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Frank Eory
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Re: Skills
Frank Eory   7/26/2013 4:54:37 PM
There is no substitute for gaining hands-on experience at troubleshooting failing circuits in the lab. The more strange things you see and eventually solve, the better you get at it.

It helps to know the system inside and out, and have a thorough checklist that starts with the most basic things like assembly errors and verifying correct supply voltages at all the right places.

Once you work your way through the list of most probable causes and still haven't solved the mystery, start working through the list of improbable causes. Think outside the box, and start visualizing all those invisble resistors, capacitors and inductors that aren't on the schematic. Remind yourself that although what you're observing might seem impossible -- that the circuit should never behave that way -- the fact is, circuits don't lie, and there are no displeased "electron gods." Physics governs, and when you finally find the root cause of the problem, it will seem so obvious that you will wonder why you didn't see it sooner.

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Understanding of system and more importantly,...
chanj0   7/26/2013 12:51:21 PM
Troubleshooting is absolutely one of the most important skills to be a good engineer, in my opinion, to be a good manager. Question is what knowledge we all need to be a good troubleshooter. To me, the thorough understanding of system is very important. W/O understanding, I, at least, will have hard time to start. However, documentation may not be always available. Even it does, it may not cover the whole 9 yards that you will need to get the job done. So, what else? Experience. I remember the first undergraduate project years back - a class A amplifer. The first symptom is it doesn't even ampilifer any signal. After sometimes, I just found out the transistor was blown to begin with. Understanding how transistor works definitely come handy. The 2nd symptom after signal was coming out of the output - noise and signal clipping. Apparently, power supply didn't give a clean voltage and amplification was larger than calculated. With twist of resistor and building of feedback loop, the issue was relief. This is a simple project and yet, I have learned a great deal as a freshman in engineering school. Later on, with years of on the job training, when I became manager, I was able to build a checklist to troubleshoot and guide my subordinates to resolve most issues in a timely manner.

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Re: Skills
JanineLove   7/26/2013 11:09:18 AM
Any troubleshooters out there who want to give a shout out to a professor/mentor/program that helped them better their mad skills?

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JanineLove   7/26/2013 11:08:15 AM
Hi Larry, I'd like to hear more about your ideas for training people to trouble shoot.

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In conjunction with unveiling of EE Times’ Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. One of Silicon Valley's great contributions to the world has been the demonstration of how the application of entrepreneurship and venture capital to electronics and semiconductor hardware can create wealth with developments in semiconductors, displays, design automation, MEMS and across the breadth of hardware developments. But in recent years concerns have been raised that traditional venture capital has turned its back on hardware-related startups in favor of software and Internet applications and services. Panelists from incubators join Peter Clarke in debate.
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