Design Con 2015
Breaking News
Engineering Investigations

The transient that wasn’t there

William Ketel
9/29/2010 06:57 PM EDT

 81 comments   post a comment
NO RATINGS
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
kfield
User Rank
Blogger
Managerial exercise
kfield   9/30/2013 2:28:12 PM
NO RATINGS
And fumbling around in the dark!!!

kalpak
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
kalpak   10/8/2010 10:01:11 AM
NO RATINGS
In an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, for managers, "jumping to conclusions" and "running around in circles" etc are the only way to get some physical exercise.

DBG2
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
DBG2   10/5/2010 1:35:26 AM
NO RATINGS
Evidently your boss was made manager because he was incompetent at engineering. ;-) A perfect example of the first rule of debugging... never assume you *know* what the problem is until you've actually fixed it!

ReneCardenas
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
ReneCardenas   10/4/2010 9:53:20 PM
NO RATINGS
I like this story because it resonates with many EE, since it describes many projects where imaginary ghosts were chased because those “were the likely problems observed previously”. Tradition permeates in many forms.

Test_engineer
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
Test_engineer   10/2/2010 7:36:57 PM
NO RATINGS
The curse of all test engineers are consulting "engineers" (so-called). . Most have a unique gift: they can peddle BS, but not make it sound like BS.

WKetel
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
WKetel   10/2/2010 12:18:20 AM
NO RATINGS
The system being "a bit more accurate" was due to using a 12 bit A/D converter instead of a 10 bit one, and using kelvin connections for the resistance measurements, which added a bit of stability. Also, I used a power supply that was good for about 50% more current than I needed. The "big deal" is that products for the industrial market, unlike consumer electronics, must stay within specifications for over a year, without pausing for recalibration. The extra money spent on providing a bit better accuracy was less than $200, I believe, which is less than the cost of one warranty service call to re-calibrate a machine. Providing the additional accuracy is sometimes not only handy, but also vital. Another time, later on in my career, we built a set of test machines for a customer who had refused to accept a set of machines for the same application, which had been built by another company. Those machines "had come fairly close to meeting some of the specifications" was the way it was explained to me. But those machines were still sitting on the builders loading dock, not paid for, when our machines were installed, running production, and paid for in full.

Robert.Reavis
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
Robert.Reavis   10/1/2010 11:53:32 PM
NO RATINGS
When I hear of stories about a VIP babysitting an engineer I remember a story Red Adair told during a Congressional hearing. It seems Mr. Adair was called to put out an oil well fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Out there to "help" him was a person from the EPA who was telling Adair what he could not do because it might cause pollution. Never mind that the well was on fire, spewing oil to feed the fire, causing further pollution, and costing money. No, you have to be careful no to cause any pollution. Adair turned to the guy and said, "Since you know so much more about putting out oil well fires than I do, I'll just get out of your way." And then he left the platform in the capable hands of the helper. Well, Adair was called back the next day and the helper was gone. Adair had made his point to Congress quite effectively.

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
re: The transient that wasn’t there
David Ashton   10/1/2010 10:25:42 PM
NO RATINGS
Salio, I think you're being a bit critical...if (eg) the client only needed 6-bit ADC resolution and you've got an 8-bit ADC, why not use it? And if you have not yet had the pleasure of having a manager with just enough technical knowledge to be dangerous (and annoying) then you are bloody lucky!

ylshih
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
ylshih   10/1/2010 4:34:04 AM
NO RATINGS
There are several "amusing" facets to this story worth a comment. First, the manager that "knew" what was wrong, then blamed the engineer for not finding what it really was sooner. Second, the all too common scenario of the VP of Sales (or other executive) that thinks that babysitting an engineer somehow makes things happen faster. Third, the overspecification achieved versus what was requested. I suspect if the VP of sales had overheard that, he probably would have had a fit because the product was now priced too low for its superior specs!

Salio
User Rank
Rookie
re: The transient that wasn’t there
Salio   10/1/2010 3:28:57 AM
NO RATINGS
Karen I agree with you. William what you did I think was just barely meeting what the client had asked for. Was it not in the specs that the testing will be done with both of the stations running? I think we as engineers should let our clients tell us that we have met exceeded their expectations instead of us claiming such. I think it sounds so much better when a client calls up one's boss to say that so and so went above and beyond to finish the job. Maybe your manager who is dissappointed in you should next time maybe not jump the gun. Were the units tested in paralled prior to the client seeing the test? If not, how come?

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Engineering Investigations
Commercial, industrial, and military-grade designs are about more than paper specs. They're about human nature.
Sometimes, it's the mundane things in electrical and electronic devices that make the difference. The strain relief on an air conditioner's line cord saved the day when the unit fell out of the window.
A lack of information on a datasheet lead to system crashes from a hot-swap controller.
An analog engineer and a digital engineer join forces, use their respective skills, and pull a few bunnies out of a hat to troubleshoot a system with which they are completely unfamiliar.
You rarely get anything extra for free. Engineers who work on vision systems know this. But sometimes other people believe that just putting a camera on it constitutes an effective inspection setup.
Flash Poll
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Top Comments of the Week