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Thinking_J

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Design products for many industries


Thinking_J

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  • 10.30.2012
  • Open source: not always a successful course
  • To me, only specifics for a given situation/condition are useful. If US Robotics sells a product that doesn't meet it's advertised performance (claimed WPA support), that is useful information - that MAY influence my next purchase. Dragging open source into the conversation.. isn't helpful or useful. I have had similar experiences with "proprietary" software/products - bad support/bad documentation/etc... after paying for good support/documentation/etc. ( To Sandy: Questions relating to "Open source" or IP ownership are not exclusively in software domain. IP in the real world will NEVER be inherently protected - regardless of the paradigm used. The reason: no society will never agree to any standard for ownership indefinitely.) Open source has NOTHING to do with a product's quality. The only difference: with "open source" , at least the source code is available to allow those with the time / resources to : review/ hack/ fix if they chose to. If you don't want to "fix it"... don't. And remember the problem the next time you are in the market for that product. I have been in business of embedded controls and aerospace for over 30 years. I have paid engineers to work to work with both environments.... worked with in-house OS/ major RTOS suppliers/ open source/ major suppliers of industry drivers, protocols/ etc... I have not seen any correlation in IP ownership with quality in these products/services. Making money and producing a good product .... not related. Making money and making a product that matches it's advertised claims .. not related. Noooo!...... Say it ain't so! Sadly , we have many , many examples of inferior/badly made/badly supported/poorly documented/ etc.. products making lots of money and continuing on in the market place. This is likely related to some aspect of the "human condition" (advertising works! and many times I don't understand why it did)
  • 10.23.2012
  • Nickel matters
  • OK.. we have LOTS of TLAs (three letter acronyms) in our industry.. hard to keep track , much less recognize their appropriate usage (IP .. internet protocol? intellectual property? used in same sentence!).. In this case, SMOG (solder mask over gold).. I haven't heard of it being used recently. (OK, it's 4 letters!).. I have heard of ENIG (Electroless nickel immersion gold) and it appears to be the same thing. ENIG is one of the most common ROHS compliant finishes out there. There are dozens of different finishes in gold and silver in the market. My point: when talking to a pcb house.. they are more likely to know what you are talking about if you use "ENIG" when talking about gold surfaces. Generally , the soldermask (type, used / not used) isn't described in a conductor's finish when specifying details on a fabrication drawing or specs for a pcb. It is generally specified.. just not in reference to the conductor's finish. Many in our industry are going to pure copper - generally with a OSP (Organic Solderability Preservative) on the solderable areas. An appropriate solder masking material protects the rest. Besides the benefits mentioned, when the market settles down - it should be cheaper. For a while , gold finish was cheaper than HASL (hot air solder leveled) at some pcb houses! The newer OSPs have shelf life of a year or more. In the past, this was the primary drawback - short shelf life of ~1 month. Secondary drawback: handling. The OSP vaporizes during soldering process, leaving the copper clean during soldering.
  • 08.17.2012
  • Microcontroller drives piezoelectric buzzer at high voltage through one pin
  • Bad idea to leave a constant DC potential across most piezoelectric elements (when sound is "off") ... often reduces the life of the transducer. A simple (appropriate voltage/size) cap in series with it would fix this problem. Taking advantage of the fact most of these piezoelectric have very small duty cycles.. it would be cheaper/easier just to get rid of the high side MOSFETs and replace with resistors (assuming we are working with audio frequencies below 5KHZ). This simplification wouldn't work for ultrasonic frequencies.
  • 08.03.2012
  • 5 Engineers: Is an engineer morally responsible for their work’s use?
  • From "Once in a Lifetime".. (talking heads) ... everyone sing along!... And you may ask yourself, "How do I work this?" And you may ask yourself, "Where is that large automobile?" And you may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful house" And you may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful wife" Similar level of relevance.... Ultimately, not a question of moral responsibility (God made everything, is he responsible for this mess?).. The real question being posed is: What do you profess? Does it match what you do? Do you put your money where your mouth is? The first lines of the "serenity prayer" come to mine (knowing the difference between what you can change and what you have to accept in the world).
  • 06.20.2012
  • Obviousness of an invention up for patent protection and infringement of an invention
  • Working to new standards since 2000? The Courts are working to these new standards? Great. But has that translated to how the new patents are reviewed (really put into practice at the USPTO) ? I am not seeing any evidence of it. Too little , too late. The problem: trust in our institutions has been broken. And only significant change in the granting of patents will start to repair the damage. (only REALLY significant ideas , with significant backing, will be patentable) And then the problem will become " only those with deep pockets can afford pursue of a patent". and the pendulum continues to swing....
  • 06.26.2012
  • Filters are for wimps
  • James..... Agree with you 100% In your example: A large percentage of the population somehow thinks a "lock" represents security.. (as in the original example, a filter is a solution to a "problem") The reality: a "lock" keeps honest people .. "honest". (reducing temptation - what is actually being done) It does little to stop a real thief. (the illusion - what is being "sold" ) A better lock only creates a better thief. (the reality - unintended consequences ) lesson learned: understand the problem completely , before providing a "solution". Unless you are in the business of creating solutions with no concern for the problem being actually "resolved". Which seems to be what a lot of businesses are based on.
  • 06.21.2012
  • 5 Engineers: What’s your favorite joke about engineers?
  • An engineer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool."
  • 06.21.2012
  • 5 Engineers: What’s your favorite joke about engineers?
  • Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want." The second engineer nodded approvingly, "Good choice. The clothes probably wouldn't have fit."