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And speaking of work...

...just what is it that you do at work, Tacit?

Show us! Show us!




This is what happens when people find out I know how to use a soldering iron. Especially when we're back-ordered for a month because one of our suppliers is having trouble getting a critical part we need, and we're 800 units behind our shipping schedule.

More normally, I spend my time doing magazine ads, Web programming (for the most ghastly Web site ever conceived by man), image retouching, product photography, and producing multimedia support materials for our distributors.

The thing about a tiny startup, though, is that if you know how to do something, and that something needs to get done, you'll likely find yourself doing it regardless of what you've printed on your business card.

Which, honestly, is one of the reasons I really like small startups. Always something new and different happening. Mind you, it's usually new and different in that "OMG OMG disaster we're all going to die crisis crisis" kind of way, but still.

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
jtroutman
Sep. 10th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. With few exceptions, my entire career has been working for small start-ups, some of them my own. Job titles can be so meaningless. My usual response when people ask me "So Jim, what do you do?" is to say "well, what do you need done?".
(Deleted comment)
tacit
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
That's about right, too. One of the projects on my table right now, in fact, is designing and building a power supply that will allow us to test a whole bunch of boards simultaneously, rather than one at a time as we're doing now.
tothwolf
Sep. 10th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
I've been in the same boat many times myself. I've gotten to the point where I often don't advertise my full skill set to help avoid getting volunteered to do extra stuff that I'd rather not have to deal with ;)

That's an interesting way of mounting the LCD though (4x20?). I guess that helps cut down on the thickness of the device? Does the assembled unit have some extra support for the LCD other than the blob of glue at the bottom edge?

You wouldn't think an antenna coil like that would be too difficult to assemble in volume either. I can't help but wonder if the current price of copper (and artificial shortage) had anything to do with their delay...
tacit
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
The LCD is a 2x24, and there's a rectangular hole cut in the board beneath. The LCD board is mounted in such a way that the front surface of the display is even with the front surface of the board underneath. The plastic case has mounting supports for the LCD so that there's no pressure on the board when it's mounted.

It's appallingly old-tech; one of the plans on the drawing board for a nex-gen product, if and when we can ever afford to design it, calls for a large dot-addressable backlit LCD instead of a 2x24 character-based LCD like the one we're using now.
drjon
Sep. 10th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Hee. I worked for a small green-collar gonk (power regulator unit) manufacturer for a few years doing admin, web pages, design etc, but occasionally I'd be asked to help on the production line when we were short-handed and behind schedule. It was kinda fun. My dad was an electrical engineer and taught me how to soldier when I was a kid.
tacit
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
I learned to solder as a kid, too; started out when I was about 10 or so. Got my first computer (a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1) when I was 11...does that date me? By 12 I was having all sorts of fun modding it; in fact, there was a book called "Modifying the TRS-80" that was my Bible back in the day.

That was back when you could walk into a store and buy a complete scematic for your computer, together with circuit board trace diagrams and a printout of the source code of the operating system and the system ROMs. Those days are over...
jonnymoon
Sep. 17th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, the Ohio Scientific...or Heathkit.

I started off with an Apple, and by the time I hit VoTech, I was building an interface for a Rhino Robotic arm out of my //e. (From the DIP joystick port!)
masterhyde
Sep. 10th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
I work for a small company, too, though start up would only be accurate if you consider 50 years part of the "start up" period. LOL

I actually like the challenge of doing different things. It keeps work interesting, at least. Though there are definitely days when I could use a little of the stress that comes from working in a small, largely dysfunctional family with very few boundaries.
freyaw
Sep. 11th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
^This

The variety is good, the sense of 'humour' which they're all used to dealing with that is occasionally quite unsuited to a workplace (although not abusive or anything illegal)... Yes.
icedrake
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
My, grandma, what big capacitors you have...

It looks a bit like an abstracted robot figure. Very post-modern.

What is the actual function of the unit in question?
tacit
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
It's a lightning detector. The antenna picks up RF signals in the 10Hz range, and sends the signal through an A/D converter to the mocroprocessor, which does a FFT and a bunch of really, really hairy math to identify the characteristic RF signature of cloud-to-ground lightning, then calculates distance and (via Doppler shift) speed and direction of the storm.

The unit's used in commercial and military applications to warn of approaching lightning storms. It's actually pretty slick; it can identify a storm from about 75-80 miles away, and gives you distance, approach speed, and ETA. The finished unit looks like this:

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )