Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Quiet Times With Thumper

Thumper is my engine. Let me explain. (Channeling Dwight Schrute, here)
This is the time of year when all of the students on campus are home with their families, enjoying well deserved and much needed time off, checking things off their life to-do lists, earning extra money, blah blah blah. Except the PhD students. For us this is the time of year when we indulge in secret relationships with our test rigs! Break? Who wants a break? I get to spend my time with Thumper!
My morning: Feed hens; make breakfast; shower; dress; pack lunch; leave. I had to hurry and check in on my friend.
Thumper lives in a lab in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering Building. He is a single cylinder diesel engine that I have trussed up with all kinds of measurement devices so that I can study sensors to measure particulate matter in diesel engine exhaust. Thumper is my friend, and he needs me.
There's a lot of problem solving to do with all those measurement devices, since they're almost all scratch built. Therefore, I spend a lot of time fixing things. Today for instance, I had to rebuild a charge amp, which involves replacing three chips in a circuit and recalibrating; then, after I accidentally switched on the 1000V power supply prematurely, I had to rebuild the charge amp again, and rebuild the sensor. Then I had to figure out why Thumper's tachometer wasn't working right and fix that. That's actually a software problem, and I was well on the way to a solution when the computer randomly crashed, taking my program with it. After that it was time to get outside for a little fresh air and sunshine. Before long I was missing Thumper too much, so I returned to the dark safety of my test cell.
Time flies when you're having fun, and, before I knew it, 4:00 had rolled around and it was time to figure out when I was going to leave for the day. I would have liked to leave by 4:30 so I could pick up Ian from Tae Kwon Do, but there was Thumper, so innocent, so needy of my attention. I just couldn't leave! After resoldering a connection, debugging a software glitch, and taking a couple of test runs to make sure everything was set, I was finally done, but it was almost 6:00. I tore myself away with great reluctance, making sure the door was securely locked so Thumper would be safe and secure overnight.
Well I'd better get to bed now. I promised him I'd come in bright and early in the morning. I'm looking forward to another beautiful day together tomorrow.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Thumper, huh? I've got to say I'm curious how you came up with that name!

Oh, and we LOVE The Office. Seriously. I even got Will the Dwight Schrute bobblehead last year. LOL ;)