Over the summer, we’ve been setting up Dance Dance Revolution every Friday and Sunday night. During the school year, we usually only play on Friday nights, but since no one has any homework or sets over the weekend in the summer, we’ve added Sunday nights as well. Last Sunday was the first day we tested our homemade DDR mat extensively.
Summary: It works quite well! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well as we had hoped, though it works better than the several-years-old Cobalt Flux mats we have.
Details: We had to do a lot of adjusting to get the screws in the sensors at exactly the right height. (Here’s my post about the sensor design.) If the screws were drilled in too far, the arrow wouldn’t register all the time. But if they weren’t drilled in far enough, the arrow would register randomly even when not pressed. Generally, there was only one or so “pad miss” (when the DDR pad doesn’t register an arrow press properly) for every 100 or so arrows, which isn’t too bad, though it does mess up attempts at full combos, which is when you hit every single arrow in a song. Hopefully we can reduce the number of pad misses even more by adjusting the height of the screws.
It was difficult to make sure all the screws were at the same height, so for the second DDR mat we're building, we're going to modify the sensor design a little. Instead of drilling into the foam weatherstripping, we'll cut gaps in the weatherstripping, and then drill the screws in, using washers or spacers to adjust the height. Once we find the correct number of washers or spacers to use, it will be very easy to make sure all the screws are at the same height. The changes were inspired by the Matrix Sensor design.
Sensor v2, with washers
Sensor v2 prototype
We also probably need to recalibrate the software we use to play DDR on a computer. The new DDR mat tends to register just a little earlier than the old DDR mats, most likely because the sensors are different. Fortunately, there's an option in the DDR software intended to calibrate the sound and arrows to account for input delay. Once we work out most of the kinks with the new DDR mats, we should start seeing a very low number of pad misses, and also better scores!
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!