Sustainable

Sustainable

I think you will agree when I say that time flies. Sheesh… A year and a half since my last upload on my channel? Feels like I recorded that yesterday. Don’t worry I haven’t been sitting on my hands. In fact, I have been so busy prototyping new gadgets that I have not had time to set up my lights and cameras to capture all that I have been working on. However, you are not missing out on much because these projects address VERY specific problems in my biomedical PhD research that would have little appeal to a general audience. Compared to two years ago, I know so much more about designing and prototyping computer controlled (CNC) machines. I hope this new-found knowledge results in more informative videos!  

A few of you may be thinking, “Hey, I am in the biomedical field, and I would have liked to have seen you build some biotech devices.” If this is you, shoot me an email (dflo@drdflo.com), and I can share some pictures of the automated PCR and flow cytometry prep machines that I have built. Saying that I am too busy to film is only part of the truth. I have also been unwilling to film, which largely stems from my lack of a dedicated workshop/studio. Whether it was at my apartment in Charlottesville, VA or my current shared house in Nashville, TN, I have been filming all my videos in my bedroom. When filming, my room quickly became a 3D maze of power and audio cables that were impossible navigate after I turned my lights off and searched for my bed. The tripods and box lights were a constant reminder that I needed to film a video when all I wanted to do was relax after a long day of work. I packed up all my video gear threw it in the back of my closet and my stress levels dropped drastically.

While less, my stress was far from inexistent. Most PhD programs are front loaded with classes. Usually, you satisfy all class requirements in the first two years and then work on your dissertation for the next three. Even when their graduate students have classes most advisors expect at least 8 hours (9am to 5pm) in the lab. By the time I finished my lab work, ate dinner, and did the bare minimum amount of chores I had just enough time to finish my homework and still get seven hours of sleep. Back in my undergraduate degree I would burn the candle at both ends, sleeping only a couple hours a night. I would catch a couple zzz’s in my large lecture classes. However, graduate school requires a much higher level of attentiveness. My experiments demand precision and mistakes can be costly, so I have put a priority on being well rested.

With my second year finishing up, a couple hours each night have been freed up (don’t tell my advisor!). I tried playing an hour or two of video games. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed battle royale games as much as the next guy, but I was feeling the creative urge to make videos again. This urge was bolstered when my girlfriend, Andi, recommended that I convert a section of the garage at my house to a workspace. Andi even said that she would lend a hand (score!). As with all projects the garage conversion took about 10x the amount of time and 5x the amount of money that I had originally estimated (I blame Murphy’s Law). I am very happy with the end result (see the banner of this blog post for a sneak peek). We framed the concrete wall, added two 20A electrical circuits, dry walled, installed lights, and added a lot of organization and bench space. This workspace will be the catalyst for many new videos.

To end this post I wanted to talk about my “word of the year”. I stole this idea from Andi after regretfully making fun of her for it. At first I did not understand how one word could define an entire year, but obviously, that is not the point. If chosen correctly such a word could act as a focal point for one’s thoughts and actions. Let me explain through an example. My 2019 word is sustainable. As I begin to work on YouTube videos again I want to make sure that the time I put in and my goals are sustainable. Producing many videos in a row and then dropping off the face of the planet for a year and half is neither good for my psyche nor for the community I am trying to build. Further, I want to design projects that are sustainable. In this instance I am not only talking about producing less waste and using “greener” materials, but also producing content that is maintained for longer. This includes fixing links on my website when they go down and answering questions in the comment sections and on the forum. I challenge you to come up with a “word of the year” and allow it to permeate through your year.

I will talk with you again soon. I promise it will be less than a year and a half.

David Florian

The Rebuild and Climb

The Rebuild and Climb

New location. New house. New roommates. In the last three months, I have moved all my junk 500 miles from Charlottesville to Nashville. It has been difficult designing and building my dream workspaces while working fulltime. At my old place I designed and prototyped all my projects on the single table in the middle of my bedroom. Now that I know I will be renting the same house for 5 years I decided to build more permanent spaces. My marble and steel desk tips the scale at just over 600 pounds and is going nowhere anytime soon. For my workspaces, division of labor was my primary goal. When I am working on a circuit board I want all the necessary tools and components within reach. Unless I am failing miserably I probably won’t need a hammer, which, if present, would just take up space. On the other hand, whenever I am doing any type of mechanical work I am often convincing two pieces to mate with my hammer. Therefore, I decided to build two additional desks: one for electronics and one for mechanical work. I am hoping these dedicated workspaces will keep me organized and more productive.

Speaking of productivity, you may have noticed that my YouTube channel has not been very productive the past couple of months. What gives? My team of three has been downsized to a team of one: me. As mentioned in my previous post, Elise and Jeff are both successfully pursuing their dreams far away. I was hoping that my new roommates would show some interest in creating content for YouTube but that does not seem to be the case. My current roommates and I are pursuing the same profession, so it is understandable that they would not have time for large hobbies like YouTube. I am still very passionate about my channel, but DIY projects from scratch will take much longer for me to put together, film and edit. DIY projects are my passion but to keep my channel from going stagnant I need a new and quicker source of content. I have identified this source as Workshop Wars (WW). WW is my new segment showcasing more than just the average computer desk. WW will feature any space that you are proud of, including but not limited to garages, makerspaces, and machine shops. Ideally, WW will help the viewer decide what tools and machines he or she wants to add to their collection.

On a more personal level, the past four months have been so hectic that I had very little time to work out, or at least I felt that I did not have any time. As more days passed with only minimal physical exertion my life was sluggish and stressful. It took me a while to realize the cause of my lower quality of life. After returning to the gym, specifically the rock climbing gym, I have much more energy and confidence. The first couple of weeks were embarrassing and disheartening as I had lost a significant amount of muscle mass, but after pushing through the pain I felt my strength coming back. If you are ever looking for an outlet for physical activity I highly recommend rock climbing. Indoor rock climbing routes are based on a rating system, so the results of training are visible with being able to climb harder routes. Rock climbers are stereotypically hipster, so it is also a great environment to meet nice, down to earth people.

Thanks for listening,

Dr. D-Flo

5,000 Subs and 5 More Years

5,000 Subs and 5 More Years

Wow! The last month has been hectic but incredible. To put this post into context for future readers, I just finished part 1 of the KEGerator series. My subscriber count has increased by an order of magnitude (5,000 subs) since my last blog post. I have made a couple of missteps on my videos, but I have internalized these mistakes and will ensure that they do not reoccur. One mistake that I wanted to talk to you about is the Bladeless Fan video. This video has received more dislikes than all my other videos combined. Many of these dislikes are from the fact that the bladeless fan is not actually bladeless. I know that this is disappointing but this is not a mistake nor the problem I am referring to. In the video, I incorrectly described pulse width modulation (PWM). I was in a rush to get the video out and omitted the word “average” before voltage, and did not catch my mistake before I published it on YouTube. You can read the comment section here for more information. Even if I had said the average voltage increases as you turn the potentiometer this is a misleading way to describe PWM. Initially, I was going to change it but I was over my head in schoolwork, and I honestly thought no one was going to watch the video. But of course the one video I did not want to blow up, blew up. To this date, I am still receiving thousands of views a day on the video. If I delete the video and re-upload it then it will lose its favorable YouTube search rank. The video is on the first page of the search results for “bladeless fan.” This is an ethical dilemma for me. Do I delete the video that is providing a lot of traffic to my channel but is also spreading misinformation? I want you to know that I have put much thought into this, and I hope you forgive me for leaving the video up. From this experience I have learned to slow down my output of videos even if I miss self-set deadlines to ensure quality.

My life outside of YouTube has been experiencing significant changes. As you can tell from the banner I recently graduate from the University of Virginia. I received undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics. I have accepted an offer of admissions for a PhD program in Biomedical Engineering. One thing a lot of people do not know is that most engineering PhD programs pay their students tuition and provide stipends. If you want to pursue higher education consider a PhD program with a heavy emphasis on research because these will often compensate you. After approximately five more years of education I will be able to rightfully call myself Dr. D-Flo.

With a new school comes new living arrangements. I am extremely excited to move out of my current apartment. As you saw in my workshop tour my CNC router and 3D printer are in my bedroom. These machines caused a lot of restless nights. My new house, which I am sharing with two new roommates (RIP Jeff), has a garage which I can keep my tools in. Unfortunately, my two best friends Elise and Jeff are pursuing their own careers which are far away from my graduate school. It is my hope to bring the team together as often as possible but without these two it will take me longer to make videos. I will make another blog post dedicated to my future plans as soon as possible.

Thanks for listening,

Dr. D-Flo

Welcome, Welcome!

Welcome, Welcome!

Hello! Dr. D Flo here. I have decided to start a blog to continue the conversation with you, my fellow DIYer. I will also use this blog to work on my writing and document my professional life.

The past three months have been a whirlwind. I released my first YouTube video in December of 2016, and now I have 18 videos with 500 subscribers. Initially, I was nervous to start a YouTube channel. I was concerned that my voice, looks, and projects would not be well received. However, I have found the internet to be full of understanding individuals, who are able to look past my poor cinematography skills and appreciate the time I have put into my projects. The success of each video has been directly proportional to the amount of time I invested.

This whole experience became surreal when my LED Word Clock video reached the front page of Reddit. I sat at my computer refreshing the page reading every comment on my post. One of my friends, who did not know that I had a YouTube channel, sent me a picture of the post saying that I should try and build it. Justifying my correlation of time to success, the LED Word Clock was by far my most time-consuming project. This may surprise you because the concept behind the clock is simple. My CNC router had a difficult time milling the traces on the 12”x12” PCBs because these PCBs arrived warped. These boards were expensive, and I ended up ruining $150 worth of materials.  So, the success was not without its troubles.

The most common question I receive from family and friends is how do I figure out how to build all these projects? I am neither an electrical nor mechanical engineer, so I spend a lot of time researching components and best practices before I even start a project. If you are going to use a material for the first time always look up its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Materials can have various hazardous effects if cut or heated. Ultimately, safety is my highest priority especially when I am working on a project with my friends. Immediately after my response I get another question asking how I make time for my YouTube hobby. As a full time biomedical engineering student, I do not have the busiest life, but I am still spending 60 hours a week on my studies and laboratory research. My DIYing consumes any of my free time. Where there is a will there is time.

I am very optimistic about the future. If you are reading this then you are the motivation behind my work.

Thanks,

David Florian