Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting back up to speed pt 2: Bike Project!

For those of you following my bamboo bike project progress, I previously left off at how my inspiration came about.

For the engineering classmates, my "BME" inspiriation was not Biomedical Engineering (sorry!), but rather a fellow by the name of Brano Meres. From is "About BME" page, you can easily tell he is a seriously smart bloke, and has produced some truly drool-worthy pieces from carbon fiber and bamboo.

I took the inspiration from him to build my frame jig, though mine is probably nowhere near as robust as his. Still, it got the job done and I was ready to do the carbon fiber layups.

The layup process was very similar to his (using perforated electrical tape to apply pressure, etc), so with some help from my roommate, we finished the first layer for a couple of the joints in this time lapse:
After the first layer of CF, I added some high density foam to help fillet the corner and reduce stress concentrations...
As the project stands now, I've finished almost all of the layups... It's just waiting for a final sanding (to smooth out the CF and get rid of excess resin..) and then it'll be ready for assembly. The project is a bit of a standstill now because it is physically difficult to work on something when it's over 1000 miles away...

Getting back up to speed: Summary of Summar

Once again, I've fallen waaay behind in blogging; a LOT has happened in the past few months so I don't know if this is enough to fit in to one post.... I'll start with some summer summary (alliteration ;P)

Summer was spent with my last co-op term at Fenwal. Work was pretty chill, and we were on summer hours ( M-Th 9hrs, Fri 4hrs) so I had a lot of free time on Fridays. One milestone was finally replacing the broken LCD on my car radio with an entirely new unit, so now I have MP3 CD, and in theory an aux in/satellite radio port available if I were to add some more hardware... The surgery went OK; just an afternoon's work.
(picture coming soon!)

I think the highlight of the co-op term was filling one of our boss's office full of balloons to look like the makeup of blood while he was away for his birthday.. Needless to say, he was in for a bit of a surprise when he returned.
(picture coming soon!)

We spent a lot of time playing on weekends. One very interesting weekend was for Chiarng's birthday. We started out with dinner at Buca di Peppo, then drinks at a lounge called Murasaki. Very stylish, and the drinks were pricy, but the atmosphere was great

We crashed at friends' apartments in Chicago, and explored more of Chicago the following day. We went up to Belmont for dinner, and stumbled upon a promotional event by Lexus for the upcoming "sporty" hybrid- two words that I would rarely use together.

Exterior is typical Lexus, but I don't know if younger people would be drawn to this... Lexus sure has some work to do to shed its old lady stereotypes and warm wallpaper paste feeling when driving along...

Verdict? Well, it's a hybrid for sure. Beyond that, I can't really say since we only drove it for a total of 4 blocks on public roads, never exceeding 25 mph. I can't really compare to other hybrids since I personally haven't driven one, but I think the biggest challenge the CT 200h faces is the other "sporty" hybrid: the Honda CRZ. That has the big advantage of a manual transmission (a must for a driving enthusiast!), and most likely a ~$15K price advantage(!!??!!)
And the big question of "sprotiness"?? Doesn't even compare to my big Subaru station wagon, let alone my parents' BMW, so it's a resounding no. Still, being handed the opportunity to test drive cars that are the only two working prototypes in North America is a pretty special ordeal.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sticky and Buttery

Yesterday Tiffany and I made Sticky Buns!

The dough making process was pretty involved. As Tiffany puts it, you first make the dough, then add a ton of butter to it...! Then there's a lot of waiting involved: 6 hours in the fridge after the dough has come together, and another 2-3 hours after the buns are shaped. The worst wait is of course the last one: 20-30 torturous minutes of cooling in the pan after they come out of the oven.
The result? Beautifully sticky and at the same time flaky. Not bad for our first attempt at making a Brioche dough!
(Buns with raisins shaped by me, Sans raisins by Tiffany)

(I won't mind if you stare at my buns. Just this once)

Tiffany's awesome cinnamon rolls... fun sized!

Sadly, I did not take pictures while we were making them, but we hope you enjoy these pictures of the freshly baked buns.

And just in case the evening wasn't unhealthy enough, here is a key lime cheesecake just in case

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Part I: The Beginning and Bambi?

A few people may already know that story behind this project, but I think there are enough people who don't that I shall tell it from the beginning.. As I'm nearing completion of the bamboo bike frame, I've been bouncing around a few names that would be suitable... The first one I've come up with is "Bambi"... (maybe I'll put it to a vote later.. haha)

It was the third or fourth day of lecture when I was sitting in MatSci 201 (Into to Material Science) and the professor pulled out a question, and asked us about material selection. Still a little disoriented from trying to find my way around the Frances-Searle building to the lecture room, I didn't think much into the question: What materials would make a bike frame? My classmates were raising their hands and answering with somewhat obvious answers: titanium! carbon fiber! etc.

Maybe this moment wasn't really as pivotal as I seem to remember, but our professor casually mentioned how sometimes it's good to consider/try out uncommon materials and explore how they perform. That's when he gave the example of using bamboo as material for bike frames.

I went back to my normal routine for a while, and the interesting notion of using a nicely sustainable, yet theoretically ideal material (insert discussion here about axial strength, elasticity under transverse loading, etc etc) for a bike frame kept popping up. A quick internet search led me to Calfee Design ( and their beautiful bikes. I was a bit discouraged by their $2500+ price tag, but they were a good inspiration and proof that it can be done.

(Calfee bamboo bike)

This project was placed high up on my proverbial shelf of to-dos and stood there collecting dust for at least a year... Though the next time I revisited this project and found the determination to finish it, it was thanks to BME..

(to be continued!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Theme of the Quarter

I don't usually make "themes" for academic quarters (though some have been "getting my @$$ handed to me". not by choice, of course), but this one is shaping up with a pretty clear theme of Typing Up Loose Ends

Some may know about my ambitious bamboo bike frame project from the summer. This project didn't get too much time and attention after school started and has been pretty stagnant... Today, however, marked a big milestone in the project with the completion of cutting all of the members to size and coping the connections. The frame is ready to be tacked together with some glue and prepped for the carbon fiber!

Frame in jig, held together with masking tape for now...

(I realize that a lot of the story about this project is missing. I will post those soon!)

Hat tip to Ben for helping me with the tricky coping the final pieces of the front triangle this morning

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hand Pulled Noodles: Success at last!

It's been over two years since I first started seeking the secret to making hand pulled noodles. The recipe for a proper dough has always eluded me, but I think I've finally reached success.
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic pastry flour
1 cup very warm water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
sitting for a day + ~15 min kneading in the mixer

I've seen some new recipes floating about the web now too, so I'll have to give them a try. For now I just need to work on my pulling technique... so uneven!!
noodles, beta release?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Char Siu Fun, Awesome Flop-some, and Travertine

Cooking adventures filled our previous week, starting with some Chinese cooking. Char Siu meat (we used both beef and pork...) and and properly crispy Chinese Eggplant. While we had the oil heated and plenty of leftover flour, we decided to try and make an Awesome Blossom... Will note to self to try again in the future... Perhaps hotter oil? Deeper frying vessel?

I also bought an unfinished travertine stone tile to use as a pizza stone. What better chance to try Alton Brown's pizza dough recipe?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Aid (Aide?)

My apologies for this week's update with last week's photos being a little late. I wanted to include a few pictures of a very special new tool/toy that reached my apartment earlier this week: KitchenAid Artisan mixer!! After many years of yearning for one, I finally put down the money and got one.

Gallery below has pictures from the past week: bird of prey sightings outside our apartment, dabbling with mixology, and first use of the new mixer.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Asides from being the best name for a bar, we did work on one this week. And lots of pictures of food, mostly from the nice feast/potluck on Sunday evening.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

first day and second day

(posted retroactively, but written earlier today..)
January 5th, 2009 12:55pm

I'm sitting at me desk sipping the first batch of coffee made by the new French Press I got at IKEA, getting ready for an afternoon's work with some real blood runs in the lab.

Last night I went to SPAC for the first time in a while, and I saw all of the different people getting their New Years resolutions on. I don't usually make New Years resolutions (if I need improvement in areas of my life, why wait until the calendar changes to do it??), but I suppose now is a good time to reflect and make some improvements..

Here are some things that I would like to do...

1) Take 1 good photo a day. Digital Photography School mentioned the Photo A Day Challenge, and how dramatically your photog skills improve just by trying to get one good photo a day. Seems like it's worth a try.

2) Try 3 new recipes a week. Every day when I come home from work/class, I feel at a loss of inspiration when it comes to what I should make for dinner... Now that I'm following so many food blogs and have been exposed to so many mouthwatering ideas, it's about time I make a schedule to try them out.

3) Hone the mind+body. A lot fits under this category, (and yes this is a very cliche term) but I guess the biggest thing I'd like to improve is my flexibility... Any believers that I'll be able to do the splits by the end of the year?

4)Finish my bamboo bike frame before the end of Winter Quarter!! I never updated my friends/the world about this project, but I shall do that

For now, enjoy a movie from the year previous. My friends and I decided to take on the task of making the worst movie ever that was still serious (think overdone high school English class project...) Enjoy it if you can :P