Made by Monkeys

Dumb Design Darkens Microwave

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Re: Inviting company response
fauxscot   7/8/2013 9:16:16 AM
I once worked at a major consumer product company which I will not name because Texas Instruments would get mad.  

My project manager insisted on using one RC network to clock TWO micros that had RC-based oscillators using Schmidt trigger inverters.  (TMS1000 era..early 1980's).

I explained to him that one of them would have a lower threshold than the other, and thus, only one would clock.  Therefore, TWO RC networks were needed.  I changed the BOM.  Later, I found he changed it back.    This made for a funny argument. 

To presume that there is a rational decision making process in place for ANY thing is risky.   I have made a career out of uncovering the 'why' of problems like this and later, when I ran a contract manufacturing company, my 35 customers and 400 products gave me scores of chances to see how stuff gets into products.  I've even done it myself.  No one is immune from mistakes.  I've found them in dental chair electronics, hospital bed electronics, dog collar electronics,  hydraulic presses, missles, test equipment, cryogenic freezer controls,  ad infinitum.

This one looks par for the course.  Some designs are perfect for some installations.  None are perfect for all.   This guy found a 'breed weakness' and a questionable feature. 


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More 'Inverter' Monkey Business
mblazer   7/8/2013 9:08:55 AM
I also have one of their 'Inverter' models. I have 2 Monkey Features:

1. The Display is only viewable staight-on. It sits on the kitchen counter and I have to bend down to read the display.  Otherwise, it looks like 88:88.

2. The light only comes on when it is cooking. I guess that saves the bulb life so the user doesn't have to disassemble it.  Why doesn't the light come on when the door is openned?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Inviting company response
Elizabeth M   7/8/2013 4:38:26 AM
I like this idea, TJ. I am always thinking when I read these stories that I can't imagine how the companies and product designers would let something slip through quality assurance like they seem to, so to have them weigh in on what went wrong and how this could have happened is a great idea. I also like the title! Clever. :)

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Panasonic “Inverter” microwave
Mydesign   7/8/2013 3:39:40 AM
1 saves
"My Panasonic "Inverter" microwave, model NN-S543BF, is another example of a product made by monkeys."

Andrew, you are talking about inverter or microwave. I had not seen any combination of these two.

TJ McDermott
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Inviting company response
TJ McDermott   7/7/2013 12:53:50 PM
Fueling our Schadenfreude is probably not good for our karma (so is mixing metaphors in two languages), but the Designed By Monkeys column would get a big readership boost if a representative from the company in the crosshairs tried to explain design intent.  Watching the representative squirm after being subjected to the monkeys would certainly give enjoyment to so many readers.

They don't need to admit liability, but boy, it would be nice to have an answer to "What were they thinking?"

Undersized transistors in this instance are pretty obvious - cost savings by not having fewer unique parts leads to the result in this MbM.  However, the lightbulb protected by security torx fasteners should be answerable.

There's no liability in discussing that design choice; the readers in general, and engineers / designers might learn something interesting in the design choices available.

It might be a new quarterly column (figuring that large companies have more inertia and will take time to come up with something).  you could call it:

The Monkeys Strike Back

Joking aside, there might be valid reasons for the design choices made; we would all benefit to have a few explained.


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