I like making things. On the smaller scale, I have done a lot of 3D printing, particularly of metal. On the larger scale, I've contributed to a number of projects over the years.
Coup de Foudre Tesla Coil
For Burning Man 2014, some of my friends (Matt Faulkner and David Brown) built a gigantic musical Tesla coil, because of course! My contributions were relatively minimal, but I designed and helped build both the Villarceau toroid and the vertical stand, and helped with the safety protocols. I never saw it fully operational until I arrived on the playa. Even now, years later, the sound still rings in my ears.
Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope (AAReST)
Also in 2014, I contributed to the development of the AAReST cubesat telescope, as part of Ae105. This was the first time I'd done hardware programming, mainly on an ATMEGA, to control the piezo mirror deformation actuator. I worked in a small, agile team consisting of Heather Duckworth and Melanie Delapierre (adult supervision), Ilana Gat and Yamuna Phal on hardware, and Thibaud Talon and myself on software. The design requirements were alarmingly stringent, but in the end we were able to demonstrate a system with 10-fold reduction in each of cost, size, power requirements, latency, and heat disposal. I also developed a software fault diagnosis system that helped us determine where things were going wrong. The main takeaway from this was that in system design, off-the-shelf means you spend 70% of your budget and 90% of your time troubleshooting protocol faults.
Caltech Space Challenge 2015
The Caltech Space Challenge is a unique competition that brings together 32 students from around the world to compete in a mission planning problem. In 2015 the challenge was to design a complete asteroid redirect mission, including human rendezvous in lunar orbit, resource extraction, and anything else we could think of. The complete report can be read here. Javier Roa and I did some original work on distant Lunar retrograde orbit perturbation, which we eventually wrote up, generating quite a lot of coverage!
Roa, J and C J Handmer. Quantifying hazards: asteroid disruption in lunar distant retrograde orbits. arXiv:1505.03800 .
New Scientist: Dust from asteroid mining spells danger for satellites. Gizmodo: Dust from asteroid mining could turn into another space junk hazard. Engadget: Asteroid mining debris. Silicon Week: La mineria de asteroides podria afectar a los satelites de telecomunicaciones. Kopalnia Wiedzy: Satelita asteroida.
In 2016 I found that my dining table number, 0, needed to increase by 1. I had some ideas in mind for construction, so I built myself a table. So far it hasn't broken!
In 2018 I followed this up with a bay window upon which to recline. I wanted to have a structure without imposing pillars at the front - just a continuous book shelf. It also had to leave room for a air conditioning inlet and power outlet. I used douglas fir for the structure (nice and red!), maple and walnut for the wearing surfaces. I bought a few more tools so I was able to assemble this to much tighter tolerances and sand it to almost mirror smoothness.