As we approach Halloween, EE Life brings you tales of horror, extreme current and severed body parts, as engineers tell us their real life horror stories.
**Editor's note: a couple of months back, I asked readers for their best engineering horror stories. Now, as we approach Halloween, EE Life brings you those tales of horror, extreme current and severed body parts, one by one, in terrifying succession. Don't look away....**
In 1968 I was a field engineer with 3M in Los Angeles working on micrographic and duplicating equipment at key accounts. On this day, I was installing one of 3M’s new high speed duplicators at CBS Television City in a rather small and cramped utility room.
This new machine was relatively larger than previous models and operated on 220VAC. After the initial setup, I began running test diagnostics which lead to several required internal adjustments.
As I precariously bent my arm and contorted my hand to reach deep into the bowels of the new machine for the adjustments, the back of my hand contacted the main transformer buss which carried the 220VAC, and wasn’t covered in these early model units.
My body reacted quickly and surely as I literally flew directly upward and backward hitting the wall five feet away with a loud thud. Hearing the sound the folks in the adjacent office suddenly appeared at the doorway with very startled looks on their faces, as I’m sure I looked ‘shocked’.
After sitting there a minute or two, and catching my breath, I got up and went to the coffee room for a long break. Needless to say, after I advise the 3M technical center of my experience, an update was issued in the form of a plastic cover that would separate the power buss from a field engineer’s hands.
Stephen Taylor is the inventor of Firefly Magic Firefly Lights. He holds U.S. patent No. 7212932 for emulating flashing fireflies using a microprocessor.