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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Power glitch be gone
Beth Stackpole   1/9/2012 6:40:44 AM
Nice detective work. It always amazes me at how something seemingly so unimportant and unrelated could have such a huge impact on a product's performance.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hot Foot Causes Power Glitch
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/9/2012 10:40:03 AM
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This takes my thoughts immediately to ESD grounded workstations.  Whenever working with developing prototypes for any electronic computing device, our labs were always monitored by our internal ESD cops – the QA safety team that insured that all benches had that light-blue anti static pad as the work-surface, and that any user at the station had the mandatory wrist-straps and ankle grounds.  Even if a manager wandered down into the lab to check on the daily progress, they were in violation (with the ESD cops) if they reached into the prototype set-up without first grounding themselves with a strap.  While I realize that ESD safety precautions are more prevalent today than they were when the SPARC station was introduced about 20+ years ago, I'm wondering if the author of the article had ESD cops at his facility-?



williamlweaver
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hot Foot Causes Power Glitch
williamlweaver   1/9/2012 11:19:18 AM
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Boy does this bring back memories of grad school. We had an ultrafast-spectroscopy instrument that we assembled from $1.2 Million of lasers and fancy electronics equipment. In essence, our system was a very, very fast strobe light that would illuminate a repetitive chemical reaction at precisely the right time. We used a liquid nitrogen-cooled scientific CCD camera that would record the faint output signal viewed through a maze of optics and filters. We would darken the lab and use upwards of 20-min CCD exposures to collect the very faint signal. Every now and again our data would be extremely noisy and we would have to collect data again. After some major sleuthing, we discovered that one of the PCs on the far side of the lab running Windows3.0 had a screen saver consisting of a bouncing ball. All but the top 5% of the computer monitor was obscured by equipment and only when the image of the ball bounced near the top of the screen did the extra photons get entrained into our optics. I've disliked screen savers ever since... 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Power glitch be gone
Rob Spiegel   1/9/2012 2:36:29 PM
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You're right, Beth. Time after time, the Sherlock postings show that the problem is simple beyond belief. It's amazing the problem gets solved at all.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hot Foot Causes Power Glitch
Rob Spiegel   1/9/2012 2:52:25 PM
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Wow, Jim. Is that type of restriction common these days? I would imagine there are ways to ground equipment that doesn't require personnel to wear such elaborate gear.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hot Foot Causes Power Glitch
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/9/2012 7:56:52 PM
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Actually, the grounding precautions were not so much for the equipment, but for the safety of the developing prototypes and new product introductions.  But the equipment is normally sitting right on the same bench as the product, which is the target of the  precautionary measures. And yes, this was a recent practice used on manufacturing floors as late as last year when I was introducing a military computing device at a domestic OEM.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hot Foot Causes Power Glitch
Alexander Wolfe   1/9/2012 8:58:21 PM
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You're lucky you were able to isolate it. I've seen many intermittent failures in the lab, which were impossible to reliability repeat, and thus diagnose. I suspect this is something that's very widespread, and accounts for a lot of in-the-field glitches.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Power glitch be gone
Charles Murray   1/9/2012 9:55:59 PM
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I agree, Rob. It's amazing that problems like this one ever get solved. This isn't just a glitch; it's a sub-system glitch, made even tougher to find because firmware was supposed to be the culprit.

Noswad
User Rank
Gold
what?
Noswad   1/10/2012 12:44:17 PM
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So, you are saying the power supply wasn't properly grounded and the output was float in reference to ground. Sounds like things were not properly installed and grounded. I don't go along with the Vandergraf garbage,

davidwheath
User Rank
Iron
Ridiculous conclusion
davidwheath   1/13/2012 12:15:51 PM
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The only thing more ridiculous than this story is the amount of technically illiterate people contibuting stories to this sight.

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