From: email@example.com (N. Thornton)
Subject: Re: 1523 joints
Date: 23 Oct 2002 08:37:36 -0700
References: <3DB5C12B.firstname.lastname@example.org> <3DB5F44A.email@example.com>
NNTP-Posting-Date: 23 Oct 2002 15:37:37 GMT
"Christopher R. Carlen" wrote in message news:<3DB5F44A.firstname.lastname@example.org>...
> Ken Taylor wrote:
> > Hi Christopher. Without having too much of a dig at you, should you have
> > considered the manufacture stage during the design stage? Is the board
> > suited to reflow? If it really has to be hand-assembled and soldered you may
> > need to take a look at a few assembly shops and their work to make yourself
> > happy with their output. Outsourcing can work but it takes a fair bit of
> > preparation, investigation and ultimately confidence on both sides. Can you
> > provide a fully assembled one which you *are* happy with so they have a
> > model? What about if you maybe only get one side done externally, leaving
> > the fiddlier bit on the 'non-active' side done internally, so that maybe an
> > automated process can be used for the bulk of the joints.
> > What are the chances though of taking one or more of your lab tech's 'under
> > your wing' and bringing them up to your standard? They have to learn
> > somewhere, and if they currently are not up to spec then here's your chance
> > to improve things! :)
> > Ken
> Thank you for your response. I will try to respond to all your valuable
> I didn't consider manufacturing processes because I planned to make a
> small quantity only, about 4-10 or so. For this and for most of the
> jobs I do this is the case, and so everything I do has been hand
> assembled. For that reason as well, I know very little about
> manufacturing requirements or processes, having little need to know
> about them. Now however, I am interested in learning if a manufacturing
> route might save me time. That would require that all the effort needed
> to provide the manufacturer with everything they need to do the job,
> works out to less effort than if I just do it myself.
> I am planning to hand assemble a fully working unit myself, since of
> course the design needs to be fully tested once implemented on the PCBs.
> The shop in fact asked me to provide them with a model, so assuming
> the first board works as I wish, I can provide it to the shop as a
> model. I would also intend to provide them with a considerable list of
> notes and "sanity checks".
> The idea of having only the one side done has occurred to me. I have to
> think about that further, particularly regarding the proportions of the
> total effort that I think are associated with each side.
> Now for your final idea, this is an interesting subject. I will tell
> you some background. When I came here, the department had an
> electronics tech. with superior chassis assembly skills. The man's
> instruments are just beautiful to look at. But he was admittedly not
> very knowledgable about electronic circuit theory, and so the types of
> circuits that were considered for custom design here were very limited.
> Consequently, there was sort of a backlog of old ideas, a wishlist so
> to speak, on the minds of the scientists, but nobody around to make them
> When I was hired, I thought I was going to be a laser tech. But after
> graduating with my Chemistry degree, and having gotten bored with that
> subject, I began delving back into my old favorite hobby, electronics.
> Only this time I was armed with lots of mathematical tools from my B.S.,
> and the willingness to use them. This attitude quickly propagated to my
> job where I found that I could have a lot of fun learning about
> electronic design by expanding my job from just lasers to involve all
> those wish list projects that had been on the back burner. Of course,
> since I have gotten into this field, I have now begun creating new lists
> of ideas for the scientists to wish for.
> Then our electronics tech. decided to leave, and I inherited his job.
> So now I have the duties of two jobs, unfortunately, since we can't
> afford to replace him at the moment.
> The other thing I did when I came here was learn about making printed
> circuits, since at the time everybody wire-wrapped things, and after my
> first crack at that I quickly decided that once was enough, and PCBs
> were the way to go. There is one other tech here now who is competent
> at building stuff, but he's booked with the duties of his dept. There
> are a few other electronics techs. as well but they aren't near prepared
> to tackle fine electronics.
> Which leads to my basic attitude about this, which is, that this is a
> national laboratory, and it shouldn't be necessary to train people here.
> I mean, the kind of people who should be here in the first place are
> those who learn by themselves, and hold themselves to impeccable
> standards. Unfortunately the reality isn't so rosy. And to make
> matters really strange, the scientists and managers I work for are all
> mechanical engineers, who have little idea about what I really do. They
> don't know the difference between designing a PLL and putting a
> connector on the end of a wire. And since putting connectors on the end
> of wires is what most techs. do here, it can be rather frustrating to
> hope for any sort of understanding from my superiors. Fortunately, the
> final results are what really count, and so I have gotten my proper
> rewards in the end. Thus I am not complaining, but rather laying the
> groundwork for you to understand why I have been offered some very funny
> propositions, basically to the effect of having mechanical techs. help
> me to assemble electronics, and even to align sophisticated laser
> systems. Mech. techs. without an iota of physics knowledge, that is.
> Our experiments with those ideas have been terrible failures, leading me
> to be very averse to the idea of continued attempts to train other
> techs. to do this sort of work. Think about it, someone who doesn't
> know *anything*, has to be brought through *everything* needed to
> assemble, what end of a diode is what, how to identify every sort of
> part (increasingly difficult today with SMT, unless one has the
> experience of years of doing this stuff, that makes it all just intuitive).
> I would be perfectly willing to hear your criticisms of this attitude,
> but I have become somewhat demanding when it comes to standards. Thus I
> think that in a leading research establishment a tech. who wants to do
> something new should figure it out on his/her own, then present their
> willingness to apply it to a project or even volunteer to solve some
> problem, and then simply show up one day with the results in order to
> prove their competence, as opposed to sinking the resource of time,
> which is our most valuable commodity, by having another tech. train
> them. That's what I've done. That's what the scientists have to do.
> Nobody tutors them on tensor calculus. They just open a textbook, and
> learn it. Then they use it.
> Thanks again for the input, and...
> Good day!
An interesting thread. I wonder if you could improve your whole setup
with a carefully thought quick presentation to the management,
explaining the problems you have generally, how they come about, how
they could be solved, and what advantages that would bring to them.
Presumably that would be by getting a good tronic tech in, perhaps
when a mech tech leaves.
Management dont need any tech knowledge to carry that through because
you can be one of the interviewers assessing the applicant's relevant
Just a thought, I dont know if its good for your specific case.