Amclaussen

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Amclaussen

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  • 05.09.2013
  • If you’re an engineer, thank your mom
  • Thank YOU suzanne, for bringing back memories of my late Mom (and Dad, of course!) Beautiful article. Being an engineer for the last 38 years makes me even more grateful to my parents. I hope my son (now 7 years old) also becomes interested in technical/science matters. He shows some inclination and ease. I'm shure that Moms like mine really help in more manners than can be easily seen. My Mother surely helped me by just showing and inspiring me to have self confidence. She made me a toy parachute that was much better made than the puny 4 cord ones sold at the toy stores. The fact was that by making it in front of me, and asking for my "help" at 6 or 7 years old, she demonstrated that I could make my own toys, and that helped to forge the engineer's spirit in me. At 8, she bought me a balsa wood flying model airplane, that really embedded a captivation in me for all things flying. She also helped by reading me the magnificent Grolier children's Encyclopaedia (around 1962), and found that the themes I liked most were those on airplanes, bridges, automobiles, submarines, photography, scientific experiments, trains, television, electricity over those on arts or animals. Keep up the good work!
  • 05.09.2013
  • If you’re an engineer, thank your mom
  • Well said Andy. ME too: I was VERY fortunate to have my loving parents provide me with the electric Train (an American Flyer that had the more realistic two rail track), the EXCELLENT Meccano sets, the microscope (and a telescope), and several other constructive toys. That undoubtedly helped a lot! In respect to my mother, she was very attentive to her son, and when I reached 7 years old, she fabricated a scale parachute for me, made with the transparent plastic sheet used to cover notebooks in school, some cotton cord and a plastic soldier as the parachutist, it was well made and had 16 cords, while the badly made commercial toys had only 4, were too heavy and too small!). That toy parachute worked perfectly and teached me that even a middle class housewife could make a much better performing toy with only a pair of scissors, scotchtape and her own hands, and seeing her cutting large circle by just folding the plastic in a pie shaped folds without needing a large compass or cord, was marvelous. In that manner my Mom showed me that MAKING my own toys was: a) possible, and b) It could be even better!. Next monday at school I was the most envied boy in the school, as no other had such a perfectly working parachute! Thanks Mom for it, I'll never forget you made it and thus helped me towards becoming an engineer, and specially a Hands-On one, not a desk only type. And Yes, I enjoy aviation (full size and scale model; parachuting, boating and sailing, and of course motorsports and auto mechanics and modification!).
  • 04.04.2017
  • Slippin' and a slidin'
  • "A drop of silicon oil..." Not in my experience. there is a local made product called "Silijet", that has silicone oil and is promoted as a cure for noisy potentiometers. BUT, and it worked... for a few months! In the polluted air of a large city, the silicone oil works against the cure, as it captures airborne dust and creates a highly abrasive "mud", that after some months of "curing" a noisy volume, balance or tone control, will end up eroding the conductive path. and the "cured" potentiometer won't work anymore. What really works and is a marvelous remedy, is a product called "Cramolin". The very best was made many years ago before the stoopid "Eco-nuts" caused many factories to change the formulation of many products to be more "eco-friendly", which reduced the effectiveness of many previously extraordinary products. Cramolin was excellent, and present day product is still 'good'. It is manufactured by CAIG Labs (Google it). The best way was to de-oxidize the contact or potentiometer with the red colored contact cleaner, specially when diluted with liquid freon (that RadioShack sold for cleaning tape deck heads, another product sacrificed for Eco-Phanatic "purposes"); followed by the old Cramolin Blue (contact preserver). I did many repairs in the 70's and 80's, the golden era of high quality Audio, salvaging many amplifier controls that were scarce or expensive thanks to my little bottles of Cramolin, then sold by Monster Cable at specialty audio stores. Amclaussen.
  • 05.01.2017
  • 1st Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer is held, May 1, 1925
  • It seems that too many engineers today know nothing about Ethics... Just a few cases where money and greed produced less than "stellar" designs, blatant frauds made to cheat the consumer". Looking around me I can see: A HP 8100-Pro printer that after only 50 pages told me to go buy a new Cyan cartr. and as soon as I put it, told me to change the Magenta one, and when done, now tells the Yellow one "is empty" (without any single extra page). Those 2 cartridges already cost me more than 80% of the printer, how about "sustainability"? If I remember correctly, Mr. Packard (founder) was in a meeting at their HQ, as the HP-35 scientific calculator had a just found bug, and someone said: "Hey, if we just don't tell?" and the next sound in the room was the pencil held by Mr. Packard being broken. Next thing was Packard shouting: "I prefer not to make any money from this product than cheating on my clients; you better send a letter to each one, offering them a free replacement calculator..." (I prefer not to think WHAT he would say nowadays if SEEING the kind of company is HP today). Or the damn Panasonic Viera Plasma that came with an intentional contrast-reducing firmware, that kills the beautiful deep blacks after only 2 months, and that they refused to accept and correct... Or the damn Dell Laptop that tells me to connect the chargerfast as the battery "is almost empty", but the Lithium cells inside measure more than 90% or full charge voltage... all to sell more batteries. And yes, the mediocre OS that came with my computer- Windows 8.1 that needed to be fooled, because it demanded updates every 30 minutes. In all of this cases those young engineers really need some punishment and then made to repeat the ritual. Amclaussen, true engineer with 38+ years of experience, clean experience, I mean!
  • 03.17.2017
  • Your other hobbies: Engineering-like?
  • Judging by the comments, definitely engineers enjoy both music and technical hobbies. I'm a chemical engineer, and have a large problem: too many hobbies and so little time. I'm into model aviation and full scale av. too, enjoying even more from complete design, construction and finishing of model (and lifesize) airplanes, then flying them. But Auto mechanics and modification runs close or above it sometimes, then woodworking, repairing all kind of devices and things at home. The "D.I.Y." concept is too ingrained in my soul... For me, it is almost an insult to hear comments like: "Will you call the plumber/electrician/auto mechanic this time? from wife or friends... So long I have prevailed (sometimes barely, but succeded). RC is a very complete hobby when one tries to build from plans, or better: from "scratch"... or even better: to design from a clean sheet of paper! The best experience for me, is to build something by myself, and find it works as intended... the satisfaction is immeasurable! In respect to music, I never achieved enough dexterity to play an instrument, but soon found that I had a "knack" for assembling sound systems... It was more than a hobby, a passion for me. It paid my university years allowances when I started to build speaker systems and sold them, installed many sets, some at auditoriums and some "discos" (Discotheques, a term long forgotten). Sadly, when I was finally ready to assemble and enjoy my ultimate home system, and had learned enough to distinguish between the sound nuances of different brands of grand concert pianos, disaster struck: I lost all the hearing in my right ear and that destroyed all stereophonic perception, and I was left with a very intense Tinnitus comparable to a 85dB permanent hissing, present 24/7/365. The disease is called "SSNHL Sudden Sensory Neural Hearing Loss, Unilateral ... So now I'm returning to Photography (did I mention that my problem is TOO MANY hobbies?) Amclaussen.
  • 01.10.2017
  • Audio experts on microphone levels and pressure zone mics
  • I don’t know how to load photos of my "K-O-PZM" ("kind-of-PZM") mics, not beautiful, but still work. Apart from voltage, there's a mechanical limit compression in any microphone, unless it’s an expensive, well designed unit; but cheap electrets do not like Hi SPLs well, like under the lid of a piano: when player executes a "Fortissimo", microphone distorts; independently of the voltage/preamp input attenuation. Same capsule on the floor, 5 meters from the piano, can clean. Sadly, my passion for audio ended in 2014, with a sudden loss in my right ear, losing all Stereophonic perception. Now, I cannot perceive distance nor direction of sound; if my cellphone rings and it is in the same room, but I'm not looking at it, I have a great difficulty finding it, even at two feet away. And worst: ABSENCE of hearing in my right ear, makes my brain auditory neurons "fire" by themselves; the resulting millions of clicks produce a loud hissing or "Tinnitus", which never disappears ever. Before the onset of hearing loss, I was really enjoying my new pair of Shure SRH-940 headphones, together with my LehmannAudio "Black Linear Cube" dedicated headphone amp, delivering a high quality sound. Concentrating on the subtly different sound quality of various brands of pianos, let me recognize between a 9 Ft Steinway Concert Grand, from a Yamaha, a Baldwin or (more easily) a Bosendorfer Concert Grand 275, but the thing is that I only enjoyed my headphones and amp for a few months, and then it was gone forever! Seeing several Audiologists and Oto-Neurologists was futile, actually they contradicted each other, assigning my loss to 4 possible different causes, 2 said "it was North", 2 said "No, is was South", 2 other said it was East. One said "it was West", and tast one said he's shure it was both South and West! I still enjoy music, but only at low volume, as background music, but I'm incapable of listening over a good system, as I suffer instead of enjoying, it becomes a torture.
  • 01.10.2017
  • Audio experts on microphone levels and pressure zone mics
  • Me too! Except that lack of funds, even for an inexpensive pair of Crown PZMs... made me take the DIY way! Using CHEAP Radio Shack electret capsules, buying many to choose the most similar sounding pairs, by ear w/ "White Noise" from an FM tuner. 1/8"X6X6 aluminum plate for the base, and a "bridge" from 1/4" alum channel. Capsule must be placed VERY close to the reflecting plate for direct & reflected wave to be “in phase”. For that, I used a common paper personal card (about 0.3 mm th.), fixed the capsule to the alum. channel, and removed the thin card, leaving the height of the capsule above the plate OK. On wooden scenarios, I placed some carpet the aluminum plates. The circuit fed 9VDC from an alkaline battery to polarize the mic, coupling the capsule w. 4.7 mF cap in series to the output, blocking DC to the tape recorder (YES WE USED "TAPE"!). By trial and error, I found that 1.5V was clipping, then 4.5V, but found that capsules withstood 9V from a std alkaline battery. W such a voltage, capsules performed well at live concerts levels, albeit producing a bit of white noise residue, but not much, so the 9V batt was used inside a small box placed on the mic cable, one meter from it. Disconnecting the RCA plug opened circuit, preventing battery drain when not used. Lo-capacitance cable allowed me to place the two handmade mics as a spaced pair directly on the floor of the scenario floor, about 2-3 metres in front off the musicians,for medium size ensembles like jazz sextets. Even w the poor quality of the RS electret capsules, I was able to made surprisingly good recordings that required just a touch of Eq., and musicians were happy to hear themselves performing live, a VERY different experience compared to the multi-track recording process inside a studio, so that I was forced to make MANY copies of those concerts for them... never asked for money, as it was a passion, more than a business matter. Amclaussen.
  • 12.09.2016
  • Electronic products from hell
  • In 2002 I bought a two-tray CD Recorder-player by Harman-Kardon, the CDR-30; not inexpensive at more than $600 USD, It sounded nicely clean, making it an expensive player, but when I tried to copy some CDs (on the special "for Music" type blanks), I discovered that the damn unit only produced about 3 to 4 readable discs of every 10... when it worked, that is. A waste of time and a source of frustration. In retrospect, the design is flawed, as it uses two cheap CD computer drives and attempts to "synchronize" the second tray ("recording") to the left side one ("play"), but without any buffer or storage, so that the second tray has to start recording exactly and perfectly when the record button is pressed. For an unknown reason, 6 to 7 of every ten disc blanks are rendered unusable, regardless of their brand. Another electronic product from hell.
  • 12.09.2016
  • Electronic products from hell
  • Back in 1982 I was considering the purchase of my first DMM, and the basic ones from B&K Precisión, Beckman and Keithley were the choices back then. Afriend of mine went to the USA and brought one for me. UNFORTUNATELY, the one he bought was the Keithley. Unfortunate as the damn DMM only endured a few months and started showing random segments of all the digits of its display. Then I went to the local distributor/repair center here in Mexico, only to find a huge pile of the same model Keithleys, all of them damaged exactly like mine. They explained that one of the chips was very prone to failing, and that the replacement cost was about the same as a new DMM. Later on I learned that at my workplace (a large R&D center for the petroleum industry in Mexico) the same model of handheld DMMs failed by the ton (they had about 30 or 40 units, all failed, most probably a gross design or manufacturing fault. My unit was never repaired, and i left itabandoned at the local repair center as it was somewhat far from my place. For this reason I've never recommended any other product from Keithley since then. Months later, I traveled to the USA, and bought an inexpensive Radio Shack DMM, made in Korea by METEX. It has been working FLAWLESSLY since 1983, and still holds a reasonable calibration (never adjusted!). Around 1995 I bough another Radio Shack DMM, also made by METEX in Korea, with an RS232 output, and several years later, a third one autoranging one with 3 3/4 digits, also made by METEX. The three METEX inexpensive DMMs are working perfectly. they are NOT Fluke quality, but have served me very well. Seldom a product line is nice, well made and inexpensive at the same time, but the METEX Brand is. Unfortuntely, several years ago Radio Shack (or whatever is it now) changed to other CHINESE DMM brand, interrupting their handling of aceptable quality DMMs. Amclaussen, Mexico City.