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Sherlock Ohms

Glue & Sealant Gunk Up the Line

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Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: They can't both be bad
Nancy Golden   10/25/2012 9:25:15 AM
Rob, I think that philosophy falls under what in ethics is called utilitarianism. In their minds it brings about a desired result (employment for a large number of people) therefore it is good - the means are not as important as the end. It's especially hard to fight in this case because it is part of their worldview...

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Triac failure modes
Larry M   10/25/2012 10:01:43 AM
Glenn Atchison wrote "When this happened, the unit had to be allowed to cool before any testing could be done. The heating was controlled by a triac (triode for alternating current). When the unit cooled, I monitored the triac control voltage and output voltage. Even when the triac control was not on, it was heating, so the triac was shorted."

"Latchup" is the most common failure mode of triacs. They remain in the "off" (non-conducting) state when power is applied until the trigger voltage is first applied to the gate. Then they turn "on" (conducting) as they should. The problem occurs when the trigger voltage is removed from the gate. The triac should turn off at the first AC voltage zero-crossing but it does not. The device "latches up" and remains conducting until voltage is completely removed from device terminals. In other words, the triac won't reset until the product is completely powered off.

I had the same failure and related symptoms in my 1984 washing machine in about 2007. A new controller board would have cost $350, but they were no longer available. I isolated the problem to the triac, as Glenn did. Also similar to Glenn's experience, I could not get an identically-labelled replacement--no longer made. But triacs are not critical components. Any one with comparable or greater ratings and a similar package will do. Fortunately replacements were available for 37 cents.

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: They can't both be bad
bob from maine   10/25/2012 10:15:15 AM
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In the late 80's during a business trip to Russia I was given a tour of a fabrication facility. Standing on the mezzanine with my interpreter and 2 managers we overlooked a floor with probably 70 lathes and at least 50 milling machines, all being operated. Sitting right in the middle of the floor was a very modern multi-axis CNC machine surrounded by yellow lines on the floor and sitting idle. Upon seeing the CNC machine I asked why it was idle? The manager smiled and said that machine could replace 5 skilled machinists and produce 3-4x the volume, but "you understand in Russia, we can have no unemployment". The only time the CNC machine was operated was when dignitaries from the central Government came to visit. From stories I gather China has smiliar problems.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: They can't both be bad
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/25/2012 10:47:30 AM
In the early 1980s, a fellow engineer (of Chinese descent) told me quite emphatically that he AVOIDED doing ANY business with anything connected to the Chinese (as a nation) because of their unethical behavior.  Since this was at a time in history which was less than 10 years removed from Pres. Nixon's historic trip to mainland China, I immediately dismissed his comments as being very biased & bigoted.  At that time the world was not so deeply engaged with Chinese manufacturing & trade.

Now, however, as I reflect on those comments from decades ago, and become more aware of the devious business practices that are undertaken AND sanctioned by the "higher-ups", it is becoming more apparent that his comments bore a great deal of validity, SORRY to say!

I'm SURE that with every other endeavor in human relations, one can find the "bad apple" which seems to rise to the fore, make the news, etc. whereas the rest of the barrel of apples goes completely unnoticed and/or unrecognized!

p.s.  During his diatribe against the Chinese, he mentioned one startling fact...... he'd MUCH rather engage in business deals with a Japanese company or entity since they ARE so ethical. 

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Re: They can't both be bad
Tim   10/25/2012 7:36:30 PM
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Your story reminds me of a recent trip to China where I went to a KFC for dinner.  At the completion of my meal, I picked up my tray to discard my trash, and a KFC employee agressively approached me telling me something that I did not understand.  My interpreter explained to me that the employee was telling me that I was trying to take her job, and clearing tables was only her responsibility.  It is a different culture.

Thinking_J
User Rank
Platinum
Trouble shooting..
Thinking_J   10/29/2012 4:32:26 PM
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A good story....

Trouble shooting a problem in any complex product isn't always straight forward.

I have had hundreds of product returned because it didn't work like the prior production build lot... Only to find out what was assumed to be the "same"... wasn't. In this case, the customer incorrectly documented the cables required - and fooled themselves during the course of swapping things around, into thinking the only item changing was the interface board we shipped to them. The problem was the cables they built.. and had their end users build (incorrectly) in hundreds of airports across the world!

Simply put.. they thought the only thing they were swapping out was the interface card we were providing. They were certain this was the only thing being done.

It required a third party to discover the real cause (we didn't have examples of "their" bad cables).

Any single level failure is generally easy to fix with swapping out components with known good components.

But if that is your only skill set during trouble shooting, YOU are in trouble.

Your trouble shooting skills are really "put to the test"? ... when fixing a system with 2 or more different failures at the same time. No one component swap out will "fix" the system.

And a variation of this scenario   .. swapping components from questionable stock (never assume "new" = good/working)

This issue is not directly related to Nationality or even counterfeit components. I have seen bad "new" components from nearly all countries / companies on occasion. Counterfeit parts (aircraft industry) happen in the USA all the time. And corrupt business leaders happen everywhere. Little value in making sweeping generalizations on the subject.

Having the skill to not to depend on assumptions.. is the real lesson being presented.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: They can't both be bad
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2012 7:00:17 AM
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I hadn't thought about it that way, Nancy. But you're right this is a version of the ends justifying the means. 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: They can't both be bad
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2012 7:03:40 AM
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That's an interesting story, Bob. And it certainly illustrates a culture that is far different from the business culture in the U.S. We would replace all of the workers if we could. 

Nancy Golden
User Rank
Platinum
Re: They can't both be bad
Nancy Golden   10/31/2012 12:31:05 PM
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Yes, Rob - and when it is an ingrained mindset it is really hard to change. There are so many ethical systems and when doing business with folks who don't subscribe to the same ethical standards - people call foul on one side while the other side is scratching their heads thinking, but we aren't doing anything wrong...

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: They can't both be bad
Rob Spiegel   10/31/2012 12:42:59 PM
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Good point, Nancy. When it comes to counterfeiting, I would think they must know they're violating standard business practices. 

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