26 July 2011


When building something yourself and thus ordering materials it is always a good idea to keep a list of materials for yourself and what the materials are meant to be used for.  If you are ordering three different lengths of bar then knowing which length applies to which part of the object you are building makes one's work lighter later on.  Once all of the materials arrive it is then time to actually build whatever is to be built.

In research when getting orders for a research project they are not typically sent to the lab, they are actually sent to another location for pick up.  Once arrived, members from the lab pick up the materials, bring them over to the lab, and then check to see that everything has arrived.  Members look at their lists, compare them to the materials, and compare those to the receipts.  The receipts are then kept in a safe location.  Then build begins.

For the current research the object to be built is a box.  Before building it is good to consider how the object has to be built in order to stand on its own.  First the outside skeleton has to be built so that all of the siding and caging can be attached.  This way the walls can simply slide into place and the caging is firmly attached, the mouse after all will be walking over the caging so there should not be any sagging.  After the outer structure is finished the side walls have to be cut down to size; be snug enough for no movement but small enough to slide in and allow changing of the set up.  As with any project, it is important that all of the pieces fit perfectly.  After making the sides and having the box generally finished except for the sensors it was checked over.

In research and in building, especially if one is trying to create the most versatile object for a purpose or in setting up, collecting, and analyzing data, it is important to have open eyes.  This means that one is constantly evaluating the process.  For the box this means that if it has come together and then another point is requested such as sliding in the devices, then the box should be changed to suit this new challenge.  Likewise, during build if a better way to create the box presents itself the idea should be seriously considered and not simply brushed away because it is not the plan.  This can also be applied to taking data in an experiment.  When collecting data, if something looks wrong it is prudent to stop and think for a moment before proceeding.  Data that looks wrong can be due to numerous factors from a slight miscalculation of the data to adjusting how the data is collected to discovering that samples may have become contaminated.  Catching some of these errors during data collection can save time in the long run even if it causes a momentary pause.

After the initial box was completed, and after checking in with other members of the lab, it was decided to rearrange the box to allow for more interchangeable parts since this box is to be used not just for ports but with a monitor as well.  Therefore part of the box was taken apart, reassembled, and then put back together to the current set up.

With the box as it stands right now, the next step is to determine the best and easiest way to set the sensors up.  In many research labs a bigger project will be broken into smaller parts that need to be handled along the same timeline.  This is true for the box which is a smaller part of the larger project.  Currently, as the box prepared to move into phase two in inserting the sensors another member is working on the programming for the system. The programming language has changed to MATLAB now since this is the language that the programmer is most comfortable with for this project.  It is by dividing the work into manageable parts with people who have skills in the different areas, such as some members building a box and others with the programing that a project is able to be completed with a good timetable as well.

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