I was working on an electric oven control. This one was for Europe and ran off of 50Hz. We didn't have 50Hz supplied to the building, but we did have a rotary converter (a motor with a generator attached) by the docks to provide 50A/230V 50Hz in the labs. My technician had made a slight wiring error on the control I was working on and I had a dead short across the mains. I plugged the control into the wall socket and instantly the walls of the building began to vibrate at 50Hz because the wiring inside was vibrating from the dead short. With a 50A breaker and hefty wiring to handle oven currents, nothing was going to open the circuit. I tried to pull the plug from the wall, but it only moved a couple of millimeters before becoming welded inside the socket. Everybody in the building was now "prairie dogging" to see what the source of all the noise was. I waited a second for the plug to melt a little and then pulled it out another couple of millimeters until it welded again. I had to do this a couple more times before the plug was clear of the socket showering me with a little splash of molten copper.
Since then I always test the controls with a small load and a tiny fuse before stepping up to the real world.
I was a marine service engineer while completing my college studies, and I got a call to work on the Mal de Testa, the ship the original Goodbye Mr. Roberts was filmed on. They had a radar problem. I reached under the console to feel where the 24VDC power wires were going and my wedding ring shorted out the reverse-biased protection diode was mounted and blew a chunk out of my wedding ring and burned my finger nearly down to the bone. Yes it hurt.
Now I am careful. Very careful. I get to show off my scar from time to time, so it wasn't a total disaster...
Fresh out of college I was given a filament circuit to design, prototype and test. One day in the lab my mentor was helping me with something in the lab and for some reason wanted me to apply more input voltage than required. I remember telling him the input resistor isn't rated for this kind of power. He said no problem keep going... I kept going... then I said that resistor is getting hot...he said no problem keep going...as the resistor glowed..smoked and then fire... The fire scared him and for some reason seemed to surprise him. I was thinking I kept telling you that resistor wasn't going to make it. But to his defense people would be a little jumpy in our lab since we designed high voltage circuits.
Not really a funny story on paper, it was much funnier to me back then.
Many years back, I was using an inexpensive digital meter to check for the presence of 480 volts. It turned out that I had the meter leads in the current measurement positions. The meter was giving me funny results, and I was getting rather annoyed. I kept trying to get a reading, and suddenly the meter exploded in my hand. The front half of the case split from the rear half, and was hanging by some wires. I had a charred spot on my shirt, and the lead sockets were basically vaporized.
There was photographic evidence taken, and I wish I could find it. Since I wasn't actually injured, it was a pretty funny picture. I was holding the exploded meter, with the leads hanging down, with the charred spot square in the middle of my shirt, and a big smile on my face.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.