Laser scribing for Woodworking

Recently, I’ve started a new area of experimentation – laser scribing inserts for woodworkers. Below are a few examples of my initial efforts:

IMG_20180810_051946406These are one inch wooden slugs that have been laser scribed with an image and some text.  My neighbor and I invested in this device together and in order to get our investment back, we’re planning to charge $1.50 per wooden coin for those using an existing design. If someone wants their own graphic, they can send it to me. It will be an additional $15 (one time) for me to set it up. If they want exclusive use of that graphic, it will be $20.

Embedding a wooden coin like this into the back of a project can really set it off and show the pride in your work.


It has been a crazy month

Since the last time I blogged, I have become a board member and performing the role of Advanced Training Director of the Sun City Hilton Head Woodworking and Modelmakers Guild. These are volunteer positions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t keep me busy.

There are over 800 members of the guild. We are in the process of rolling out Eventbrite to manage the scheduling of our training classes. By my best estimate (just for Advanced Training), there are approximately 140 training sessions, across 45 classes and 25 unique topics, before the end of the year. It’s a pretty active group.

A simple, collapsible, decorative wood bowl

Since I’ve moved to Sun City Hilton Head, I’ve done a great deal more woodworking than I have every done before. I’ve modeled most of these efforts in SketchUp or Microsoft 3D Builder before tackling anything too difficult.

The following are a couple of simple designs I’ve created for those getting started in woodworking. They look interesting, without being too complicated.

One is a Pineapple shaped bowl and the other is a bowl shaped like a Pumpkin. Both use the same technique to use a single piece of wood (about an inch thick) to form the handle and a spiral cut piece that can be expanded to form a bowl. When made properly, the piece can me laid flat or expanded into a bowl. Pegs can be used to attach the handle to the bowl.

Here is the Pineapple:

pineapple bowl

I’ve found it works best to print the design on an 11×17 piece of paper. Tape it to the board. Cut out the design with a scroll saw or sabre saw. Then align the parts and determine where the holes need to be cut for the pegs, so the handle can fully extend and expand the bowl. You may need to cut the handle down to fit.

Here is the Pumpkin (I am going to try this one on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper):

pumpkin bowl

Here is what an Apple bowl looks like fully extended – my wife got that when she was teaching and it inspired me to create the other designs.

Apple bowl

Field Day 2018

IMG_20180623_164854092The Sun City Hilton Head amateur radio group had its annual field day event, consisting of the normal equipment setup, some operations and tear down. We had the usual comradery of a group lunch and discussion of the various new modes and old field day recollections from across the globe. One of the great things of a group with such a diverse experience base has is the range of stories they can tell. That photo shows one of the 4 operating positions we had set up.

The ARRL section representative and his assistance stopped by and stayed for quite a while, adding their stories to our oral anthology.

We had the ‘normal’ issues of operating interference and antenna. I had to dig out an old G5RV, when one of our verticals wouldn’t tune up right. We had this new antenna up and operational in less than 15 minutes. By the time we were done stringing antenna wires between the trees, it looked like a spider had been busy out there. We had three wire antennas and a buddipole working. Not bad since it was in the mid-90s that day.


One thing that surprised me (since I was operating digital modes) was the few number of field day operators across the globe who had not figured out how to operate FT8 for field day – that was frustrating! Hopefully by next year, the minor changes will be made to make the mode work for this event more naturally. Eventually, I switched over to the faithful PSK31 and RTTY. The group operated for a few hours and then packed everything up. 

On Sunday, I operated for a few more hours from home and racked up 100 contacts and was happy with that result.

Since the overall goals were:

  • Emergency preparedness
  • Work as many stations as possible
  • Comradery
  • No one gets hurt (I was the safety officer)

 We can met those objectives and can mark it down as a success.

Field Day 2018 #ARRLFD

2018ARRLFieldDayLogoDOWNLOADJune 23rd- 24th (starting at 2PM Eastern) is the annual Amateur Radio event called Field Day, where radio operators from around North America exercise their emergency response skills. It is also a contest to contact as many stations as possible in 24 hours, following a well defined set of rules for exchanging information. One thing different this year will be the exchange of more detailed geographic information than in the past.

Field Day is also ham radio’s open house, where groups of radio operators come together in a very visible way and interact with the public. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places demonstrating ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in ham radio in the Americas.

This year I will be operating with the KE4HAM group at Sun City Hilton Head. We are planning to be running on all battery or generator power and string up a number of temporary antennas. I hope to be operating mainly FT8 (a relatively new digital mode).

You should be able to see a live update on the Internet of both those hearing KE4HAM as well as those I am hearing via PSKReporter.

Update to Morse Code training for Android

antennaI wrote a program that simulated conversations between hams (QSOs) to help improve Morse code skillsQSOSender3. Believe it or not, Morse code is as popular now as it has ever been, in amateur radio.

QSOSender3 has a 5 out of 5 rating in the Play Store and has been installed on almost a thousand Android devices. It’s useful, since the code you hear on the air is usually quite different than what practice programs provide.

I received a request the other day to support the Farnsworth method, so something close to that has now been added and the program released on the Google Play store. If you find any other features you’d like to see added, let me know.

It will not help with field day this year, but may improve your skills for the future.



Things are not always what they seem – a discussion about analytics

evaluationHave you ever been in a discussion about a topic thinking you’re talking about one area but later find out it was about something else altogether?

We’ve probably all had that conversation with a child, where they say something like “That’s a really nice ice cream cone you have there.” Which sounds like a compliment on your dairy delight selection but in reality is a subtle way of saying “Can I have a bite?”

I was in a discussion with an organization about a need they had. They asked me a series of questions and I provided a quick stream of consciousness response…The further I got into the interaction the less I understood about what was going on. This is a summary of the interaction:

1) How do you keep up to speed in new data science technology? I read and write blogs on technical topics as well as read trade publications. I also do some recreational programming to keep up on trends and topics. On occasion I have audited classes on both EdX and Coursera (examples include gamification, Python, cloud management/deployment, R…)

2) Describe what success looks like in the context data science projects? Success related analytics efforts is the definition, understanding, development of insight on and the addressing of business goals using available data and business strategies. Sometimes this may only involve the development of better strategies and plans, but in other cases the creation of contextual understanding and actionable insight allows for continuous improvement of existing or newly developed processes.

3) Describe how do you measure the value of a successful data science application. I measure the value based on the business impact through the change in behavior or business results. It is not about increased insight but about actions taken.

4) Describe successful methods or techniques you have used to explain the value of data science, machine learning, advanced analytics to business people. I have demonstrated the impact of a gamification effort by using previously performed business process metrics and then the direct relationship with post implementation performance. Granted correlation does not prove causation but by having multiple instances of base cases and being able to validate performance improvement from a range a trials and processes improvements, a strong business case can be developed using a recursive process based on the definition of mechanics, measurement, behavior expectations, and rewards.

I’ve used a similar approach in the IoT space, where I’ve worked on and off with machine data collection and data analysis since entering the work force in the 1980s.

5) Describe the importance of model governance (model risk management) in the context of data science, advanced analytics, etc. in financial services. Without a solid governance model, you don’t have the controls and cannot develop the foundational level of understanding. The model should provide the rigor sufficient to move from supposition to knowledge. The organization needs to be careful not to have too rigid a process though, since you need to take advantage of any information learned along the way and make adjustment, to take latency out of the decision making/improvement process. Like most efforts today a flexible/agile approach should be applied.

6) Describe who did you (team, function, person) interact with in your current role, on average, and roughly what percent of time did you spend with each type of function/people/team. In various roles I spent time with CEO/COOs and senior technical decision makers in fortune 500 companies (when I was the chief technologist of Americas application development with HP: 70-80% of my time). Most recently when with Raytheon IT, I spend about 50% of my time with senior technical architects and 50% of my time with IT organization directors.

7) Describe how data science will evolve during the next 3 to 5 years. What will improve? What will change? Every organization should have in place a plan to leverage both improve machine learning and analytics algorithms based on the abundance of data, networking and intellectual property available. Cloud computing techniques will also provide an abundance of computing capabilities that can be brought to bear on the enterprise environment. For most organizations, small sprint project efforts need to be applied to both understanding the possibilities and the implications. Enterprise efforts will still take place but they will likely not have the short term impact that smaller, agile efforts will deliver. I wrote a blog post about this topic earlier this month. Both the scope and style of projects will likely need to change. It may also involve the use more contract labor to get the depth of experience in the short term to address the needs of the organization. The understanding and analysis of the meta-data (block chains, related processes, machines.…) will also play an ever increasing role, since they will supplement the depth and breadth of contextual understanding.

8) Describe how do you think about choosing technical design of data science solutions (what algorithms, techniques, etc.).

I view the approach to be similar to any other architectural technical design. You need to understand:

  • the vision (what is to be accomplished)
  • the current data and systems in place (current situation analysis)
  • understand the skills of the personnel involved (resource assessment)
  • define the measurement approach to be used (so that you have both a leading and lagging indicator of performance)

then you can develop a plan and implement your effort, validating and adjusting as you move along.

How do you measure the value/impact of your choice?

You need to have a measurement approach that is both tactical (progress against leading indicators) as well as strategic (validation by lagging indicators of accomplishment). Leading indicators look ahead to make sure you are on the right road, where lagging indicators look behind to validate where you’ve been.

9) Describe your experience explaining complex data to business users. What do you focus on?

The most important aspect of explaining complex data is to describe it in terms the audience will understand. No one cares how hard it was to do the analysis, they just want to know the business impact, value and how it can be applied.

Data visualization needs to take this into account and explain the data to the correct audience – not everyone consumes data using the same techniques. Some people will only respond to spreadsheets, while others would like to have nice graphics… Still others want business simulations and augmented reality techniques to be used whenever possible. If I were to have 3 rules related to explaining technical topics, they would be:

  1. Answer the question asked
  2. Display it in a way the audience will understand (use their terminology)
  3.  Use the right data

At the end of that exchange I wasn’t sure if I’d just provided some free consulting, went through a job interview or was just chewing the fat with another technologist. Thoughts???