[time-nuts] modern electronics education/jobs (was:

Mark Sims holrum at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 14 23:32:57 EST 2015

When I was in high school (early 1970's) I designed and built my own alarm clock out of TTL... (none of that sticking the guts of a commercial alarm clock in a pencil case that get kids arrested today).  Also built my first computer by interfacing a TV Typewriter to a calculator chip.  I was well skilled in the dark arts of soldering (hint: don't solder in the nude) and wire wrapping.

In college I built/hand soldered more S100 computer boards than I care to remember.  I was also a co-op engineer for Collins Radio...  right after they were bought by Rockwell...  I was assigned the old clock number (employee ID) of Arthur Collins...  all my printouts from the computer center (Univac 1108) had A A Collins name on them in big ASCII block letters...  and were given very special handling.   While there I weaseled my way into a soldering class that taught soldering for manned space flight (and nukes).   Graduated at the top of the heap.  Frankly, I didn't learn much that I did not already know...  BTW,  they built $100,000+ laser wire strippers to use on the space shuttle.

My first job out of college was at a mini computer company.   Much to the chagrin on the engineering manager and my "supervisor" I insisted on building and hand soldering the first prototype PCB's of all my designs.   That way I learned all the little gotchas that worked their way into the layouts.   None of my designs over 5 years required more than one spin of the circuit design/layout for production.    Once the lead supervisor of the manufacturing floor saw me soldering a new prototype board and freaked out...  nobody can/should hand solder a circuit board...  then she took a close look at the board and freaked out even more...  and wanted me to teach soldering to all the lovely ladies.  I'll stack my soldering foo against all comers.  (BTW,  nylon underwear was banned for all assembly workers... static control and all that).

There is no substitute for hands-on experience, learning, and experimenting (particularly when it comes to soldering in the nude going wrong,  or the subtle wonders of stepping bare foot on a legs-up TO3 power transistor).


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