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If you have ever used the the Electrical  Engineer Library included with Visio, you will quickly learn just how crappy it is. Symbols do not align to the grid, they contain long connectors, and the shapes are just plain unprofessional.  I believe the example image shown in Fig. 1 clearly explains my point. The circuit library I have been slowly building as a result could be useful to ECE students and practicing engineers.  If you are a student and your department is part of the Microsoft Development Network (MSDN), which most are, you can get Visio for free.


Fig.1 Why Visio Library Sucks

The advantages of the PitelSPOT Electrical Shape Library and the PitelSPOT Engineering Template are:

  • Symbols align to a 0.1″ ¬†grid. This grid work great for those small double column articles required in IEEE journals and conference papers.
  • The Engineering Template will setup the grids and snaps ¬†for you. To use, go to File=> New=> New Drawing from Template=> then select PitelSPOTEngineeringTemplate.vst.
  • Symbols are minimal. Use the connector tool to join shapes.

The presently supported shapes are shown in Fig. 2.


Fig. 2. List of Included Electrical Symbols

Version History

The dowloads listed are for free. If  there is a symbol missing, make your request in the comments below. Bribes/gratitude in the form of donations are welcomed via the Paypal link below.


Revenge of the permalink errors.  A had a similar problem happen when I upgraded to 2.7.1, which I posted about here.

Downgrading to WordPress2.7.1 was really simple:

  • Download the previous version.
  • Drag the files into your WordPress installation directory.
  • Log-in into the admin menu.
  • WordPress will request to automatically update your database. Agree to the update.
  • Everything should be back to the way¬†it was. It was for me.

Readers, keep me posted on when this major bug gets resolved. Thanks.



This article covers chapter 5 of my dissertation.

    - Single-Phase Grid Connected Control
    РDirect Digital Synthesis
    - All Digital Phase-Lock Loop
    - Software and Hardware in the Loop Experiments
    РRapid Control Prototypes and System Products

pdf_icon¬†G. Pitel, ‚ÄúFast power converters and rapid digital design,‚ÄĚ UILU-ENG-2008-2509, CEME-TR-2008-02, December 2008, pp. 92-109.





Programs like iTunes, Windows Media Player, Zune etc. organize your music collection by updating the tag structure only. These programs often copy your music collection to a designated folder, leaving duplicates spread across your computer. In addition, these programs fail to establish tagging consistency customized to your taste. For example, consider the person who listens primarily to Classic Rock, but may have a few popular dance tracks for a playlist. They may not want (or even understand) the differentiation between genres like Dance, Techno, Electronic, and Trance. Extending the embedded mp3 tag to the folder/file structure is the simplest, but most often overlooked step in organizing your collection.
The following steps are what I find to be the best ways to organize your mp3 collection:

  1. Establish a set of encoding, tagging, and album art rules and save it as a text file in your top directory. For example: (downloadable version: musiclibarystd_revb)

    ==Music Library Standard Revision A.04==
    Grant Pitel
    Adam Pitel–CODING–
    LAME 3.90.3 Quality: 220 kbps VBR / 44.1KHz / Joint Stereo–TAGGING–
    (Rule 1)ÔŅĹ
    General Folder structure
    Special Folder structures
    <Soundtracks>/<Album>(Rule 2)
    File Naming
    All files must cohere the following format
    <track number> – <artist> – <song title>
    The artist who performs the song goes in the composer tag
    In the artists tag enter “Various Artists” and rename the file such that coheres to the following
    <track number> – <album> – <composer name> – <song title>
    Sound track songs contain “Various Artists” in the artist field.ÔŅĹ
    The file name should neglect this field as follows.
    <track number> – <album> – <song title>(Rule 3)
    Albums with multiple CDs
    The album tag should contain the CD number so it looks like the following
    <album (CD #)>
    Folder structure and file naming remain the same
    – IMAGES –
    (Rule 1) All album art needs to be embedded into the music file
    (Rule 2) Each album directory needs to contain an image of the album cover “folder.jpg”

  2. Download all your music to a temporary holding directory. This directory will be for all your untagged music.¬†The music will automatically be added to the correct file/folder as you’ll see next.
  3. Use Mp3tag to tag, embed album art, and automatically organize the file structure according to the above rules. After tagging the album from Amazon, you can then use that Tag to rewrite the filename and folder structure. Using the above ruleset, the following format string is used in Mp3tag to go from Tag to Filename: “D:\Music\%genre%\%artist%\%album%\$num(%track%,2) – %artist% – %title%” See example video below:
  4. Disable unnecessary tagging features in iTunes and Windows Media Player such as “Retrieve additional information from the internet” and copy library to a new directory.

Please feel free to share any of your music organization methods in the comments below.


Good news, my transactions was accepted–which means I can start letting dissertation chapters¬† trickle out into Internet land. Enjoy.

This article covers chapters 1 and 2 of my disstertation. These chapters cover:

- Dissertation Introduction
- Voltage Source Buck Converter Modeling
- Boost Converter Modeling
- Voltage Source Inverter Modeling

pdf_iconG. Pitel, ‚ÄúFast power converters and rapid digital design,‚ÄĚ UILU-ENG-2008-2509, CEME-TR-2008-02, December 2008, pp. 1-14.




Totally awesome.

The above sums up how I describe my new cell phone, the latest electronic toy added to our menagerie. After  years of merely getting by with a free Motorola Razr, I am now living large with a Nokia N85. As with most Nokia phones worth owning, the N85 is not available from AT & T. It can be purchased unlocked from various online retailers such as

Oh N85, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways cheap bounce house for sale.

  1. The stunning OLED screen is excellent for viewing videos and pictures or playing games.
  2. The combination of FM transmitter and standard headphone jack also makes the N85 a capable music player.
  3. Two cameras are included, the important one being a 5MP camera with dual LED flash and Carl Zeiss lens.¬† This lens is protected by a¬† sliding lens cover that also¬†immediately opens the photography software when¬†engaged. As seen below, the N85′s camera particularly shines in macro shots.
  4. The N85 can also record DVD-quality video (640 x 480 resolution).
  5. An 8 GB microSD card is included, though that is not explicitly stated on’s website. This is more than enough space to hold all of my music, videos, and photographs. At least for¬†now.
  6. I was pleasantly surprised by how small and light the phone is, given all its features.

05042009003   05052006023   05042009010  


terminator404This post adds to the collection of fixes for the dreaded WordPress HTTP 500 and HTTP 404 errors¬† users can encounter after an update . In particular, the article targets the scenerio when default Permalink settings (e.g. work, but not custom structures (e.g.¬† which produce HTTP404 errors.¬†Below, I have summarize solutions that the community has offered and contributed my own fix — as I could not find it anywhere. These solutions are listed in order of frequency they were found.


(1) Go to, click the Default  radio button, Save Changes, restart Apache, verify that post links work, then revert to you original Custom Structure (e.g.  /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/), Save Change, restart Apache, and hopefully it works.

(2) Delete the hidden .htaccess in your WordPress root directory. If your folder has correct write permissions, WordPress will create a new .htaccess, otherwise it will report an error. Fixing write permission depends on you host OS .

(3) Make sure that your Apache settings file httpd.conf  has directory settings similar to

<Directory />
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all

(4)  Make sure that LoadModule rewrite_module modules/ is enabled in Apache setting file httpd.conf (that was what was wrong with my server).

I hope this concise summary was useful. Please do not ask me personally what is wrong with your server as I am not an expert and there are just too many variables involved.  Feel free to discuss your issues amongst other users in the comments.


cat-tree-13While in Oklahoma, Oscar had a small cat tree where he spent a large portion of his time. So much time in fact, that the structural integrity was destroyed by his constant jumping, bouncing, and swinging.

Our first attempt to replace the cat tree with a hardier, taller model proved to be out of our price range, with models starting at $250 going upwards of $500. So Nathan made me a deal. He would build a cat tree/condo when he got his workshop up and running and was able to buy a table saw. So 2 ¬Ĺ years later, here‚Äôs the process:

The Design:

I started by browsing through websites that sell cat trees and condos. From these designs, we came up with several key elements that the tree should include:

  1. Height. An interior decorator had recently helped us finish off our family room. On the left side of the mantle she had place a 7 foot high silk plant. To maintain balance in the room, we decided to build a 7 foot cat tree on the right side of the mantle.
  2. Tail Chasing. Oscar loves to chase his own tail by hanging off ledges. So several ledges were included.
  3. Hiding. Like most cats, Oscar likes to fit into small places, where he feels safe and warm. When he is a little unsure of things, he likes to climb to a spot as high as possible, allowing him to keep an eye on things. Right now, that spot is the cabinets above the fridge. We would like to go back to that point of blissful ignorance when he doesn’t walk around on the kitchen counters.


After several trips to Menards for ideas, we came up with the following list of materials:

  • 12 inch concrete form
  • 3 2 foot x 6 foot 3/4inch plywood boards
  • 16 ¬Ĺ feet of junk 2x4s (already had from previous homeowners)
  • 16 ¬Ĺ feet of 8 inch PVC pipes
  • 4 packages of sisal rope
  • 60 feet of carpet (from remnant carpet section)
  • 5 Long lag bolts (with end cut off to make double ended screws)
  • 6 Lag bolts with large torx head
  • 1 foot of fabric for cat hammock
  • Lots of glue sticks and staplescat-tree-01

The Build:

Nathan did most of this section.

  1. Columns: Nathan cut the PVC pipe into 4 sizes: 3 ‚Äď 2 feet, 2 ‚Äď 2.5 feet, 1 ‚Äď 3.5 feet, 2 ‚Äď 1 foot. He then fitted the 2×4 pieces inside the PVC pipes and screwed them in. Then he drilled holes for the bolts. I wrapped each pole with either carpet or cat-tree-08sisal rope which was attached with high temperature glue.
  2. Platforms: Nathan cut the platforms into several shapes. Base platform ‚Äď 2 ftx2 ft. Level 1 ‚Äď 2 ft x 2 ft with one corner cut off. Level 2 and Level 3 ‚Äď 2 ft x 1 ft. Level 4 ‚Äď 1 ft x 1ft. Level 4 was originally going to be a concrete form cut in half and placed on the side like a half moon shape but due to stability issues this top level was transformed into a platform. Nathan predrilled holes into the boards.
  3. Concrete form:cat-tree-06 Nathan used a protractor to trace a circle on the outside of the form. He also traced and cut two more circles out of wood to wedge into the top and bottom of the form. The inside floor and the outside of the form were covered in carpet.

Finished Product:

Oscar LOVES his new cat tree. He spends a great deal of time chasing his tail on the ledges. He sleeps inside the concrete form and play with the toys hanging off the ledges.



bodum For the holidays, Grant bought our mom a set of Luigi Bormioli Duo double-wall drinking glasses. These glasses have a two thin layers of glass separated by an air pocket. This construction apparently provides superior insulation and fends off condensation. Bodum has a similar range of glasses. Reviews of these glasses from all over praise them for keeping their cold drinks cold, and their hot drinks hot for much longer than standard glasses. But how much better are these double-wall glasses? I decided to put them to the test.


The first thing you’ll notice, these glasses are extremely light compared to your standard pint glass; roughly half the weight. They use a much thinner glass and as such, are much more fragile. I would not recommend putting these glasses in the dishwasher. Another neat thing you’ll notice is that the inside layer of glass does not touch the outside layer except at the top. This characteristic makes your drink look like it’s suspended in air–pretty neat. The lack of condensation is also a nice side-effect of this construction. Given that I’m doing this experiment in the middle of winter, I don’t think condensation will be too noticeable on any glass. Finally, having the double-wall construction means your hand won’t get cold (or hot) from your beverage and vice-versa.

Initial conditions and Procedure:

  • Glass 1: Luigi Bormioli Duo double-wall drinking glass
  • Glass 2: Triumph Brewing Company pint glass
  • Beer: Yuengling Traditional Lager (…it’s cheap)
  • Beer chilled in fridge for 16 hours. Beer chilled an additional 25 minutes in the freezer prior to measurements to increase the temperature range.
  • Both beer glasses stored at the same temperature.
  • Ambient room temperature kept at 71 F +/-¬†2 F.
  • Equivalent amounts of beer poured into each glass and left for 75 minutes
  • Temperature probe placed at roughly the same spot in each glass, not touching the side.
  • Beer temperature measured every 20 seconds for 75 minutes: 225 total data points each
  • Beer consumed — for purely scientific reasons

Collecting Data:



For some strange reason, the starting temperatures were about 2 degrees off. The figure below shows temperature versus time for the standard glass, in red, and the double wall glass, in blue. I also plotted a linear trendline with its corresponding equation on the plot. The temperature change for the double wall glass was significantly less than that of the standard glass.

Figure: Temperature Rise


Based on the results above, the double wall glass provided approximately 30% better insulation than the standard drinking glass. The bottom line: after 75 minutes of collecting data, the beer in the double wall glass was much more enjoyable, again, from a purely scientific point of view.


23660 In an effort to make my life easier I decided to put PitelSPOT on its own dedicated server. In the past, all my web applications were run from my workstation, which has obvious disadvantages. I appologize to all those cutoff mid-article because I was doing some routine MATLAB/Vista reboot.  I wanted to share the hardware specifications, server features, and installed web applications.

Intel Core i7 2.66 GHz, 130W, Quad-Core with hyperthreading (8 core equivalent)
6 GB of DDR3 memory
two 1 TB  Hitachi hard drives
250 GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive
ASUS P6T Motherboard (16-phase VRM… covered in my dissertation)
rackmount case with 5 hot-swappable drive bays

Server Features
Shadow Copies – Every modification done to a file is backed up seamlessly. Can restore any intance of the file
Image Restoration – Recover entire OS and installed programs according to bi-weekly intervals
Off -Site Storage РCopy files to external hard drive and store offsite (when I remember).
RemoteApp - Load applications remotely within their own window. All application processing is performed on the server.
Consolidated Storage - All¬†of Sheryl’s and¬†my documents are stored in the same spot, regardless of which computer we use.
Virtual Machine Server - Emulate an entire computer in software

Web Applications
WordPress Version 2.7
Gallery 2.3
Deki-Wiki Virtual Appliance
FTP Site



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