Transmitting Geekdom Around the World

It’s save to say I’m a completely overloaded individual these days. I spend 12+ hours a day in the laboratory (it’s 11:30pm and I’m in lab right now), have a masters thesis to write, propose, defend, and submit all within about 30 days from today (I haven’t even actually started writing it yet), I am in the middle of being accepted into dental school (involving tons of deadline-ridden paperwork dealing with housing, immunizations, certifications, transcripts, finances, etc), somehow I have to find the time to do my taxes (1st time my wife and I will file together), and now that I mention it, yes, I have a wife at home to think about! We’ve been married a year plus a few months. I have to remember wifey things. Is an anniversary coming up? [ponders…] Wait, one just passed. I’m good. Anyway, I’ve got a TON of things on my plate, and no matter how quickly I try to scrape them off, more keep piling on. So, with all this stuff I have to do, and tons of stuff I should do, could I ever justify taking time out of my day to do stuff that I actually want to do? Yes and no.

I’ve reached an inconclusive conclusion. Although my heart yearns to get involved with with a lot of small projects, they all have to be placed on (indefinite?) hiatus. Examples of projects I’ve wanted to get into for a long time include furthering my knowledge of pic microcontroller programming, writing a python-based Pandora internet radio streamripper, completing the hardware/software for my homemade electrocardiogram (and actually using it to analyze long periods of cardiac activity), becoming an active member of the development team for an interesting piece of software (like fluxbox or inkscape or some other opensource application). More recent projects include re-coding the web-interface for this website (the current coding is ghastly, archaic, and difficult to modify without breaking the UI, which doesn’t even display correctly in IE anyway), getting into AR (amateur radio), and buying that 5” XD 45 ACP tactical semiauto I’ve been eyeing for several months now. Because I have an evergrowing list of things I want to do, and an even faster-growing list of things I need to do, I have to somehow conjure up contentment in the brief periods of free time I can use throughout my day researching these endeavors. I know it sounds silly. But, I know I can’t do all these things I want to right now… yet somehow, spending 10 minutes on the internet here and there reading up on something I want to do appeases the roaring (whining?) within my soul to do something more fun. (more fun = anything that doesn’t make BLOOD SHOOT OUT OF MY EYES like retarded paperwork for dental school or monotonous experiments in the laboratory)

One of my more recent fascinations is QRSS, a super-low power mode of transmission over the airwaves. Think about this. You get a ham radio setup which outputs at about 3 watts. “This is call sign blah blah blah blah saying yadda yadda yadaa, over, [pssht].” Ya’ got it? Now picture using a microcontroller (It’s time to break out the old pic microcontroller programming gear I’ve had in my junk boxes forever!) to transmit data (Morse code?) over the airwaves by varying frequencies and using FFT transformation (2d plot, with respect to time) to view it on the computer. Now, increase the time between “beeps”, and decrease the power. Way down. Think, 5mW. That’s how much power a laser pointer puts out. Now imagine that a homemade circuit, broadcasting from a single AAA battery at 5mW can produce a signal which can be received on the other side of the world in Australia. How freaking awesome is that? I’ve been inspired by the QRSS page here where a guy reported his efforts doing something similar. I want to try this so bad. GRR! [sigh] I have to get back to lab.

One quick news update: I’ve completely finished the investigative work required for me thesis project. Yay! This is big news. I’ve been hear almost two years! Here’s my “money shot” image. Unfortunately for you, I will not describe what it is on the internet. It will suffice to say that it’s the fruit of months’ labor of a super coding ninja money.