Real Time in Electronic Design


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Having been in the field of electronics from the middle 60s until today, it has been to my awestruck amazement to watch technology move from the lowly tube of yesterday into today’s modern wonders in electronics. It seems to this engineer, however, that there is a passion for making everything we use digital, that much of the simplicity and ease of the analog has been discarded and in many cases the Rube Goldberg philosophy of engineering has been adopted: Why do something simple when you can make it complex?

Case in point: Did you know that there is a wire that expands and contracts depending on the temperature? We used it in thermostats. Why then do you need a processor controlled, programmable, state of the art controller that takes a 15 page illustrated book of directions to turn on the heat in a chicken coop, garage, or a greenhouse?

If you talk to some of the young engineers today and mention Conventional current or a Logarithmic nomograph, they will look at you like you're speaking in tongues. For those who don’t know what a nomograph is, it is a set of parallel perpendicular graphs that will show you that 20 volts across 5 ohms dissipates 80 watts. This is done by simply drawing a straight line through the graphs.

Today they solve the problems by plugging a set of numbers into a screen and an algorithm buried in a line of code somewhere in a program spits out an answer. If asked how the answer was arrived at they answer “it's right there on the screen".

People can learn from the past. For a while NASA couldn’t hit their butt with a board, let alone successfully land on Mars. My generation managed to land on the surface with out too much trouble. You would think that after the first couple of failures someone would go back in the archives and see how it was done.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go back to the time of the PDP-8 computer that had a row of octal programmable switches, fed by paper tape, and had 4K of core memory. But it would be nice once in a while to have something come on without getting the command “Please wait while the system boots. " Just because technology is old doesn’t mean it is not relevant. I would like to have a piece of equipment that has a switch that actually turns something on and off without talking to a processor. There are times you would like the off/on switch to work just by adding or removing the power.

And there is still a place for a fuse

I have designed something straight forward, simple and it works. It is called the Lightning Lockout Safety Switch™. It does just what it says it does. If you’re interested go to

Michael E. Oliver
All new endeavors start with the basics.
Check the website!


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