Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Cloudy Day

    Today was supposed to be clear and warm, but sadly, it was not.  Whilst it was warm, it wound up being very patchy and hazy, so I had no clear sunlight to take samples by.  Instead, I brushed up on the IDL programming language (and wrote a quick utility script to process a directory of data files) and began to learn a bit of visual basic to help parse and edit Microsoft office programs.  It all took a while, but it is nice to learn another programming language every once in a while.  I will say one thing: almost every online tutorial for about every language is quite dull and obtuse.  But nonetheless I was able to work through it and get the basics down.  If the weather continues to be disagreeable I've been tasked with parsing and manipulating excel files to create a multi-month simulation data file for modeling a virtual aluminum plant.  Once I get down some more VBA I should be able to parse it straight from excel and put yet another language (partially) under my belt.  In any case, I'll be keeping busy from now on.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beginning with the SVC

     Today I finally got introduced to what I will be using for the rest of my internship - the SVC spectrometer, a big, projector looking thing.  Apparently RIT is virtually alpha testing this thing so it has a few errors, but from what I heard nothing I could work past.  It's heavy and the neck strap sort of hurts (perhaps I'll include a picture tomorrow), but not too bad.  I was hoping to do a bit more than the introductory work today, but the sky was cloudy and patchy so without consistent lighting there wasn't much I could do to get accurate samples.  It's all very precise.
     I am excited to use it though.  My measurements with it will be much more precise and careful, making sure that nothing gets in the way of accuracy, and for that reason I feel that it could get a bit tedious at times.  Apparently I can't even stand near my sample because light reflecting from my clothes onto the scene and lens could mess it up.  And to get a good spectral curve distribution I'll have to take quite a fair amount of scans for each sample (I heard the '100' figure being tossed around), and I'll have to be very precise in documenting exactly what I'm measuring to a T.  Seeing as I'll be outside, I just hope it doesn't get too hot.
     Overall, however, it seems interesting.  I'm looking forward to it and it will be nice to collect some useful data for my DIRSIG scene.  Hopefully it all goes well.

Monday, July 29, 2013

     Yet another day has gone by and I'm still waiting to be trained on the ASD.  There are still battery issues but hopefully they do get resolved.  So in the spare time I went and helped finish construct the clean-room with Dmitry and my fellow interns.  Last time we got the frame up and just about finished the paneling, so today we worked more on the ceiling, and attaching a few more of the various modules together.  It actually was looking like a room and less like a series of walls by the time I left, with all the fans and lights installed.
     Other than that I just programmed some and thought up some good materials to test when I get around to that (I'll show those once I wind up measuring them).  So I simply continue to wait.

Friday, July 26, 2013

       While I was possibly being trained on the ASD today, the battery problems persisted.  So I wound up doing very little today apart from checking my email, programming, and having a sweet barbecue.  On Monday however I will be doing more work no matter what, so I can actually start doing something again.  In any case, that's about all I have to say for today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

       While I was supposed to be trained on the ASD today, there we're battery issues with it.  So instead I continued to do what I could with what I had.  I set out to test the spectrum of a variety of monitors (I had already gotten an LED screen, but I was looking to get a CRT and LCD screen as well), but ran into a few issues.  Getting an LCD screen was no problem, and wound up being fairly easy.  Getting my hands on a CRT that I could use, however, proved to be a challenge.  I managed to get a CRT, lug it upstairs to my optics lab, and get and adapter cable, but the computer wouldn't handle the DVI to VGA conversion that I need to do.  So I had to scrap it.
       Other than that, after being thrown off the trail a bit, I didn't have much of anything to do.  I read a bit more of Dr. Ientilucci's manuscript, and programmed a bit.  But I really do hope to do some more work tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

       Today was my last day using the USB650 spectrometer, as I graduate onto the fancy ASD once Nina shows me the ropes.  I did get a few more good samples though.  One easy one was just an LED flashlight, whose spectral curve was fairly predictable (it was my third LED source, just in yet another form), but the cool test I did today was observing a lighter (a simple butane one) under a flame hood in the basement.  With John and Ian's help it went fairly smoothly and I got a solid capture.
       One problem I have realized is that for most sources I can do, if they're outside, I need to do it at night.  Maybe tonight I'll test a source or two, but outside of looking at the sky the light pollution might be just as detrimental to my tests.  Also, it would be a bit of a pain to work at night, especially seeing as that for some sources I would have to travel for, and I can't drive past nine.  Oh well.  I do have a fairly decent compilation of sources already.
       So tomorrow I'll get to use the new spectrometer, and I'll see what happens from there.  Hopefully I start doing a wider variety of measurements, like on materials and the such (today I did do a simple transmission measure on a transparent green folder I have - it actually worked quite well).  I'll see what happens.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23rd - Graduate Research Symposium Day

     With my adviser using my spectrometer today for demonstration purposes, I instead stopped taking measurements for a day and instead switched to finishing my other work and attending a series of intriguing graduate research talks over in the Louise Slaughter Hall.  At 10:00 AM I went to "Reverberation Mapping of the Size of the Dusty Tori in Active Galactic Nuclei" as researched by Mr. Vazquez (apologies, for I don't know any first names).  It was an interesting talk, but luckily not too far over my head, and it gave me an interesting insight into the mapping strategies employed by astronomers when basic optical methods just won't cut it.  After that, at 10:30 AM, the other interns and I switched over to "In-site Experimental Investigation of Transient Current Densities and Performance of PEM Fuel Cells", conducted by a Mr. Shah.  Unlike the first talk, this one did go a bit over my head (with it being overly technical, in my opinion), but I managed to get the gist.  Overall it was a discussion of how pressure and temperature fluctuations affected the electrical response of hydrogen fuels cells, as far as I could ascertain.  I also attended "Unified Rendering: A Ray-Tracing Equivalent Recursive Rendering Technique for the GPU Pipeline" by Mr. Tayrien, and interesting but similarly well-presented take on melding the formulas used in ray-tracing and gpu rendering into one algorithm whose variance is dependent only on recursive depth, and at 2:30 I attended "Design of Digital Systems, in Fractal Form, Using the Digital Basic Cell DBC 440" hosted by Mr. Quinones Sanchez, a similarly interesting talk on a modular, homogeneous design of processing units through use of individual logical "cells", without losing functionality.
     Overall they were all pretty interesting.  Outside of that, I just finished up my abstract and title and thought up a general "game plan" for the future, but for the most part everything I need to do is set up.  Hopefully tomorrow, when I get a fancy new spectrometer from Dr. Ientilucci, everything should be able to proceed nicely.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cleanin' Room

       Today was a fairly interesting mix of activities, bit exciting for a Monday, but it was interesting.  Alongside my spectral analysis, I also helped build a clean room in the basement.  It took a bit longer than expected.  Nothing was well labeled and it was pre-used, but we managed to put up all of the frame and (for the most part) the paneling.  It involved some heavy lifting and loud noises but some decent progress was made.  Still not quite sure we put it together entirely correctly though.
       I also did a bit more optic lab tests.  I retested a few LEDs with a higher integration period, analyzed the spectral irradiance of my computer screen and continued to organize my data and compile a list of what else to measure.  Something like fire or electrical sparks might be cool, but quite difficult.  I think trying a CRT screen however would be fairly achievable and could have an interesting result.  With the moon or the stars I could get a few interesting nighttime captures, and similarly it might be a good idea to just look at an overcast night sky to measure just what Rochester light pollution looks like.  There's still some others (like perhaps some phosphorescent materials.  I'll look through my basement and maybe bring a few things in.  Should give me a few interesting samples, and hopefully some more data to base my abstract around.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Photo Blog

       Started doing a lot of lab work today.  It was very interesting and very cool.  So I've decided to do my blog photo-style today:
Bug light - during measurements

Bug light setup in profile

CFL - pre-testing

CFL during testing

Green LED setup (very close range!)

Tungsten bulb setup

Moar tungsten bulb setup

Thanks to Dan for providing me with the optics lab and sources!  I also did a few measurements of the sun, which we're a bit tricky, but overall I had a productive day, and got some solid measurements (plus I organized them all).  And don't forget our sweet barbecue (albeit with sweltering temperatures):

Thursday, July 18, 2013

To Calibration and Beyond

       Today I finished calibrating my software & spectrometer (although it still took until after lunch), and began to brainstorm what I'll be measuring in the near future.  Having set up my sensors, Dr. lentilucci gave me a halcylon (not sure I'm spelling that correctly) diffuse reflecting disk and tasked me with creating a list of light sources to observe.  For the most part, I have a decent list, but the trick will be just to make sure to document all my measurements fully.  I think it should be cool.
       Tomorrow is when I really start making measurements.  For that I have two main issues, the first and primary one being getting my sources and making sure I have them in an environment free of optical noise, and the second is, like mentioned before, going into enough detail in categorizing them and ensuring that everything I measure lines up generally with the scientific literature out on the web.  However, I feel that none of that should be too hard.  To be completely honest, lugging around all my equipment may be the trickiest part...
       I also attended the undergraduate lecture today, which was, coincidentally, on remote sensing application, primarily in forestry and ecology.  It covered a lot of topics within that, but one I found very interesting was how remote sensing and airborne analysis of commercial farms and vineyards could be used to isolate sick or infected plants and trees (specifically in this case apple trees) and use that data to specifically target certain areas for spraying or removal to both save money and prevent increased groundwater runoff, and for vineyards monitor irrigation usage and control where the water was going without having to take all your measurements on foot.  Overall, although some parts were a bit slow, I found it to be an interesting presentation.

Calibration - For the data of July 17th

       Yesterday I got all of my fancy equipment and began to play around with it a bit.  I had a lot of trouble calibrating it (that's all worked out now though), but I got to learn how to use the SpectraSuite software well while doing it.  In total I bagged a spectrometry (Ocean Optics USB650), a fiber optics cable, some radiance and irradiance attachments, as well as a calibration lamp and a new laptop to serve as my mobile base of operations.  It's all very exciting.
       I find all this optical equipment pretty cool.  Looking through a fiber optic and seeing the color of your source on the other end is foreign to me but interesting.  All the software runs smoothly (mostly - one or two minor crashes) and all the equipment works.  It is a pain lugging around the fiber optic case though - it's a bit large.  I'll need to think of some way to transport all my equipment efficiently and safely.  But in general it feels a lot more compact than I expected.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

       It has been a bit of a slow transition from DIRSIG into more analytic lab work (everything takes time), but it should all be starting soon.  Once I do a bit of practice work with Dr. lentilucci to make sure I understand everything, I'll be using my supplied laptop and start to analyze some light sources (the sun, fluorescent lights, etc).  It should be cool.
       Overall I didn't have too much to do today, with the switch in subject matter and all.  So I just read Dr. lentilucci's manuscript a bit more, familiarized myself with a few more radiometry concepts, and hopefully all that information will serve me well when I'm actually collecting data.  Us interns also played a fun game of apples to apples as well.  In any case, it's a short post, for a fairly uneventful day.  But once things start to pick up, I think my scheduled work is going to be pretty interesting.

Monday, July 15, 2013

       For the moment, I'm finished with all my DIRSIG work.  Here are some final images (with some rotational and brightness corrections, simply for visibility), as an example of what I've been working on:

       Simply put, the only thing that really looks good so far is the tree, because that part is the only one that's finished.  The other textures and radiance information I'll be collected once I can start using the labs and doing field work.  Hopefully it all winds up working out well and given me a good final product.  And hopefully it will be enjoyable along the way.
       However, as far as I've heard, that may be still a few days coming.  I met Andrew today, who works in one of the radiometry labs, and he introduced me to some of the equipment and programs I will most likely be using once my field work starts.  I got to see an integrating sphere, monochromator, and a spectrometer (hooked up to the lab computer), and I found it all very interesting.  I think it'll all be very cool stuff to work with and I should be able to use it soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

       Spent a loooong time rendering my new model (graciously provided by Chris) today.  But I have a lot of fairly hi-res images for down the road at my final presentation and I feel as though I'm using DIRSIG well.  Although there were some file-placement issues, everything is running smoothly now and I've adapted to the workflow.  With it being Friday, us interns had a pretty sweet barbecue outside, complete with burgers, hots, and volleyball!  I decided to work in the reading room today and it is nice to have a bit more light than usual, as well as being able to chat a bit with my fellow interns.  And although rendering delays may not be very productive, I did have a chance to read Dr. lentilucci's manuscript and start to place a finger on all of this radiometry jargon I hear being thrown around.  Though I also used that time to play some Clue, a slightly less industrious endeavor (but in my opinion industrious nonetheless).
       I find a lot of what I'm working with pretty interesting.  While I don't understand the Dr. lentilucci's manuscript fully, it's enjoyable picking up what I can about the field I'll be working in, and personally I find DIRSIG to be a pretty cool program.  Being somewhat computer-oriented, doing lower-level unix "finagaling" to get everything to work has actually been sort of fun.  I don't quite know what I'll do Monday - I can't do much until I can meet the person who will give me access to the ADB and other equipment - but I'll find something.  So until then, may you all have a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

       I continued to do more DIRSIG work today, and I really feel like I'm getting used to it.  Finishing up my tutorials, I made a multi-spectral push-broom camera system and began to explore material editing and emissivity curves, which I'll be collect later on in my intern-ship.  I spent a lot of time waiting for my scenes to render, which is always a bit dull, but it was time I could fill with figuring out where all the programs are on the server I'm using (it's all command line based, which is a bit trickier but I like the challenge) and working out where and what I can and must do with files on the file system.  I should probably bring a flash drive, but for now my system works.
       For the most part I like all the other interns and my advisers. Emmett and Chris have been helpful in guiding me through DIRSIG and I've enjoyed talking to the other interns about what they're doing and how their projects are going.  We even had a fairly heated Uno game this morning.  For lunch we've decided to head out for lunch on the campus, and it should be fun (we're actually about to go right now).  Afterwords I'll keep familiarizing myself with bulldozer (for model viewing and testing for DIRSIG rendering), and then I'll probably attend the 4:00 to 5:00 undergrad lecture, and should just about wrap up my day.  I should start work on the custom DIRSIG model Chris made for me tomorrow (perhaps even late today), so I can do some baseline renders and hopefully get a few nice images for my first milestone and final presentation.  Then the real work can begin!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

       Continued to do work and tutorials in DIRSIG today, and I'm beginning to feel more familiar with the program.  It all felt very relaxed today, seeing as there wasn't much more for me to do than try out various capture scenarios and get used to the software.  It won't be a while until I do more hands on stuff, like spectroscopy measurements, but in the meantime I enjoy the intricacies of the DIRSIG simulator.  Today being Wednesday, we had movie hour downstairs and watched some cool videos on stuff like artificial sight and meta-material cloaking.
       In reality, nothing too exciting happened today.  I'm feeling more acquainted with my work and peers and that is certainly nice.  But it will be nice to be able to go do field collects once that is available to me.  Some of the intricate DIRSIG simulations are pretty cool (I found all the push-broom simulations with their fancy timing scenarios to be fun to make), but it will be more enjoyable once I can move from modelling virtual scenarios to analysing the materials needed to make those models.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

       I began to work in my lab (Remote Sensing) today.  I like Emmett and Chris and I think I'll enjoy my work with them.  So far, I've been oriented with what I'll be doing during the start of my internship (probably for around the next week or so), which is familiarizing myself with the DIRSIG rendering program and learning it in and out, and rendering a sample model using the materials provided to me.  Over the course of this, I'm expected to gather data on different materials using the spectrometer (which I should be learning how to use soon), and begin to piece together a more accurate model based on the reflectivity information I acquire.  It is also very nice to have all my paperwork (for the most part) finished.  I've gotten my parking permit, handed in my work forms, and gotten my id and emails.  However, I still have to adjust to having all these new accounts, and I still think I need to get room access to some areas.  DIRSIG is a bit confusing, and I haven't worked out all the kinks and still don't quite understand how to import and create new material files, but I figure I'll find that out tomorrow.
       In general I think so far it is going well.  Although there's still some mild confusion, it is only after all the second day.  I was set up with a nice room with a comfy chair, and I'm excited to start some lab work.  I'm looking forward to an interesting summer.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday, July 8th 2013 - First Day

Excited to be working at the CIS labs this summer.  Had a fun but tiring scavenger hunt for a few hours, and it was a nice way to familiarize myself with some of my fellow interns.  Overall I feel like I know the guidelines that need to be followed and I understand what my requirements will be during this summer.  Got free pizza - definite plus - and I'm starting to learn more about the others in the department and the internship program.  I also helped make a pretty sweet video.