Embedded Design


Dad takes off from Panama, and I head to the weird zone between the city and Gamboa along the canal to get my final shot in my Rabies series. Had to erase part of my prescription and write in a new date because I think the nurse had gotten it wrong. It’s a tiny bit scary considering my prior reactions and just manipulating the hospital workers’ decrees in general, but everything works out fine. Ummat on the other hand became super Ill. We had to drive him to the clinic, and they gave him some antibiotics, but in two days his condition went back worse. Poor guy being sick in the field is terrible, but now it looks like he will be in the hospital for quite sometime. (Update: 15-7-2013 They still haven’t figured out what is wrong with the guy. They had been thinking rickettsia,  leptospirosis, and several types of meningitits (including fungal meningitis), but haven’t nailed it down. He had brain and liver swelling, and all they have been able to do is treat the symptoms.).


Peter and I uncover an electronic mystery during the rest of the day which we relegate to digital crafting. We are able to send communication wirelessly and drive a servo from a soldering iron.


Peter starts working on flick-o-matic 2.0. He’s coming up with growingly crazier designs to meet his goals of delivering fully automated powerful thwops against the tree. What started last year between us as a simple idea of programmatic smacking device, grew into more specifics as we developed the device with his experimental requirements. He needs the device to hit the tree with the following constraints:

– Deliver a consistent, hard enough wallop to be felt by the ant colony many meters above.

– Repeat this hit 10 times consistently and then automatically stop itself.

– Be blunt and soft enough to not bruise or cut the tree (stop it from releasing chemical stimulants in the tree sap)

– Be able to be bounced around in the back of a truck driving down a rough jungle road

– Be easily positioned near the tree, but only touch it when the experiment starts (even minor brushes with the tree can screw up the experiment). Peter waits at least 30 minutes after an accidental knocking on the tree to restart the official trial.



PETER: “I find myself thinking in new ways of the materials I have available. Like I use these things (plastic collection vials) for everything. I wonder sometimes about how if I had a different workspace with different materials how my designs would appear then.”