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The most interesting part of this project is a creation made in conjunction with Dr. Scott Echols and a number of awesome people at the University of Utah. We aimed to create a physical 3D model of the avian vasculature. We used CT scans to create models of the bones and blood vessels, and then printed the results. My responsibilities included 3D rendering, overseeing the printing, and final assembly.
These triangulated surfaces were obtained from CT images of a diseased bird. In order to see the vasculature, the vessels were injected with BriteVu contrast agent. The images were segmented by brave (and patient) individuals over days. I converted the labels into surfaces and prepared them for printing using Meshlab.
We used two types of 3D printers, and machined the base of the model, which appears here with some additional parts. The part in the back is the support material required to print the vasculature.
Close-up of the Model
More details can be seen in this image. I suppose these days it is much simpler to put together complex models, but this one was hard given the available tech at the time. It was also very rewarding to see the project from the initial imaging to final product.
Our latest creation is the 2018 Mystery Grape wine—an experimental wine that resulted in a mild citrus flavor and way on the dry side. It works well in sangria.
In 2017, I joined forces with Aaron Carass to produce a Concord grape wine. As in other years (2013 Riveside and Peach, and 2015 Fat Cat), the wine is mild and translucent. However, the Concord grape add lots of orangey flavor. Initially, aeration and a slightly warm temperature helped the wine open up. Aging has changed this, making the wine smoother and (surprisingly) sweeter; now, it is better to chill prior to drinking.
2017 Prima Concordia
The very limited batch
We only produced twelve bottles.
The grapes were procured from Millburn Orchards in Cecil County, Maryland.
Instrumentation and Control of a Blood Pump
The focus of my MS research was the magnetic levitation system in a ventricular assist device (an implantable blood pump). This was part of an exciting project lead by my then advisor, Prof. Steven Day. The control system is central for the device’s function, and its development involved understanding the physical principles that govern movement, as well as how all the different parts work together. Hence, the project was a great way to learn mechanical theory, prototyping, circuit design, and coding.
The prototype I worked on
Since those days, the pump has become a lot smaller and more powerful. However, this shows the basic concept. The rotor spins at about 100 revolutions per second, and is held by nothing but electromagnets. The control system determines the magnetic forces needed to stabilize the rotor.
The prototype included sensors and magnetic actuators to control the rotor’s rotations and displacements.
Most, it not all, of the hardware had to be custom-built and tiny. Part of my job was to help assemble different parts in order to test the controls. I had some clue about soldering before this, but this brought my skills to the next level.
This contraption is a simulated flow loop for testing, which included a pneumatic heart and a fluorescent blood analog (fluid with similar properties).
This was a simple project that consisted of recycling an old stereo, an even older alarm clock, and a cigar box. The goal was to make an amplifier that enabled listening to music from a phone while charging it. I included the ability to connect external speakers. A newer version includes Bluetooth connectivity.
I used a label maker to add the functions of each knob, I/O, or indicator in white letters.
Hiding the fact this is a piece of electronic equipment seemed right.
The external connection is handy for when speakers are already attached to the walls. The power connector as a built-in fuse as a safety feature.
Back (a different view)
After finding the old stereo had an intact power amp, it seem reasonable to extract it for this project. The speakers came from a used alarm clock. Some interfacing circuits were added to make it all work together.
These are some projects featuring circuit design that don’t quite deserve their own page. Enjoy!
Motion interface for MRI
I study motion, and tissues that move do so in the most interesting ways. In order to study motion in the brain, researchers use devices (right) to move the head. MRI works in such way that motion needs to be repeated several times before the images are completed. If motion is not consistent, image quality is reduced. I built an interface (left) to alert the imaging technician when motion was not consistent. Since everyone is different, the interface needed to adjust its measurements to each person.
3D printer heater.
Some materials contract with heat, which is used in extrusion-based printing. As portions of the part being printer shrink faster than others, the part can warp—no good. A heater helps prevents that. I designed and built a heater and controller, which was ugly but worked well. One of our undergraduate student’s, Rouxi Hao’s, helped with this endeavor.
These are some older projects from the undergrad days. The one on the left was our senior design, which was a group of platforms to move relatively heavy things (about 100Kg). I forgot what the one on the left did, but I do remember it used a Basic Stamp 1—the Ford Pinto of microcontrollers.
Instrumentation maker space
Creative spaces are great, and I become involved in their creation whenever possible. During grad school, my advisor, Edward Hsu, put me in charge of a instrumentation suite for the development of devices for supporting imaging studies. We built things for our research, then we started to build things for other people’s research or have them build their own. Any revenue was used to improve the capabilities of the space.
I built this press for making grape must.
WARNING: These images are only for showcasing my work, and they are not how-to instructions: This concept involves forces that may cause serious injury, and anyone willing to build this assumes all responsibility.
The idea is simple
The jack squeezes a stainless steel piston inside a perforated cylinder. Juice collects on the receptacle and flows through a hole at the bottom.