On this episode, Trey German returns to talk about his paramotor flight monitoring hardware.
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Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.
In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.
In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.
Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast. I'm your guest trade German.
And we're your host, Stephen Craig and Parker Dolman. This is episode 117.
Yeah. So before we get started, we've got some announcements. This week, we have the Twitter chat again, April 27. I wrote talking about blink. So I guess I don't know what I'm talking about yet on that. You're talking about anything? Yeah, anything? Yeah. Use these PCB design, stuff like that. So and then the meetup for next month in May, May 23 6pm. At macro HQ. We're gonna have Brandon strat, Stratton, sat Sutrum. From particle. He's going to give a talk about IoT fundamentals. And then we have our first Houston hardware happy hour. It's gonna be the first Thursday of each month. So the next one is May 3 at slowpokes, here in Houston. So come by, bring your hacks drink some beer, drink some coffee, eat some food,
Tipsy engineers. That's gonna be quite the site there. Yeah.
So Troy, you are the first guest we've ever had on the podcast.
I know. I just found that out episode 10. I was I'm blown away by that fact. I'm flattered. Thank you guys for having me. Again.
You're the first guest to be on the podcast three
times. Well, my name is Trey, which kind of means three, so it only makes sense, right? Hey.
So go check out episode 10. Episode 38. The podcast was a lot different back then too. So go check those out if you haven't.
Actually, each trade is also recorded in every single location that we've recorded. Parker's kitchen. Yeah,
I've in my kitchen. Yeah,
so we've had four locations, and Trey has been in three of them.
I get around what can I say?
So Trey, what do you do? What have you been doing since the last podcasts? Like October 2016?
Well, we know one thing, he hasn't died from your promoter hero flying? Yeah,
I mean, I, I've been a little bit of kind of all over the place doing kind of whatever the heck I want, which is really the goal of why, you know, I quit my corporate job, and started doing my own thing I really wanted freedom. And so right, if you look back at these earlier podcasts, you know, I had this grand plan of I was gonna make these like little Bluetooth sensor taggie kind of deals. And you know, sell those as kind of like an open source platform for people to build software and apps on top of. And so you know, I got the hardware and software pretty far along. But as I started thinking about that more and more and kind of introducing it to the market, I started to think about kind of the support burden and everything that goes along with running a business like that. And as I thought about that, more and more, it became clear to me that that was going to put me right back where I was previously with my big corporate job, right, I was going to be constantly supporting customers and kind of teaching them how to use the technology that I had developed. And I would have become chained down again. And that's not really what I wanted to do. And
it'd be even harder because at a corporation, you could just leave and someone else will just take your spot, right? Here you are,
I'm everything right? I'm a one man business. So I don't have anyone to really rely on I don't have the funds to really hire anyone right now. And so, you know, it became clear to me that, that that wasn't really the way to go. So you know that that's on the side, it's shelved. I've got all the, you know, the files and the hardware saved away. And I started kind of thinking about, well, what do I really love? What do I you know, you're supposed to do what you love, right? So the thing that I love doing right is flying. And I started thinking about, well, there's no real engineers in this field that fly these things. I'm uniquely positioned to where I understand what these pilots need, and I have the ability to make things for these pilots. I also have a great business that can fulfill, you know, any orders that I need and make the products with macro fab. So I was gonna say, Who's that?
I want to I want those.
Yeah. So I started actually developing a communications headset for flying. There were some other products out there on the market. Most of them actually were from companies in Europe. And these were also you know, small operations. So, the first time that I did the Icarus trophy, I actually used one of the products from one of these companies. You And it worked. Okay, but you know, after the fact, so that first time I had used a, like a ham radio for communications, this past year, I needed to step up my game and use an actual aviation radio, because that was one of the issues going in and out of airports with a lot of air traffic. If you're doing that blind, you know, communication wise, it's kind of dangerous because the airplanes, you're pretty small, you're moving really slow. They're not really looking for you. And you may be looking for them, but they move really, really quickly. So you can't get out of their way or anything like that. You like the
motorcycles of the sky? We Yeah, yeah. Get out. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, but no one's really looking for them. And typically, they're a lot smaller. That's true.
That's true. So yeah. I took this this headset that I had bought apart. And because they Okay, so let me rewind. The reason I took it apart is because I talked to the manufacturer, I was like, Hey, can I just plug in an aviation band radio? And they're like, No, I was like, Well, that seems a little odd, you know, a headset to headset, right? Well, the reason why is because the impedance that's used for the mics, and the speakers on aviation radios, and normal, normal radios, ham radios, whatever, FRS, they use different impedances. And so this headset was basically completely passive. There were a few boards in there a little amplifier to provide what's called side tones. So when you push the push to talk button, you can hear yourself in the headset. But very, very minimal electronics. And so the reason why you couldn't use an aviation headset with this thing was the impedances were different. So I was like, Well, why don't we just like put some op amps and some some other amplifiers in there and glue logic in there? Yeah. And then analog glue logic. Yeah. While we're while we're at it, let's add Bluetooth. Let's let's make this thing freakin sweet.
jazzed up a little bit. Yeah, kitchen sink and toss it right in? Yeah, exactly.
You know, it'll fit, you know, on your ears. So what I decided to do was, basically engineer my own headset. And so that's what I did last year. So through, you know, starting around the April May timeframe, I started designing this thing. I made one round of prototypes here. And those worked pretty well, I'd made some some minor, you know, mistakes that I had to fix. But that's to be expected. And then I did another revision, actually, with screaming circuits, because I needed something really, really quick. Because, you know, after I'd found all the issues, there wasn't much time left before going flying in two days. Yeah, yeah, basically, I think I had like about a week between the, when I placed that order, and when I had to leave. So I got the boards back, like a day or two before I had to leave, quite literally, I put these things together, they worked. And then I flew this entire race with this headset last year, and it worked phenomenally. So that second prototype, the the main issue with it was It wasn't really easily manufacturable. Right, I had taken an off the shelf kind of industrial earmuff from 3am. And I had modified that. So you know, I'd taken a drill and kind of a hole saw and drilled out some plastic and you know, mounted all the panel mount connectors and everything on it, which was is okay, but you know, I'd like to be able to buy something premade that's, you know, pre machined with my design and all that. So I started looking at some companies overseas that made these, and I found some in we're getting a lot closer to kind of a production ready version of this headset. So I'm excited to kind of get that done and introduce that to the market. I've also been doing some interesting contract work. So we can talk about a little bit of that. Some of its under NDA, but I can give you give you some some basic ideas of what I was doing. I was going out then. Okay. So one of the things I had been working on was actually a, a project with some self driving car development tools. And actually, funny story, I found out about this project and was introduced to this company through macro fab. So thank you guys for that. You actually helped me survive over the past year with with business from that company. And then what do you know, you know, I gave a talk here last week, and I actually just picked up some more work. So that's a another really cool project.
You gave a talk at the meetup. Yeah, yeah.
The macro fab meetup here.
Which network is networking is part of the whole. Yeah. Yeah, actually, it actually worked for one person. Yeah,
yeah. You're helping me helping me pay the bills. What can I say? So, that project I'm really, really excited about it involves what's called ion mobility spectrometry.
That sounds so fancy, I don't know what it was
the best part of it is there's freaking High Voltage involved, right? So we have to ionize basically what you do, right spectrometry or you're trying to figure out
what elements are. Yeah, yeah. What,
what in something right. Okay, but I think you can shoot stuff. Yeah, I think that's the basic idea. So in ion mobility spectrometry, you basically have your sample that you want to analyze, and it's going to off gas, some stuff or whatever. And you ionize that, that air that has your, the molecules of the sample, and then you accelerate it down what's called a drift tube. So this drift tube has a electrostatic gradient through it. So it will accelerate the ions, excuse me, it accelerates the ions toward a detector plate at the other end of the tube. And so basically, you time and you count how many ions hit this detector plate. And that'll give you a graph that has, like, you know, time on one axis and the number of ions detects and so you get something that looks like a spectrum. Yes, a spectrograph or something like that. I'm not one of these Physics II kind of dudes on a circuit board, dude, but you make the high voltage part. Yeah, I get to I get to play with high voltage. There's some how high are we talking about? Like 10,000? Yeah, do 10 kV, yeah, nights between three and 10 kV. And there's a couple different high voltage aspects to it. So we have to have high voltage to ionize the sample we also have to have high voltage to accelerate the sample towards the detector. So there's some some fun engineering challenges there, you know, dealing with you know, generating this high voltage clearancing everything and, you know, biasing different supplies up to these high voltages so that they don't, you know, arc over and things like that.
And you want to keep those supplies typically pretty stable, because if those fluctuate, then your sample
moves. Right, right. So there's, there's a lot of interesting parts to this project that, you know, it's really fun for me as an engineer, because, you know, normally we're dealing with you know, 3.3 volts 1.8 volts
1.2 volts now Oh, yeah.
So scary. So, that's, I, you know, I'm really excited to work on that. That's, that's gonna be a lot of fun. And then, I guess other stuff. I have a giant truck and I just bought a motorcycle.
This giant truck is pretty sweet. i It's n 10
What is it? 1010 85 Yeah, five. I brought it up here to the the macro fab meetup last week. Because it just seemed like a fun thing to do.
About jeeps and stuff. So
yeah, Margie, and I figured you know, I had to bring something to the table.
Something that weighed 20,000
My Jeeps in the back of this thing.
Yeah, my JK just couldn't compete with your Jeep as it is now. So I needed to up my jeep game. So I went I went kind of military. So this is a I guess it would be a 10 ton truck since it weighs 20,000 pounds and it's a six by six. So it has six tires and all six of them are driven. It has opened diffs which is kind of shitty but you know that can be be upgraded and just gonna hold them. Yeah, well. I need to turn sometimes. I only use ramming speed sometimes.
I wonder how bad those those big tires would scrub have you locked those diffs up
I'm sure pretty bad i mean it the truck when I got it the the back tires were pretty down there but oops, sorry guys. The the two axles in the rear right there pretty close to that front axle and the rear is definitely going to scrub more more than the back as it turns but yeah, whatever, you know, you buy new tires, which aren't cheap.
So I'm curious what what drove you to buy it?
Well actually, I had a friend that had bought one of these and his plan was to turn it into an expedition vehicle so he wanted to mount like some type of camper box in the back and then go travel around go off road maybe go down to South America or something like that. I was like that's a pretty cool idea. And so I was hanging out at a shop and we were we decided to go drive around one day and he let me drive it and I was like oh man this is this is pretty sweet. I might need one of these and so I started looking at the auctions and you can buy these things off the internet it's it's a site kind of like ebay but it's called gov pointment. Gov planet
yeah output this way after I wrote in yours I nearly went to I got my jeep and was like looking like in my area looking for. They have some four by fours for sale here.
Yeah, this is an area in four pin.
Oh wow for my for sale. Monster six by six.
A lot of these, I mean, they come out of military bases. So Fort Hood over over closer to I think it's Austin Mopac over here, the they'll sell them out of Fort Hood mine actually came out of Fort Bragg. And so I was watching these auctions, and I found one that was kind of sad looking. It needed some love. So the brakes didn't work on it. There was a big hole in the cab where you know, the turret used to be the gun used to be in the cab was all rusted out, but it ran. And so I was like, Man, I bet I can fix this up. And I bet the you know, the auction, it'll go for less than than most of the other ones. And sure enough, it's I think, the cheapest M 1085 that's been sold to the public. And so I shipped here and started working on it. And you know, I had to rebuild a few of the air valves for the brake system and replace some airlines. I had to work on the the compressor, the governor of the compressor to get it to start pumping air into the tanks, right because this has an air brake system. And after after I did all that the truck ran and drove just fine. And so I had like a you know, this truck originally cost the government well over $100,000 And here I had bought it for well under 10. So I got a pretty good, good deal with that depreciation
hurts pretty bad. Yeah.
Yeah, it's a 1995. But you know, it shows 10,000 miles on the odometer. Okay, well,
you weren't paying taxes at that time. So you didn't actually pay for it. This this would you've only purchased it once now.
Yeah. So, you know, the cab was kind of rotted out, we'll call it and there was a bunch of like shell casings and things in there, which kind of cool. But I started looking for a way to kind of fix the things that were wrong with the cab and I found on another auction site, brand spanking new cab assemblies for this truck from like, 2009. So I bought one of these, once again, we're pennies on what it cost the government. I think I paid a little over 1000 for the cab and made friends with a crane business out in Richmond.
How do you make friends with a crane business? Well, that bring them beer.
It's complicated. But once again, this is it started with my buddy, cuz he had before he bought his six by six, he had had a four by four. And he sold that to the crane business. So he had already developed a relationship with these guys. And he was using them to lift the habitation shelter thing that he had bought onto the back of his. And so I was down there one day helping out with that, that swap and I was like, Hey, guys, can we be friends too? They're like, yeah, sure, whatever. So I took my truck down to their yard. And it was down there for probably about three weeks and then I finally got time to swap it over. Yep. So I mean basically what I did is I would go down there I bring a toolbox and I you know pulled out all the wiring disconnected all the airlines unbolted all the bolts from the cab the frame. Yep, the cab to frame connection, which is a tea there's, there's 13 bolts total that hold that thing on. It's not much at all. Yeah, that's not a lot. And, you know, once I got to that point we had lifted off, which was like maybe a, you know, a 1015 minute operation with a telehandler kind of forklift device. And then a couple, you know, days later when they had the time, right, because they're running a business to they can't just drop everything they're doing and help me, you know, took another, you know, 1520 minutes of them forking that thing on to the thing and spend another day or two getting everything hooked up and drove off with it.
So I think the most important question though, is, what are you designing that's gonna go in that truck.
So electronics wise, so electronics wise, I mean, the whole power system of the truck, right, the plan, right is to turn this camper, yeah, camper expedition vehicle, just kind of like my buddies. And he bought kind of an off the shelf, military shelter. So everything for him was pretty much done, you know, he's adding some, you know, appliances, heaters, you know, things like that cooking, cooking things. Whereas I don't have anything like that. The military ones that you can buy to put on the backs of these things are kind of expensive, and they're they're heavy, right? They're made out of metal and you know, there's just better ways to do it. So I'm looking at it various different options. I have kind of a rough design for the the shelter on the back. I'm looking at ways to actually build the shelter or buy something I can use as a shelter and then build it out. In terms of electronics though, right? I want To be able to have you know, 120 volts AC, I want to have, you know, 12, volt lighting, all that kind of jazz. And so there's gonna be a lot of time and effort put into, you know, designing kind of an off the grid, electrical system for this thing. So the plan is to have solar is the main source of energy. I'd like to have a small diesel generator that I can use to charge the batteries, because the truck runs on diesel. So I've got a big supply of diesel that's already there. And then we'll have a bank of hopefully lithium ion cells, maybe, you know, a bunch of 18 650s do a knock off power wall kind of deal. Kind of wreck Tesla. Yeah, yeah. Well, the thing is that everyone knows about direct Tesla's now and people know about the DIY power walls and all that. So the price of all that has kind of gone up substantially from from what it used to be, you know, the kind of half dead laptop batteries, it seems like there's a bunch of people using those and getting good capacities out of those, because you're the discharge rate that you're pulling on this thing, because you've got so many cells, it's is miniscule. And so you can get away with cells that are kind of past their prime for laptop applications. So, we look I'm looking at that, you know, there's companies that also make kind of pre made solutions that are, you know, new, but you're gonna pay a lot more for those. And then also looking at solutions for the inverter and charger and doing grid tie, because right, ultimately, sometimes this thing's going to end up in an RV park where I can plug in and it's nice to be able to just plug in and use their power that you've already paid for.
Yeah, have you calculated how much solar power you can plop on top of this thing? Twice
I think I can fit about so the box is gonna be about 20 feet in length. I think I can fit about six 300 watt panels. Well that's pretty good. Yeah, so it's it's enough almost a kilowatt Yeah. And that's enough you know, with a decent sized battery to run a small mini split air conditioner which is kind of the big thing that I want right? Yeah, sometimes you're going to be in the south it's going to be hot. And you know if you've got a well insulated box to where you don't have to run the air conditioner all the time. That would be enough solar to actually run an air conditioner.
Yeah, this is I think the biggest thing about in Texas at least so it's just knocking humidity down Yeah. Yeah, you get sub 50% Humidity Yeah, pretty
much a Peltier a junctions and put those all over the outline and the whole box will just sweat inside would be really really dry
but plan to actually seal the box that what I'm looking at doing right now is buying they're called band bodies. So typically when you you have one of these big commercial trucks or whatever you buy the chassis and then you can pick what kind of body you want on the on the frame Yeah, get a flatbed or one of those big box trucks and so what I want to do is get one of the the box truck kind of deals and then use polyurethane spray foam insulation to seal the interior of the box and provide you know insulation good
thing is those box trucks are aluminum. Yeah bodies to see the light.
They're light you know, it's aluminum it's all riveted together. So you know if you do get a dent in one of the panels, you just drill out all the rivets, slide a new sheet of aluminum and and just pop rivet it together and you're good to go. So I think there's a lot of pluses there. But you know, I don't know a lot about building these trucks. So yeah, I may be way off face and if I am, please reach out and tell me Yeah.
I actually I just came with the crazy idea because it how big this truck is just get a junky RV is parked RV in the back of it.
There's a whole RV, a Winnebago.
There's, there's people that have that have actually done that. So one of the there's websites devoted to these surplus military trucks and people will buy kind of older campers. They'll take it off the trailer chassis, yeah. And then they'll just plop it up on the bed. And that's, you know, a perfectly legit way to do one of these things doesn't look as cool. No, it doesn't look as cool and well, I mean, mine isn't going to look that cool when it's done because it's gonna be a freakin box truck.
It's gonna be a UPS truck. That's military ups. Yeah,
that's basically what it's gonna be filled with foam with some crazy guy inside. So we'll see how that all goes. You know, I, I'm looking at different suppliers trying to talk to experts in the field. And kind of figuring out if this plan works, or if it will work if it's a good idea, or if I should kind of reconsider. It's not the traditional way that these things are built. Other people that have built these things have kind of gone more custom routes. But when you go to these more custom routes, you know the price kind of starts to go up. Yeah, if I can find a used fan body that I can throw on the back of the thing the same. You know, I could do this a lot cheaper than if I have to do both. In terms of time and money, right, that's the other consideration here is, if you're doing all this custom work, somebody is going to do it. Oh, excuse me, the beers getting to me. So somebody's got to do all this work. And, you know, I intend to put a lot of sweat equity into this. But you know, I only have so much time I have to split it between, you know, clients that I have the the business projects that I want to complete, like the headset, and you know, flying flying building the truck, you know, hanging out with my family, you know, all that kind of stuff.
So, the, on the truck, yeah. Is how do you have to register to
sing? Oh, yeah, that's another story. Yeah.
Can we go into that? Yeah, absolutely. It's gonna be weird podcast.
That's right. I'm always it's always interesting to me. Good. So registration on a vehicle like this. Yeah. Especially in Texas. So Texas is friendly to these vehicles. That a lot of space see the people at the so you go to your, your local county tax office to do the registration, right. The people at the tax office really are we'll just call them uneducated on this subject. Right? Because it's not every day that someone goes out and buys a surplus 10 ton six by six military wants to drive on the road. And yes, exactly. And so when you when you do this, it's very, very good to do your research. You really need to know the laws better than the people enforcing them. And you don't want to be you know, a dick, you don't want to, you know, go in there and be like, Oh, I'm right, no, no, blah, but you need to be firm and tell them when they're wrong, that they're wrong. And they need to, you know, do their research on this. So I went in I had several kind of printouts of Texas laws and things like that being highlighted. Yeah, I mean, that's really what you got to do because yeah, you go in there and they're like, oh, you can't register this this is you know, an off road only vehicle and it it's not it's got everything it needs to be to be on road I had gone and had it safety inspectors seatbelt
Well, did you take it like a Jiffy Lube and have it inspected? That's
exactly what I did. It took me two trips to get it safety inspected. So I took it to the car spa in Midtown, which is a kind of super gas station, I guess you could say it's got like a special carwash area, they've got the normal gas station. And then they've got a little garage where they do oil changes and state inspections. The reason I chose that is it was the closest from my house and this thing wasn't registered. So I wanted to drive it on the road the least amount possible. It makes sense, because if I got pulled over and got the wrong cop, and they wanted to impound it, towing that thing is a huge pain in the butt. And you know, the tow fees on that are going to be 1000 plus dollars plus then all the the impound fees. It's not it's not like towing a normal car would be a total debt. Yeah, yeah. It also sticks
out like sore thumb. It does.
If I wouldn't be like, I'll just drive it to the impound place. I'll follow you follow me.
Skipping the towing. Yeah. Yeah. So I took it up there. And the first time the guy you know, I showed him all the blinkers and the lights and he's like, alright, that's cool. He went into go into the computer, and it couldn't figure out how to do it. And he's like, you know, I'm sorry, man. You can't do this here. You got to go to some special like bus and truck center is inspected. I'm like, Okay, I'm not sure you're correct on that. But, okay, so I drove home. And then I call, I looked up some phone numbers in the Texas DMV DPS websites, and I called some people and eventually I talked to somebody and he's like, no, they should definitely be able to do that, you know, have them call me at this number who know, you know, talk them through it. And so I you know, I called them up. I was like, Hey, dude, we call these guys they say you can do this. And he's like, Yeah, sure. So he did that. And I went back up and you know, five minutes later, I had my safety number. Do you have to type into the computer then? Well, apparently, there's like, some drop down box that says other and then you can like type, whatever it is. And I don't know if he just couldn't find it or whatever. If he was intimidated by my giant truck,
type in the military destination, or I
you know, I don't know, I wasn't wasn't standing there. I went to their nice little waiting room and sat down. And, you know,
to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they was intimidated. But more in the fact that like, if they get that wrong, right, they're like,
I'm getting trolled. And that's not what I wanted to do. Other than just typed in giant truck. Yeah. I'm not sure that we'll see. I'm not sure why. But yeah, ultimately I got it safety inspected, and then, you know, went down to the the tax office in that was about two The Tax Office was about a four hour endeavor to get the registration work for you title
will. So we actually sorry, this just came to mind. Do you have to pay extra for that if you go on the toll road because it has three axles? Yes.
Yes. On toll roads? Yeah. Yeah. Well depends on toll road. I guess they charge more for that.
But in terms of registration, it's interesting with these vehicles, so there's a special registration designation for former military vehicles. And you basically get to register the vehicle for 100 bucks, but it comes with some caveat. So you can you can only drive it for like parades or like, items of public interest or club activities. Those are the three three things that you can drive your vehicle on road for. Now in Texas, you created the trade German enthusiast club that's actually what a lot of people do, they'll they'll go the route and get the former military vehicle designation. One cool thing with that is you don't have to run plates. So you can actually spray paint your your registration number, whatever your plate number on the vehicle and get it inspected by a law enforcement officer. And if they sign off on it, then you don't have to run plates on your vehicle, which is kind of cool. That is crazy.
I think you cops would pull you over all
the time. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, a lot of them they know these military vehicles. It's not a Humvee but it's it's obvious, you know, based on the paint and everything that this is a military view. Every single
cop in Midtown Houston knows this truck. Yeah,
they would if I drove around all
the boundaries of like, the weird vehicle laws here. Like every single one you're pushing
I am but that's, that's what makes it fun. I mean, you don't drive drunk in this thing or anything like that. Because a it's freakin dangerous and be draw a lot of, you know, attention to yourself. But
I suppose though, like, you would win, if you got in a wreck with this
thing? Oh, yeah. No, I'm not not scared of wrecks at all. I mean, I'm scared for other people. That's really the big thing, right? Cuz that would that would be so big and so tall, right? It's got a lot of freakin energy, enough to really do some serious damage. So you got to be careful with it. You know, you have to be really, really responsible with it. It's, it's a toy, but it's a very dangerous toy, much like a pair of motor right? You can really easily get yourself in trouble with it. But you can also have a lot of fun. And so it's finding that balance of responsibility and fun. That's important with these things. But yeah, former military vehicle designation, no plate, but you didn't do that. I did not do that. And this is this is kind of where I ran into issues with the tax office. They're like, you can't register it as a normal truck. I'm like, Yes, I can. And they handed me this bulletin. So the office in Austin, they send out these bulletins to the tax offices to kind of clarify laws and things like that. And the lady read like the first paragraph of this bulletin, she bracketed it for me to read. And I was like, okay, and I was done fighting with them. Because this had been this was like two or three hours into this ordeal by now. So I went home, I was getting hangry. I hadn't had lunch. So I ate lunch. And then I read through the rest of the bulletin, and I was like, Bitch, because they hadn't read it. And it very clearly stated that previously, they hadn't allowed this. And that's the part that she had read, read. And then in the next paragraph, it's like, we've changed our policy position on this. As long as it meets all the requirements for an on road vehicle, they can register in any vehicle class they want. So I went back and I showed them this. Did you get the same person? Yeah. Oh, yeah. This was the same day. I was like, lady, I need you to very carefully read this. She's like, Okay. And then she had to call Austin again. Like she spent like a good probably hour on the phone with Austin that day, because she didn't believe that the thing that she had just handed me was true. On it, so that was really frustrating. But in the end, I got it registered as a normal passenger truck. And there's a category called passenger truck over one ton. So it's to noncommercial truck. It's just
a line that is on your truck. His truck. One ton. Yeah, yeah. Well, we went over one ton. Yeah, it's 19 tons over one ton, but it's
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
those edge cases when you're programming, and you just like, oh,
close enough, you know, nothing, whatever. It's greater than the condition. Yeah, it passes. So got it registered. Got it plated. In now I'm kind of working on getting the license for it. So because the the payload capacity of it's about, you know, five times right, it'll carry 10,000 pounds of payload. That right gross vehicle weight rating, up to 30,000 pounds, and the cutoff for a class C license is at 26,000 pounds. So I have to get a Class B license in Texas, what's a Class B? So Class B license is vehicles over 26,000 pounds with a tow trailer less than 10,000.
Okay, so wait, even if you never haul anything on it, you still have to get a Class B.
So because of the way I got it, titled, yes. Now, you know, they have no info on this vehicle at the tax office when they do the titling. And so I use the stock numbers from Stewart and Stevenson on payload, which is 10,000 pounds. And that puts me from the 20,000 pound, empty weight up to 30,000 pounds. And that puts me into class B territory. Now, I could have reduced the payload rating myself, and just said, Hey, it can only carry let's say, 5000 pounds, you're putting a camper on the back, right?
Right. And so you can't put 10,000 pounds of baggage, you technically could, but you could put a camper on it, you're kind of saying it's a
good book. But if you if you've watched it and said 5000 You'd be 25,000
Yeah, then I can use use my class C license to drive it. And so I didn't do that. I am regretting that now. But a little bit because my camper, it's not going to be you know, over 5000 pounds. But ultimately, what I'm going to do once that that's built out and I can show proof that it meets the requirements of the definition of a motorhome is I can actually retitle the vehicle as a motorhome and that may have some insurance ramifications. It may also have ramifications on where I can take the vehicle so like for instance, I don't think the truck version the version that it is now can go like into Canada I don't think they like military vehicles up there or something like that I've read maybe I'm wrong.
But they don't like trucks of a one ton. Yeah.
But if I if I change it into a motorhome, you know they let motorhomes into Canada all the time. And you know, ultimately I'd like to be able to take this thing up into you know, Alaska and things like that and go down south of the border. And so you're converting it title wise legal wise into a motorhome may have some advantages to me. So
that's give me special licenses for motorhomes. Yeah, I
mean, it's all based on weight.
Right. So you still would have to get a Class B?
Well, it depends on the the weight. The paper,
I like that. Yes. Okay, what's the class C is your Joe Schmo. Right license everyone, everyone. And we all have to take a test to get that. Do you have to take a test for a B?
Yes. So the you take basically, it's called the commercial rules test. So you have to study the commercial driver's license book. And then you have to take a driving test. It's
the all the book does is everything you normally do, but pay extra attention.
Yeah, watch out your heavy
it's actually pretty evolved. So you have to know a lot more rules in terms of like, cargo and like stopping distances and air brakes. And there's a lot more that goes into getting your commercial driver's license, because you're supposed to know more about
the maintenance of your vehicle to yes, you have to do like a commercial drivers are supposed to supposed to do an inspection to do a walk around inspection. But I actually do one of those on my jeep, I actually in the vehicle, I drive it, it's good practice, it's missing lug nuts are your tires looking, okay, you know,
that, you know, if you don't do it, you know, if you just walk up to the driver's side door and get in, let's say your your alignment was off or something like that, you've got some toe in, you know, you're not gonna see the where on the the passenger side tire. You know, if you're walking around and doing an inspection like that, you know, you're gonna catch a lot of things that you might not normally catch, you're gonna see that you have a brake light out, you're gonna see that you have a turn signal, you know, not working. And, you know, with a big vehicle like that, it's really, really important because you have a 20,000 pound death machine that's hurtling down the freeway at 60 miles an hour.
But but your intention is kind of not not to use it as a class B device, but it's like a C plus highway
maybe c plus plus. So big nerd Joe
downhill real fast.
Yeah, this is getting bad. Sorry, guys. So that's my my current project and then you know, since that gets, like eight miles a gallon, which is not super great.
I mean, my Jeep a bit
better. Yeah. But, you know, I'd like to get a little bit better gas mileage than that. So I'm just got a motorcycle, and I'm fixing that up.
I guess if you average the motorcycle and then in between it's
reasonable normal passenger vehicle mileage. Right, right. 50 plus eight divided by two. That's pretty good.
It's more my jeep. Yeah, yeah, Too bad your your motorcycle can't pull the truck. It has to be the other way around.
Yeah, we might have to change the gearing out on the motorcycle. Step down a notch
what motorcycling did you end up getting?
So I ended up getting a Suzuki Dr. Z 400 S, which is a dual sport motorcycle. So I'm new to this whole motorcycle world. I just like wrenching on stuff. So it's a dual sport is basically a motorcycle that's designed to be used equally on the street. And off road. It's
like you would call hybrid bicycle. Yeah. Where it's kind of like a map in between mountain street bike. Yep, exactly.
I learned on an enduro a 1971, Yamaha Honda. Oh, it's a nice, fun little bike, little little 100 cc Yeah,
so I had some friends that recommended it to me, I think the big reason is a it's not too powerful. So 400 Not too big, it's not too small. So I can grow on it a little bit, it's a little bigger than like a 250. Right. And it meets my needs in terms of, you know, a can go get groceries and be can get out of a campsite on, you know, a dirt road. And, you know, ultimately, when I take the truck out somewhere, I'm probably gonna be on dirt somewhere, because that's that's kind of what this natural habitat is designed for. And so the bike seemed like a real good fit to complement the truck. And so that's, that's why I picked it.
So future projects and try
future projects. Yeah,
we talked a little bit about that, but maybe not about the truck.
Oh, yeah. What do you mean future projects on the truck? Or no, not
not a motorcycle in the back of the truck. That's like the next level of transcendence
that, that that's in the plan. But, you know, in terms of like, professional stuff,
or something you can talk about,
you know, the ion mobility spectrometry project that's just kind of kicking off. I can't tell you what we're analyzing. But it's a really, really fun you know, thing that's, that's near and dear to my heart.
About the, the headsets? Yep. Are you going to make those available for people to see to play with maybe to purchase?
Yeah, yeah. So the plan with that is, is to finish getting these production prototypes done. So I've got a new spin of the board, basically, the only thing I'm really changing is fitting it to match this new enclosure. And then I'm looking at different sales avenues for that product. So the offshore company that builds the actual, you know, shells and hardware for the headset, I found actually another business here in the US, that imports the same products and rebrands them in market sim and has a pretty decent sized business, to the point where they've been, like a sponsor on some of Motor Trend, Motor Trend stuff. So they've they've got pretty good clout there. And I'm thinking that, right, I'm, I'm a small guy, I don't want to deal with sales and distribution and the individual customers of these products, maybe I can, you know, partner with with this guy, in order to leverage him kind of as a sales and distribution and marketing channel, right, he's already got all that set up. You know, that would be, I think, a great win win kind of scenario to where I can continue to focus on development of products, and then products that are in that kind of same vein, the headsets and audio devices, I could sell through that channel, if I you know, we can come to some agreement. I think that would be you know, mutually beneficial, right? He makes money I make money, he you know, gets a new product, I get to sell my product, it's, I think it's a good thing. So I want to get the product a little bit further along to where I have something that's pretty much turnkey, ready to go that I can I can show him before I start negotiating for what that would look like, what that relationship would look like. But I think there's there's a lot of potential there. And I think that's, that's something that's important for small business owners to kind of think about is, right, you only have so much time and resources available yourself. And so it's it's okay to work with other people. It's a good thing to, you know, look for help and creative ways to kind of get your product out there. And you know, at first I was a little intimidated by this. I saw this as competition. But then as I thought about it more, I was like it doesn't have to be competition. I Got something that he doesn't have that can really complement his portfolio? Why not? Why not work together? And so I think it's important to kind of think about things that way. Don't look at the the negatives, right? It could be, could be negative, maybe he is a competitor, but it could be positive. And I think you want to pursue those positive avenues instead of the kind of negative negative things that you think about. Right? Well, and like
you said, you kind of made it clear that there's there certain aspects of the business that you just don't really even want to touch. Right. And, and if he's willing to cover all of that, yeah, that, you know, it's huge. Yeah, like, there's, there's a lot of money that you could be willing to forfeit, just to be to have that take right arrow, right,
which is totally fine. If I if I simply have to place an order here with macro fab, and then fulfill a single, large quantity order to, you know, a distributor or something like that, that alleviates a huge amount of headaches. And, you know, it frees up a lot of time for me to do the things that I want and to have that freedom that I originally quit my job for. Right. And so I think that's, that's really the way to go. And I'm hoping it works out. But you just gotta gotta keep on pushing, you know, quitting my job and starting a business and all this and trying to make ends meet and pay the bills and all that. It's not been easy. You know, sometimes I probably sound pretty chipper and happy and all that. But there's some, some darker sides to this too, that you guys don't see and you don't hear about. But it's important to stay positive and just keep pushing through all that. Keep looking at these positives. Keep doing what you love. That's that's, you know, really what this is all about.
So trade, where can you got something?
I was just about to say if you love 20,000 pound trucks, just buy? Go buy one keep doing Yeah, I fight your state's laws to drive it on.
Fight the power. So yeah, try you want? Where can people find more about you?
So I've got a Twitter that sometimes I send like angry messages to companies when they pissed me. That's mostly what Twitter gets used for to like retweet backrow fab when they say I'm coming over here. I don't really tweet a lot, a lot. My website polymorphic labs probably needs an update. I think actually, the main site's down, is it. Yeah, the DNS may need to be the my webmaster has been moving some stuff around. So maybe I need to spend some time on that. But the polymorphic labs website needs an update to really reflect kind of the contract engineering services that I'm doing. But then I also have a personal website, which is trade german.com so vain, oh my god. And I'm thinking about rebranding that so I just bought a new domain. I'll keep it a secret for now. But yeah, you can go to trade German calm and sometimes I post info and stories about what I'm doing things I've done flying, Guney globins, whatever. It's just kind of a general stream of consciousness output of Tre. So if you want to download some of that you can excuse me, I've got a YouTube channel, but I don't make too many videos. I don't know. I need to get more on this, this social media stuff, but whatever.
Well in dipping it one more time. Go back and listen to episode 10 and episode number 38. Where Trey joined us.
And long ago he the audio quality of those are really weird too.
Yeah, you can see how we've evolved. It may be forward or backwards or
Yeah, I think the audio quality is worse. I think he's actually I've just gotten worse.
Yeah, you know, your fidelity has just dropped in the last two years years.
You know, I had something but I don't remember anymore. So I guess we'll just have trace on a cell.
Well, that was the macro fab engineering podcast. I'm your guest Trey German.
And we're your hosts Parker Dolman and Steven Craig later everyone take it easy bye bye
Thank you. Yes, you our listener for downloading our show. If you have a cool idea, project or topic, or you want trade German work on something. Tweet us at macro fab or email us at podcast at macro calm and we can get your information right over the tray. Also check out our Slack channel, which we'll be talking more about the subject that we talked about today. And if you're not subscribed to the podcast yet, click that subscribe button that way you get the latest map episode right when it releases and please review us wherever you listen as it helps the show stay visible and helps new listeners find us
On this episode, Trey German returns to talk about his paramotor flight monitoring hardware.