When I was just a toddler, Lego Blocks let my imagination turn into enormous creations. But I remember something of a very specific value, quite a few years later. I was 16 and landed a job as a Detail Draftsman at a Detroit Tool & Die shop, a job obtained thru the High School Co-Op program. A 5-ton cylindrical hub-cap die was crushing the part with a small interference. I attempted the corrective action by reducing the Inside diameter of the tool member by ½ inch. When the shop owner saw my attempt, he showed me that the entire I.D. didn't need reducing; only about .050" at the face needed relieving. He explained that while the full I.D. could have been reduced for the clearance it would have taken 25x longer in lathe work to reduce the diameter, instead of simply "facing" the small, local depression. He put his hand on my shoulder and informed me that machine time costs money! My first lesson in Engineering Economics.
Tube testing at the drugstore for our first color TV (1969). We watched the Moonshot on that TV. I later helped my Dad change the picture tube on that Zenith console. Matter of fact, I took the TV to college and used it right up until I wanted something better (1986). Oh yes, and pulling the crystal/mechanical tuner and cleaning all the contacts. My Dad was an Aviation Electronics man in the Navy; I had a great time growing up and fixing/modifying electronics.
I only discovered fun with electronics while in community college. My first project was a Light Beam Communicator, think it was a Heath-Kit. It was a lot of fun to build, my soldering skills... well not the best but I got the job done. While Daddy wasn't an engineer he know a lot and was really good at electronics and fixing stuff. However, in our house the girls were mostly taught "lady like things" by Mommy and my brother was taught "manly things" by Daddy. Guess Daddy may have been surprised to get a girl that's an electrical engineer. Surprised me too. lol
NadineJ: I can appreciate your story. I was always really good at taking stuff apart, but not as good at (or maybe not as interested in) putting stuff back together. Now, thanks to our Tear Down articles, I actually get paid to take stuff apart. And it usually gets returned in a ziplock bag.
In the earliest stories, my family jokes about having to hide screwdrivers when I was around. I had a habit of screwing the backs off of any electronic device to look inside. I don't remember that but I'm sure it's true.
When my dad built his own digital clock, I didn't leave his side all summer. I HAD to learn how to do that too. Best summer ever...
I had a little electronics kit that was essentially a large bread board with a handful of components. It came with a book of a whole bunch of circuits to build and showed both the schematic and the "wiring diagram". The quality left something to be desired, especially the potenitometers, which needed to be assembled from cheaper componets. Later, I upgraded to a much better kit.
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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 discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.