We're a little crazy, about science!

Experimental prep: part 2

I feel like a broken record at this point, buuuuut… it’s been one hell of a day. It’s been non-stop go, go, go and there’s still one day between now and the big event. There’s still a lot of work to be done and I’m not sure how long it will take, but I have a feeling tomorrow will be a very long day. In fact, these next few weeks will be some of the hardest in recent memory and that’s saying something.

I am juggling a ton of things right now. My job description is — technically speaking — do experiments, do data analysis, write papers. Easy, right? Well I’ve also tacked on a ton of other jobs to that, but I still have all the other responsibilities of my standard job. At this point in my career I’ve turned into a one person R+D department. I’ve been making a ton of equipment, some of which we’ll use for Friday, and I’ve helped with experiment design, setup, etc.

The tech development stuff is probably my favorite stuff, but it’s also the most time consuming. Unfortunately for me, it’s gone from a fun little side hobby when things in the lab are slow, to something that is required because we need things that no one has ever made and we need them now. So a lot of building stuff and I’m trying my best to keep up with it all. Basically this whole mess is mostly (like 98%) my own damned fault. I should keep my ideas to myself, you think I would’ve learned this by now. Anyway, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the day I’ve had.

First, let’s start this off right, the good news. I’ve succeeded in the first version of my newest equipment. Despite seeing all the things I could do better on the next iteration, because the first is never the best, it came out pretty nice! I’m not 100% sure it works, there will (with some luck) be a chance to double check everything tomorrow. However, my tests with the good ol’ multimeter tell me that everything is good to go. Assuming it all survived assembly (it’s 10 pounds of tech shoved into a 5 pound bag), then this will be a big advancement for the work I want to do and I’m thoroughly excited about the possibilities.

But wait, there’s more good news!

We have three EMG/IMU sensors that have gone bad in our lab. The battery is dead, it happens, but these sensors (Delsys) are incredibly expensive. They are worth every penny, but there like >$1000 each and we have three that are garbage. Now $3K in the terms of a lab is nothing, we dropped over 20x that on some equipment I really wanted. However, we’re not wasteful. We wanted to see if the company could swap the battery for us, but they said that due to the environmental seal it’s not possible. Fine, no biggie, I thought I could repurpose it for something else.

It wouldn’t be as durable, but the story goes like this. We needed some equipment made, I came up with a way to make the equipment, hospital-PI shot the idea down because it relied on using the good sensors and he didn’t want to risk breaking one (I don’t blame him, but I could’ve done it). So I suggested using these bad sensors, which he greenlighted. Well there was more than a seal going on when I finally got the sensor cracked open.

It turns out the entire thing is epoxied into place. Like the entire inside of the sensor is the electronics, the battery, and epoxy. It’s a big block of epoxy. I literally had to break off all the casing and it held the same shape because it was a big square of epoxy. Well that explains why they couldn’t replace the battery, it’s buried under something that doesn’t come apart. Still, I like to think I’m pretty resourceful so I decided to see what we could salvage.

After some trial and error (who am I kidding, very gentle chiselling), I’m pretty sure I have the pieces I needed from the sensor to make the stuff that I’m wanting to make. While it’s not pretty, I’m very hopeful that I’ve salvaged the parts in working condition, it’s just barely, but we’re going to order a few parts that I need to make the thing I want to make and we’re going to see if this works. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but this was a major hurdle and I almost gave up, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

Now the bad news.

There’s still so much to go. I need to finish writing a lot of code, which I’m not sure when I will have the chance to do tomorrow since the computer that I need to use to write it. I literally cannot write it without this very specific computer, it’s an external hardware limitation, or rather the stuff we hook up to the computer needs to be connected for me to write the code or I can’t do it. There’s a full day of code writing and testing to make sure it’s ready for the big event. I’m hesitant to say the least, but we’re going to try I guess. I suspect I’m going to have a very long day tomorrow though, because of the other big thing that still needs to happen.

I still need to setup the equipment. By setup I mean plugging everything in and making sure that it’s connected to the right spot. This is a long, tedious process and I was hoping to have everything done today so I could focus on that tomorrow solely. Instead, I’m going to have to write code and setup the equipment. Oh and I’ve got a surprised ten day (lecture) two hour each day training I need to attend. It’s required by the hospital unfortunately. It’s annoying, I couldn’t get out of it, it came out of nowhere, and it’s just one more thing I’ve got piled onto my plate.

When does that start you may ask? Tomorrow, so it’s going to be a long day and the start of an even longer few weeks. Luckily the next long experiment is two weeks away so I will have time to prep for that, but also I’ll be done with the ten (work) day training (just barely).

2 responses

  1. A $1000 sensor with an not-replaceable battery? Yeesh. They really try to make you throw money down a hole, don’t they. Sounds like it worked out for the best though!

    I’m sorry you’ve got so much stuff piled on all at once. It sounds like you’re doing great; I hope you make it through the hard patches okay. Wish I could send you a little of my free time somehow, but that doesn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    • Yeah, I know, right?! I thought for sure they were just being jerks about fixing it, but nope, it’s literally made to never come apart. Somehow I managed it though, so that’s the good news.

      Thanks, I’m slowly making my way through it all. After tomorrow I should get a somewhat slower week before it picks up again.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 15, 2022 at 8:49 pm

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