Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm going to have to stop impugning the more-or-less good name and alacrity of Stores & Cargo: the only slightly scuffed and dusty box containing Power Supply, Replacement, for Remote Control 2-RMC (Henry M. Assoc), qty 1 showed up well ahead of my arrival at Engineering.

...I opened it, unwrapped the supply and snickered. The old one was the shape and mass of a house brick (a house brick with a bulging and leaking electrolytic capacitor), on a subassembly housing bent up from thick sheet metal. New one, same subassembly...with a switching supply about the size and heft of a deck of playing cards all lonesome in the center of it. And several closely-printed pages folded and wedged in, what's this?

Modification Procedure For 2-RMC Replacement Power Supply

Oh, nice -- pull this card, flip that component around, swap this one out, install supply, recalibration procedure.... "Drop-in" fixes never are. Or hardly ever.

From the Chief's office, a creak and then he was at the hatch, "X? Need you for a meeting this afternoon, upgrades on the bridge." I'd spent too long standing still; the Chief is entirely certain that idle hands are the Devil's workshop, or at least an offense against the smooth running of his domain.

"Love to, Boss. Can't," I grinned, holding up the supply and fanned out instructions."

"Can. Who've we got -- ah! Your colleague David is still on sensors and such, you okay with him on this?"

There's not much stumps Handsome Dave -- if he can't do it, he'll find out or figure it out. "Sure!"

"Okay -- call him up, get him up to speed with this, and have him pick it next time he swings by the shop."


The Chief favored me with a steely look and contrived to loom. I don't know how he manages it -- he's not quite my height and twice my mass -- but he does. "Does this take two techs? Thought not. Is Dave already out? He is. I'll be at the dentist this afternoon and there's no reskedding this meeting. So you're It and Dave's headed for the drive room."

The starship's not military -- what I read of commercial seagoing vessels, we're not even that disciplined -- but nevertheless, sometimes there's only one good reply, especially to a man showing signs of overmastering a toothache: "Yessir! Thank you, sir."

Handed the project off to Dave, found plenty of work around the shop, made the meeting on time and only nodded off once and that only barely (I'm not really good at meetings). And about the end of the watch, Dave rings up: "Are you ready for me to fire this thing up?"

"Let me get to Drive Control first."

Little back and forth chatter, squeezed in past The Fury (not his real name) at DQ and Dave flipped the switch.

"We might have to recal everything," I reminded him. "Okay, I'm gettin' numbers -- hey! Looks about right!"

We spot-checked the most critical readings and it was runnin' just like nothing had happened. We're back in the remote-control biz. Whew!


Anonymous said...

You must have a lot of redundancy to always be fixing things and yet we still all get our Hee-Haw reruns on time.

Roberta X said...

Yep! We most certainly do -- people would be amazed.

Loose Gravel said...

Oh my... I hope the replacement power supply was not made by Lucas, but those "drop in" directions sound awfully familiar...

Roberta X said...

Nope, it's an EOS switing supply made by -- are you ready for this? -- Red Rocket. Honest.