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A note from the editor

Kevin Ross    kevinro@kevinro.com   

Welcome back! As you might have noticed, this is our first Encoder of the year, even though the year is nearly half way done. This is entirely my fault, and I apologize to all those who have contributed articles months ago and to those who have been anxiously awaiting their next fix of the Encoder. It is my sincere goal to start publishing monthly again starting with the July 2002 issue. Enjoy this issue, it has some fantastic articles. Next months is already in the works, and you will be very impressed.

What is going on with that Editor anyway?

About 3 years ago, I stepped down as President of the Seattle Robotics Society because I was building a new house, and determined that I would be rather busy. I kept the Editors job because I do enjoy doing it. I assumed I would be able to squeeze some time in my schedule each month to handle the Encoder. Somehow, I under estimated the amount of busy by a few orders of 10.

An interesting thing happens when you build a house. Your life becomes segmented into three major periods.

I seem to remember the BHC period. It was, after all, only about 2.5 years ago. Life seemed so easy then. There was time to do things on my own schedule, time to stop and work on my hobbies like robotics, writing the Encoder, going places just to go. It was a simple life.

The only thing I know at the moment is DHC - During House Construction. Somehow, my schedule is determined by whomever needs to come pound on my house, dig in my dirt, or of course send me a bill for something I didn't know I even needed. There are an endless stream of questions to be answered, problems to solve, materials to select, and budgets to cut. I had the extreme fortune enough to get to design my own house in its entirety. As an engineer, nothing could be better. As the designer, it is a big job full of little surprises.

For example, you end up doing things like spending 8 hours trying to select drawer knobs; 30 hours on sinks, toilets, and drain stoppers. We won't even talk about light fixtures. I figure we (my wife and I) each have about 8000 hours into our house in 2.5 years. Thats a whole lotta time. While I did enjoy the DHC period of my life, I didn't intend to make it my lifes final project.

One would think that the DHC period of life would end shortly after moving in. I thought so. Oh sure, there was bound to be the little punch list items that would take a month or so to get worked out. We planned for that. So, after moving in late January, I figured I would be able to get the Encoder out only a month late, sometime in late February.

Needless to say, here we are in early July, and I am sitting here watching a large machine pounding huge rocks into the ground as the landscaping is going on; the plumber left a couple hours ago after fixing a small leak;  my contractor and I have an appointment in the morning to talk about that 'last thing to do'. Somehow, the time between the end of January and start of July is missing into the great DHC time sink.

I did just this morning see my first few glimpses of AHC. The AHC period has seemed like a myth for so long, it is difficult to determine if it really will exist for us or not. I am hopeful it will, since I have big plans for the AHC period. I am going to get my shop setup in the next month or so. I am going to have a life again, and most importantly I have big plans for my newest robot project: My new house.

During construction, I installed quite a bit of wiring for sensors and communications in our new house. While we were designing the house, I realized that much of this robotics technology is directly applicable to my new house. I will be getting into this more in an article next month, but I am excited about the possibility of developing my house control system. Hopefully this will generate a nice set of articles as I start laying out the hardware and software that is going to help my house maintain itself.

Welcome to AHC.