Electronic Design

What's All This Contest Stuff, Anyhow?

Here in San Francisco, we don't have a "county fair" like people in farming country have, with cows and pigs. We got a city-based county fair, since SF is an identity of city and COUNTY. We've got contests for fog-calling, finding parking spaces, and other urban pleasures. About five years ago, I had a great idea for a "contest" for the SF county fair. (But the county fair guys did not buy my idea.)

Often you come around a hill, late in the afternoon, and see a lot of buildings. The sun is reflecting off the windows, and it may be reflecting the beautiful sunset. There's a LOT of windows reflecting.

My contest is: Take a photograph of this. Be sure to note your EXACT location and the exact time, hour, minute, day, and date. This way, BARRING weather changes, anybody could go back to this place and see similar reflections.

One of my favorite places is coming down Route 280 at 5 p.m., just before sunset, on about February 10. You can look across the bay at Oakland and Berkeley. Are there more than 199 windows? Yes, maybe. But you can do better than that.

Keep an inexpensive camera in your car. Put it in an insulated bag or chest so the sun doesn't cook the film. Make notes when you take pictures. Perfect pictures would be nice, but not a big deal. Everybody will be a winner, as we will all get to see glorious pictures and views! More later. In the meantime, send me your ideas for contests you'd like to see. My contest closes in one year (July 30, 2000). Send prints or slides to:

RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

BOB'S MAILBOX:

Dear Bob:
I was especially interested in your "What's All This Julie Stuff, Anyhow?"(Electronic Design, May 3, p. 100). It is a fitting tribute to Mr. Julie that he truly understood the importance of resistance. He dedicated his life work to its understanding....

The contribution of high-precision resistors in the early inertial guidance systems caught my attention. One of my hobbies is model and high-power rocketry. For the past few months, I have been working to develop a small inertial measurement unit that will fit in these small rockets to record flight dynamics and altitude.

As I worked on the problem, I quickly realized the importance of accuracy and stability when integrating acceleration into velocity and position. My requirements went from 12- to 16- and now 24-bit resolution on the analog-to-digital converters....

Lord Kelvin was correct when he said, "When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it..." My IMU project has required a lot of measurements and my understanding has grown.
JOHN KRELL
via e-mail

I must say that I am impressed with anybody whose hobby includes REAL inertial guidance of REAL rockets!—RAP

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