Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This Blog has MOVED

The BioBus blog is now here. Thank you!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Microscopes On-Line

This was a really big week!

First, announcements for the inaugural Open Bus were posted, and a mailing list was established to spread the word. Sign-up to stay in the know.

Second, the new website gets more and more hits everyday - 100 hits on Wednesday. Martin Halla has volunteered to expand and develop the site.

Third, Andy Gerson of Olympus delivered a new microscope and camera!

Fourth, I found out that I can get fresh karp fish scales every Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fifth, I had my first student on the bus today, and together we recorded the first cells to be imaged on the bus!

Sixth through I'm-going-to-stop-counting now: Ublip donated a GPS tracker, Fetch Softworks and Marware donated software, and the BioBus Facebook group is going strong!

Please spread the word about the open bus - especially to K-12 students and teachers! I had a meeting with my friend Laura today and we think we can get enough footage for a short, 5 minute video piece about the bus to use on the website and other promotional material.

Want to know "why karp-fish?" and "whats with their scales?" OHHHHH you're gonna have to work for that one.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Revamped Website

I am very proud of the new website! It is still very light on content, but the basic structure is there and ready to build on. It took me about 12 hours to make, in the process of which I learned some basic java script and flash animation.

Please send me your comments and suggestions - or better yet, please let me know if you might have time to help me with the text or images for different parts of the page. No programming necessary, especially just for helping with text.

In other news - a company called ublip has donated a year of free web-based vehicle tracking. Thanks to my home-town pal Andy Turner for suggesting them! I will be putting a map on the web site that will show the current location of the bus so people can see where I am (as well as where I've been!). In addition, the lovely folks at Marware donated a copy of their great project management software called ProjectX that I hope will help me stay organized with the different parallel tasks, contacts, and volunteers

I had lunch today with a friend of a friend at teacher's college. We had a great chat about the project and she gave me some very good ideas and reinforced some of my ideas. I got very excited about the idea of developing some database software that will allow students to access experiments performed by students at different schools, with the hope that past students might help out current students.

It is amazing how generous people have been so far with their time and their money. But I am still badly in need of people on the ground helping me on the bus - there is SO much to do. Please send me a note if there is anything you think you might be able to help with - even a couple hours a week would be great.

Finally, prompted by Emily's visit later in February, I plan on having the first open-to-public tour of the bus. By this time I should have two working microscopes and some fun cell samples to play with!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wind Power

The bus is back in front of Rubulad again - there is a party tonight, hopefully no one will puke on bus. I think I might get some free decorations though! We'll see tomorrow.

The wind turbine is back up. I've getting a lot of comments on it - all positive. Well, except a group of guys who asked me if the bus flew backwards because the wind was blowing from behind the bus.

I like that the bus offers such a wide variety of subjects for teaching - not only biology, but physics and chemistry of solar and wind power collection into a battery bank. Then there is the whole automotive side of things, the house electricity setup, the veggie oil system... lots of different things for different interests.

This is a picture of one new and one old limit switch for the transmission air shifter system. These switches tell the electrical system that the transmission has fully engaged into either the forward or the reverse gear before shifting the engine out of neutral. The old one was not working right - when the little button is pressed in by the transmission shifter piston when you shift into reverse, the two terminals you see on the left (new) switch should be electrically connected - this wasn't happening. The transmission is now happy with a new switch in place.

In the process of diagnosing the problem with the limit switches, I got very familiar with the engine electrical junction box. This box has close to 100 terminals, with wires coming from the driver's controls at the front of the bus and from the various engine electrical systems, including the air piston controls and the air piston limit switches. If you have the diagram of what all these terminals are for, you can systematically go through the terminals that you suspect and check them for short circuits and other unruly behavior. While it can be tedious, it is also really fun to be in the 'brain' of the bus. My buses brain is not too big or complicated - new buses have microcircuits that control all of this stuff, and you need to plugin with a computer to do these types of diagnostics.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I had to move the bus today because a British TV series called Skins was shooting at Rubulad and needed the street for the production crew. I like film/TV people in general - they have so much cool equipment and I think also tend to be pretty down-to-earth folk but are pretty creative and interesting still. I held the door for the star (who I guess is 15?) and didn't even know it - although apparently the show is super popular in Britain, and according to Sari, even people who hate everything (music critiques) seem to like this show.

I have some nice pictures of Eddy that I wanted to start posting - he has been helping me SO much over the past couple of weeks. Not only did we do a lot of work on the bus together when it was parked in Philly, he also cooked lots of delicious food! Here is Eddy warming up (and enjoying a brew) next to the wood stove that we worked to reinstall in a slightly different place.

Bio Bus Back in Brooklyn

Last Friday evening the bus rumbled across the Verizano Bridge, around the tight curving BQE, and back home to Brooklyn. All bus systems go - and it is now time to really start working on the lab. Good timing - Olympus has pledged to donate a fantastic digital camera and an inverted phase-contrast / fluorescence microscope to get me going, in addition to the Nikon that had already been donated. I am feeling good and I have a lot of momentum!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Veterans Against War

This great Bus was pulling in for service while I was at Berlin fixing the Bio Bus. Unfortunately I was in the middle of working on my bus and they left before I could say hello!