Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....

{ some spelling and structure issues corrected 06/23/2015 }


Image Capture/Reload:

The XEROX Sigma 2 Operating System was a "Black Box", that when it failed, it required a team of company specialists several hours to re-install, utilizing a comprehensive process. Utilizing a number of the diagnostics I had written, I was able to capture a current "Image" of the OS, and write it to a Digital Magnetic Tape. At another time then, I could simply recover that image from the tape, and write it back into the Sigma II to restore that system. This process then allowed me to do the same thing with the comprehensive operating system that I had written to support the large number of Special Diagnostics I had written over the course of time. I named it "Diagnostic Control Monitor" ("DCM"), which when loaded as the OS, allowed me in a mater of minutes to load my diagnostics, test various pieces of hardware, and then in a short time be able to re-load the original OS, and have everything back to normal operation.

The Pseudo- Assembler:

There came a time when our group wanted to consider revising some of the current "Drivers" in the operating system, but we didn't know where they were, or what the "Hooks" were, due to the fact that the entire operating system was a "Black-Box", known only to XEROX. One of our people somehow got hold of a Digital Tape (OS) of a system very similar to ours. It was taken over to the Computer Services Department, where it was transformed into punched Hollerith Cards (12 boxes of 2,000 cards each). Now what to do next? I wrote a "Pseudo- Assembler" that read these cards one at a time through the card reader, and presented an interpretation of the machine code on a Tektronix Flood Screen CRT, along with current machine code in the core memory. If the current interpretation matched what was in the current system, I had it print the card image (including the comments on the card), and then read the next card. If the interpretation did not match, then I would look at the actual existing surrounding code on the Flood Gun CRT, and determine what was needed to correct it. I would then just simply go over to the card punch, and punch up a new card with the necessary correction, and restack it back in the card reader and go again. A common situation was an Address Indexing requirement called an "LPOOL". After quite some time (whenever I could squeeze in some time on the system), I had an entire system printout of the current operating system, and could not only replicate it by assembling the resulting stack of cards, but now we could get to serious work in modifying any of the drivers we chose, and could also save images of whatever results we had come up with on digital tape.

Signal Modification/Correction, for Vibration Analysis:

Utilizing Telemetry data obtained by instrumentation sent back during missile liftoff, and stage separation, the frequencies and the energy involved in those frequencies played an important part in pre-testing of equipment used for missile control, and in the payloads. One of the problems encountered was faithfully replicating those parameters as passed on to the "Shaker Tables", and even correctly passing back to recording systems the respective data from different aspects of each package. Our group came up with the idea of sending a "Calibration Pulse" down to the "Shaker Table", and then comparing the feedback result with the original. We had a very special piece of equipment that did (among other things) a "Fouruay Analysis" comparison, where they could then modify the "Calibration Pulse", do an "Inverse Transform", and then send the new "Calibration Pulse" to get what they really wanted to happen (all systems slightly "Color" the signals sent). Once they knew the correct amount of "Fudging" to use, now all vibration signals could be invoked, representing a true test of what the payload on the vibration table should encounter. I was called on to write the only "Machine Code" (the only code fast enough), with appropriate "Hooks" for the engineers to use for their calculations written in Fortran. The considerable difficulty I faced was that the necessary code to be sent, had to extracted from a single hard drive, while simultaneously obtaining received data from the unit under test. Obviously, since data cannot be read from a hard drive and at the same time written back onto the same hard drive, I had to utilize Interrupt Driven Fast Buffering, with one set for the data read from the hard drive, and transmitted over the "D-to-A" Converter to the "Shaker Tables", and the other set to acquire incoming instrumentation data via a fast "A-to-D" Converter, all without missing a single sequence. I even had to write a special test program in Fortran to evaluate the total picture and display it on the "Flood-Gun CRT". Everything had to operate flawlessly, or wrong signals could be sent to the vibration tables, causing serious damage to anything from all of the control equipment or the missile packages under test. It took me two to three times as long to do the testing, than it did to write the control package. The end result was that we had a team or two doing presentations on this total concept throughout the country, when NASA put out a request for all major Aerospace Companies to evaluate the possibility of this aspect of control and evaluation. We had totally "Scooped" the industry with our work and results.

Calibrating the "A/D" and the "D/A" Converters to NASA Standards:

We had one of only 2 of the High-Speed/High Accuracy "Analog to Digital" Converters in the world. NASA had the other. Periodically, these had to be certified to NASA standards to qualify our testing analysis of various projects. It would normally require a scheduling of machine time for 2-5 hours for adjustments and testing, and a good sized stack of resulting printouts (about 2" to 3" of paper). The A/D Converter had to be able to analyze data between +2V to -2V, with a normal accuracy of 2mv, and a negligible scatter (4 Channels). I got the idea of first adjusting and calibrating the D/A Converter, and then constructing a "Fudge-Table" of values necessary to get the actual desired value to correct for minor variances beyond the calibration. Then, by hooking a coax from the output of the D/A to the input of the A/D, I could now on command, deliver a calibrated desired input voltage to the A/D. Then I would take 1,000 point Histogram data samples of individual decreet steps, from the range of -2V to +2V, and plot those on the Tektronix Flood Gun CRT. The information now presented on the screen allowed me to determine if any one of the 11 digital sampling points needed adjusting, if the gain of the respective amplifier was off, and if the DC offset was needed to be adjusted. From the time one test run was taken, appropriate adjustments made, and new test run, was just under one minute. Now, a single individual could make all adjustments to NASA requirements, and be ready for Certification, in about 20 to 30 minutes, instead of a few hours!!

Magnetic Surgery:

The process of putting a mag tape on the digital reel-to-reel system for either recording or reading data, is not only placing the reels on and threading onto the hub like just about any audio tape system, but also pressing the "LOAD" button. This causes the take-up-reel to spin, taking up tape, until a photo-sensor sees a specially placed reflective tape, which immediately stops the spooling. Now, when data is written to the tape it is written by blocks, with appropriate code structures. These code blocks are now able to be read accordingly.

As it so happened, there was a "magnetic glitch" (caused by an electronic malfunction) that was written at the load-point, which now caused the following reading of data to be initiated ( falsely ), prior to the proper beginning of the appropriate code blocks. This resulted in miss-reading of all data on the entire tape, for each and every tape. The consequence was a loss of an entire night's work of data-analysis (quite an expensive situation, besides time lost).

We had a device we called a magnetic-detection "hocky-puck". It was about that size, and had a very thin non-magnetic membrane, very fine iron dust in suspension, and a glass window. By placing this device over a digital magnetic tape, and tapping it slightly, you could actually see the digitized imprint on the tape. I was able to determine that there was a single magnetic spike (pulse), where it should not have been, and determined that it happened when the tape reached the "Load Point", caused by an electronic malfunction to the heads (9 of them). With a very fine line drawn on a piece of paper, I was able to place the offending magnetic spike on that line. Now, I simply took a small piece of paper and folded it a few times, and with it placed over the mag tape. Now, with a simple 10 cent toy magnet at about 45 degrees, I was able to slowly and carefully swipe across the offending stripe, which smoothed it out. It didn't erase it, but by smoothing it out it was less of a rapid change (transition) for the heads, allowing the heads to ignore that speed bump, and correctly read the data blocks. In the meantime, there were those that were impatient, and started to re-do all the previous night's work, but I managed to stop them, because when I had found the problem, all they were going to do was to repeat all the same problems. I now had to go out and fix the electronic issues on the tape machine, and verify. Result... previous night's work saved, and prevented the same thing happening again.

Re-Establishing the Missing Sweep-Generator Control Track:

During the testing of missle payload components on a "Shaker-Table" for individual potential resonances, frequencies are put into a controlled sweep from low frequencies to some desired higher frequency. During this event, there are a number of instrumentation recordings made on a multi-track 2" wide analog tape. The sweeping frequency is also normally recorded on the control track. One day, when we went to analyze the data, it was discovered that there had been a failure in recording the sweeping frequency. Since we had the same kind of controllable sweep generation, I set up a dual-channel o-scope, with one channel fed by the sweep gen. Then, I found a data track with some pretty decent signals that I could compare the sweep gen with. After a number of attempts, I was able to re-stablish a usable control signal for a "Tracking-Filter" to follow, as recorded on the control track. It required finding the correct rate of sweep change, and a correct start point. It took most of the afternoon to accomplish that.

One of My Early Years at Boeing, and "The Interview that God Controlled":

It would appear that the Personnel individual had deliberately sent me on a wild goose chase for an interview, because when I got there, the Supervisor said, "I don't know why they sent you, because I couldn't hire you if I wanted to". Then he said, "well, as long as you are here, shall we go ahead any how, just for drill, if nothing else?". I figured it would be good in any case, so after asking me a number of normal electronics questions, he asked, "have you ever worked with any strain gauges?". I said no, but I know what they are and how they work, so he handed me a sheet of paper, and I drew out a description of one kind, and explained how it worked and what it was used for. Then he asked me about accelerometers. Again, I said no, but I know what they are and how they worked. So, he handed me another sheet of paper and I explained how they worked and what they were used for. Now, he got a real mischievous smile on his face, and asked me about a "Variable-Reluctance-Transducer". I said that I have never even heard of one, but based on the conversation of accelerometers, I would take an educated guess that it would be certain kind of accelerometer where the displacing mass would vary the "Reluctance" of a circuit, rather than using something like a strain gauge. He questioned me, by saying, "you've never heard of one before"? The final result was where he repeated that he had no budget to hire me, but he would see what he could do. Two weeks later, he hired me into the "Instrumentation Division".

A Call to AWACS:

I had been an Boeing Instructor in the Commercial Division for about a year, but at this particular time I was working in "Structures Test". My supervisor contacted me and told me I was needed back over to the Training Department for a while, so I was back to wearing an Orange Badge for about 6 or 8 weeks. It turned out that Boeing realized that although the technicians working with the engineers on the AWACS Prototype were good experienced techs, they did not have the necessary digital and computer concepts under their belt. I had about two days to restructure a previous course, and start teaching each of the three shifts of those crews what they needed, with two weeks each crew shift. They had to be given material they could grasp immediately (fluently, mind you), remember them, and be able to apply them consistently as soon as they went back to work on the Bird.

After all was completed, all training of this nature had to have oral and written follow-up. What was really great for me, was that since I still had a security clearance, those guys showed me everything on that Bird, from stem to stern, assuming that I would understand all of the technical aspects of all of the equipment. They also told me that the understanding from what had been taught, had put them with a good grasp of all of the digital circuits that they were working with, with the Westinghouse engineers.

Missile Ablation Testing with Plasma Streams:

Just like an individual will sweat to cool off (by the evaporation), missiles re-entering the atmosphere need to be cooled. This is done by an "Ablative Coating", that sheds off, taking the heat with it. In order to test various coatings, there were samples that had fine wires at strategic levels in a block of ablative material under test. This block of material was subjected to an intense blast of heat and massive air flow, called a "Plasma Stream". As the material would "Ablate" off, the individual wire at a particular level would immediately vaporize, and high speed recording made of this event. The whole thing was usually over in a few seconds.

The "Filter Alarm" Incident:

In analyzing various missile telemetry data, the engineer would determine what filter characteristics he or she wanted utilized during the digitizing process. With a number a filter parameters that could be invoked by appropriate codes, the person running the data analysis would go over to the card-punch, and punch in the required code. As it turned out, there were only 10 of 16 variables in each major selection that could be used, with a wrong selection resulting in an open circuit (no filter), and you would wind up analyzing just noise. On one occasion, an entire nights work was lost this way, due to wrong codes punched in. I was asked to design and implement an alarm to indicate when a wrong code was accidently put in. I did that ( using 5V Positive-True Logic in a -6V Negative-False circuit), and used a basic Sonalert module for the audible alarm. I tested and installed it. The very next morning however, the night shift operator was quite upset with me, because that "blinky-blank" thing kept beeping all night, so he finally disabled it. Before I could explain, the Lead Engineer moved me aside, and I left.

The Shock of Finding "Teaching Logarithms" on My Schedule:

While I was an instructor in the Industrial Training Division, I was perusing my schedule to see what I was going to be teaching soon, and I saw that one of the class segments was to teach logarithms. No problem, I had been using them for years, but suddenly I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to teach them. Whoa! I started going through every reference and textbook I could find, and I was still at a loss. Finally, one day I happened to look at the "preface" of a book of a table of logarithms and found the statement, "since logarithms are exponents, they must obey the laws of exponents". Suddenly it all clicked on how to explain them, and now I was able to prepare a series of papers as guides for the students. I wound up using those same guides for years afterward.

The Mobile Minuteman Project:

I had the opportunity to be a crew chief to manage one of the two teams putting together the prototype equipment for the "Mobile-Minuteman Project", where the intention was to be able to put a Minuteman Missile on a train that was to keep moving around the country, rather than as a fixed target. When everything was working, Defense Secretary McNamara visited for a demonstration. I was in fact the one that opened the gate to let him and all the "Bird Colonels" with him. Everything went off with a hitch (there had been one the day before), but he had already decided to kill the project.

During the wiring of all the multiple pin conductors, there was a special "insert tool" that broke within two weeks of taking it from the tool crib. I got an idea and approached my supervisor for a "replaceable-tip" tool, where simply the tip could be replaced, and put us back in business. I then worked with the "butcher-shop" (a prototyping machine shop), and we had a tool with several tips. Interestingly enough, none of those tips ever broke, and it kept us going. A time came when there was not a single "Pin-Insertion-Tool' in all of the Seattle Boeing Complexes, and three supervisors came to me and borrowed the one we had. The Boeing Tooling Department made their own design, which also broke. More to the story, which I cannot tell here, but I lost out on any kind of reward for that tool, which had saved Boeing many thousands of dollars.

Giving The SST Crew Cab a Bath"

When Boeing was competing for the award of the SST Airplane, besides having made a prototype, they also made a full scale metal skin cockpit, so they could pressure test it. They did this by submerging it in a tank of water, with a number of strain gauges everywhere for instrumentation. Somewhere down the line, the digitizing system developed a fault, and I was assigned to try to find the problem and fix it. While I was working on the problem, I was using a card-extender to allow me to measure signals on individual cards. On one particular occasion, I noticed that if the card in test was flexed ever so slightly, that the system would go bonkers. It turned out that where a transistor lead went through a gold plated hollow rivet, it had never been soldered (at the factory). Carefully soldering it took care of the problem.

Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....


The Elk, and Why They Wouldn't Invite Me to Hunt With Them After That:

When we moved to Montana for a teaching position, I was able to go hunting with some of the new friends I had made there. They knew the area of course, and were willing to have me along. Even though I had shot competition previously, in their eyes I was still a "Greenhorn from Washington", so I had to prove myself to them before they would trust me in knowing how to shoot, and do it safely. A major test was where they placed a target in a tire, let it roll down a grade as a moving target, and do the obvious, without endangering them.. After I was accepted into the group, three of us went hunting deer up on the pass. As it turned out, one of the guys spooked a small herd of elk, and I heard them. I quickly got up on a small knoll, and motioned for one of the other guys to come up there too, just in time to see about a 2year old bull pop out into view about 90 to 100 yards away, with his hind end toward us. This bull was watching for my friend who had spooked them. I drew down on him, and was contemplating a head shot, but I was waiting for the friend next to me to take the shot first, since I was the new guy. I saw the bull raise his head, and I knew he was about to dash away, so I dropped down to the base of his neck, and dropped him. My friend standing beside me hadn't even gotten the bull in his sights yet, and later complained; "the first time I've had an elk in my sights in 15 years, and someone drops him out from under me". He at first asked if it really had antlers? The "Jeep Road" where the bull was standing was quite narrow, and when he dropped, suddenly two cows jumped over him from the side, and we hadn't even seen them.

The Rancher, His Ground-Squirrels, and The Fox Cub:

One of my student's had an uncle that raised beef for shipment. The student arranged for us to go out on his uncle's ranch to shoot ground squirrels, which were quite a nuisance. They were confident of my methods of safety there, and as a result was invited on various occasions to come and get rid of as many of those critters as I could. It turned out, I was the only one he would allow in amongst his cattle. There was also another stipulation... there were some foxes there as well, that he trapped on occasion, and he wanted them left alone. One day, I decide to test the calibration on my rifle, and there was a deep trench with some planks, that I could check safely my scope alignment. A rather interesting event occurred then. The fox den was only a few yards away from this trench, and one of the cubs got curious about the bullet hitting the plank. He totally ignored my presence, the noise of my firing, and started walking out on the plank toward the bullet impacts. I finally decided that I didn't want to accidently hurt him, so I had to stand up and shout and wave my hat to scare him off.

Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....

Applied Management & Applied Electronics Corp

The Traffic-Analysis Systems (AMC):

While I had a teaching position in Helena, Montana, I was approached about working on the side on a new technology for traffic analysis, in speed determination, traffic flow, and some other potential considerations. I was able to design and develop an Infra-Red speed analysis system of two beams, set 12" apart, that was able to shoot across a 4-lane freeway, with a good sized ditch between the pair of dual lanes, even in Montana weather conditions. I used a "Falling-Domino" timing circuit to bracket the speed blocks. Unfortunately, we lost out to some other firm, with their system.

The "OEM" Company(AEC):

As time went on, "Small Computer Systems" began to be a consideration for Business use. This was before any of the so called "Personal Computers". We could see a potential market for building systems, and we aggressively pursued this area. I was the technical side of the development of systems for sale to distributors, who then sold them to business customers.

New Companies, and Disappearances, and How to Keep on Top:

One responsibility I had was that I saw literally 2 to 5 circuit board and system suppliers come and go PER MONTH! What I did then was to determine what components and packages would allow us to maintain a degree of compatibility with our initial buildup, and if any outfit suddenly vanished on us, rather than being left high and dry, I could have a replacement setup ready to go with 2 weeks at the most. We built equipment systems and software that we sold to other dealers, that then were sold to their business customers. We were one of the only ones in the state that was able to survive, and we did experience a few supplier disappearances.

The Advent of CP/M, MP/M, and CP/NET:

It was during this initial time frame, that I discovered where an individual by the name of Gary Kildal ( later Digital Research Corp) had come up with a unique idea to allow a variety of computer systems to utilize a common base (BDOS & CCP), that could be customized to the local machine by the BIOS. I brought this up to the man with the gold (you know the "Golden Rule"), and he just blew it off. However, a week or two later he discovered it, and ... you know the rest. Anyhow, we immediately started utilizing CP/M and I met Gary on a couple of occasions. It was in this same time frame that an individual started "Wordstar" (originally "Ed","NED", and "EDIT"), and I had a number of conversations with him. Later, when Digital Research produced MP/M, that was really a great concept, but very few organizations was able to make it work without local modifications. We were one of the few in the nation that were able to make it work without mods. Later, we were able to make a number of systems with their CP/NET setup. MP/M was a enhanced system that allowed multiple consoles, with their own CPU,memory, and FD/HD components in a single system. We typically ran 4 host consoles with 2 to 3 printers, all on a single Z80 CPU. CP/NET was an additional enhancement that worked CP/M Systems in concert with MP/M Systems.

By the way, I have seen some discussions on the proper definition of "CP/M", and if you open one of the Digital Research Manuals, you will find: "CP/M is a monitor control program for microcomputer system development...". (emphasis mine) Gary and his team consistently referred to "microcomputers", not "microprocessors", for the "M" part of the description.

Multi-Systems in One Cabinet:

One thing I did was to take a full-sized multi-card S-100 base board and carefully cut certain signal traces. This allowed me to place 4 individual Z80 CPU/Memory/FD Controller/Smart Terminal systems in the same cabinet, with a I8086 Master Controller that could access any of the 4 Z80 Systems, and which controlled a 96MB Hard Drive System and 3 to 4 Printers. Each Z80 System thought it "owned" a section of the Hard Drive. There was a lot more technical detail to the whole advent....

The Parking-Ramp Involvement:

We eventually found involvement with a new enterprise, dealing with new Parking-Ramp controls, like the Ticket-splitter, Gate Arm Control, Auditing, Volume Assessment and Control. We were also coordinating with a outfit in New York, which was number one in the nation. However, when they went away, that left us as number one. One of our primary installations was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they had 3 parking ramps, and they needed a central control and auditing computer in the town center. One thing I did was to develop a Control and Testing program in PASCAL, that I had installed on a portable computer. I could take this out to one of the parking ramps, plug it into the system, and simulate capacity, and all the various control parameters.

Working With Law Enforcement:

At the time that we were active in traffic-analysis, I found myself involved with overseeing the installation of wire loops placed into cuts in the pavement, that in some cases was used to interface with traffic signal control systems, and in other cases used to evaluate traffic flow and even speed analysis of some various streets. One of the duties was to train local folks how to adjust the detection of everything from motorcycles to articulated busses, and even such as large trucks. One time when I was going over some data from one of the streets, I noticed that at 2:00am on each week night there was someone that was consistently going about 70mph (it was a 25MPH zone). I showed it to the Police Chief who was standing there, and his comment was: "am I reading that right?".. Well, the next month when I came back, and was going over recent data, I questioned the Chief about that "anomaly" we saw last time. He just grinned, and said "I think that was probably dealt with".

Working With Law Enforcement – more of the same:

On one occasion, we were doing "Stop Sign Analysis" with instrumentation at the stop sign in Butte, Montana. With a policeman intermittently blocking traffic, I would do various tests, like proper stops, sliding stops (over the line), slow "run-through" (no stop), etc. It was always interesting when I slid out into the traffic lane to see people looking around "to see where the camera was". Of course, we made it a point to not hold up traffic more than a couple of minutes.

Working With Law Enforcement – again, more of the same:

We also had contracts with other law-enforcement departments, often where the Sheriff's Department and the Local Police Department were combined in the same building, and even with Local Fire Department. In developing the software for system control, I made sure that there were no "back-door-entries" possible, and even I couldn't get into the system remotely. I always had a knowledgable high-ranking officer at my elbow any time I was in the system, because I had access to everything from traffic tickets, homicides, stake-outs, etc...

Leaving the Company

Even though I was the "Vice President of Engineering", there developed a series of serious trust issues. I finally got fed up with it, sold my stock and left...

Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....


Teaching Slide-Rules and Scientific Notation to 5th Grade Boys:

I don't remember just how this all came about, but I had this opportunity to teach a group of 5th grade boys at the Salvation Army Facility, how to use a Slide-Rule. The biggest challenge was in that I needed to teach Scientific and Engineering Notation as a major part of this. A year or two before this, God had given me a method of teaching Scientific and Engineering Notation to 8th & 9th graders. The method is quite effective, in that I used colored marbles instead of numbers for the concept. I also emphasized that you NEVER move the decimal point, but rather you moved values relative to the decimal point (i.e. either in front of or behind the decimal point).

I started with saying that your total worth was depending on how many marbles you had in your pocket, and your bank account, and that you could simply move marbles from pocket to bank, or visa versa. Then, after teaching them the fundamentals of slide rules, I would confidently say that you could give these guys ANY set of numbers, to multiply or divide, and they ALWAYS got the right answer, with the correct decimal-point indication. Hint: your "pocket value" is the number of marbles "in front of the decimal point".

Teaching Transistor Theory to a Group of Blind Hams

I once had an interesting challenge, when I had the opportunity to give a presentation on transistor theory to a group of blind amateur radio operators (and those that were studying to be), in Vancouver Washington.

I was at the Radio Club there one evening when I had this opportunity. Drawing illustrations on a white board certainly was not going to work, so I had to draw pictures in their minds for my illustrations, and then build on each of them. It seemed to work out well, and I had the pleasure of watching their faces for various expressions, during the presentation.

Teaching Transistor Theory to students at the Federal Way High School:

I was "burning the candle at both ends", by putting in a full day at Boeing, and teaching classes in the evenings at one of the Jr. Colleges. At the start of the first session of a class, I would ask the folks why they were taking that particular class. In one particular case, one of the men was a teacher at Federal Way High School, who had been assigned to teach electronics and transistor theory at the school. He was taking my class so that he could keep ahead of his students.. To make a long story short, I offered to come during my lunch hour from Boeing and do some presentations. Boeing not only allowed me to do this, but also allowed me to extend my lunch hour, and then make up the remaining time of my shift later in the day. Quite sometime later, I was called into my supervisor's office, and was presented a paper that had come from the school. It was signed by all the students, the teacher, and even the principal. It had come to Boeing at a high level, trickled down through several levels of administration, and a copy was put in my file.

Color Code in 18 Minutes:

God gave me a method of teaching fluent "color code" for components, that typically throughout some 30 or 35 years, took only 18 minutes. I used brightly colored flash cards to represent the numerical equivalents. Once I got started, I would never refer to them by their equivalent color (only by representative number), never in sequential order, but in some cases even with some logical expression (like green-grass vs blue-sky). Then, I would combine 2 colors in a specific relationship, and emphasize that the decimal point relationship would fall 3 different ways, and how to properly express the numbers, without locking in their thinking into a rut. Finally, I showed them how to classify quickly the range assignments. The students were always dumbstruck as to how quickly they could now assign the proper values, without reciting some kind of a vulgar "nursery-ryme".

Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....


"Can We Make a Vending Machine Cabinet, with no Screws or Bolts Showing?"

As a hobby type woodworker, Leo approached me one day, and asked that question. After a lot of thought and some initial drawings (included the use of Auto-CAD), I came up with how we could do that. The end result was a structure consisting of a series of "ribs & separator/spreaders", with pre-drilled bolt holes with threaded inserts in laminated plywood with oak edging. Laying these sheets on the "ribs", and bolting them on from the inside, and in specific order, and then the ends put on last. The only exception was that the back piece had a threaded & keyed lock system that closed it up.

THE"ABI" FIASCO: (now known as "LIVE-GRIP", & "Apogee Biometrics Inc")

The Nature of the Project:

I was first approached by a couple of fellows, and asked about some kind of security system could be devised for a firearm. One thing led to another, with a number of issues and concepts over quite a time span. After a series of events, it was determined to get serious on the project. They were going to sell stock, find a place to work on the project, and hire technicians.

Hiring the Best Team Members:

As an Instructor at the school, it was against the law for me to reveal to anyone (an employer) a student's grades or standing in a class, but of course I knew who was who. So, I was able to hire top graduate students for my team. Another great advantage was that since they knew me and my methods over that same time frame, there was no misunderstanding on their end as to know what to expect.

The Design and Construction of Prototypes:

I was the one who designed and constructed the first three prototypes that allowed them to get the issuance of the patent. Since the epidermis is transparent to IR, my concepts was to capture the unique image of the veins in the hand. (also requiring a "live" hand, with blood flowing )


The "Proof of Concept" provided to them by my design is what allowed them to acquire the patent, but now it was their idea. My mistake was being too kind. After the company folded, only myself and the people I hired, knew how to make the original prototypes work.

Management Conflicts & My Leaving the Company:

As their principle "Technical Advisor", and having contributed to the principle part of the Patent, the "Owners" of the company got too greedy, and manoeuvred others in between myself and them (without my knowledge, no less). I conversed with the principal owner, and told him that they needed to keep me in the loop, as I had walked away from "half-a-million-dollar-deals" before and I would do it again. When they continued to do these things, and even started lying to me, I quit. My former students (now techs there) kept the company going for almost two years after I left.

280,000 Shares of Now Worthless Stock:

Theoretically, the Shareholders Stock was moving upward from approximately $12 to $14/share, and heading up to possibly as much as $18/share. I originally had 70,000 shares, when there was a 4-way split, now giving me the new 280,000 shares. In a few years it was all gone, and there were some SEC issues as well.



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Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....


Shear Panic – Failure is Not an Option – How I Began to Learn How I Learn:

I was in a class of 33 shipmates, and I believe that I had the lowest GCT score of the bunch. In the first 16 weeks of training in the 11 month radar and ship's gun control course, I managed to be one of the top 3, where at any one time we were probably only 1/2 point from each other. Then, there was a two week class, with no quizzes, and only a final at the end of those two weeks. In about the middle of the first week, I suddenly realized that I was having a lot of trouble with the material, and that I would very likely fail the test. I was in sheer panic, and really prayed about what I could do to prevent this. It seemed that the Lord helped me to understand how I needed to learn this material. I began to realize that I learned as an "eye-gate" learner, and not as an "ear-gate" learner. I then dug into the tech books, while turning a tin-ear to the instructor, and when he would think I wasn't paying attention, he would ask me a question. I was able to formulate just enough of his question, that he would repeat it. After answering his question, he would continue. I came to realize that I was more of an analytical person, than being able to remember a bunch of data. I barely managed to get a passing score, and it did bring down my grade level. Later, when I was stationed on the East Coast, I would take almost my entire pay-check to buy technical books, and even engineering books, which were a great help to me.

I Refuse to Cheat, What it Cost Me, But What I Gained in Return:

In the next series of classes, one of the fellows who was smart enough to stay up there, also had no problem in letting others in the class take advantage of his answers during a test. I wanted no part of that, and I determined that if I managed to pass, I would do it without cheating, and if I failed then it was my own fault. I shoved my chair way back during a test, so that I couldn't even hear anything passed around. Either way, I only managed to pass just below the top 10 of the class, and those top 10 were able to take the next advanced class. Those remaining were now to choose their billet assignments, which were posted on the board. However, now I was able to choose whatever and wherever I wanted, so I chose a repair ship to gain the most experience.

Ironically, some months later I found myself working on and repairing even advanced radar control systems that I did not have any training on, that those fellows who took the advanced class, didn't know how to track down the problem. I can honestly say that with the Lord's help (I prayed about this on everything I worked on), I was able to fix every one in just 2 or 3 days. I was only sent out on systems that fellows were having trouble with. In a few cases, I was told to "fix it or sail with it", for a ship that was going to leave port in just a few hours. In fact, I came back aboard one morning as they were pulling up the gang-plank, just in time to come up behind a couple of my shipmates, where one was asking the other "do you think he will sail with this one this time"?

The Two Week "Radar Refresher Course" Fiasco:

I found out that a good share of the fellows in that two week refresher course did not take it very seriously, but rather as an opportunity to skip out on their regular duties aboard ship. The instructor would do a normal review on the radar operation, and proper troubleshooting techniques. Then, he would run the fellows out of the room, and place a fault in the radar (usually a tube with a pin clipped off). When everyone come back into the room, he would have them attempt to find the problem. They would try various things, with usually no results, and then the instructor would leave the room to go get a fresh cup of coffee. Suddenly, one fellow would post watch at the door, while multiple pairs of hands would fly through the system looking for a tube with a clipped pin. When I saw this, I thought this is a real joke.

Now, An Opportunity to Instruct The Same Course:

Later, when I worked on various systems, I would keep a logbook of the symptoms and the fix. If there was a bad tube, I cataloged it with my logs. When I was given the opportunity to teach the same radar refresher course, I decided to make a real go of it. When the class started, I did the normal review of the radar, and of course proper troubleshooting techniques. When I ran the fellows out of the room so I could set up a problem, I used one of my tubes from a previous real problem, tested it and had them come back into the room. They started looking for the problem, and when I decided now was the time to leave and go get a cup of coffee. I knew the game they all played, and when I came back, they sure had a real puzzled look on their faces. I had everyone sit back down, and explained the real life situation. Now, we got back to serious business. The first comment I made was that if there was a real radar failure, and an actual battle situation, they had better know how to really do it right, as a lot of lives might depend on their capability. It wouldn't be because of a "clipped pin". Now, we went over proper techniques.

Never Worked on This Radar Before – "How Do You Turn it On?"

Once in a while, I would be assigned to a radar system that I had never ever seen before. So, I had to be very careful, both in prep, and when I went over to work on it. After all, those fellows would not have any confidence in someone with no experience in that radar control system. I would first go through all of the schematics and study them, and then talk with some of our guys who had worked on that radar before. When I would arrive on location, I would simply lay out all the schematics on a table. Since these fellows knew where all the respective bays, trays, and test points were, I would proceed to have them test the locations I would call out from the schematic. Once in a while, when I felt it necessary to do so, I would look at either the meter or o-scope indication, to verify the results. Once the problem was tracked down and fixed, I would pack up and go back to my ship, quite often still not knowing even how to turn on the radar.

The Conning Tower Incident:

We were out in the Med during Fleet Exercises, and the sea fortunately was nice and calm for what was about to happen. While sitting in a secretarial type chair, with swivel castors, with my feet propped up on the counter top (it was after work hours), and I was learning about my new camera. Suddenly, there was 3 short blasts on the ship's whistle, which meant "emergency turn", and I found the chair and myself flying backwards on the steel deck. I did my best to try to get my feet down, and at the same time protect my camera. It was all I could do to stay on the chair, until I hit the bulkhead on the other side of the room. All the other guys went scrambling out the hatch to see what was happening outside. I got out there just in time to take 3 quick pictures of a submarine's conning tower, surfacing in our wake. It would appear that we came very close to colliding with that sub.

The Shorted Grid/Cathode/Plate Incident:

I was sent over to work on a radar on a Destroyer, that turned out to be a rather hostile situation. The fellows there figured that if they couldn't fix the radar, neither could another white hat, and they wanted an engineer instead of me. While my striker and I were testing the pre-amp, I had told him where I want him to take a certain meter reading, but before he could even touch the connection, smoke issued from that immediate vicinity. Upon seeing this, the guys dashed out the hatch, and I knew they were heading for their officer to put us in a bad spot. The Lord provided for me though, because right at the moment I saw them go out, I saw a couple of field engineers I recognized, and asked them to come by. There were 3 resistors burned up, and from the schematic I knew that there had been an internal short in the tube between the grid/cathode/plate, and could not have been our fault. I showed this to the field engineers, and they agreed with me, just in time for the officer to show up scowling. The engineers bailed me out by explaining this to the officer, who had no choice but to accept it. I also had to make sure I explained all these events to my Division Officer. We replaced the resistors and the tube, did whatever else needed to be done, and got everything up and running.

The "Power-Drive Amplifier Testing System":

After completing the Class-A schooling, all the billets were put up on the board and I was able to pretty well pick whatever I wanted. I chose a Destroyer Tender in order to get the most experience. When I arrived on board, the Division Officer already had a task for me, with all the parts necessary and all the plans & schematics. As a normal rule, the power-drive amplifiers had to be sent to the shipyard for repair and or adjustment. His idea was that we could and should be able to do that on our repair ship. After I completed it, he arranged for an individual to come over from the shipyard and train me on it. Besides my normal duties, that was my main station for the remaining tour of duty on the ship. As a result, I was the "only White Hat on the entire Eastern Seaboard, and also when in the Med", that did those repairs outside of the shipyard. The power-drive amplifiers were fed with direction control signals (with 3 feedback signals), which the amplifier then sent to an Amplidyne, that supplied the necessary power to position the gun mount in Train & Elevation.

Using My 5" Slide-Rule in Conjunction With the Gun Control Systems:

When testing the control system and associated alignment for the servo systems, used in the feed between the transmitters and receivers for the gun battery systems, I had earlier realized that the synchro signals were trigonometry related. Taking advantage of that, I could tell one of my helpers to offset the Gun Director to one setting and tell my other helper to offset the Gun Mount to another setting. Now, I could measure the resulting voltage and compare what it was with my computed voltage. A Navy Chief happened by, and saw me using the slide rule for my computations, and questioned me. He told me that with all his years in the service, he didn't remember ever seeing anyone actually using a slide-rule, let alone in that particular situation.

The "Miss-Wired" Variac (straight from the factory):

One radar system I worked on, I tracked the problem down to a "bad variac" in the main power supply. When I told this to the guys who had been working on it (their ship), they said they didn't see how that could be, as they had just replaced it. I thought to myself that they may have miss-wired it, and we checked it out against the schematic. They had wired it in correctly, so I went back and did some more checking, only to came back to the same conclusion. Careful investigation now showed that it was internally wired incorrectly from the factory, and did not conform to the proper wiring. I had to file a report through channels throughout the whole fleet to look out for this problem.

The Midnight Trip Back to Norfolk – on Christmas Eve, No Less:

One of the most interesting thing that ever happened to me involved my new car. Well, actually, I had co-signed for a good friend of mine for a brand new 67 Chev (now a classic). When he got out of the service he sold it to another fellow, who as it turned out couldn't get the loan, so I took it over. While this other fellow had it, he really babied it, and I was sorry that he couldn't get the loan. Since he needed a car, I sold him my little Ford Coupe. He came to me one afternoon, and told me that he had a date with his Fiance, but that the heater had gone out in the Ford, and wanted to borrow the Chev. With great apprehension, I did loan him the car, but told him that no matter what time of the night it was, that he was to wake me, and not just put the keys under my bunk. Morning came and no keys. I finally called his Master Chief and asked about him, and the Chief said that he was going to have to report him awol. Finally, I decided that I would go down to the local police station, and ask questions, and finally wound up filing a stolen car report. When I got back to the ship and came on board, I was told there were two people wanting to see me in Officers' Quarters. They were FBI, and I found myself experiencing the "good-guy/bad-guy" scenario. It turned out that this fellow had crashed the car into a light pole in Baltimore,MY, and fled the scene. Because the car was now reported as stolen, taken off of Government Property, and crossed state lines, I was in the hot-seat for insurance fraud. I was questioned for 2 & 1/2 hours. It really pays to tell the truth in many facets!

It was right at Christmas time, and I was able to get a ride to Baltimore to see if I could get the car back home. The wreck had damaged the charging system, so I had to get the battery charged several times on the way back. Unfortunately, each charge took a long time, and this was now Christmas Eve, with all the stations closing early. After my last charge, the battery was so low, that I was in danger of killing the engine if I so much as turned on the headlights. It was a very bright moonlight night, and I could see the road quite clearly for a very long distance, and on the few times I encountered a car coming towards me, I would turn on my parking lights, whenever I came into a town, I would slow way down, and "shotgun" my lights at intersections (like they do in Europe). After I passed through the last town before reaching Norfolk, I had a policeman pull me over. I had to keep the engine going, because I would never get it started again. He of course asked me what was going on, and I explained my tale of woes, and how many times I had to have my battery charged. He asked me if I thought I could make it the rest of the way, and I said that by my calculations, I thought I could. He said, "well, it's against my better judgement, but I'm going to let you go". I made it all the way to Norfolk (going on daylight now), and only a few blocks from my apartment. I had the habit of slowing down as I approached a stop light, but the individual at the very last stop sign didn't get moving and I had to put on my brakes. The brake lights and the engine going into idle killed the engine. I had to go and get a friend to come and push me home those last few blocks.

Musings, Recollections, Ramblings, etc....


My Pride Busted, Anger, and God's Correction (for 2 years, no less)

God's Reward in "Due Time" (Wow!)

Another Interview that God Controlled

The Evolution of the Generation of Diagnostics to the "DCM _ OS Package":