Saturday, December 18, 2004

christmas at sushil villa

Some people have asked if anything's happening for Christmas here in Nepal. Last night, our bosses had Ewan, Nini, and I over for drinks and dinner. First, the engineers put together the plastic christmas tree they'd brought from the US. Then there was a lot of putting up ornaments and lights about both the tree and the living room. It was clear they'd done this before, complete with a 110 volt supply for the UL approved lights. Then, this historic photo was taken.

Work was good this week. Ewan and I spent more time on the brushless DC motors I wrote about first in anything anyone told you about Nepali gin. We'd hoped to get the electric scooter up and running, but we had to settle for the motor violently jumping only 1/32 of a turn right before the fuse failed, sparks were heard, and the controller caught on fire. We still don't know exactly what went wrong, but the sequence of events leading to this conclusion included (a) the manual being available only in Chinese and (b) the previous Nepali mechanics method of "fixing" including, first off, cutting all the connectors off the controller, motor, and auxillary devices (ignition key, brakes, etc). There are 16 wires coming out of the controller. We were following traces on the circuit board and windings in the motor to find out what went where. A beep-on-continuity multimeter was great to have.

We found that multimeter at an electronics store in Kathmandu after discovering Ecosystems's existing multimeter gave different voltage readings depending upon the scale it was set to - big problem. When we were at the store, we got the breakdown on available models' prices. The American-made Fluke-brand multimeter was 13000 rupees (~USD180). This is in a country where the average annual income is under USD200. The guy had two other ones. One he said was Korean for 750 rupees (USD11), and a Chinese one that said "Fuke" on it for 150 rupees (USD2). We said we'd get the Korean one, but when he brought it out, there weren't any circles in the writing's charaters. I told him the thing wasn't Korean, it was Chinese. Not an argument for court, but he bought it and admitted it was Chinese too - but made by a Korean company. Whatever. We didn't feel like betting 20 hours of work on a 2 dollar multimeter, so the 11 dollar one made us feel better either way.

Yesterday evening Ewan and I saw there was a bubbling spring outside the office's gate, where there had been no bubbling spring before. I told our boss, and she came out to take a look at it and we agreed it was a broken water main. I said "well, then, let's call the city and have them send a crew out". We looked at each other and had a good long laugh about that one - city maintainance crews! Tip your waitress.


At 1:23 PM, Anonymous said...

Will, maya here. in memphis. at work. looking at your blog, and generally thinking "damn, will looks tanned, thin, and well-rested."

At 6:40 PM, mike lin said...

damn will, i'm sittin' here thinkin', "what the hell am i doing in jersey?!?" it smells like pickles and exhaust and it's freezing! glad to see you're doin' well (and lookin' mighty fine).


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