THP Hacker Bio: Bradley Worley


Somehow we picked two people in a row who are working on lab equipment as part of The Hackaday Prize. This is just a coincidence; we’re picking hackers who we think will be quite interesting to learn about.

Meet [Bradley Worley]. His contest entry is PyPPM, a Proton Precession Magnetometer which will be used for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments. The “Py” at the beginning reflects the use of the Python API for control.

Let’s see what he’s all about:


Image Source

I do a bit of everything… guitar, swimming, programming, and the like. But mainly electronics. I started playing with transistor audio circuits in college, and cut my teeth on vacuum tube audio when I had a chance to repurpose an old Eico 460 oscilloscope into a guitar amp. From there, it was on to Nixie tubes, 8-bit micros, etc… I love it all. [Image Source]

What is Your Profession?

I’m an analytical biochemistry graduate student at the University of Nebraska. Most of my work revolves around multivariate statistics.

What is Your Passion?

Learning. To learn how something works, I have to build it, or at least peer inside it: I accidentally broke my parents’ video camera as a kid, and within thirty minutes I was already asking to take it apart…

Piece of Equipment You'd Go "Office Space" On?

I’m the honorary sysadmin for my research group, which means I had to keep an eight-year-old Beowulf cluster from giving up the magic smoke. One day, I took the main node off the rack for a drive upgrade, and it stopped POST’ing. I almost grabbed a wrench right then…

Favorite Operating System?


OS/2 Warp. (Ha! Just kidding, I’m a GNU/Linux guy.)

Favorite Bench Equipment?

agilent-2000-seriesI had an Agilent MSO-X 2000-series oscilloscope for a year, and had to sell it for rent money. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss that beautiful, beautiful scope…

Favorite Piece of Silicon?

I’m a bit of a hipster when it comes to the AVR 8-bit micro: I designed for it before Arduino was cool… ;)

Favorite Programming Language?

I always joke that my native language is C, but I’m decent at English too. Python is a close second.

Three Projects Before You Die?

This list changes daily, and picking just three is nearly impossible, but here goes:

  1. The one true headphone amp: USB 2.0 Asynchronous Audio on an FPGA, 24/192 R/2R DAC, CFB output opamps, the works. Only then could I ever justify buying a pair of Senny HD-800 cans!
  2. An all-discrete self-oscillating class-D audio amplifier, just for grins and giggles.
  3. 1969 Corvette Stingray: But not just any ‘ray, it’d have to be a long-term fixer-upper.

Skill You Wish Everyone Would Learn?

Communication. You can be the most brilliant person on Earth, but if you can’t communicate your ideas clearly, it’s moot.

How Did You Pick Your THP Project Idea?

I love nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and I want to share that love by making NMR experiments easily accessible to the hacker/maker community.

Any Tough Stuff You Need Advice On?

The toughest parts of my project come at the interface of the chemistry/physics happening in the sample and the engineering happening in the circuit. For example, designing magnetic field gradient coils (and driving those coils) for low-field NMR systems isn’t particularly well-documented… Any practical advice on the best amplifier topologies for controlling the current flowing through a beefy inductor would be greatly appreciated.

THP Project You'd Like Someone Else to Build?

Image by Jeff Dahl; CC BY-SA 3.0

A mass spectrometer, for sure. The engineering in such a piece of instrumentation is phenomenal.

Your Life in Exactly 5 Words?

Seriously, in just five words?

What Else Ya' Got?

I’ve been a Hackaday addict for years now, so getting featured because of THP is pretty awesome. Hi mom!

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