3D Printing

In one of my recent projects, I have been using a 3D printer for prototyping parts for a project.  I was quite skeptical that the prototype parts where anything that would add value. But as it turns out, it was a classic example of: "I didn't know I needed it until I had it."  I'll go on record as saying that in 20 years 3D printers will be extremely prolific.

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IPython

As I was writing the previous entry on using Python + numPy + sciPy as a Matlab replacement, I mentioned that IPython install is painful; however, I think it might be worth it and here are some more detailed instructions than what I was able to find.  The video of the IPython presentation at PyCon is what convinced me that it was worth figuring how to get IPython working.  

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Python + numpy + sciPy + matplotlib: Another Opensource tool

One of the tools I have used probably more than any other in my engineering work is Matlab.  It is a fantastic high level programming language that makes many engineering data analysis and simulation tasks easy.  However, the good people at Mathworks are in this for a profit and their software isn't free.  So at several different points I have gone looking for alternatives in the opensource community.  Not surprisingly, there are several options out there.  Some of them include:

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Electronic Design Automation (EDA) on a budget

There is often a need to design a simple printed circuit board (PCB), whether it be for the hobbyist building an auto-pilot for the remote control airplanes in the garage or a design engineering trying to clean up a breadboard prototype.  I've been in both situations and have found some amazingly inexpensive options to design and manufacture such simple designs.

 

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Income distributions

There has been a lot of discussion recently about ways to cover the costs of various stimulous expenditures.  One politically advantagous approach is "taxing the rich" or the so called "Buffet Tax".  One has to question the efficacy of such a proposal.  It is politically desireably for a canditate seeking elected office because it effects a small number of people.  The question I ask and approach quantitatively here is whether the earnings of that small number of people outweight their relatively small numbers to raise the revenue necessary for various proposals.

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Microcontroller Development Environment using Open Source Tools

 

In an attempt to overcome the rather high cost of some of the commercial development software packages for microcontroller development, I went looking for open source alternatives.  There are some pretty good alternatives, but they aren't always the easiest to get up and running.  Here is a tutorial that might help some folks get up and running.

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