ramblings of an electronic engineer.

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Japan Trip 2016: Onomichi

Onomichi popped up on our list of places to visit when my sister was talking to a work colleague of hers whom suggested it, the reason been is from it starts a cycling trail that goes through several islands connected via bridges. Sounds cool right? after looking up some photos online of the town and cycling track I was also convinced to go. Furthermore it was a great opportunity to go a bit of the beaten path and experience a more rural area of Japan.

Arriving in the afternoon having just travelled from Hiroshima we ended up spending what was left of the day visiting the local shopping centre (which was an experience in itself in so much that the whole shopping centre is an open floor plan with separate store not partitioned off by walls) followed by a walk around around the town along side the sea/bay. My first impression was it was a lovely seaside town, not the smallest and probably not the most rural but nice nether-less.


View from our hotel at night.

Come the next day we walked to a bike hire shop and after a ferry to the first island started our 30km bike ride. The route itself followed the outside perimeter of each island which offers wonderful views of the seaside towns, harbours and commercial infrastructure. For a while during the trip I was trying to work out what the main industry was on the islands since there was a distinct lack of shipping containers. I’m still not 100% sure but my best guess is boat manufacturing since there was clearly at least a few locations that were welding sections of vessels together and several warehouses large enough to house a ship in construction.

After several hours of riding we made it to the third island where we would catch the ferry back to the start. Having some time to kill before the ferry’s departure however we decided to find a place for lunch ending up at a small pizzeria. It was there that we got to have a nice conversation with an elderly Japanese couple whom were visiting family in the area. It was great to share stories and impressions of what we had seen of japan thus far and to be given recommendation of what to do in the surrounding area. We would have liked to continue our conversation however after realising that the ferry we had to catch left in 10 mins had to cut out conversation short and ride the remaining distance to the pier. A short 30 minutes later and we were back where we started and I was somewhat amused that what has taken up three hours to ride was achievable in 1/6th of the time with the right mode of transport.

At this point of the trip we were starting to get a bit tired of unpacking, spending a day at a location then packing up and moving to the next so we were very happy that the next city we were travelling to (Osaka) we had several days scheduled to be at.

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Brick Event Brisbane 2016

I’ve been very slack covering things I’ve been working on and events I’ve attended and so on. While this particular event was a while ago it spawned some significant projects that have kept me occupied the past few months so ultimately it is worth covering for the very least to provide context for some things I’m currently working on. Anyway onwards!

So how I came to know about Brisbane Brick Event kinda came from a little bit of misfortune. After finishing work one day I started walking to my bus stop and before reaching the stop witnessed my bus pass by me walking, arrive at the stop and leave just before I could reach it. Looking at the bus leave slightly frustrated by the timing of it all I noticed the advertisement for the Brisbane Brick Event the coming weekend.

So been a fan of LEGO and having a weekend free I went along and was pleasantly surprised by the  range and intricacy of the models and dioramas on display. I think some photos are in order 🙂

Among the dioramas was one booth that particularly stood out to me, that of my (now) friend Bailey whom had a display showing various historical pieces from LEGO. From the wooden toys LEGO made before plastic bricks, to vintage bricks, to modern plastic granulate used in the manufacture of modern bricks.

At work or the past 6 months or more I’ve been stepping back from an electronic engineering type role and moving more to mechanical design (I do still so schematic reviews, and design some electronics occasionally though). Specifically I’m been learning a lot about plastic injection moulding which is a manufacturing process used throughout almost every consumer product now days. So coming across Baileys display I realised that there is a lot of interesting history behind how the Lego brick is now produced today that I had never stopped to consider.

The process seems like it should be straightforward right, LEGO gets plastic, puts it into a mould and makes their iconic brick. But in actual fact the manufacturing process is far more complex and riddled with many problems that need to be addressed. A brief example of this is the research involved with selecting the brick shape with the appropriate amount of mating force such that a child could take two bricks apart but also that the bricks held together sufficiently. 4 prototypes were actually made which are known as ABCD bricks (each have a letter stamped on a stud) which have a different mating forces. In the end LEGO decided to go with the C brick making it the basis for all modern brick designs. Researching and collecting some items that illustrate said issues has now become an interesting side project of mine now as you’ll see in some future posts 🙂