EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019

Another August, another Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Our families, extended families and friends have a great tradition of meeting up each year at the fringe.  This year was no disappointment.  I love going to the theatre and seeing musicals, tap and ballet dance.  I also love going to see science or Sci-Fi shows.  With the range of amazing shows on clearly the fringe is the place for me!

This year I managed to go to see shows covering data science, wolverine, coding, tap dance, interdimensionality, maths, classic Sci-Fi, parallel universes and computer games to list just the main categories.  Not a bad haul.  I also experienced torrential rain, freezing temperatures, impressive thunder and blistering heat.  Just your traditional Edinburgh experience!  If you're going to the fringe and want my top picks, then read on. 

CAMP NANO JULY 2019

CAMP NANO JULY 2019

So last year on the 31st of October I decided to join in NaNoWriMo as a spur of the moment thing that I thought would be fun.  We were travelling around New Zealand at the time and, having just completed Inktober, I felt like another month challenge was just the thing for me on this trip.  If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo it stands for National Novel Writing Month and to ‘win’ you have to write 50,000 words of a book during November.  It can be any kind of fictional book, or if you are a NaNo Rebel you can do non-fiction!  Talk about last minute, NaNoWriMo starts on the 1st of November every year, so I started with nothing planned out except a title and just saw where things took me. 

THE RISE AND RISE OF DATA SCIENCE

THE RISE AND RISE OF DATA SCIENCE

Back in 2001 the term ‘Data Science’ was first used in a publication by William Cleveland; fast forward to 2012 the Harvard Business Review hails data science as being ‘the sexiest job of the 21st Century’; fast forward to today and every business wants to employ data scientists.  What is this thing called data science, where has it come from, and why is it so popular?  Read on and I will reveal all.

LAVA LAMP COFFEE

LAVA LAMP COFFEE

I remember when I first came across a latte, and it was life changing.  I had never been a fan of coffee, and I still don’t like freeze dried coffee, but then I met the real stuff and I’ve been hooked since.  One day at Uni we wandered into Sally’s, part of the food court at the University of Sheffield, and the course of my life was forever changed.

It wasn’t just the lovely coffee I liked; it was the display of physics in front of me.  The foam floating on the layer of coffee, floating on the layer of milk.  The reason that you can create layers in your coffee is all down to density, there is a slight difference in the density of the coffee and of the milk, and again to the milk foam.  This means if they are properly prepared the layers will float on top of each other. 

SHOULD YOU GET PROFESSIONAL REGISTRATION?

SHOULD YOU GET PROFESSIONAL REGISTRATION?

Professional registration is a really important tool in your arsenal.  In some industries chartership is mandatory for you to hold down your job, then the decision as to whether or not to apply is straight forward.  However, in some industries it is optional and then the excuses can build.     

There are many different levels of professional registration available now, and I think it is really important to hold the correct one at all points in your career.  It is a standout ‘badge’ that shows a specific level of competence in your professional field.  So, read on and see if you agree with me. 

 

SATELLITE DISH RECEIVER TEARDOWN

SATELLITE DISH RECEIVER TEARDOWN

Welcome to part 3 of the satellite dish teardown.  Today we will be looking at the receiver of the satellite dish that has spent the last 10 or so years being an ornament on my house.  This will include looking at how the unit was sealed, the key components of the circuit board and the layout of the circuit board.  If you want to read part 1 where we look at the dish installation as a whole or part 2 where we look at the feed horn please have a look at: https://swamphen.co.uk/new-blog/2019/6/24/satellite-dish-teardown and https://swamphen.co.uk/new-blog/2019/7/1/satellite-dish-feed-horn-teardown

SATELLITE DISH FEED HORN TEARDOWN

SATELLITE DISH FEED HORN TEARDOWN

Welcome to part 2 of the satellite dish teardown.  Today we will be looking at the feed horn of the satellite dish that has spent the last 10 years being an ornament on my house.  This will include looking at the radome, the shape of the feed horn and the internal features to make it work well. 

SATELLITE DISH TEARDOWN

SATELLITE DISH TEARDOWN

So, this weekend was a perfectly normal weekend at the home of Swamphen Enterprises.  It was one of those weekends spent sorting out all those things in the house you never quite get round to doing.  One of these was deal with the satellite dish that the previous owner had left attached to the wall, but with the cable cut.  This satellite dish has been acting as a decoration for the last 10 or so years, and it was time for this to end.  You will be familiar with this dish, as it starred as one of my #AntennaInTheWild tweets and in my reflector blog post about how a perforated dish can act as a solid piece of metal: https://swamphen.co.uk/new-blog/2019/6/10/when-a-grid-becomes-a-solid.  Having removed it from its long-held position, it was only fair to do a teardown of it! 

SWAMPHEN’S ANTENNA CHOICE

SWAMPHEN’S ANTENNA CHOICE

Saturday was a double first for me, I created my first video game and took part in my first game jam!  Thanks #flickgame16, I had a great time and can’t wait for next year. To play swamphen’s antenna choice you can either go to my twitter account (@swamphenents) and click on the link there or go to https://www.flickgame.org/play.html?p=1ef758c74f66bf544265f24e9ae76011

WHEN A GRID BECOMES A SOLID

WHEN A GRID BECOMES A SOLID

How can a grid act as a reflector?  Doesn’t make much sense when you think of it, but when we are talking about electromagnetic radiation, they definitely can.  Probably the most common example you see is in satellite TV offset reflector antennas, but you also see it in radio telescopes.  The dish is not made from a solid structure, it’s a mesh or has holes in it, and yet it can easily reflect the electromagnetic radiation to the receiver at the focal point of the parabaloid.  There are other structures that you can make that are not solid metal, but act as a radio frequency mirror. 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY NAME?

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY NAME?

Quite a few people have asked me why I called my company Swamphen Enterprises.  In reality, the main reason is that the name makes me smile!  But is this good enough reason to use it as your company name?

I’m going to discuss a few ideas that can help you choose your company name and get something that you like and that is fit for purpose. 

WHAT IS AN ANECHOIC CHAMBER AND WHY IS IT USED?

WHAT IS AN ANECHOIC CHAMBER AND WHY IS IT USED?

I’ve spent a large amount of time working in anechoic chambers, and possibly even longer analysing the data I’ve collected in them.  There is something very peaceful about working in a nice quite air-conditioned room with just the background hum of some radio frequency equipment.  It almost offsets the problem of the grey colour your hands turn from the carbon in the radar absorbing material.  Over the years I was often asked what the anechoic chamber was and why it was used, so here is a quick introduction to all things anechoic chamber.

CHOOSE YOUR RADOME WISELY

The word radome is a portmanteau of the words radar and domes, they are designed to cover an antenna and protect it from the elements.  Growing up near the golf balls in the North York Moors I have known about radomes for a long time, and always found them fascinating.  I was really happy that one of the first jobs I had when I started in engineering was to ‘just look after’ the design and manufacture of a new radome.  It was supposed to be just a part time occupation for a few weeks.  However, it turned into a full-time job of several years to get a good radome design that could be repeatably manufactured and worked well with my antenna.  In this blog I am going to look at different types of radome shape, material and thickness. 

WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN YOUR PROFESSIONAL BODY

WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN YOUR PROFESSIONAL BODY

I am very pleased to say that last week I was awarded fellowship of the Institute of Physics (IOP).  This is something I have worked towards since finishing my first degree and I am very proud to be able to say that I am now a fellow of the IOP. 

Fellowship is the highest grade of membership in the IOP, if you want to know more about fellowship of the IOP: https://www.iop.org/membership/join/fellow/page_51405.html

I have been a member of 4 different professional bodies over my career, joining and leaving as my job has altered.  The one staple in the last 20 something years has been the IOP. I joined the IOP during the first week of my physics degree, to be fully honest I didn't realise exactly what they did at that point, but they offered me a monthly physics magazine, the best paper diary I have ever used and all for £16 for a 4 year membership. Bargain. Yes, this was back in the 90's when paper diaries were a thing and no, they haven't sent them out for years.  However, I was very glad that I decided to join as the benefits are far wider ranging than I could have imagined. 

I am going to discuss a few benefits of belonging to your professional body and some specific examples where I have benefited. 

OSPREYS, RED SQUIRRELS AND SPOTTING SCOPES

Over the glorious Easter bank holiday weekend we had this year I went to visit the Loch of the Lowes and its rare inhabitants.  The Loch of the Lowes is in Perthshire, Scotland and is run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, they have created a haven for some rare wildlife.  I got to see some red squirrels, ospreys and viking spotting scopes.

THE MORE FEEDHORNS THE BETTER

Feed horns have always held a fascination for me, just make a bit of shaped metal and you can control electromagnetic radiation.  In my opinion, a great super power to have!  However, when you put several feed horns together you can create something even more powerful and informative. 

A feed horn is a type of horn antenna, which means it is formed by flaring the sides of metal waveguide into a horn like shape thus creating a controlled beam of radio waves.  A monopulse system is one that sends out multiple overlapping beams at the same time.  Typically, a monopulse antenna is an antenna array which is symmetrical about boresight. 

RADIO PRISON ON THE AIR!

I recently went to Cork on holiday, and one of the many great places I visited was Cork City Goal.  The Goal was a stunning building originally opened in 1824 as part of a wave of new prisons which considered things like hygiene and moral improvement to be important for prisoner reform.  The building has been beautifully restored, and the museum has a great self-guided tour you can do.  However, the main attraction for me turned out to be nothing about incarceration and all about radio waves. 

I had got nearly to the end of the self-guided tour and was heading into the gift shop (which unusually was not at the end of the tour), when I overheard one of the guides say:

‘I’m going to switch Marconi on’

LET’S TALK ABOUT REFLECTOR ANTENNAS

LET’S TALK ABOUT REFLECTOR ANTENNAS

I like all antennas, but if I had to pick a special favorite it would definitely be the reflector antenna.  I think it is so amazing how they can just move the radio frequency waves (RF) around in space using a shaped lump of metal and manipulate it into something useful.  They are also the antennas I have spent the most amount of time designing, getting manufactured, testing and interpreting the results of.  However, they are probably not the first antenna that comes to mind for most people, so read on and learn more about them. 

A BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

A BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

I recently attended my first Institute of Physics business accelerator breakfast meeting.  The focus of this particular meeting was social media and how to use it for your business.  Having started my own business this year I thought it would be a good idea to go along and see how I could better use social media.  It was also a great opportunity to get some continued learning in, which can be very difficult to do when you work in a highly specialised area.