Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 7 - Currency

This weekend I had my first experience with an ATM in South Korea. So I thought it would be interesting to show the currency. For just a review the United States main currency denominations are $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, $1, 25 (quarter), 10 (dime), 5 (nickel), 1 (penny). So in comparison the South Korean currency is significantly smaller in denominations.The Korean currency consists of 10,000 won, 5,000 won, 1,000 won, 500, 100, 50, 10 won coins. Wait hold a second...Why is the paper money in the thousands??? The highest denomination being a 10,000 won is equivalent in nature to the US $10 dollar bill. I is not equivalent to $10,000...But I did get magically richer, how did that work?? The exchange rate right now is 1 US Dollar = 1206.27262 won. So for a little math lesson $150 dollars = 180,940.893 won. So you can see from that the US dollar is doing pretty good in relation to the South Korean Won. So if you want to make your money worth something more???? Come visit me in South Korea!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 5 & 6 - First Weekend

Each weekend we have a goal to get out and do something interesting in the city and in the country. We kicked off the weekend with our first cold beers in Korea. On KAIST campus part of the cafeteria there is pub called the "Mercury". Bryan and I kicked back and discussed the usual, any guesses? Talked shop (robotics of course) and we planned what we wanted to do with our first weekend in country. We decided our first adventure on Saturday to be a 7 mile journey through downtown near South Gate. The goals for this outing were to have fun most of all, but we had some business items to take care of. First we had to find one of the two Citi Banks in the city to withdraw our money to pay for our housing. Second we needed the some necessities: toilet paper, hand soap, Landry detergent, Cup- O-Noodles, and chopsticks. Mind this whole trip is on foot, no wheels allowed! In the Google earth picture depicts the root we took in yellow. Number 1 is KAIST campus that is 2 miles from (H) were we live, we stopped for breakfast. The number 2 was our first location visited, the Homever. The Homever is just like our Super Wal-Mart’s in layout just imagine four stories stacked. There are flat escalators connecting the floors so you can bring your shopping carts with you to different floors. This store was packed on all floors; we had to move with the flow. One floor was devoted mainly to the food and home living department. This is where we bought our gear. We found everything we were looking for, but there was allot to look at. They did not sell any packs of toilet paper that were smaller than a 48 pack. So it’s safe to say Bryan and I will not run out of toilet paper!! The package was huge bigger than any bag and one of us had to carry it home...or the rest of the 4 miles. I think it would be funny if you saw a person let alone a foreigner walking around Korea with a 48 pack of toilet paper! But RJ came to the rescue with his messenger bag! The one I wrote about in a previous entry. The package fit snugly inside the bag, loosened the straps and closed the lid securely. So if you are interested in buying this bag, I got news for you, you can fit a 48 pack of toilet paper in it!! After Homever we traveled on an over pass and moved into an area with lots of high rise apartments. We found the bank at location 3 on the map. This was a interesting experience too...lets just say ATM in Korea operate on the times 10,000 won principle and I took out a little to much! After this we walked back to our place and on the way we saw this Korean teen. He was walking like us but as soon as he crossed the street he placed these two pads on the ground. They had two wheels on each, very simple design. Then he got up on them and moved like riding a snowboard and sped away. Bryan and my jaws' dropped to the ground, we had to find out what these were! Bryan searched on the internet for an hour and had no success, but I searched for 10 minutes and found it. They are called Freeline skates and are manufactured in the States, but are popular in Korea for their compact size. Bryan and I found a vendor in Seoul and we are going next weekend to track them down...that is next weekend adventure story!

Sunday was a very relaxing day I spent the morning reading up on the US Civil War and Bryan slept. Around noon we ventured out to eat and when we returned we went hiking on the mountain that we have in are backyard. This mountain is highlighted in green on the map. We traveled about 700-800ft up and the view of the surrounding area was spectacular. I took many pictures looking over the Science Expo Park, that is next to were we are living, and the city skyline. I took a panoramic picture from the highest point on the mountain that I will share with you. The picture is way to large for blogger so I have hosted it on my Drexel research page, click here to see this breath taking picture!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 4 - Autodesk Inventor vs. Solidworks

(Warning Technical Jargon)
While I am waiting for my CAD material from HUBO lab I have been teaching / familiarizing myself Solidworks. I have been making a series of tutorials for Basic and Advanced Solidworks knowledge building. I have dug up a few 3D drawing practices that I used in Advanced Mechanical Drawing in high school to learn Autodesk Inventor. The software came with an online tutorial that was informative to show how to locate the drawing options, just i needed some supplementary material concrete my skills. Therefore, I remodeled each drawing into a 3D model using Soildworks. In the following images and descriptions I'll describe my opinions of both pieces of software.

Can you figure out which software is what?

Can you tell the difference yet?

Well to the trained eye the Autodesk Inventor would be to the top and the Solidworks would be to the bottom. The first thing you would notice is the colors. I tried to match the color as best I could I to show the color features of both software. I was always under the impression that Soildworks had a very flashy color scheme for their models, but Autodesk Inventor 2008 has diffidently passed Solidworks abilities. In modeling there were many things that annoyed me or helped me, but ill focus on a few. In Solidworks the ability to rotate the part with the roller wheel on the mouse is a helpful feature especially in Assemblies. Also the Hole Wizard took some time to get used too, but it is helpful to make standard holes. The only issue is you have to arbitrarily place the hole then demension inside of the wizard. Also it lacks the visual threading features. I still prefer the way Autodesk Inventor takes care of this, they split holes into two steps. The user can place holes (just + signs designating center) during drawing mode and dimension accordingly. Then in solids mode create the proper hole parameters. Solidworks also has a helpful trim tool used to cut loose ends of sketches. The user can draw a free flowing curve over desired lines, what ever it touches it eliminates.

Autodesk Inventor is still ranked at the top of my list on CAD software for modeling. They always say "its tough to teach and old dog new tricks". But I believe by the end of Co-Op I will have matched my skills that I have in Autodesk Inventor for Solidworks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 3 - Working and Living

Today was what I would call my real first day of work. I started off the morning with receiving my Desktop computer. I then proceeded to reformat the computer from Korean to English. I also installed Solid Works (CAD) software. I got through the first four tutorials, but I still prefer Autodesk Inventor. When you learn on CAD software there so many similarities, that it is really easy to pick up a new one. Dr. Jun Oh has assigned me the task of taking the 2D AutoCAD drawings and converting them into 3D solid models. I will be given the material early next week. For now I will just familiarize myself with the Solid Works software.

I thought today that I would like to give the tour of my Dorm Room. The dorm is very simple but a comfortable living space. I only have to pay around $100 per month! So I share a room with Bryan, if you walk into the room my side is on the left. The first thing you notice when you open the doors is the entrance floor. In the Korean culture it is respectful when walking in to the place of living/eating you would take off your shoes.

When you are in the process of tacking off your shoes if you turn to your right you will see the light switch. The light switch has become such a mundane item in the United States culture, but the Koreans have stepped it up a notch. In the center of the two switches is a card slot. To activate the room's power the card most be in the slot. They do this so when you leave the room you pull the card and all the lights in the room shut off. Its like a master switch, used to conserve energy. Next you would then look strait ahead. I have my closet for my clothes, the bed and my desk...I told you it was simple! My desk set up with my computer, some books, and an area set aside for pictures of the people that I care most for! The final thing to show is my view out the window. The view is not bad we look over a construction site of four HUGE apartment buildings it seems that the construction is almost done, finishing in the next two months. It was overcast outside today with occasional rain. I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 2 - First Day of Work

Today was my first day of work, it did not feel like it thou. I remember my first day of Co-Op last year I didn't want to get out of bed. I rolled out of bed at 4am with no complains this year...Thanks jet lag!. I spent the morning on AIM talking to my friends back home for its was prime time for them. I left to work around 9am thinking 30 minute walk...well it turned out to be a hour walk! So Bryan and I both have have our own desks/cubical at the HUBO lab. Our first task was making our own Cat-5 cables. Many people poke fun at me because I keep a small card in my wallet that has Resistor Color chart and Cat-5 cable wiring. Well I made effective use of that today, Bryan and I made two working cables. Thanks John Douglas, Confero for the card!! Also my new Gerber Lockblade came in handy for cutting the shielding on the wires. I successfully loaded AutodeskInventor 2008 Computer Aided Design (CAD) software on my machine and I can't wait to do further work with it! After lunch I talked with Dr. Jun Ho Oh, he is the director of the HUBO lab, about different aspects of HUBO. I found it interesting talking to him that he entirely designed the Mechanics and Mechatronics behind HUBO. All CAD he has done himself with Autocad 2007. He has two staff members that work in the lab that take care of manufacturing the Robot using the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and building/populating Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The first staff member then uses the CAD to generate toolpaths with MasterCAM X2. I see that my mission to learn as much as possible about the manufacturing process, may be a difficult for the staff members do not speak English. But with close observation and continuing learning of Korean I feel I will gather my knowledge needed.To the left there is a HUBO HR-4 beautifully manufactured hand. There is over 40 parts per finger! All mechanical parts other than motors are manufactured in house by their CNC Mill and Lathe.

The remainder of the day I got my first taste of surface mount soldiering. The old motor controller from the HR-3 HUBO uses a 128 pin DSP package. Below is a video of Bryan soldering his board.
The technique used by HUBO lab is to tack the two corners of the DSP to the PCB making sure it is lined up on the soldering pads. Then pool a large amount of solder and drag the soldering iron up and down the pins "brushing". Then use Flux to wick away the residual solder that is left. The goal is to have no solder left between pads, if it was left it would cause a short. A short is meant if two electrical paths that are not meant to be connected touch, will cause the component to burn up/blowup. After both boards were completed, Bryan turned out to have the better hand for doing the surface mount soldering!

After work Bryan and I went to the school "restaurant/cafeteria" where while we were eating a girl from the Netherlands came and sat with us. She was the first "foreign" English speaking person we have encountered. Bryan and I had allot of questions for her, mainly having to with the school and things to do around campus. We found out there is a support group on Facebook for foreign KAIST students. Bryan got her contact information and is going to keep in touch with her. Today we really felt like part of the crowd not just alienated people looking in on the student population!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 1 - Arrival

So the most important news is I have safely arrived in Daejeon, South Korea. But it has a most interesting story attached to that. I guess i will start this story from the inception, the van ride to JFK international airport. There was a a Korean woman who was sitting in front of us and started to inquire about Bryan and I. We answered and found that this woman actually lived 5 minutes from Bryan and both of her children graduated North Penn High School; her youngest a year after us. This common ground kept for continuing conversation even past the bus. We went thorough security together and sat waiting at the terminal. Mrs. Park was very kind to us by sharing Korean pastries with Bryan and I, for we both were starving. This new friendship came to light when we got to Korea with Mrs. Park's fluency in Korean. We had a vague idea on how to find the Bus ticket booth, from our last visit to South Korea in March 08. But with out us needing to ask Mrs. Park approached various people speaking a "Philly" sounding Korean and found the needed transportation for both of us. She also handled the transaction with the ticket teller. As quickly as we met her she left with her husband who arrived the day before. But with her last grace of kindness she treated us to "breakfast" at the mini mart. Mrs. Park showed us a compassion and a willingness to help that is hard to come by. We are deeply grateful for every thing she did for us and her generosity. With this helpful push we successfully navigated the bus line and taxi to finish our journey. I commend her for every thing she did for us, for Bryan and I both now know what to tell the next PIRE group when they arrive at Incheon International Airport.

I am safe and well moved into my new dorm, but it is 2 miles from KAIST. I could go for the exercise, for I welcome this 30 minute walk!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'M Off !!

I'm off to become a worldly man! So I am leaving on the bus at 6:15pm and then fly out of the US at midnight. My endeavor will be a grueling 14 hour flight!! Most would say what in the world RJ are you going to do?? So I have ranked the top 5 things I will be passing the time 1. Sleeping (Tylenol PM) 2. Watching in flight movies (each seat has a built in touchscreen and remote) 3. listening to music on my Ipod (Thanks Chelsea and Rob) 4. Watching Korean Drama ( You have to see it some time...Its addicting) 5. Eat/ Drink (I turn 21 as soon as I fly over Canada if you get what I mean!) Next psot will be form Korea, US signing out!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Travel Bag

I have been looking into purchasing a durable and reliable bag that will take a beating traveling thought South Korea. My traditional back pack was not up to the challenge, it can't repel water and is frankly unattractive. Through my search to find an ideal bag I came across a manufacture called Chrome. This company makes Messenger bags designed to withstand the elements, due to their targeted customers mainly are city bikes riders. Here are a few of Chrome's specifications from their website:
"rugged assembly of industrial materials and hardware available: military spec. seam binding, 1000d Cordura shell, 18oz. weatherproof truck tarp liner, and nylon 69 thread"
"weatherproof liner freely floats within the outer shell"
"Your cargo is safe from rain, snow, mud, and most anything else this cruel world can sling at you"

I have purchased the bag featured in the picture above. It is the Metropolis black/ red stripe with the dimensions of 26 X 14 X 7. I am looking forward to testing their qualifications "stated" for this single shoulder strap bag. I'll make sure to keep up to date on the abuses that it can take. Other than this bag being on the pricey side, I believe it will be worth it. Plus I think it looks good to boot!

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Post

Here is my "hello world" for Blogging. The summer term has just ended and I'm Gearing up for South Korea, It is T-15 days!