Schrödinger's Kitten

Irreverent Science for Everyone

Sunday 26 April 2015

The Path of Research Never Did Run Smooth

  • practical
  • macro

In the interests of presenting a more accurate picture of the genuine process of research, here is a fairly comprehensive list of things that did not go to plan in the first mini-research project I and partner undertook:

  • There are a lot of sub-miniature connectors to choose from.
  • Sub-miniature connectors do not use male/female terminology, instead using plug and jack respectively.
  • Coaxial connectors have a lot of pins.
  • Circuit design at above 2MHz is 'a dark art'.
  • If you don't know the purchasing system, you don't know when it's not going to plan.
  • Some managers aren't added to the purchasing system at the start of term.
  • The Czech republic takes time to ship from.
  • Electrodes have finite size.
  • Soldering irons cannot pass through solid acrylic.
  • Acrylic is not available in non-integer mm thicknesses.
  • The pro demo version of SketchUp lasts 8 hours.
  • Learning SketchUp takes 9 hours.
  • The engineering computer room with Autodesk is not available, because reasons, about which Estates have been informed.
  • Not all .dxf file formats are the same.
  • Laser cutter beams have finite width.
  • Misread the piezo length as 12mm when it is 15mm.
  • Laser cut acrylic is sharp enough to slice your finger open.
  • The physics workshop is locked on Monday.
  • Optical tweezers have very limited range.
  • Circuit boards cannot usually be cut in laser cutters because glass and bromine.
  • The drill in the physics workshop cannot be operated by students, while the one in engineering can.
  • Drilling holes in the right place is hard.
  • Items you have just soldered are hot.
  • Traces that go under a component with electrodes on both sides will short it out.
  • The lab's supply of R178 cable is not infinite.
  • The finance site shuts down over the financial year end.
  • The kind of SMC connector we bought does not have guides to use anywhere on the internet, except on some dodgy russian site that scrapes .pdfs where the diagram is not very helpful.
  • Assembling SMC-BNC cables takes ages.
  • RF connectors are fiddly and come apart easily.
  • Small parts fall on the floor and get lost.
  • Items you have just soldered are still hot.
  • Different piezos have different resonant peaks.
  • Signal generators have a lot of buttons.
  • Zooming in the microscope too far shatters the glass.
  • Not everyone knows SMC connectors unscrew
  • Water makes the glue used to make the device watertight dissolve.
  • Home made circuit boards and inexpert soldering are unreliable.

...obviously. However, we got there! Read about the device we made to move micrometer particles with the power of ultrasound.

Content: Scary Boots — Design: Canis Lupus