Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A Bad Case Of The Klutz

     It's probably the prednisone.  Though I took the last yesterday, the stuff builds up and takes awhile to get out of your system.  Whatever it is, I have been clumsy and out-of-step all morning.  Woke up slowly and face-down and nearly fell getting out of bed.  Cooking breakfast went poorly -- the usual ballet that ends neatly with coffee ready, toast and egg done at the same time, juice poured and drank was instead a jumbled mess, bacon too cold, toast burned, egg barely kept from burning, coffee half-done.

      Later, I nearly dropped a book in the washroom sink.  Can't keep from falling over my own feet and if you saw this blog post before correction, the number of typos would amaze you.

     To make matters worse, yesterday, I was confronted what just how much of a steam-locomotive technician in an all-electric world I have become: I needed a few diodes for a project -- a couple of PTC205s or 1N4007s to sum two 5 Volt power supplies, a few 1N4148s to put across relay coils to suppress the inductive spike when you turn off the juice (and keep them pulled in just a little longer, a cheap "pulse stretcher" that can sometimes prevent problems).  We not only didn't have any, there wasn't even a place for them!

    In the most recent rearrangement and expansion of Engineering, we added three more workbenches and revamped parts storage.  We kept a good stock of connectors and basic passive components, mostly resistors and capacitors, a few relays.  The consensus was that our stock of TTL and CMOS discrete logic could go -- either to deep storage or a surplus dealer -- because it was long past its time.  Anything you once did with TLL or CMOS is either simple enough that now you can just use a relay, or complicated enough to merit an embedded microcontroller.  And as for transistors and diodes, we'd keep a few basic types that would cover most of our needs: 2N3904 and 2N3906 transistors are an NPN/PNP pair that will do for most relay driver and small-signal work, a fairly tough rectifier like the 1N4007 or PTC205 (1kV/1A and 1kV/2.5A respectively) for power supplies, and a smaller diode like 1N914/1N4148 or 1N4001 for other uses.  Add some three-terminal regulators (78nn and 79nn positive and negative regulators in 5V and 12V versions), and that's nearly everything you might want.  With 15-Volt regulators and NE5532As, we'd be set for audio work as well -- and that's not even a shoebox full of parts.

     Yeah, well, nobody saved the shoebox, as near as my bosses, peers and I can tell.  We used to have a wall of ICs, transistors and diodes, neatly sorted by type and number, and they're all gone.  Every last one of them, along the with the little drawers they were stored in.

     I have a few of the parts I need here at home, so I'm providing them for this project; I have ordered more for my employer and they'll restock what I have used.

     But think about it: a whole wall of parts vanished and no one noticed (except, presumably, the guy who threw them out).  Parts that were once critical to the kind of work I do.  At one time, I prided myself on having a foot in both camps: it was 1937 in my basement workshop, and five minutes into the future in my shop at work.  Any more?  Pick your flavor of "old," because that's all there is.

6 comments:

JimBob said...

You threw out your stock of transistors, IC's and diodes and it makes you feel old? Couple of years ago I threw out my stock of tubes and selenium rectifiers--LOL

pigpen51 said...

I went through the withdrawls of tossing out parts a few years ago. It not only makes you feel old, but when you then have to go and buy a single transistor, when you had 5 of them sitting in a box just a year before, makes you feel dumb.
I said when I tossed the stuff, if I need one, Radio Shack stocks tons of them, and I will just go and pick up one, and that keeps my mess down. Radio Shack? We used to have 3 of them here in my small town. Not anymore. Now there is none, and so most parts like that must be ordered by mail. It is probably cheaper to order them, provided the shipping is free, but the convenience factor is totally lost.
One lucky thing is that most of the things I used to need small electronic parts for are becoming obsolete, and replaced with newer things that are not ever going to need fixing, but just tossing in the trash. I mean, who actually repairs a television or a VCR anymore?

Roberta X said...

"You threw out your stock of transistors, IC's and diodes...?" No, my employer threw out their stock. I objected to warehouse storage of the basic semiconductors (I wanted them kept in our workshop storage), but I was overruled. They didn't even bother to keep track of where it went. Now it has bit them where they sit down.

At home, I don't throw out parts. I have the approximately the stock of a small 1940s radio-parts store in my basement, with a small collection of newer parts.

Paul said...

throw it out and you will need it tomorrow. Explained all the building my grand dad kept building.

Will said...

Roberta,
since you are talking about old(er) electronic components, might you have an idea of where/how I might be able to sell a smallish stock of it? I've got at least a bucket of those storage slips of IC's of various types/sizes, in addition to small packages of odds and ends. All at least 20 years age. Plus, small bags/boxes of mini/micro switches and electronic switches. This is from various high-tech companies engineering depts or obsoleted stocks. No one I'm still in contact with has any electronics background.

Also have some optics: surgical and communication laser components, etc, but I suspect that is not your area of competence. Not mine anymore, either, unfortunately. Now I have trouble remembering what I'm looking at, sigh...

Rich P said...

If it's Friday at the Laser Mine, I prefer not to dismember faulty units, because I know that on Monday, Something Will Be Missing. Maybe just a screw or washer, gone out of the tote, but still. It could be Watchmakers, but they never fix anything or put it back together. Rogue Watchmakers.