Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 3D printer in a lab.

Dr. Steve Kurti's TTinvent graciously sponsored our lab with a two month rental of an Afinia 3d printer. This thing really unlocked a creative process that he explores in his podcast.

I found out about 3d printers after reading on low cost air sensors that can be built by hacking together arduino and other sensor parts. Those are part of the larger MAKER movement and 3d printers are an important key to start the uninitiated.

The 3d printer technology unlocks that creative spirit in us all. After a brief browse on Thingiverse or other 3d model search websites, anyone would want to print something. 
My experience with those websites was like my experience with Napster in 1999; I couldn't get enough.  But, 3d printing is more than the "Download and Listen" process.  If Napster had the same effect as Thingiverse, we would have millions of new musicians creating more music.  That may
have been a minor outcome from Napster, but Thingiverse takes a step beyond that and lures you in. Before you know it, you are modding and designing your own models. 
I'm writing this blog to credit TTinvent for helping me get started with the 3d printing process. I used the TTinvent printer to print all sorts of useful things for our Environmental Microbiology Research Laboratory at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health Center for Community Resilience. 
Here are just a few borrowed and created models:

A Pipette stand:

A cuvette for an old spectrophotometer

A mobile phone adapter for an old microscope

A 20 well plate that fits in a 100mm petri dish (print in ABS and its autoclavable!)

A 100ml fill line cup for a dilution bottle.

A set of glasses for the LLU writing center.

In fact, the most useful things I have printed are for the lab. Everything else was mostly exploring or playing or hobbyish. One of my favorite prints was the Octopus. My kids played with it for 4 days before breaking it and losing all the leg pieces.  That's 3 days longer than most toys.

Global Site for IWRM: Integrated Water Resources Management

The Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) of the Coachella Valley was a complicated process. A single water user would have a hard time jumping in and making sense of it all. There are resources for Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) to use, but most people would require advocates or a third party to interpret all of the "IRWMPese".  How can this process be simplified to truly advocate with the DACs?

The IRWMP process offered me a glimpse of the vast landscape we created for our unique drinking water delivery system and wastewater management system in California. The website for the Coachella Valley IRWMP says it all. There are a huge amount of drafts, presentations, participant lists, budgets and maps. Keep in mind that this is for only the Coachella Valley region ( about 5 water districts).

My experience with the IRWMP was summarized in a  report on their website:  That report is referred to as an appendix and is on page 127 of that appendix PDF.  Our report and work contributed to more of the reports in the DAC section. Our work with the "Non-Profits" El Sol and Pueblo Unido is described in that DAC section. Those non-profits are the key to any single water user's understanding of the process and should be the first resource.

The California IRWMP process is large and  unnecessarily complicated for the smallest of communities. California isn't alone in the IRWMP tedium. It's a public process that has evolved over time and is internationally known. The World Bank and WHO have sites on it and there is now a global movement to better understand and advocate for the disadvantaged.  The Global Water Partnership has a great optimistic definition of the process:

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

What we experienced in the Coachella Valley is no different from what goes on internationally. The GWP is a good resource to gain external perspective on our own internal processes. They have a road map of sorts and help us understand this necessary .....process.

Friday, April 3, 2015


3D printed glasses from thing 22128. I modded them to say "Career Services"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prezi on Community Mapping

Here is a link to a prezi that we gave on Community Mapping.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


A UN special envoy visited the United States in February 2011. Catarina de Albequerque made several recommendations about access to water and sanitation as a human right. The UN report has many striking paragraphs and sections; typical phrases and descriptions for the developing world, not so typical for our California home.

As usual, the human right to water was the most popular theme. It went to Sacramento and in  2012 was passed as Assembly Bill 685 guaranteeing the human right to water. That was a successful bill,inspired by Dr. Albequerque's visit and a political movement of water access folks.

Despite all the energy around drinking water, there wasn't much ground gained for the  human right to sanitation. There are still many California residents who do NOT have access to functioning sanitation. The UN report recommends placing the human rights to water and sanitation equally at the center of policy formulation.

As topics go, water is always more popular than sanitation. The UNMD goal for water is met for most nations while many have not met the sanitation goal. I saw this popularity first hand in the Haiti disaster response where most first responding NGOs focused on water while leaving millions without any place to deposit their feces. Clean water advocates need to keep this trend in mind. Drinking water is important, but drinking water is also contaminated by feces. Sanitation should be addressed before water disinfection.

My reason for writing this note is to focus on one important quote from the UN report:
"In the United States, it is often the poorest and the most marginalized groups that lack access to sanitation. Without proper sanitation, human excreta contaminate drinking water sources, with severe public health implications." 
This is true for the Eastern Coachella Valley, some parts of the Western Coachella Valley and other areas with wastewater infrastructure built to accommodate temporary homes and not the multi-family living quarters that use the infrastructure.

This is also true for the homeless of urban California. Tim in Sacramento calls himself the "Sanitation Technician". He maintains rudimentary latrines for homeless people and says that he is motivated by the women.  He hauls the sewage himself with his bicycle. I expect a similar situation is here in Loma Linda and San Bernardino. We have a homeless population close to what exists in Sacramento.  I wonder if anyone is doing what Tim does.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Balloon Mapping workshop on Loma Linda Campus

We had  five people participate in the first balloon mapping workshop on Loma Linda Campus. Many people asked "what are you doing?". Nobody seemed to threatened by the process. One major strength that Balloon Mapping has over Aerial Mapping with a quadcopter/RC plane is that balloon mapping is participatory. Everyone has a role in these community mapping workshops. There is a line to hold, a route to scout, photos to take or the public relations required for the many questions.  Aerial mapping with an RC powered device is less participatory as much of the technology is considered to be "hands off".

The camera was set for shooting a photo every two seconds for a good 30 minutes.  We used a canon 260sx with the KAPUAV lua loaded in the CHDK software. I then used Microsoft ICE to throw a few pictures together.  Here is a stitched photo of the LLU Globe (click the photo to zoom in).  More will come later.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Balloon Aerial Mapping BRIEF WORKSHOP

From http://publiclab.org/wiki/kite-balloon-hybrid

A NEW Community Mapping Approach : Balloon Mapping
DATE/TIME: 10/29/14 - 0800 
LOCATION:  Evans Hall turnout in Loma Linda University off of Anderson
24785, Stewart St. Loma Linda, CA 92354
Meet by the Loma Linda University sign in the grass. My grey truck will be nearby.

Balloon (and Kite) photography is a participatory technique used to acquire aerial photographs and qualitative data from participants. It is a fun outdoor activity that takes a little planning and produces a lot of images. It has been used to document contamination from the BP oil spill, neighborhood environmental health issues, urban development issues and many other topics.  The unique thing about balloon mapping is that it requires a team approach and is therefore a qualitative method. Researchers can acquire lots of relevant information from the planning and organizing phase; these facilitate conversations, explanations and justifications for why you would want to photograph sometime from the sky. The most important component of this method is that it is participatory and it generates many different types of data that can be used to advocate for communities.

This first workshop is setup to simply introduce the idea and test fly a balloon with a camera attached. We will meet at Loma Linda University and then travel to a nearby mapping location that doesn't have a lot of obstacles for the tethered balloon.  Come along if you want to collaborate with us on using this method. We will fly some custom designed Mylar balloons and introduce everyone to the general technique. It's really easy!  Later workshops will take the data and generate maps, fly a drone for aerial photography and explore some other techniques.

8am: Meet on the grass and organize transportation to the mapping site (My truck has 6 seatbelts)
8:15am: Travel to the site and prep the equipment and talk to everybody.
8:30am: Fly the ballon
9am: return to LLU

Contact me with any questions: