Bob Pease: His last challenge, Part two

-July 08, 2013

We continue with the saga regarding Bob Pease’s last design challenge. Part one can be found here.

Jeffrey Callahan wanted to emphasize how much he appreciated Pete Wagner, Product Manager at PowerBox Group for involving him with Bob Pease, since without him he'd never have had the opportunity. Pete Wagner shares with us some of his memories of Bob Pease and drawings in the THOR power supply (PS6) project in this part two series. Wagner hired Pease and Callahan as consulting designers.

Pete Wagner

Wagner told me, “I mostly knew of Bob Pease by reputation and was just smart enough to hire him for the "P6 Project" which was an ultra-stable and very precise, digital programmable, constant current sources for the 32 steering magnets on a 15.2MW pulse, Race Track Microtron. After telling me that there was nothing in the world that could meet the stability specification, I think he took the on the project just for the challenge.  His quote for doing the analog design was so low I had to ask him twice, ‘Are you sure?’  

I only met Bob a few times over the 18 months he worked on the PS6 Project.  Other than the fact he scared the hell out of me by the way he drove his VW van, my fondest recollection was when we visited a surplus electronics store in the SF Bay area where he was looking for some big heat sinks for the output transistor array.  He was like a kid in a candy store. His enthusiasm for anything electronics was contagious.

He spent many hours talking to and communication with my digital guru, Jeffrey Callahan, and they became good friends over the 18 months or so that they worked on the PS6 design.  I tried to stay out of the technical debates between the two worlds; Bob and Jeffrey represented and would only occasionally have to referee a KISS solution as they usually spent hours debating an analog versus digital compromise on some arcane aspect of the P6 design. 

Thankfully Jeffrey also picked up the task to take Bob's hand-drawn schematics and make them proper in a schematic capture program.  Even then, Bob wouldn't budge an inch on his position that an auto-router and CAD simply could not properly lay out traces for critical analog circuitry, especially as the drawing algorithms were done by a bunch of  ‘digital weenies who wouldn't know good analog layout if it bit them in the ass.’ I'm paraphrasing a bit there as Bob put it a bit more colorfully. Regardless, Bob was not only a great analog design engineer but an all-around great guy with an disperse and eclectic topics which he was always happy to share on. He is sorely missed.”

The THOR System

Callahan worked with Bob Pease on his last project and told us, “If there's one thing I sincerely hope that people realize after reading this, it's that he was working the ‘big problems’ all the way up to the end. The possibility that our work together on the THOR photo-nuclear contraband detection system might help save people from harm was a huge motivating factor for us both. “


Figure 1: THOR series Advanced Explosives Detection Systems (Image courtesy of Caravan International Corp.)

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