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Hi. I'm a Unix Administrator, mathematics enthusiast, and amateur philosopher. This is where I rant about that which upsets me, laugh about that which amuses me, and jabber about that which holds my interest most: Unix.
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Engineering Boredom

Posted 07-21-2014 at 11:55 AM by rocket357

In the past few months, I've encountered a dramatic shift in interests. Sure, I'm still interested in coding, philosophy, and Unix, but I've appended a new interest to the end of the list, and this one has started trumping my other interests.

The interest is in electronics. I'm not sure 1) how I suddenly got interested in electronics or 2) how I never noticed electronics before! I've gone from the quiet "coder zen" type of desk (i.e. disorganized, but in an "organized" fashion) to a sea of electronic components half disassembled and exposing all manner of internals for the world to see. It's so incredibly cool to pull apart a moderately complex system, and to be able to see the components, how they fit together, and to be able to understand what the designer was aiming for...and how I might be able to improve the design.

I will say that I do not know electronics as well as I would like, but I'm learning. A heavy dose of book theory coupled with experimenting with everything I can get my hands on has proven a useful approach (my desk, as I've mentioned, has become a graveyard for all of those electronic devices I've kept for unknown reasons over the years...I plan on desoldering all of them and reusing the components in my own projects...though I'm not sure how useful some of these ARM chips will be).

So now to the title of this blog post. I've hit a stage where I've become increasingly frustrated. When dealing with code, or configuring services for my home network, or even architecting infrastructures for customers, I see what it is I want to accomplish and 17 different ways to achieve that end goal, and I pick one based on the needs of the project. With electronics, I just don't have the "bag of tricks" built up yet...so I fall into "engineering boredom" where I don't want to build the same thing, but I don't want to *not* build the same thing. It's proven frustrating.

Unfortunately, this isn't something that comes overnight (my understanding of code, infrastructure, and network services didn't happen overnight, either). I've been lurking on various engineering sites (element14, adafruit, etc...) because those are great places to pick up tribal knowledge, but the learning just isn't happening fast enough. I've watched youtube videos on all of the crazy topics that interest me, read book after book, and disassembled everything I can afford to break, and the full, deep understanding is slowly starting to come around. The light bulb, as it were, is slowly getting brighter.

It's not often that a flash of brilliant interest like this comes along (computers when I was about 8 years old, philosophy when I was 17, etc...) so I suppose I should just quit complaining and enjoy the ride...but I can't help but feel like there's so much more I could do if I just had the knowledge.

Ahh well, that will have to wait for another day, I suppose.
Posted in Uncategorized
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Try not to zap yourself.
    Posted 07-23-2014 at 09:22 AM by vmccord vmccord is offline
  2. Old Comment
    One of my current projects is converting a computer power supply to a desk power source for electronics projects. It's pretty heavily documented on the internet, so I'm not too worried about electrocuting myself (yet). Once that project is finished, though, all bets are off lol.
    Posted 07-23-2014 at 12:21 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    I would like to do more electronics tinkering, but haven't the room. I successfully assembled a Tandy Multiface a while ago, and other bits'n'pieces for my Pi.
    http://raspi.tv/2013/tandy-multiface...r-raspberry-pi
    Posted 07-24-2014 at 03:59 AM by brianL brianL is offline
  4. Old Comment
    I was working on a light switch with my dad on the phone helping me. He asked if I had turned off the circut breaker. I had turned off "a" circuit breaker and even one to that particular room, but apparently not "the" circuit breaker for that switch. The screwdriver flew across the room and punched a hole in the drywall when I touched the circuit with it. And yet I live to tell the tale....
    Posted 07-24-2014 at 01:58 PM by vmccord vmccord is offline
    Updated 07-24-2014 at 01:59 PM by vmccord (OMG, I wrote tail for tale. I need coffee.)
  5. Old Comment
    With electronics, you have to be more worried about static electricity zapping certain components than electrocuting yourself.
    Posted 07-24-2014 at 02:48 PM by brianL brianL is offline
  6. Old Comment
    vmccord, when I was in the Marines, at one point I worked on diesel generators that ran the Avionics portable workshops that would be deployed to war zones. Those generators put out a tremendous amount of AC electricity, and you have to be incredibly careful with them. I watched a tech drop an adjustable wrench across a power post array that was powered up by a generator. We never found the adjustable wrench, or any part that could be used to identify it, so we had to get the entire shop out there to look for it (loose tools and jet engines don't get along) just in case any portion of the wrench survived. We found nothing but small balls of metal in the immediate location.

    brianL, yeah I'm building out a proper anti-static workbench, but the going is slow right now with my work schedule and some medical bills and such. My desk is in a carpeted area, so I'm really thinking about getting a wrist strap (or moving the workbench to the garage? I dunno, weather is nice in Washington State, so being in the garage wouldn't be *too* bad (especially compared to being in the garage in South Texas, where we moved from). I haven't decided yet). At any rate, I have my first project (other than the desk power source, I mean), which my wife suggested to me. It's nothing too outlandish (it involves a microcontroller and our cat...long story), but it should be fun.
    Posted 07-24-2014 at 11:08 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  7. Old Comment
    rocket357, that is why I'm always more willing to work on plumbing. Everything may get wet, but nothing burns down.
    Posted 07-28-2014 at 09:20 AM by vmccord vmccord is offline
  8. Old Comment
    That vaporized wrench incident sounds spectacular. Would've been great caught on camera, and put on YouTube.
    I use an antistatic wrist strap.
    Quote:
    At any rate, I have my first project (other than the desk power source, I mean), which my wife suggested to me. It's nothing too outlandish (it involves a microcontroller and our cat...long story), but it should be fun.
    You're not thinking of replacing the cat's brain with a microcontroller, are you? Not much fun for the cat.
    Posted 07-28-2014 at 02:03 PM by brianL brianL is offline
  9. Old Comment
    lol brianL, no, it's a wearable tech type of project. It will be considerably less painful than a brain transplant =)
    Posted 07-28-2014 at 03:39 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 07-28-2014 at 03:42 PM by rocket357 (s/more painless/less painful/ ugh.)
  10. Old Comment
    Arduinocat?
    Posted 07-29-2014 at 06:38 AM by brianL brianL is offline
  11. Old Comment
    heh something like that. He should be happy we're not taking vmccord's route and doing all of the logic on his wearable with plumbing =P
    Posted 07-29-2014 at 08:42 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by brianL View Comment
    That vaporized wrench incident sounds spectacular. Would've been great caught on camera, and put on YouTube.
    Ditto!
    Posted 07-29-2014 at 10:47 AM by vmccord vmccord is offline
  13. Old Comment
    My loving wife picked up a solder/hot air rework combo station for me for my birthday. Oddly, she picked out the same exact model I had on my amazon wishlist, and what's stranger than fiction is that she wasn't aware I'd put a solder/hot air rework station on my wish list.

    I took to twitter about it, and Amazon replied wishing me a happy birthday.

    What a weird place this world has become.

    As for the wrench incident, I would have dearly loved to catch that on film...
    Posted 08-12-2014 at 07:02 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 08-12-2014 at 07:04 PM by rocket357
 

  



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