(enigma: A riddle or a perplexing, ambiguous statement. From Greek.)
Enigma has worked in art and literature. It is almost expected. But I find it a bit soft and squishy now. My title seems a bit that way. But I thought it would be a good way to introduce this short update.
I bought my big table from Ikea when I moved into this place. It was the only table in my room. So I did everything on it. This made sense to me. But the space became very cluttered. With all my electronics stuff on the table, there was barely room for me to work on my computer. A huge CRT monitor sat over my head on a hastily-built frame, though I had since purchased a used flat screen for $25. There was no room for another monitor on my table, although I occasionally wanted to use two computers at the same time.
I had another table. The top came from my friends at the Museum of the Mysteries. They let me take it when they moved from Broadway to Union. (They are in the Inscape Building in the International District now.) I attached some “legs” to it fashioned from a broken clothing rack that someone had thrown away. But it was too low to work at, so I just put things on it.
Then I read a blog post on Duncan O’Finioan’s site. It was entitled “Why Are We Here?”
It ended with this suggestion:
Figure out who you are, be the best YOU that you can be, and you will know why you are here.
I had read similar advice before. In the Scientology ethics materials. Those materials state that the formula for the condition of Enemy is:
FIND OUT WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
So I looked at the mess on my desk. And I looked at my life and my interests and my dreams. And I realized that I was being an artist. Maybe I wasn’t doing a very good job of it, but that seems to be what I was, and what I had wanted to be from an early age.
Giving the beingness some space
In Scientology we learn that beingness IS space. The two concepts are locked together. So I decided that if I was an artist then I needed a space to be an artist. And I set about re-arranging the room so that my “art” would have its own table.
It is a work in progress. But I did well for spending almost no money on it. I figured out how to use the wood from the frame holding up the CRT monitor to make extensions for the legs of my second table, and a cross brace on the back side to stiffen it.
I re-arranged my shelves so that I could move another little rolling table next to this new work table and use it to hold the things that had been on the other table.
It was good.
I make my electronics creations in three different form-factors (mostly). Some of them are in little plastic boxes, some of them are built into rack-mount cabinets (17 inches wide with a 19-inch wide flanged front panel) and I decided to make some that would fit into briefcases (16 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 3 to 6 inches deep depending on the briefcase. I had a couple of big “tool box” briefcases from Home Depot and I wanted to use them more efficiently. I came up with several different projects for this “briefcase” form-factor.
- Motors and stepper motors. With a possible audio component relating to the measurement of sound interference patterns.
- Magnetics and power. Low and high voltage power supplies, a pulse train generator, and a means for triggering magnetic coils.
- Resonance and overtones. Playing with resonant circuits in the audio ranges and higher, with a mixer to combine signals to get a complex output.
- Programmable micro-controllers. This is how most equipment works now. It is controlled by a little micro-computer loaded with a dedicated program. Widely used in engineering classes.
- Process control simulations. Use electronic components to simulate the operation of manufacturing equipment. Use the micro-controller or other hardware to control the process. This is the technology of industrial automation.
And so I was able to organize a lot of my junk in alignment with these projects and begin to put together some prototypes.
Creating stepper motor drivers and control waveforms has been a huge challenge for me. But I realized as I was mounting my various stepper motors (mostly ripped out of printers) that they could produce signals that I could probably observe on my sound card oscilloscope. Sure enough, they do! Then I decided to amplify those signals using a little audio amplifier, and use that to drive another stepper motor. I had the second motor mimicking what I did with the signal motor! Very nice!
I was also trying to put together a motor (or step-up transformer) driver using what is known as an “H” configuration of transistors. Usually they use all MOSFET transistors. You need two n-channel units for the bottom of the H and two p-channel units for the top of the H. But I didn’t have any p-channel units. Finally I realized that I might be able to use PNP transistors instead of the MOSFETS. Clever! I tried it and it worked!
Now this driver feeds a high frequency neon sign transformer to produce about 500v AC, which can be rectified into a relatively high voltage to drive my coils with.
A change for the better?
Only time will tell. I feel bad putting so much time into what could easily be brushed off as just a hobby. But when one finds something fascinating and compelling to do, why turn away from it? Why not try to make it your life? It basically is already. Why not try owning who you really are?
I still have just one chair. I have to move it, and the board underneath it which I use to protect the floor, when I want to work at the other table. But I’ve done it and it’s fun. My table #2 has a view, while my “office” table faces away from the window. So I hope I will be sitting at my other table more often in the future.