Why I may seem obtuse at times

Well, I am just a technician, so maybe I just don't get it. Or maybe I want you to do the work, instead of me.

My experience leads me to believe that you only learn something by actually doing it. If it's knowledge, you read the material. If it's a circuit, you only get the experience and knowledge by actually doing it. You can copycat things, but that just lets you flounder when you need something original.

I turned a corner and became a technician when I and a friend got handed a piece of equipment that nobody could keep operating. My friend got us started by insisting we flow chart all the control signals. After many sheets of 132 column paper, we knew how it worked. After we got an oscilloscope that could display ECL transitions, we got it to work.

That taught me I could get into any equipment by putting forth the effort to learn how it functioned. Of course, that was easier in the days when every bit of electronics came with schematics.

At the Electronic Instrument Lab, where I worked for 24 years, it got me into designing electronics, as well. A researcher came in one day and wanted me to build a single electrode clamp (don't worry about it - you won't need one until you're doing neurophysiology) from the published schematic in a paper.

I was suspicious about things like rounded-off resistor values and connections that did not seem quite right, but built the device according to the schematic. It did not function. Having some idea of what it was supposed to do, I proposed that I redesign it and build that. He agreed, I did, and it worked. The researchers who published the paper did not return phone calls.

The upshot of that was learning that I had a new skill set. I got over my head a time or two, but I also beat TI to a autozeroing instrumentation amplifier good to +/- 2 lsb's into a 16 bit A to D by 13 years. And laid it out with templates and tape on acetate. And got a snippy reply to my email to Bob Pease, inventor of all precision electronics, when I mentioned I had done it with discreets.

So I know that effort is the key to learning. That's why I want you to do the work.

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