For the reviewers who happen to look at my blog. And for me, because I forget things.

Below is a list of active projects this semester (Fall 2016), I’m hoping to ramp up the projects next semester as I’ll have a much lighter load.

Click on the pictures below for more info.

K0VVY Fox Hunt Transmitter

Project in progress (Expect a Videoblog)
Project in progress (Expect a Videoblog)

NaI Gamma Spectrometer

Project Queued (Expect a video blog)

Condensed Data Storage


Molten Salts


Fusor Research


Multispectral Imaging (Continued Support for a $200,000 Grant my friends and I wrote)



Beer Rocket


Photo of the day





General Obligatory Update On My Life

Junior year has been, without a doubt, the hardest year I’ve had. It’s not as crippling as people say it is however. I have been able to devote my full time to classes (and get okay grades!), but also take the time to work on my business plan for Farnsworth Nuclear (more on that below), tinker on the molten salt testbed, develop relationships, tinker with prototypes, and sleep!

It’s no walk in the park and it gets really discouraging at times, but I’d have to say that junior year is my favorite year. I wish I had more to write on some subjects. Maybe it’ll be a post on transmission lines. Maybe I’ll write another post on my faith!

Here’s a blog post/public to-do list for pages I need to write on. I’ll hyperlink the appropriate section headers as they become available!

USGS Data logger

Some guys at the USGS came to me and wanted a cheap data logger for permafrost temperature measurements. I said okay. It was kind of a tough project given that they wanted it cheap enough for people in mongolia to buy.


Multispectral Imager

I posted about this below…but I really need to make a page for it. Apparently it’s important or something. I managed to win 1st place at the Mines Research Symposium so I got that going for me!

Carly and I are splitting the winnings!

More Jewelry

I can’t talk about what I do now that I have clients but I can show you! It’s a really fun hobby and I get paid to do it. How neat is that?!

Truss Bead


The Western Nuclear Research Consortium

Since I got to SDSM&T I never made time to work on the fusor (because I was too busy winning, DUH!). That last bit was sarcasm. Now that I’m right up against the wire for graduation, I decided to form the Western Nuclear Research Consortium. It consists of the brightest minds at Mines and we’re building on the beam lab!


The breakup

I broke up with Siouxsie on October 4th. It was mutual. We had an amazing run together giving TEDx talks and winning money and whatnot but we are two different people. Or maybe we broke up because we’re two of the same people?

Anyway in hindsight I learned four big things about relationships:

  1. Don’t date because everybody thinks you’re cute as a couple
  2. Establish a good foundation as friends before you date*
  3. Women naturally are crazy. Find a crazy you can embrace.
    1. Look at their mother if you want a glimpse of the future.

*I put big emphasis on this one before we did end up dating. But I would recommend way more than 9 months especially if there is any trace of doubt inside of your head.

Dissolving FDT

This one was tough because we were able to run the company for so long after the breakup and had so much invested into it. I think it was for the best. In the end I lost my 3D printer but got to keep the IP and my copy of Solidworks.

In the end I was able to write everyone a check for $100. Who says it was a wash?

Colorado Ski Trip

Immediately following the dissolution I was invited to go skiing with an old friend. We met at nuclear astrophysics camp. She’s played a very important role in my life since we first met and I was super excited to spend some time unwinding with her and her family over Christmas break. I totally needed that so thank you Miller family!!



Forming FN

I had to do something with my intellectual property. I was going to take a second stab at the Governor’s giant vision. As you can tell by the section header labeled “Rejection” down below, it didn’t work out too well.


Two Nuclear Reactors, Cannolis, and Fr. Sparks

I decided to fly out east for spring break and go see some friends. It was an amazing time. I took nothing but my backpack and an open mind.

First Stop: MIT!

Thank you Jake for letting me crash at your place!

Amtrak Down to Providence!
Brown is kind of like Hogwarts…

Michelle made me sleep on the floor…but thanks for letting me crash at Brown!

Stopped in NYC to see Roberto, Jared, and Sid!!

I had a few beers and got to lay down at Jared’s pad! Thank you so much! I’m sorry I stole your keys 🙁

At 2 AM I left to take a trip down to UMD!

Stopped at Catholic University of America on my way to UMD
The University of Maryland has a nuclear reactor!

Timothy Koeth took the entire day off to show me around the facilities at UMD. I also got to meet up with Frank and Heidi!

I left the DC area at around 10pm and began my trip north back towards Boston to see Fr. Sparks. Super big thank you to Dane for getting us a tour of the MIT reactor!

After the reactor tours Fr. Sparks arranged for me to stay the night in the “soviet sector” of Boston College High School where the other jesuits stayed. It was such a nice end to my trip waking up for mass at 6, eating a quiet breakfast, and then heading out.


All of the places that I applied to for an internship had declined me. This part was sad. Especially after I turned down a really lucrative coop offer from Kimberly Clark. The Governor’s Giant Vision competition had black balled me and my plan (it was probably the bunny ears), and I was leaning on the hopes that we would receive funding from NASA for a grant a couple of us friends typed up. At this point on my life I was just planning on taking my motorcycle and being a beach bum on the MexiCali border.

Pictured: My motorcycle

Why It’s Okay to be Sad

The feelings of rejection were very real. When you start your own company, give two TEDx talks, build a nuclear reactor, and are working on a second, and you get a rejection letter from a company it really hurts your self confidence. It got worse when my backup plans suddenly started falling through.

This sadness you experience is an integral part of your life experience. Embrace it, but don’t wallow in self pity because of it. Use it as drive to forge ahead.

It gets better, but it’s up to you to make it better

There’s this movie called Flight of the Phoenix (2004), and it’s got a scene in it that really stuck with me  throughout my life it goes as follows:

“Let me tell you a story. A rabbi and a priest attend a boxing match. They watch as the boxers come into the ring. The rabbi sees one of the boxers cross himself. So the rabbi turns to the priest and asks, ‘What does that mean?’ The priest says, ‘Not a damn thing if the man can’t fight.'”

God has a plan for each of us, and I’m sure most of you subscribe to this idea. This doesn’t mean we can sit around and eat bonbons while He does all of the heavy lifting. That wouldn’t make sense. It’s up to you to pull yourself out of the mud sometimes. He’ll take care of the rest.



I have the wonderful opportunity to sponsor a candidate through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Jason got his bachelors in apologetics, so basically every time we would meet, he would teach me something. He is a great guy who really found Christ and His church. For this I am grateful. I got an amazing friend out of the deal too!

Jason was confirmed Easter Sunday!
Jason was confirmed Easter Sunday!


I don’t like cats. But our lab got a new mill so I decided to go crazy.


Dogs are cool.

The NASA grant

This story is funny. Dr. Tolle basically came up to Adrian and I and asked if we wanted to write a NASA grant for the multispectral imager I built. We said yes on a whim. A small team was formed of Jorree, Adrian, and Myself to type up the grant.

I decided to follow in the steps of Hemingway and write drunk, and let Joree and Adrian edit while I was sobering up. That’s how it goes right?

We submitted a nice 50 page proposal on time. NASA was supposed to get back to us by January but formally delayed to February. They took the entirety of February to tell us that they were formally delaying to April. This made Joree and I very nervous as we were dependent on this grant for summer funding.

April 6th we finally learned that we were selected for the grant!! WAHOO!

Los Alamos

Remember how I said it was up to you to pull yourself out of your ruts? After all of that rejection and being down to a grant that might not be awarded, I decided to branch out hardcore and rely on some friends with connections to hook me up.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

And…..after several weeks of hard work and very kind introduction emails with big officials at various national labs, I decided to apply to a completely unrelated opportunity at Los Alamos National Lab.

Guess which one pulled through?

It’s not even who you know sometimes. Just trust in God when you get to that point.

I formally accepted a position at LANL for the summer. This happened Monday. I learned about receiving the NASA grant Wednesday. It’s going to be a VERY busy summer indeed.

I need to say that I am SUPER grateful for those of you who did reach out and bend over backwards for me. I know the amount of effort it takes to do these things and am deeply indebted to you.

Grad School and Beyond

I’m basically sold on University of Maryland. They have a nuclear reactor which is what I really like. Tim Koeth is an awesome person who really was supportive of me and my endeavours over the years. Provided I get admitted I’m certain that’s where I’d like to go for grad work on accelerators.

Who knows? Man plans, God laughs.

How do I do it?

I’ve pulled about six all nighters, had two mental breakdowns, and got really not all that much to show for it except for an increased risk of cancer. But here are some tips for those of you trying to do literally everything.

The only stimulant that works also causes cancer. Story of my life.

If you don’t have the self control to keep your nicotine sensitivity up then I would not recommend it.

Jess and Ben have done an amazing job keeping me sane! Golf helps too!

Talk to your friends. Spend time with your friends. Your projects will always be there, but if you don’t grow relationships you’re missing out on the half of life.

I bought another domain name…

I just purchased Maybe some day I’ll get around to re-vamping this website to more fit the theme of that name. However, until then….here’s a bit of background.

“The neper (unit symbol Np) is a logarithmic unit for ratios of measurements of physical field and power quantities, such as gain and loss of electronic signals.”


Let your nepers run free!


Prototypes, TEDx Talks, and Competitions.

Life has been chaos. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I want to get a blog post put out before I get too caught up in Junior year! This summer I managed to write one lousy blog post,


present two TEDx talks (click on the images to view),

tedx2 tedx1

3D print a multispectral imager (and get featured on Hackaday),


3D print a Geiger counter,


and design our molten salt prototype, and begin construction of the prototype.


I’ve also been meaning to write a post on the experience with the Governor’s Giant Vision Grant Competition!


I’ve been meaning to write more. I’m between classes now. Soon I’ll have the respective project pages installed for the geiger counter, multispectral imager, and molten salt circulator from this summer. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find time to write a thing or two from heart about my personal experiences this summer…probably not though.


Signals and Systems (Pt 1):From Circuits and Buildings

Howdy from the homefront!

I’ve had a lot of experience with systems since the beginning of freshman year. I am currently working for Doctor Tolle on control systems, we learned about them in differential equations, derived them in circuits 1, had to create them from scratch in mechatronics, and finally are required to know how to derive transfer functions and make bode plots from circuits in circuits 2.

One thing that is consistent with every professor here is that they do an awful job explaining systems. I don’t know what it is. They can perfectly explain away differential equations and phasors but the second we try to tie the two together, there’s a major gap that’s left.

That’s the purpose of this post is to aid future SDSM&T students in the solving and deriving of systems.  I’ll first approach systems from a circuits point of view (since I’m an EE), later I’ll be transitioning into more physical examples.

This tutorial expects you to have taken circuits 1.

Let’s get started:

The circuit below is what is called a low-pass filter. In other words, it only lets low frequencies pass through undistorted and unattenuated.low pass

With this type of filter, we incidentally create a first-order system (but let’s not think of it as such just yet). As a result, our output will always differ from our input in both phase and magnitude.

What we’ve just done was create a voltage divider in the phasor domain.

Voltage divider in the DC domain.


Practically, we use this configuration for filtering out noise in a DC circuit or smoothing a rectified sine wave into a more DC-like signal.



First, lets model and solve this circuit in the phasor domain. If you’ve taken circuits 1 (from Montoya) this should be second nature and therefore the easiest way to solve. It goes as follows and is exactly the same as voltage division above. This method, also, gives us phase information.

CodeCogsEqn (1)
Phasor Voltage Division

Let’s take the same circuit from above and apply various frequencies (ω) and see what happens to the amplitude and the phase of the output waveform. For this example, we’ll use a 4.7μF capacitor and a 1k resistor.  The input waveform will be 15sin(ωt). Pay special attention to  the magnitude and the phase shift.

for ω=20

CodeCogsEqn (3)

for ω=200

CodeCogsEqn (1)

for ω=2000

CodeCogsEqn (2)

Congratulations! You’ve done a really low resolution frequency response analysis. These are important because now you know how the filter will respond to different input frequencies.  You can use this data to help determine the correct resistor-capacitor combination for your filter. And while it isn’t entirely useful to plot this information with first order systems, I’ll use this as a segue into Bode Plots because they’re entirely important for systems greater than 1st order.

As mentioned earlier, the data we collected from the three ω values gave us a low-res view on what the frequency response of that circuit looked like. But what happens if we take a bunch of magnitude and phase information and plot it? Well that’s a bode plot!


As you can see, our low pass filter is doing exactly that, passing the lows! At very low frequencies there is essentially no attenuation or phase distortion (just how we like it) but the high frequencies dramatically drop out of the output signal. While this graph sure is pretty, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know or could easily find out. They do have their uses, however for higher order systems!

Ultra-Mega-Super Project Update for the Blog

Howdy everyone! The semester is over, has been for a week now. Been busy getting things checked off of my to-do list, as far as projects go. Most of the projects are blog worthy!! So instead of posting promises I can’t keep, this entire post is filled with real pages of projects!

(Click on the pictures to go to the respective pages)

I’ve been working on a business:


System Projects:

Magnetic Flux Field Scanner
Laser Keypad
I updated the page for Lux Æterna
Meteorite Necklace
Boris the .50 caliber cannon
MK III (The Beam Lab)
Inverted Pendulum for Automated System Identification
Why do digital if you can do it easier with analog?
Bullet Proof Wallets
Ratchet the Tape Library


Water-Analog Molten Salt Reactor



Culinary Projects:

Dippin Dots
eggs on a cloud
Eggs on a Cloud


Differential Equations Tutoring Series:

This section is still in progress. I kind of got overwhelmed during the semester and stopped.


This update took me two solid work days to complete. I hope you’ve enjoyed clicking through my projects so far. I’m going to do a much better job blogging as I go. It’s much easier to keep a page private and add to it as I go and then publish than it is to try to remember everything about every project I’ve worked on for the past two years.

God Bless, Merry Christmas,


But You’re Catholic…

“…how can you be a scientist and a Catholic?”

Surprisingly, this is a question I often encounter and I’d like to address it with the following three images and a short explanation.

George Lemaitre – Father of the Big Bang
Gregor Mendel – Father of Genetics
Br. Consolmagno
Guy Consolmagno – Carl Sagan Medal Winner


There is a plethora written on the subject of “faith vs science”, however I am writing this as a short primer/response to my personal friends (the ones who read my blog anyway).

There is this stereotype that asking questions in religion is discouraged. In some denominations, it makes sense.  In Catholicism, there’s an entire order (the Jesuits) dedicated to research and education in both our faith and the physical world. In fact, two of the three men shown above are Jesuits.

What it all boils down to: The search for the truth will never contradict the truth that God is.

The only time this search is forbidden is when it is immoral. Fetal stem cell research, for example is grossly immoral and unnecessary.

[2275] It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.
[2295] Research or experimentation on the human being cannot legitimate acts that are in themselves contrary to the dignity of persons and to the moral law.

The USCCB goes into greater depth on both of those short snippets, but they’ve been truncated for brevity’s sake.

My faith is exactly that, faith, but it has withstood the crumbling of entire empires and the test of time. There should be no contradiction between my faith and my yearning for the truth, save for the methods used to obtain said truth.

I’ve closed comments (and will continue to keep them closed) on all of my posts pertaining to religion as it is all to easy to get on a tangential-debate that I don’t have the will to entertain. If you have legitimate questions, I am sure there have been terabytes written on the matter.

The Seven Stages of Project Development


T=0 hours

“I need you to ________”

Your first thoughts are “Oh yeah this’ll be easy.”

You get a basic sketch drawn up, and begin hunting for parts.

I <3 OneNote and LaTeX



T=40 hours

The parts you’re wanting don’t spec up to the others. The design gets revised. Nothing unexpected. You never typed an A+ essay the first time.

Okay we need more supports…I get it.



T=120 hours into the project you’ve come to regret taking on this “weekend project” that started out as a joke. More revision requests come in and you only have a week until the expected date where you present the DATA you’ve gathered on your project. You still hold out hope that you can source the parts, next-day air them, and assemble the experiment on time. Your file naming and revision hierarchy has gone to hell in a handbasket.

file paths
Now was it DoYouWantToBuildAPendulum/OkayBuild/SW Parts & Drawings/FlatpackPendulum or DoYouWantToBuildAPendulum/OkayBuild/SW Parts & Drawings/FlatpackPendulumFinal? Which revision is this??


T=160 hours the conference is over, you brought what you could to the table. You presented the concept. Nobody seemed too interested, and the project is still nothing more than a CAD drawing nicknamed “McPendulum”

The customer is always right. Keep repeating that to yourself. The customer is always right.


T=240 hours.

“This looks good! Let’s build it!”

Finally satisfied with your design, the boss signs off on the quickest possible method of construction, because, you know, the project is 3 weeks late. You begin construction and the project is starting to look acceptable.

“You’re the guy who brought in $200 in gold coins for the deposit on the liquid nitrogen. Don’t worry about the deposit. We’re sick of holding on to those.”


You’re behind time, but thankfully not over budget. The conference is long over and the school year has started so you’re only able to put in what time you can put in between studying and sleep.


Hello Kitty Bandaids: Because rounding corners removes an opportunity to shame the injured.

Don’t freak. Focus.

This summer has been an amazing experience for me in learning how to professionally develop projects and see them through to the end. I’ve never been one to shift the blame to anyone other than myself when it comes to my own failures. This project did have a lot of its own unique obstacles, and I’d say I did fairly well considering the circumstances of starting two weeks late, working with another researcher on another project, working with another researcher on yet another project, revising and finalizing various PCBs, and babysitting mentoring. Currently, the pendulum project is nearing completion, and is in it’s early stages of testing. If you’re interested in learning more about the systems experimentation platform, I will have a page for it after the apparatus is up and running.

What I learned:

  • Multiply all projections by 3
  • Time management
  • Have fun (see below)
  • Have even more patience
  • Solidworks is unstable on school-sponsored laptops
  • Save often and to multiple locations

Have Fun!

My buddy Adrian next to my buddipole.
Amanda, Jack, and David at Hippie Hole.
Father Sparks with a 3D printed version of himself.

Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before

It’s not really that bold, but it is pretty cool. I’ve been doing research under my professor throughout the entire year and right now progress has slowed to a halt, but I have gathered some interesting data so far! Right now we’re working on a magnetic flux leakage material evaluation method. The technology isn’t at all new, but how we’re going to be applying the method is entirely novel.

The application will not be discussed here.

It all started with Ghettoscanner, my three-dimensional topographic mapping scanner.

V1 was ugly as sin, but it worked.

And ended with Ghettoscanner 2.0, my three-dimensional magnetic flux scanner.


I have an entire page I am preparing on ghetto scanner and its uses, but for the purpose of brevity, Ghettoscanner 2.0 is able to take “layers” of measurements, and software I wrote takes that data and compiles it into images.


Mapping has been done before using a different method.

Three-Dimensional mapping (my approach)? Never been done outside of simulations and calculations. Neat.

There is a lot more work to be done in the way of processing the data into an actual three dimensional model (lots-o-vector calc), but as of a few months ago, I was able to compile the slices of the field into various .gifs which gave a really neat visualization of the field.


Above are the fields, as measured (no altering of the data)


Below are two more scans with a contrast function implemented to better pronounce the field.

I collected around 5 megabytes of data per slice stack. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you break it down, that’s 180X180X100 points of data, 3,240,000 points. Not really bad for servos.

I still have a long way to go before I get any decent data, such as correcting the strange overlap in my scans, and finding the actual magnitudes of the flux by implementing the other 3 axis of measurement I have available.

As soon as I stop being lazy, I’ll have new software written in C++ that will turn my point cloud into an .STL file.