Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Inspiration, the HP way

I once had the pleasure of reading Analog Circuit Design: Art, Science and Personalities, where Jim Williams talks about how his mentor at MIT had him fix broken test equipment to get a better understanding of practical electronics. I dimly recalled that as I wrestled a 50-pound HP 8673 Synthesized Microwave generator onto my workbench today. No, they don't build 'em like they used to.

The unit started behaving oddly, would put out a signal with a frequency offset. Strange... so I thought I'd give it a shot, got the service manual and opened 'er up. It's not every day that you get to crawl in to the mind of a genius, but man, this thing's built like a tank and had such detailed instructions on what was going on inside. I followed the service manual, isolated the fault to a malfunctioning YIG-tuned oscillator (YTO). I pulled out the YTO boards one by one, and marvelled at the elegance of the designs. Then I found a burned-out capacitor, and figured I'd swap it out for another one. Oddly, I hesitated quite a bit before applying a soldering iron to the board, I felt like I was violating some sacred artefact, the work of a true engineer, the kind that wears a pocket protector. Anyway, after replacing the cap, the synth came up perfectly, and has been working since.

While I didn't learn a whole lot directly, it did help to see how things were built by HP.


Looks like Miss Grafx tagged me Brilliante. Hey, I take what I can, so here goes:

The Rules:

  • When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back

  • Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.

  • Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’

  • Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).

I'll relax the seven blog rule, since I don't really follow that many active, non-tech blogs.

V (not for Vendetta), I do all my dining out through her. Virtual dining. How about that...

Jo Kart, the travel freak. I visit other places through his eyes... er, camera.

Silverine, the perfect cure for a dull morning.

Karthik, just coz it's fun to keep in touch!

DJK. No link, she'd rather not people visit her blog that's not updated any more. I liked the vitriol.

Grafx, for the pretty graphics and rollercoaster rides :)