@zeeglen: I failed to mention...the moment the machine went "hard over," the human hurricane disappeared! I remember turning around, and he was gone.
The lead EE was a pretty smart guy; he was designing some very high-order analogue servo-control circuits there. I'll assume this was the one time he screwed up...
And I can't recall what we did to overcome the push-rod damage.
@Karen: I hadn't even realized that Heathkit was still in business! Thanks for the update.
Great story! Love to hear when ingenuity overcomes Murphy.
Have to wonder if the "human hurricane" was from management trying to speed up the schedule. Did he slink away in shame after breaking the push rod?
Also wonder what was the jury rigged repair to the pushrod. And the educational background of the lead electrical engineer.
Nice to hear from another who cut their engineering teeth on Heathkits.
Hmm... GE in Philadelphia, that could be the company that morphed into a customer of a startup that I worked for in the late 1990's. The guys we worked with had been at the company as GE, RCA, and then Lockheed-Martin. Military and Data Systems Division it was called until they started doing telecom systems and changed the name to Management and Data Systems to keep the acronym (MDS) the same. The startup built boards with multiple DSP chips on them for voice channel compression and digital tuning to go in Lockheed-Martin's satellite telephone system. One of the tuner boards went up in flames one day, of course while the customer was visiting!
A few years later at Powerwave Techologies, I was testing a power amplifier for a cellular basestation and I disconnected the load to check the circulator and dumpload. Not advisable when driving 500 Watts (average, peak was about 10 times that) at 880 MHz! A purple flame several inches long shot out of the type N connector with a whoosh and melted the center conductor of the connector!
I'm sure those of us who have been in the business for several decades have plenty of stories of smoke and flames!
Sometimes warnings can be ignored, other times-NOT. I recall a stepper motor driver module that demanded a large external capacitor. If you forgot it, just a few steps and the (expensive) driver module would emit a stream of very bad smelling EXPENSIVE white smoke. We did learn, but that will be another story.