Updated 2023 Nov 23
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|Photo by Al Loup
||Photo by Marc Haberstroh
Photo by Marion Redd
Square Dance Caller
I call weekly for 3 area square dance clubs, teaching classes from beginner thru A2.
More about square dancing below.
Calling schedule: Rich Reel's Calling Schedule (calendar)
- Square Dance Calling Notes,
and host to several international square dance email discussion lists: sd-callers, challenge-sd, lgcwsd, gca
(please let me know if you'd like to join).
I host these websites:
This popular 'app' brings a lot of traffic to ALL8.com: Tap for BPM Beats Per Minute
"View Source" to see how I did it.
Still decent Google ranking: search "tap bpm".
I'm a multi-disciplinary product design engineer and pretty good at making things.
Hobbies have overlapped with career interests my entire life.
While I work as a full-time employee, I'm completely independent owning significant capital equipment and space to work, ideal for an early startup.
I'm social, outgoing and love to help others learn, grow, gain experience and be successful.
I can frustrate some managers that wish to steer me toward high-value tasks;
balance with low-level tasks is actually essential to my health and happiness.
I've been with Ultima Genomics since July 2023.
Before that, 12 years at Genapsys which is now defunct, and before that with Applied Biosystems
now ThermoFisher Scientific for 21 years.
I've worked on a wide array of projects supporting scientists and engineers with many in the past 30 years in some way connected to DNA sequencing.
One particularly successful project was the (now obsolete) ABI PRISM® 3700 Genetic Analyzer
which significantly sped up sequencing the first human genome in the very early 2000's.
In addition to building the first proof-of-concept unit, I designed the final instrument's detector,
wrote firmware for instrument control, and had a hand in the detector design of its successor,
the 3730, only recently discontinued.
I do two basic types of work in R&D...
"Ph.D. scientists tell me what they want; I get it for them."
I prefer a smaller team with others in very different disciplines.
With a minimum of discussion, I quickly take analytical instruments from concept to prototype, and sometimes to production.
- Instrument design/development (most recently)
- Fast prototyping to support research scientists (most of my career)
Continuing education is a passion taking 30% or so of my time including numerous special classes, seminars, good ol' paper books
and all manner of on-line resources, usually in parallel.
I regularly attend local trade shows in optics, electronics, embedded, semiconductor, plastics, medical device and machine tool.
I've been focused on practical technology for a long time to be ready ahead of anticipated need.
I believe I have ADHD.
Too much of my early education wasn't right for my learning style,
a classic late bloomer.
The internet has profoundly accelerated my learning process; I'm rapidly 'catching up'.
||Senior Staff Systems Engineer
||Instrument R&D, industrial control, sample prep product development
||Principal Engineer (recently promoted)
||Instrument R&D: DNA sequencing and sample prep product development
||Life Technologies / Applied Biosystems
||Sr Staff Engineer Electrical
||Instrument R&D: HPLC,
CE, Carbohydrates, DNA sequencing and sample prep
||Ultrasonic Systems Inc
||R&D, manufacturing, test, field service
||Switching power supply and UV measurement instrument design
||Modern Office Machines
||Commercial copy machine field service
||Vending machine repair, RO water dispenser installation
||The Ohio State University
||Semiconductor processing equipment repair/tune
||Pinball machine and jukebox sales and service
Perhaps with the exception of optics, most here is active, current and fast.
My engineering lab and machine shop support doing much of it at home.
(See Prototype Shop below.)
I maintain my own personal licensed copies of Solidworks*, Altium Designer*, LabVIEW and AutoCAD (* = subscription active)
for work and home projects.
- Systems Engineer - Innovator for 20+ years with key roles on high-profile projects.
Can conceive, design, build, test and deliver complete working systems faster than many engineering teams.
Conservative yet ambitious with a good percentage of designs working the first time.
Can quickly troubleshoot system-wide problems and communicate solutions to a wide audience from highly technical to completely non-technical.
I learn quickly and understand deeply to solve tough problems others struggle with.
Self-driven. Customer focused.
I thrive on ambitious projects with a moving goalpost.
I prefer designs that can adapt to change and strive to deliver second-generation caliber the first time.
- Optics - 10 years and patents - Successful designs include
diffraction limited multi-laser piezo-scanning confocal single molecule fluorescence detection breadboards,
and fast-frame-rate EMCCD
imaging with TIRF
or epi illumination, high-sensitivity absorbance and fluorescence detection systems (and one doing both simultaneously),
detectors for CE,
micro-fluidic systems, and a 3D fluorescent plume imager for optimizing capillary tip shape in a sheath flow
Decent experience in very high NA imaging and non-imaging optics, complex multi-component aberration
multi-pass/multi-stop dichroics, and aspheric lenses and mirrors.
- Mechanical - 20+ years - Promoted to Principal level at Genapsys largely from mechanical contributions.
Solidworks since 2009, AutoCAD since 1990 - Designs in robotics, fluidics, micro fabrication, vacuum, thermal control and optical mechanics.
I used an electronic CAD tool to route the 2-layer pneumatic/fluidic manifold central to Genapsys' second-generation sequencing instrument.
30+ years making functioning prototypes allows me to bring manufacturing insight into my designs.
- Electronics - 40+ years deep experience starting at age 9. First design from concepts at age 13.
I have a 'mechanical' way to visualize the dynamics of complex networks of electronic components that allows me to innovate entirely new circuit topologies,
if not simply appreciate the brilliance of good designs.
Over 10 years I did nearly all of Genapsys' electronics (outside their sensor chip) including concept, system design, specifications, circuit design and PCB layout for all boards in all products.
I was intimately involved in the design, and significantly contributed to the development, of the on-chip circuit at the core of Genapsys' DNA sense technology.
Complete analog/digital/uC design.
Switching power supply and feedback control expert.
Dozens of PCB layouts: up to 10 layers in Altium Designer and to 6 layers in various free layout tools.
I've routed USB3, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort in Altium Designer and passed EMC the first time.
Extensive libraries with full color high-detail 3D mechanical models - many made from scratch in Solidworks.
Assembly, test (and test software - see below), blazing fast component level troubleshooting and
SMD rework at the tiniest scale (under magnification) means I won't need a technician.
100% RoHS since 2009.
Worked with a number of PCB fab and assembly vendors and one layout design service firm.
I have a professional quality, fully equipped, ESD-safe
workstation at home with a base set of mid-level test equipment including EMC testing.
I've made simple 2 layer photo etched PCBs in a day from design files (CNC drill, custom routed shape, hand soldered vias).
Successful designs include low noise and drift analog sensor/audio/video signal path,
scientific grade CCD interface,
complete switching power supplies from mW to KW, and to 30KV, from discrete components as well as today's integrated ICs,
with and without custom magnetics.
Exposure to SoC/FPGA/CPLD
and IC AMS (Analog Mixed Signal) design.
I've done two PC builds recently including one optimized for CAD (2018 for work) and another for CAD and
ML (2016 for home).
Though a HAM (KA8VIF, not active), I've had no projects in RF nor
using an FPGA as I've yet to encounter a requirement exceeding what I can do with a microcontroller and firmware.
- Firmware / Embedded - 40+ years, near continuous experience since 1978 - Hard real-time,
Bare metal from scratch -
(6800 and 68701 before and through high school),
and some C++ on many processors,
lately also on Arduino (UNO, Nano) including for a demanding time-critical application.
I regularly write dense and compact low-level hand-optimized (efficient!) code that's easy to verify for guaranteed performance.
The code is clean, organized, well documented and very easy to maintain.
Projects include high performance control algorithms, human/computer interface, script engine, real-time instrument control, multitasking,
multi-system coordination, multi-servo loops including hand-offs between them, wide variety of motor drive,
PID temperature/pressure/flow/motion control,
communication protocol, data collection, data processing and efficient
Compared to others, this is arguably my strongest area.
I make processors with next to no resources do amazing things with rock-solid reliability.
Brief exposure to ADI Blackfin and
NVIDIA Tegra2 / Windows CE.
At Ultima, I got pretty deep into ACS
industrial control, tuning a variety of axes (brushless DC, linear, stepper) and writing real-time multi-thread scripts in their
ACSPL+ language with
Beckhoff and other EtherCAT modules.
- Software - 20+ years - Very accomplished LabVIEW,
some C, C++ and now Python (including Jupyter Notebook)
- Soft real-time instrument control from PC with highly visual and easy-to-use script engine,
numerous and varied
CCD camera control
low level commands), data analysis, some 2D and 3D image processing,
and a range of web, DOS and other utilities.
I wrote two standalone simulators completely from scratch, each in a few weeks: 2D electric field, single molecule kinetics.
Still adding to an audio editor application started in 2003 that has some unique visualizations and advanced audio processing algorithms.
My forte is quickly building specialized in-house software tools, with and without accompanying hardware,
to enable a technical team to understand problems and find solutions.
Through the Raspberry Pi,
actively and intensely learning
and have begun application development using Tk
Genapsys originally hired me as a LabVIEW
programmer to write their instrument control software.
I supported Genapsys as the sole developer for well over a year, writing and maintaining a codebase for instrument control,
data collection and test as well as special research not supported by the company's main-line software.
With "extra effort" I rewrote and condensed earlier LabVIEW applications into a single application that
supported all products and a variety of R&D platforms and special projects by loading a matching configuration file.
The configuration file was easily created within the application itself and saved significant software development time targeting new applications.
With typical needs, I provided UI and script-based control and data collection to new projects "for free",
i.e. with no additional resource and no hit to the schedule on top of a heavy workload.
Work a long time in an industry and patents tend to accumulate.
(Patent numbers link to freepatentsonline.com)
Loving work, balancing tasks and feeling a sense of forward progress has allowed me to stay sustainably
close to 100% productivity with little need of a break.
Mixing different things at different times effectively gives me a break from the others and it's been working for quite a while.
My secret is dividing time equally between 'thinking', 'doing', 'education' and 'infrastructure'
without feeling guilty for working "only" 1/4 of the time.
This allows time to be productive, do the right things, stay current, accumulate new skills and research,
purchase, install and maintain strategic capital equipment to greatly expand what can be done quickly.
Working for a company with interesting problems to solve helps too!
I believe accomplishment is fundamentally correlated with organization.
When things are set up with everything needed close by, easy to find and easy to use, doing many things becomes easy.
I hate cleaning and organizing but being organized is critical to sustained productivity with a large accumulation of legacy projects to support.
I maintain private prototype workshops in Hayward and Brisbane with significant additional equipment and assets on the premises where I work.
Everything is paid for and maintained in decent if not excellent working condition.
Also: a second manual milling machine, 2HP 21" metal band saw,
Burr-King belt grinder (which I love!),
small sinker EDM (eats broken taps), CO2 "snow" cleaning and deburring (-80C), 2KW 28KHz ultrasonic welder, diamond grinder,
metal casting (induction, hot pot, furnace), basic wood-working, a full complement of high-quality tooling, inspection and much more.
I keep common materials in stock for rapid turnaround.
My home shop was Genapsys' model shop.
While the team was careful not to weigh me down too much as we grew, I was able to meet everyday needs for special parts and modifications across multiple projects on-the-side,
typically overnight, while maintaining a full workload - in addition to parts for my own deliverables.
- Cold and aluminum TIG welding: ANDELI TIG-250PL
- Injection Molding: Medium Machinery Model 1, 2oz, 12ton (plunger, no screw)
- CNC Abrasive Waterjet Cutter: Wazer from Kickstarter
- 4KW induction metal casting with inert gas and vacuum assist
- Resin 3D Printer: Anycubic Photon with path to high-detail metal casting
Interesting parts over the years include complex flexures, highly polished and fully functional acrylic aspheric lenses and aluminum aspheric mirrors,
thermally bonded pneumatically-actuated microfluidic lab-on-a-chip consumables w 100um channels
(machined COC +
holes in glass as small as 75um (0.003") diameter 1mm (0.040") deep,
numerous sophisticated fluidic and pneumatic manifolds (some used in production),
highly specialized (fully custom) fluidic rotary valves, intricate laser-cut seals
(including cleaning them), gears and machined insulating firebrick.
All machines are set up with high magnification.
Without correction my eyesight is marginal, but with aids, I can confidently "eyeball" within +/-10um (+/- .0005")
and have made whole parts smaller than a millimeter.
I started dancing with Foggy City Dancers in 1995 as a new year's resolution.
I dance at these local clubs.
Square Dance Calling
I call and teach for Ranchero Squares,
Western Star Dancers (Facebook page) and
my new club Swinging 21'ers (Facebook page).
I called for El Camino Reelers until they changed their dance night.
I first picked up a mic at the GCA caller school
at the 1996 IAGSDC Convention in San Francisco.
I didn't do much with calling the first couple years while I focused on Challenge dancing.
My first calling was filling in at a C3 workshop (tape group) with thanks to Pete Herman.
My first real calling was a tip a week of Mainstream at Santa Cruz Squares (currently on hiatus)
with thanks to Neil Heather.
My Santa Cruz Squares tip became a Plus teach tip and I graduated my first dancers 6 months later.
I began calling club nights from the Callerlab Mainstream and Plus program for local clubs August 1998 including
Diablo Dancers (my very first "club night"),
Foggy City Dancers, and
Santa Cruz Squares (as substitute caller).
Diablo Dancers was the most supportive of my calling in the critical first years.
I graduated my second bunch of Diablo Dancers Plus dancers April 2000.
October 2003 I accepted an unexpected offer to teach Western Star Dancers'
beginner class which is the moment I say I became a "real caller" calling regularly.
Since then I've been calling 3 nights a week on average with a variety of additional
engagements including dances, club nights, review tips, demo tips, picnics, parades, and even
while on tour in China.
Since my first Advanced class in 2006, with loving support from El Camino Reelers,
I called a tip or so per week of Advanced until joining Ranchero Squares as club caller in Apr 2018.
2009 marked some important 'firsts':
Me and Calling
Square dance calling is a unique blend of music, kinetics, puzzle solving, teaching, showmanship and of course social skills.
I primarily 'sight call', which is making up choreography on the fly from a menu of calls the dancers know then observing the dancers to
resolve the square allowing true connection between caller and dancers.
As square dancing doesn't so-much reward in dollars (but does reward!),
I'm thankful I have a good job that allows me to enjoy it without having to make a living at it.
I have no plans to make calling any more than a hobby, albeit a serious one.
My joy is teaching, both dancers and callers.
When I sense interest, I organize a
Newer Caller Workshop for local budding talent.
Calling is just one aspect of square dancing that has been an important catalyst for my own personal growth and
development, in more ways, and for far longer than I ever imagined.
Random videos of my calling (YouTube)
Had a memorable 50th birthday party with live band and caller Darren Gallina.
YouTube: Square Dancing at Rich Reel's 50th Birthday Party
ALL8.com Web Site
ALL8.com was started as a place to keep my square dance calling notes.
Instead of writing on scraps of paper, I write it here.
I invite you to discover my 'secrets'.
I hand-code all HTML using Notepad and/or Textpad for the PC
to ensure pages are light-weight and work internationally.
- Music editing, mastering, composition and recording
- CW dancing and some ballroom (East/West Coast Swing) ... getting rusty lately
- Wood working / home improvement
- Education - any and all subjects, with interests broadening every year
"Never seek for love.
Those that seek for love only manifest their own loneliness.
Only the loving discover love and they never have to look for it."
D. H. Lawrence
Please let me know what you think about www.ALL8.com and
of course, ask any question at all.
call me 415-990-6751, see Richard Reel on Facebook