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Snap, crackle, prank

Derek Mitchell
2/16/2011 01:00 PM EST

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robbie
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re: Snap, crackle, prank
robbie   4/1/2011 7:00:07 PM
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My first job out of school was for a hardware virtual reality company (mid 90's). We had a simulated control panel, consisting of large metal open frame (~6' high by 8' wide), with a 2-axis cable-driven panel (~18"x18") able to traverse the entire area of the frame, under control of large servo motors at the bottom corners of the frame. The goal was to be able to simulate a large control panel (such as an aircraft instrument system), using the smaller panel with a set of generic switches and buttons. To do this, the 18x18" panel had to be able to move very quickly, and could go from standstill on one side of the large frame to the other in less than 1 second. The panel was also pretty heavy, since it had its own set of small servos and controls for the switches and instruments. I had a test program that enabled me to command the panel to random XY locations within the frame, and set acceleration/velocity profiles. We had a VP who used to come in to the lab and busybody the engineers over trivial matters - one time she'd actually made somebody count the sheets in a 500-sheet ream of paper, to ensure the paper company wasn't ripping us off. Generally, she didn't have a clue technically. One day after having had enough of her antics in preparation for a customer demo, I decided to have the system "fail" two hours before the demo. While she was berating one of the other engineers, I ran the random-location program at 10x speed, with the servos going full bore, and the switches on the panel randomly re-orienting themselves under control of their local mini-servos. With the metal frame shaking under the accelerations, I screamed "The Flux Capacitor's blown! We need to shut down the system!". My colleagues immediately got it, and jumped up to "help" me. We received orders from the VP to fix it in time for the demo, and then she went to lunch. We went to lunch ourselves, and I reported after that I'd replaced the Flux Capacitor, and all was well...

Sheetal.Pandey
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re: Snap, crackle, prank
Sheetal.Pandey   3/31/2011 11:10:37 AM
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That would have been really funny at the same time learning.

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