When did your parents first suspect you were going to be an engineer? | EE Times


Comments When did your parents first suspect you were going to be an engineer?

 

 

My folks knew I would likely end up in some area of engineering (or maybe science) because I was a ham radio operator by the time i was 13, and I had a full chem lab (lots of surplus stuff from Bell Labs where my best friend’s dad worked) in the basement where I was always blowing something up!  My folks had gotten what passed for a “Home entertainment center” in 1947 or so.  It was a big console unit that included a phono changer and an AM radio.  It had one speaker (12″) with an electromagnet (no Alnico yet) that doubled as the filter choke for the power supply (common in those days).  Well, of course this was mono (and all tubes, as transistors weren’t yet invented), and stereo wasn’t even a term then!).  By 1954, stereo was all the rage, as was “Hi-Fi sound.  The console was suffering from old age already; as I had begun to build and even design my own electronics by then (at ten years old), my parents gave me the go-ahead to repair/rebuild/modernize the console!  I obtained a Sams Photofact for the unit, and studied the schematics.  I came up with an interesting redesign that included a 4-way speaker system (with a super-tweeter!). a stereo turntable (with the channels summed since I had only the mono amp to work with), and a few other updates (including replacing most of the electrolytic caps as I was fairly sure that’s where the original problems arose).  I made a parts list, and we drove the 12 miles into NYC to Radio Row.  I found an inexpensive but adequate 4-speed turntable/changer, an electrostatic super-tweeter, the mid-range and “normal” tweeter, and all the caps and other parts I needed.  In studying the data sheet for the electrostatic tweeter, I found it needed to be biased to work properly.  As the original circuit had a push-pull output stage, I connected one side of the supertweeter directly to the plate of one side of the amp, and the other side to the opposite plate through a DC-blocking cap, with a resistor to ground.  This biased the speaker where it needed to be.  We had to do some carpentry to get the new turntable (a BSR BTW) to mount in place of the old one, and some more carpentry to modify the speaker area to hold the 4 speakers; the original was removed, and mounted on a sloping panel facing partly forward, partly to the floor.  The other 3 mounted to a new front panel with appropriate cutouts.  Now came the hard part: while I did grasp the basics pretty well, I didn’t really have the math tools yet to design the crossover network, nor did I understand Q factor!  I had bought some adustable “width coils” (for early TV sets) that covered the right inductance range, but had at best Qs at the low end of audio that were only a few percent!  In any case, the rest of the redesign worked pretty well; because the inductors were acting like resistors, the woofer, mid-range and mid-tweeter were effectively driven in paralled with some loss.  Because thay were designed to cover their limited ranges of frequencies, though, they serenditiously did each of their jobs OK!

THAT was when my folks realized I’d certainly become an EE, although I didn’t decide that (EE or chemistry) until I figured out a few years later that companies would pay me to design circuits, but not to blow things up!

Reply   Post Message   Messages List   Start a Board

USER RANK

ROOKIE

Meccano

Ian@Dycon   10/7/2014 9:48:17 AM

NO RATINGS

LOGIN TO RATE

Need I say more?

Reply   Post Message   Messages List   Start a Board

USER RANK

ROOKIE

Took things apart 🙂

ChrisJ555   10/3/2014 2:28:06 PM

NO RATINGS

LOGIN TO RATE

Dad’s old laptop that disappeared……..and lived in a drawer in my room almost completely disassembled :).  Oh yeah, and computer geek, and math and science and test scores etc.

Reply   Post Message   Messages List   Start a Board

via When did your parents first suspect you were going to be an engineer? | EE Times.

———————————–

Great story from “EE Times.”  An interesting and mildly humorous tale of one man’s journey to becoming an electrical engineer. Many of my amateur radio friends followed a similar route, although only  a few took on the academic and practical  rigors of the engineering field.  I, too, started tearing apart old stereos and radios to see if I could make them work.  Most of these efforts ended in failure, although I gained a deep and “burning” respect for the power of alternating current.  When I eventually became an amateur radio operator in my early 30s, I had gained enough experience in the military and in the broadcast field to become truly dangerous.  Fortunately, I was spared serious injury from my audio experiments.  Now that I’m a licensed amateur radio operator, I practice a much improved version of safety before I leap into things.  I’m a slow learner.  Enjoyable story from the folks at “EE Times.”

For the latest Amateur Radio news and events, please check out the blog sidebars.  These news feeds are updated daily.

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: