Here you'll find an assorted mix of content from yours truly. I post about a lot
of things, but primarily
Shenzhen Adventure Day 9
15 Jun 2015
So you find yourself in China, and you want to go out in the evening. How can you be sure that your electronics aren’t tampered with?
Use tamper evident seals!
Basically you go and buy a big plastic bin, tape over the edges,
paint glitter nailpolish over the tape, and take a picture. You can’t get into the box without destroying the seals/re-aligning them perfectly.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 8
14 Jun 2015
Today was basically a day off, I answered emails and worked on a small project,
as well as doing a couple edits to my board design to get feedback from Bunnie.
In the evening, we went to get dinner at a Pakistani restaurant. After dinner,
Akiba led us on his ritual treat; Mango slushies and foot massages. I didn’t
get many photos of the massage, but it was pretty awesome. For about 10 USD,
you get an hour massage.
First, you take a long tea-foot bath. After brewing for a few minutes, you plop
your feet out and the massage begins. They start by filing down your feet and
chiseling them to get rid of dead skin and callouses. Then you get some
standard massage-y stuff. Then, it gets interesting. The masseuse pulls out a
small torch and lights it on fire. Then, she quickly flips a glass cup over the
flame (which is held dangerously close…) and slips it on your foot and
suckers it off. This is the famed practice of cupping. After doing lots of
quick cups, some larger ones are placed on and left to sit for a few minutes.
These ones really hurt! Actually, come to think of it most of the massage
hurt… Anyways, after cupping the remainder of the massage was fairly normal.
My feet felt pretty fucking awesome afterwards, not bad for 65 RMB.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 6, 7
13 Jun 2015
Friday and Saturday were free form days, we just worked on our projects for the most part.
Our projects are basically to doing a small customization to the Orchard platform, which the instructors designed. In a nutshell:
Orchard is a low-power, multi-band radio-connected embedded computing solution. In other words, it's an IoT platform.
Orchard is open source hardware and software.
Orchard is also a supply chain solution. Derivatives of Orchard are meant to be prototyped easily and brought to volume manufacturing with less effort than typical. Unlike breadboard solutions like Arduino, Orchard is targeted toward prototyping through board spins. This is possible thanks to China's low-cost prototyping infrastructure. The effort to prototype is higher than a breadboard, but the on-ramp to scale production once you've got your design finished is also less steep.
Orchard is really cool, you can read more about it here.
My customization is adding a sensor chip called an APDS 9960. It’s a hell of a sensor: it can do ambient light, proximity, and gesture sensing baked into a tiny tiny package and communicates over I2C.
Originally I was going to try to do a radio astronomy antenna on the board, so that you could chuck out a bunch of orchard boards in a field and make a radio telescope, but getting the RF engineering correct was going to be too difficult for the scope of the course and my background in said materials.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 5
11 Jun 2015
Today we were again mostly in-house.
We kicked off the day with a lecture on how to use Altium (pcb design software)
by Bunnie. Afterwards, we got lunch at this super awesome Thai restaurant
right by our office (they have very filling lunch specials for 45 RMB / 7.25
USD). I was going to go to another restaurant, but it started to pour (seems to
rain most days so far around noon).
After lunch, it was mostly just working time. Artem and I decided to go to Seg,
the super large electronics market to get keyboards and mice so that we can
easily use Altium. We got super side tracked in segbuy and ended up walking
around for hours, but it was good because we also found inspiration in the
millions of parts available there.
One funny thing I learned is that if you’re looking for a single item, and the
manufacturer is selling high quantity, saying you want a sample is a great way
to get one at a low cost, but it feels somewhat dishonest. Then again, Seg
doesn’t feel quite honest either…
After burning far to much time visitng all 10 floors of Seg twice, we headed
back to the office, did some work thinking about our designs, and then headed
to dinner. Saquib and I decided to go to the restaurant we were going to go to
earlier – it’s a vegetarian restaurant so we were pretty excited to be able to
order anything off the menu! The place was a little bit dingy, but the food was
pretty great and not too expensive – 52 RMB / 8.4 USD comfortably fed us both
– usually vegetarian restaurants are pricey because of low demand. Was pumped
to finally be able to eat the famous ma po tofu! After dinner we went to Gong
Cha, a tea chain. Their teas are awesome, I had a kumquat limeade drink with
pearls and jelly that was super refreshing. Desipite being cheap already, they
had a buy one get one half off thing going so we got 2 large drinks for 22 RMB
/ 3.5 USD.
I also learned that the word “chisu” I’ve been using for vegetarian sounds a
lot like “chizou” which means stall. That explains why everytime I ask for
vegetarian food they show me the bathroom. Could have been worse! I think the
right word is “su-shi”.
Shenzhen Adventure Day 4
10 Jun 2015
We visited a toy studio for a to-be-unnamed toy company (hence, no photos).
This place was really cool. Basically, big brands (and not just for toys,
clothes, electronics, etc) spec out a thing they want at a very high level,
such as “make me a toy that looks like a turtle”. They then send it to a
prototyping studio who makes a turtle toy prototype and sends it back for
feedback. So the brands essentially monitor markets and tell the protypers what
to build to meet it.