Tag: video

NES-chuck Demo from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

I finally got around to making a quick demonstration of my NES-chuck. Code for the NES-chuck can be found here. The future event I mention is ArtCadia, which is part of Nuit Blanche. I’m not yet sure if I (or the NES-chuck) can attend, but I will keep this updated.

After the break, there is a rough draft of my script for the video.



Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Loudon, NH for the 2011 SAE Formula Hybrid competition. We had a long (38+ hr) drive out to competition and many sleepless nights working on the car, but it was a good experience. We brought 14 guys from our team out and there was always at least one person working on the car 24/7. Most of us electrical engineers wound up with the overnight shift and ended up working on the car from about 1 pm to 6 am, sleeping a few brief hours in the late morning. It was an interesting experience spending quite a few nights in the infield of a Nascar track. One day there were a bunch of locals riding their bikes around the track. A couple guys even brought out their penny-farthings. The first day we were there, they had an open track day and so there was a wide range of cars attempting an obstacle course, from a brand new Lotus to an 80’s station wagon.

As for our car, the short story is we weren’t able to drive it at competition. We poured many hours into it and after a passing preliminary mechanical and electrical tech inspections saw that we had a lot of work to do to pass final inspections. At that point we decided to focus solely on getting the car driving.  After much frantic running around stripping, soldering, and crimping wires, plugging things in and seeing random smoke, and just general exhaustion, we finally got the tires to spin on their own. One of the motors started smoking pretty badly, but we decided that it just burned out a metal shaving that had found its way into the housing (the car had been super hard to push before that and was suddenly very easy to push after, so we must have released a short). At this point we were pretty excited, but noticed that the batteries were pretty low, so we went to get the charger. We had never charged our battery packs in their assembled state before, so we didn’t really know how it would work. As it turned out, it didn’t and so we took that as a good place to toss in the towel and go get some sleep.

Being so close to driving the car motivated us to get it driving in our spare time following competition. Well, that and the fact that they want to reuse much of the car for next year’s competition. Last Saturday we got together to work on it and, while I really didn’t want to work on it, I did want to see it move. We were just about to get the generator working so we could charge the batteries that way when we noticed we had no fuel. While some guys went to locate more (the engine needs fairly special fuel that is hard to find) a couple of us tried to get into the room where they stored extra fuel (everyone had forgotten their keys). Let’s just say that the locks on the doors are overpriced.

Once we got fuel, some maintenance people (one in a full haz-mat suit) came into the shop saying they needed to cut power to the building. Having lost most of our motivation to work on the car, we decided to try just driving the car on the little juice it had until it was run flat. Let me tell you that that thing can move. We shot a couple clips of it and they don’t do the thing justice, even when you were standing next to the camera. I’ve embedded some of the clips here (unfortunately Vimeo limits you to one HD video and 500 MB per week, so I will put up all the SD video and replace it with HD as I have the chance). I look forward to seeing how the team does next year now that they have a solid platform to start off with.

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – 20% Torque from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

This was the first time we got the car driving. The torque was set very low to make sure that we didn’t wreck anything immediately.

(I’m not sure how the video got rotated. It was horizontal on my computer. I’ll try again another time.)

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – 80% Torque from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – 100% Torque from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

This is my first test drive. The throttle is basically on or off, so I took my time finding the threshold.

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – 100% Torque – 2 from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – Ben Driving from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.

UMSAE 2011 Formula Hybrid Car Test Drive – Mitch Driving from Benjamin Bergman on Vimeo.



Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi day everyone! For those unaware, today is March 14, or 3.14, the first 3 digits of Pi. I just got back from having desert at Baked Expectations with a bunch of people in celebration.

Despite all the joy surrounding the day, not all are amused (and I am slightly inclined to agree). See the following video by Vi Hart:


Last week I attended “Code Camp 2011” and “camped out” in the SkullSpace room. Their talks were really good and they just posted them on their blog: http://www.skullspace.ca/blog/2011/03/code-camp-its-safe-to-say-we-won/


For the past couple of years I have been doing a lot of bike commuting. At first I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of biking to work every day, and when I started it was difficult, but it quickly grew on me until I willingly and gladly transitioned from my half hour round trip commute to my summer job into my two hour round trip commute to school. I think that cycling is a great method of transportation. It gives riders great exercise, it is light on the wallet (I hear the economy has not been great lately), it is easy on the environment, and in gridlock is way faster than driving your own car (and is still fairly quick the rest of the time). In my home town, it is also immensely faster and more convenient than public transportation, though I think public transit is also a valuable way to get around. My only issues with it are the exposure to the elements (our winter is many months long with lots of snow and it is VERY cold, plus riding in the rain isn’t as much fun), and if I have a particularly long ride, into the wind, on a very sunny day, I need to bring a spare shirt to change into at my destination plus a stick of deodorant. I think that both of these things are places where public transit can supplement the system relatively well. All in all I think it is a great way to get around and I think that I would like to be able to live car free. I love driving for pleasure, but driving for commuting purposes is just frustrating.

I just stumbled across this video which has a few good points about bike commuting. I might not 100% agree with his definition of NYC as the “greatest city in the world”, but his other points I think are still valid.

One thing that I think is a huge barrier for people to commute by bike is the lack of infrastructure. Many people find it too dangerous to ride on busy streets, yet it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk (at least in my city), which makes sense as it is very dangerous for pedestrians. Drivers get annoyed when cyclists share the road because in order for a cyclist to be reasonably safe, they need to have at least half of a lane which can bottleneck traffic, especially on roads with only one lane. What some places have done is implement a separate bike lane next to the curb lane. While this is sometimes fine, there are problems if water and street crap builds up along the curb, there are dangerous potholes or sewer grates, and cars wanting to enter intersections and don’t/can’t see cyclists approaching from this lane. Worst of all, if this lane is along a parking lane, there is HUGE danger for the cyclist if someone opens their car door. Some city’s have lanes along the median (as demonstrated in the above video). Although I have not tried such lanes yet, I wonder how difficult it would be for cyclists to enter these lanes.

A lot of European cities are extremely well set up for cycling. I recently watched a short documentary that examined why girls from the UK don’t ride bikes and one of their major concerns was infrastructure.

I often listen to KICK FM’s “Great Canadian Talk Show” with Marty Gold and, while I think there is a lot of great commentary coming out of that show, I have been a little disappointed by the bike bashing that goes on. I do agree with some of the comments made regarding some of the ideas for new cycling infrastructure, but one of Marty’s strongest points has been that there is no cycling community to use the infrastructure. I think that this fits in with the classic chicken and the egg problem; there are no cyclists because there is no infrastructure, and there is no infrastructure because there are no cyclists. I think the “if we build it, they will come” attitude is a much better one to have in this situation.

I don’t think it is possible to fully replace cars in our society due to the critical mass they have attained, but I think it is possible to improve the public transit and alternative transportation infrastructures in ways to significantly cut back on private automobile usage and, as a result, live in a much healthier world.