice it to say that I have a huge amount of respect for her and I hope in the future we can continue to be friends and encourage each other. 

I'm excited that I'll be able to head-up an experimental olive harvesting endeavor this fall, which will be lots of fun (and lots of work too).  I think there are significant benefits to the growers and to the custom harvesting companies if everything works out well.  Maybe even some room in the market for some super-high-tech equipment... hint, hint.  LOL.

So here are the numbers for today:
Weight: 248 LBS
Thesis: 1/6 (experiments completed, nonlinear modeling underway)

By way of explanation, I'm dividing the thesis into 6 sections, for simplicity's sake:
1. data from a real process to control (The experiments)
2. nonlinear modeling of the process (math modeling)
3. control design 1
4. control design 2
5. control design 3
6. write the paper

and I did make it to they gym (For the record) yesterday and ran for about 20 minutes.  a good first start.  I also resisted the temptation of having any treats at my parents (and that is no small feat; currently just "sitting around" in the kitchen is two pans of triple chocolate brownies, 3 pans of apple cake and 1 pan of white fudge!!)  I had cereal, spaghetti and eggs/salsa today.  one confession tho: I did forget this morning and I stopped by Java Detour on my way to work and got a hot chocolate and a chocolate bar.  I didn't even think about it until I was driving away.... DOH!  But tomorrow, I'll do better.  If anyone care to weigh in on the topic, what is everyone's thoughts on hot chocolate as something that should/shouldn't be had during a diet?  Anyone?

Lastly, I'll leave you with this:  There is a green field as I look out the window of my truck passing by.  I can decide to frame this field as vacant and lonely or I can frame it as lush and full of potential.  I choose the latter.

That is all for now, peeps.  Keep me posted and I'll keep you posted!
Gavereno.  email: if you want to get in contact with me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Still alive, just paddlin' along

Howdy peeps.

I hope this post finds you all well.  why does it take me so long to post?  Idunno.  I did get a facebook account recently, so I'm posting a bit more there, but this blog is nice because I can post whatever and it doesn't necessarily broadcast it to all my facebook friends.  Understand, it isn't that I don't want anyone there to read this, but sometimes facebook posts tend to demand the attention of one's friends, know what I mean?  This blog, on the other hand, does not necessarily alert anyone when it is updated (unless of course you subscribed to the RSS or atom feeds).  At any rate, for that reason, I feel like I can post more here somewhat more anonymously without subjecting everyone's eyes to my rantings.  Of course, I'll prove myself wrong and post a link to the this on facebook, but somehow it just seems different.  Go figure.

So where I have I been?  I have been working with the family in Orland, CA. as a design engineer for ENE, Inc.  lots of little projects going on there.  Not as many large projects finishing, but I'm working towards things.

I did have some news to report in my personal life though.  I am now dating a wonderful girl named Kristen!  We have known each other for a while, but have recently reconnected.  It is unfortunate that we live a little ways apart (she in Sacramento, I in Chico), but we make it work.  Below is a good picture of us after my last birthday party...  this was the day-after cleanup.  Actually, come to think of it, we were both in pretty good moods considering that we were running low on sleep!  ;)

Anyhow, it has been great getting to know her these last few months (since November).  I suppose this is neither here nor there, but if you haven't tried Mythos beer, you should really check it out; it's good stuff!

Speaking of parties (since I was talking about cleanup) I just celebrated my 32nd birthday on the 17th.  Every once in a while I have a big theme party, and this year was just such a year.  This time I had guests come as an international, historical noun, so I had lots of creatively dressed friends helping me celebrate.  Kristen did a tremendous amount of planning and footwork beforehand and a whole bunch of cookin' the day of.  I don't think she got enough praise for all of her hard work, so I think this is a good place to brag about what a great job she did.  We had food from six different cultures and apetizers from three.  Beer and other beverages spanning those same six cultures as well.  It was great.  The best part was that lots of people came and helped us celebrate, and they all seemed to have a fun time.

Another thing that has happened since I last posted: I bought a truck!  yeah, baby!

It's a 2007 GMC Sierra 4x4.  Man!  It is so nice to be driving a truck again.  Mind you, I'm not saying that I didn't appreciate the loaner vehicles from mom and dad this past stretch, but it feels good to finally have a vehicle that is closer to my personality.  I'm really diggin' the crew cab too.  Now it isn't a pain to invite more people to ride with me...  ;)  It should be noted that my original plan is still in effect: add lift, tires, wheels, sound, etc.  But as is oft the case, things turned out to be a bit more expensive than I anticipated  and I had a bit less cash than I was counting on originally.  All-in-all, I'm very pleased with the purchase though.

Living situation-wise, I am back in Chico living with my brother and roommates.  I had thought for a while that I would try living by myself.  I haven't totally given up on the idea, but I still am thinking that I am a social enough person that I benefit from living with roommates, etc.  So all that is working well.

I have completed the Army AFDD / NASA Ames stuff as far as my project duties, but I am still in the midst of authoring my portion of an American Helicopter Society Forum paper.  That is kind of exciting, expecially since I've never been a co-author (or author) on anything published before.

My thesis is making very slow progress these days, but I intend to crank up the heat on that.  I have to complete the modeling procedures to represent my plant, and then explore a few controller architectures.  This should be straight-forward, but for some (strange) reason, I am trying to get re-motivated to work on it since i'm not getting paid to (funny how that works).  Also, the fact that there is no deadline is really playing tricks on my psyche.

Hmmmm...  what else can I update y'all on... I have spent a good deal of time thinking about mechanical harvesting equipment and the technology surrounding some potential ideas I've had for olive harvesting (in addition to other crops), that I think could knock the socks of people.  I'll have to give some more details on that in another post.

I would appreciate prayer for my family, generally.  We are all going through some tougher times and as at all times, need God's grace to persevere.  Pray that He will give us all peace and endurance.

Personally, I face many upcoming decisions in a lot of areas of my life, and desperately need wisdom that is not of earthly origin.  Please hold me up in prayer as well. 

I'm not sure if this is really a good marketing tactic, but tune in soon to hear some more technical details and my latest schemings; I promise to thrill!  ;)    cya!  BTW, if you wanna drop me a line, send it to I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yeah baby! -> disturbance estimation looking good!

Howdy, ya'll!

It seems like I only blog when I'm back at Ames Research Center, here in the Bay Area.  I had to post something quick 'cause Scott (my cousin) is asleep and I can't tell him right now...  =)  Those of you that know me well, know that I have to get things out of my head and told to someone, partly so that I can stop thinking about it and go to bed, but of course part of it is for your own edificiation.  "Yes," I reply, this does apply to everyone, control theory is general, thus generally applicable.

As a special bonus today, if you read slowly though my monologue and see all the pretty pictures, I will let you see the pictures at the end of some satelite stuff that cousin Scott showed me today.

Right.  Well, here is the state of the union on the helicopter project: I have designed a new, truly high performance controller for the rotor.  This new one uses a more advanced algorithm with an algorithm called receding horizon control or Model Predictive Control (MPC).  Basically, it predicts what the flap will do some steps ahead (15 steps in my case) and then optimizes some "control" commands (5 steps in my case) to make the predicted response as close to what the setpoint reference (my desire) is asking it to do...  In order to do this, it has an internal "sense" of how the model will react to its commands, and then it plans out the next 5 control steps.  When the next control step comes, it does the whole optimization again and plans 5 more control steps ahead. 

When you stop and think about it, this is much like we act every day.  We have a plan of all the wonderful things that we are going to do today and how we will be very efficient with what we want to do.  Then when life actually happens, we have to re-optimize our day as different things come up that make us change our plan.  This controller is just a mathematical version of that.

Example: when you are driving a car, you look forward maybe 50 feet when you are moving slow, right?  you don't plan out what you are going to do and then close your eyes and do it, you watch 50 in front of you, then you drive a little bit and you are still looking 50 feet ahead of you.  This "receding horizon" is the essence of the controller, it optimizes inside a reasonble window of time into the future.

Above is the "natural" response of my system.  This means that when I suddenly tell it to go to the value of 1, this is how it reacts.  My new controller interacts with this natural response and predicts what the system will do, so it can make it settle down quicker.  See below

there are little "steps" in the model output and the command because this is how a computer see the world...  in little steps that are contant between the times that it measure them/changes them.

Anyhow, this new type of controller has the advantage of taking my control bandwidth from something like 15 Hz to now more like 250 Hz.  (not a bad improvement!).  This means that if you ask the little flap to move back and forth 250 times per second, it can and will do what you ask.... fantastic!

The biggest problem at the moment is that while the control bandwdith is great (I only needed to make it to 89 Hz), I still have a low disturbance rejection bandwidth.  disturbance rejection means that when I tell the flap to move to a particular spot and there is something else, external to the assembly that interferes (like aerodynamic forces in my case), how well does the controller deal with that, and at what frequencies will it stop responding.  Up until this point the highest disturbance rejection bandwdith I've been able to achieve was in the 15 Hz neighborhood.  I would really like the controller to be able to get up to 89 Hz disurbance rejection bandwidth to fulfill the purpose that my boss needs it for, so I've been working furiously to try and find a way to accomplish that.

Now, with that context, you can appreciate my accomplishments today (with the Lord's help).  After much research and consideration, I came to the conclusion that much of the problem is seperating what part of the measured position was due to response of the model to my command and what part was due to external disturbances.  This is a tricky thing though, because there is only one position signal that is being measured, so it is combined.  What a wonderful world that we live in that we CAN actually seperate these signals!!  I will not bore you with all the gory math details (unless you ask me of course), but I thought I'd show you some interesting results.  Here is the situation:  I want to control something at 75 Hz.  Meanwhile, some external force is affecting the flap at 120 Hz and then, to really mess things up, gravity is suddenly reduced by 50%, which produces a sudden step in the measured output.  In order to have the flap do as commanded, I have to seperate which parts of what I am measuring come from something that i told it to do (the 75 Hz) and everything else.  Below is a picture of what this would look like.
 So this is the result of my work in the last few days.  The blue is the real thing happening, the red dased line is the system's best guess or estimate about what is going on.  Notice how the guesses are not very good in the beginning but once it locks in, it really a great job!  Now that this portion has been somewhat addressed, I need to figure out what to do with this newly found information in the controller itself (this result is only a small part of the control system; it estimates what is going on that we can't measure directly).  Ideally, the top should be the sum of the bottom two. 

Thanks for hanging with me long enough to get through some cool stuff. 

As promised, here is the super, top-secret satelite pictures that I took when I visited one of the labs that Scott was working in today.  Some of the stuff in this picture is real flight hardware that will be in the final spacecraft.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Objective Successful

I am proud to report that I and the many other people helping me were successful this evening in "closing the loop" of the controller here at Ames.  This means that we can now issue a command to the assembly, say something like, "please oscillate at 35 Hz and at a magnitude of 1 degree."  and it will do so, but you have to say please and ask in a nice voice.  =)

This is a huge step forward for the team in general and for me personally.  This evening marks the first time I have been involved with a closed-loop control project wherein we have gone through the formal experimental and modeling stages and closed-loop control design and had a reasonably high performance controller.  While I didn't get to be involved as much as I would have liked to be in the controller (due to time), I was able to add a modifying controller (an "outer loop") that boosted one of the weaknesses of the inner controller, which was nice to be able to contribute.

One of my mentors, Hossein, and I spent this whole weekend working through the varioius implementation details including safety mechanisms, etc and we finally got the system breathing Sunday evening at about 9pm!  whew!  (the demonstration is taking place at 2pm on Monday...)

This is a funny cartoon kinda showing what closed-loop control is all about, a good reference for those reading this who have no idea what i'm talking about.

Well, I'm gonna hit the hay.  Happy trails partner!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

one more turn in the bay

Hello everyone!

So after 6 months of hard work at ENE and Army/NASA, I still do not have a finished product to show off, but progress is being made.  I am now back at Ames Research Center in the Bay Area spending about a week to demonstrate some control algorithms for the helicopter blade flap that I've been working on.  Pray that it goes well... if it does then we can continue on our project, otherwise, we will have to give up one of the more challenging tests, which would be a shame.

On the ENE front, the Case machine is coming along nicely (the 6-wheel, fully independent suspension pruning machine).  I have almost completely finished detailing the hydraulic system and my colleague Alex is nearly done with the mechanical design.  I'm very excited about that.  My current estimate is that we will be painting in 4 weeks, put on hydraulics in 5 weeks and be done in about 8 weeks, Lord willing.  I'll definitely post some pictures of that bad boy soon.

On a personal note, I'm still a bit socially constricted due to two (too) busy work schedules (sche-duels).  But every once in a while I get to do something fun and blow off some steam.  I had a wonderful afternoon this last sunday, getting to spend time with some friends I haven't seen in a while (just hangin' out and drinkin' smoothies) and then going to soak up some sun by the pool with family and friends... it was great.  very relaxing.

I still haven't found the truck i'm looking for yet.  I hope to find it soon though.  It's funny, I find the right make/model/year/mileage without the extras, or a find all the extras without the year/mileage...  In case someone reading this (by chance) has my truck, here is what i'm looking for:

chevy silverado
less than 100k miles
4" lift
33x12.50 tires
alloy wheels
the longest short bed (I think it is 6.5')
good paint, good body

so if you have such a truck and are in the market to be rid of it, please drop me a note ( )


in other news, I'm also looking for a good place to live in the country where I can keep track of a nice big dog...  again, if you have a place, I have some cash!  =)


I guess last on the list is that other thing, which must not be named.  I daren't say it out loud, for fear that its report may be heard.  No, I must keep it secret, I must keep it safe.  LOL.  This is called dramatic bluffing.  as far as this public address goes, I'm done.  I hope to post some pics soon of the goings on here at Ames, but until then, Adieu!  =)