We're a little crazy, about science!

The last day of prep

Well I’m not pulling an all nighter today so that’s good news. Two weeks ago we had our first “long experiment,” now we’re going into the second one. Long experiment because it will take all day and I mean all day. We start at 7am and I’ll be lucky if we finish at 7pm, that kind of long. Since long experiment is, well long, I’ve been working on lots of different ways to optimize the experiment. That won’t make it shorter, but I’m hoping it will be less stressful.

Okay so it took two weeks, but we got four out of four parts that I needed to fabricate done. I got the code written that I needed to write, and I had an extra credit project that I decided to tackle last minute today that got wrapped up. There was so much to do today despite getting a good chunk of the work done I was worried I wouldn’t make it, but here we are. So all in all a rather productive day. Great post, now time for bed.

Fine I guess we can go into a bit more detail. These experiments are exhausting. Mostly because there’s a lot of running around and wiring needing to happen. We’ve got about 100 wires or so to plug into the correct spot and make no mistake, there’s a correct spot, just one. Because there’s so many wires… so, so many wires, I’ve been working hard on a better solution. The good news is I found one, have the parts to implement it, but I don’t have the hardware. Not until the end of the year, so until then we’re using the original design for “big idea,” which I should reiterate we’re not using it in the same way I had envisioned, but this has been good for us to practice.

Among other things I needed to get done today was label stuff. Yeah I had to label so many wires. I feel like I’ve got wire PTSD at this point. But seriously, I had the label maker working hard today. It’s not so much that we had to label the wires because we wanted to keep track of them, but because there’s a part of the experiment where we need to disconnect things and I had a realization that we could label them to make plugging everything back in go smoother. So while I was making a joke about labeling each and every wire, I only labeled a few of them (only about two dozen, haha).

I also managed to rewire all the equipment we were using. Yeah you read that right. So here’s the thing, I absolutely hate line noise (60 Hz here in the US). Line noise is noise our equipment picks up from electrical wires the walls, ceilings, basically everything that uses power causes this issue with our equipment. You know where there are a lot of wires? In a hospital, who knew? Another realization I had was that some of our power cables run near our data cables. Despite being shielded, being that close to a source of line noise (literally inches), can cause some pretty high noise. I’m hoping this little (but time consuming) change will make a big difference in the quality of the data we collect tomorrow.

Lastly, there was that “extra credit” project I mentioned. I had an idea today to help make things go smoothly and since I’ve been ahead of schedule, I went ahead and made the new part. The part was a big addition and I probably didn’t need to do it, but I think it will make a difference tomorrow (or at least I hope it will… we’ll see. Every little bit helps and I think that this part will make transitions to other parts of the experient (since we have several experiments wrapped up in this single experiment).

That about wraps up everything I had to finish for tomorrow. Everything is nicely organized, labeled, and ready to go. I would say we’re ready, but like I text hospital-PI when he asked if we were ready, we can never be completely ready, because there’s always something bound to go wrong that you didn’t plan for. I do feel comfortable saying that we’re about as ready as can be. Now, if the lab gremlins play nicely, maybe tomorrow will go smoothly!

(spoiler, it wont)


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