I actually started my work at McEachern lab in early June. I just joined Cal energy corps recently. I really appreciate the opportunity that both McEachern lab and Cal energy corps offered me. It is my honor to work directly with Alex Mceachern who is an energy/power quality expert, great investor, founder, former CEO of PSL lab and also a great teacher to me.
My job is a mixture of hardware, electrical engineering, coding and the most important-learning. My working time is flexible and mostly at home.
My first mini project was to build a simplified line impedance stabilization network prototype. Alex gave me a great lecture and many hints on designing the layout of the instrument. Then, he drilled holes and inserted circuit breaker, power inlet, and outlet connectors based on the layout I drew. He taught me a professional way of soldering. After that, I carried a soldering station, many electronic parts, and tool sits to my home and completed the wiring. It took me two days to complete the soldering. Finally, we run several tests at the Mceachern lab, the prototype functions as expected. The overall process is really enjoyable. It walks me through the entire process of designing, making, and testing an instrument. It is kind amazing, in just a week, we turned a metal box into a functional instrument.
The ongoing project is a huge one. We are going to build an electrical, handy instrument which can precisely measure the response of the grid, and then determine the stability. We are going to build it from nothing just like the first project but in a more complicated way. From his early selling instrument on testing the stability of skyscrapers to different types of noises in the networks to applying Fourier transform to get the low-frequency signal, to the use of embedded systems, Alex has prepared me to understand the ideas behind the whole project throughout the meetings. He designed the one part of the schematic, and my job was to draw the schematic in KICAD, and then design the PCB layout form the schematic. Here is a four-layer draft of the circuit we are going to build, the empty spaces are left for the other parts. This is just helping me get more experienced with the CAD tools for the latter.
The next step is to learn the embedded system programming. Alex gave me the two boards and programming tools. And I write code and test the two boards. For the VNC2(green) board, my job is to build a data transmit/storage system using USB based on the sample code. For the PIC18(red) board, my job is to make it function as a local net server based on the prewritten demo code.
As a senior at UC Berkeley, I somehow regret not taking as much EE/CS classes as I wanted. But, throughout this experience, I understand the most important thing behind learning is passion and interest, which means you do not have to get an electrical engineering degree to learn electrical engineering. You learn with passion and interest. Today, we are living in an information society, we have more than hundred times of opportunity to get the knowledge that our ancestors have never thought about. Throughout these days, I learned KICAD, PCB design, C programming, system memory, embedded systems, etc. Most of these come from the internet. I really enjoy learning and working with Alex Mceachern.