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 Post subject: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:23 pm 
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Bonnie Tyler’s 1986 lyrics remind me of the disappearing technicians and field engineers that really knew their stuff. The ones that were trained to understand and troubleshoot electronic circuitry down to each individual component as well as the mathematics that are part of radio and electronics theory. Many learned their craft in military schools. Others in trade schools. Apparently these days such trivial details are taught at a 30,000 foot level. Why understand something you can google? I am truly getting old.


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:36 pm 
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Economics and technology did away with the need for the people you describe.

Advances in engineering and technology created systems that required far less maintenance than was needed a generation ago.

When maintenance was required on the newer systems, it was often configuring of software parameters rather than turning adjustment screws or replacing bad parts.

When those modern systems do require hardware maintenance, the same advancements in E&T made it more cost effective to replace components on a modular level or sometimes replace the entire device than to repair it at a component level.

Whether or not you think it was a change for the better or worse, there are still a lot of really smart and talented people that made these changes possible.

People with good diagnostic skills and a logical approach to troubleshooting will always be needed when things don't work right, even if the methods and procedures to fix things changes.

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Last edited by processhead on Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:42 pm 
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Gilligan wrote:
Bonnie Tyler’s 1986 lyrics remind me of the disappearing techni....



Bonnie was behind the times ...

In the mid 1970's I was employed as a summer student servicing electronics for a west-end Ottawa TV/audio store. Among the brands we serviced was "Philips" and I remember when we got the little carry-box with the modular circuit boards in it. Servicing was done by replacing the board where the fault was, then the board was exchanged and returned to Philips for rebuilding.

Now those modular boards have long since been replaced by even smaller components.

It's evolution ....


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:48 pm 
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I remember the old saying "engineers design a product, but the technicians get it to work".

Maybe the lack of technicians is the cause of such poor quality products today? Most engineers can't even troubleshoot the products they design.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 1:55 pm 
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Quote:
Maybe the lack of technicians is the cause of such poor quality products today? Most engineers can't even troubleshoot the products they design.


Getting back to the economics part of my earlier comments:

Many products are designed (by engineers) to NOT be repairable because the cost of skilled labor to do repairs makes it cost-prohibitive/uneconomical.

Why design and build a device that can be repaired when it costs the consumer more to repair it than to replace it? A manufacturer would be crazy to follow the old economic model and would be run out of business by their competitors.

This whole concept is so alien to what a whole generation of people like us who grew up with, that many find it incomprehensible, but it is the current economic reality.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 2:40 pm 
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processhead wrote:
Getting back to the economics part of my earlier comments:

Many products are designed (by engineers) to NOT be repairable because the cost of skilled labor to do repairs makes it cost-prohibitive/uneconomical.

Why design and build a device that can be repaired when it costs the consumer more to repair it than to replace it? A manufacturer would be crazy to follow the old economic model and would be run out of business by their competitors.

This whole concept is so alien to what a whole generation of people like us who grew up with, that many find it incomprehensible, but it is the current economic reality.


I agree a lot of the drive is from consumers... John and Jane go to Walmart/Target/Best Buy and want their 65" 4k TV to cost no more than $400. They're not going to pay for extra quality or engineering up front to get a TV that lasts them 10-20 years. They want to replace it in 2 years when the next latest and greatest comes out. (of course that gets us into a whole other discussion about consumerism, ecological impacts, and people living above their means...)

Also, a lot of the modern technology just can't be serviced. PCBs in your cell phone or laptop for example. Most of those components are SMD or BGA and once they're put together in the factory you can't physically service them with a soldering iron. Even if there's a defect in the factory, the board gets tossed in the trash, it's not something that can be easily reworked.


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 3:02 pm 
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I guess I was really reflecting on older electronics. Will the time come when no one is left that can repair a difficult problem on an old radio?


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 3:15 pm 
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I think Paul hit the nail on the head. In the late 60's our controllers were packed with Plug and Play boards. Hundreds of them in a controller. And and Or Gates and memory which was a long wire in a metal box. Trouble shooting could take hours. In mid 70's that was now on a few large boards. Now a tech was out in an hour most times. Hiring new tech's stopped and layoffs started. 20 years later it all went to 1 chip in what was called a cell phone. The end of our jobs as we knew it.

Freeman


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:10 pm 
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Gilligan wrote:
I guess I was really reflecting on older electronics. Will the time come when no one is left that can repair a difficult problem on an old radio?


To your point, and although we may not like to think about this, the day will come when the number of people that actually cares about making these old appliances functional again, will dwindle to zero. :(

That may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:19 pm 
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processhead wrote:
Gilligan wrote:
I guess I was really reflecting on older electronics. Will the time come when no one is left that can repair a difficult problem on an old radio?


To your point, and although we may not like to think about this, the day will come when the number of people that actually cares about making these old appliances functional again, will dwindle to zero. :(

That may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen.


Hmm, maybe yes, maybe no. There will always be a person who is curious about how appliances work, and will take them apart, and learn how to service them.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:30 pm 
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Mr. Highlander wrote:
processhead wrote:
Gilligan wrote:
I guess I was really reflecting on older electronics. Will the time come when no one is left that can repair a difficult problem on an old radio?


To your point, and although we may not like to think about this, the day will come when the number of people that actually cares about making these old appliances functional again, will dwindle to zero. :(

That may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen.


Hmm, maybe yes, maybe no. There will always be a person who is curious about how appliances work, and will take them apart, and learn how to service them.


I would agree that there may always be an interest in obsolete technologies, but as supporting technologies evolve or become obsolete, think of AM broadcasting and perhaps changes in power grid standards, there will be fewer ways to utilize the obsolete technology.

People will always have an interest in the past but they will visit a museum to learn about printed media and AM broadcasting, just like they visit a museum to see hieroglyphics engraved on stone tablets.

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...... how hard can it be?


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:38 pm 
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Mr. Highlander wrote:
processhead wrote:
Gilligan wrote:
I guess I was really reflecting on older electronics. Will the time come when no one is left that can repair a difficult problem on an old radio?


To your point, and although we may not like to think about this, the day will come when the number of people that actually cares about making these old appliances functional again, will dwindle to zero. :(

That may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen.


Hmm, maybe yes, maybe no. There will always be a person who is curious about how appliances work, and will take them apart, and learn how to service them.


Code:
I would agree that there may always be an interest in obsolete technologies, but as supporting technologies evolve or become obsolete, think of AM broadcasting and perhaps changes in power grid standards, there will be fewer ways to utilize the obsolete technology.

People will always have an interest in the past but they will visit a museum to learn about printed media and AM broadcasting, just like they visit a museum to see hieroglyphics engraved on stone tablets.[/quote]

I mean, Tombstones are a form of hieroglyphics engraved on stone tablets....But even that is going away with cremation.

I don't see AM radio going away very soon, as people still listen to it. So many people call into radio stations, and whatnot. As for power grid standards, there is too much in place to tear down.

I have no idea why they wanted to shut down all analog TV broadcasting, because there are too many televisions that still use it, and too many people that still use it...

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Last edited by Mr. Highlander on Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 4:39 pm 
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Quote:
Maybe the lack of technicians is the cause of such poor quality products today? Most engineers can't even troubleshoot the products they design.


You wrote that statement on a computer that utilizes millions of transistors to carry out its functions. It works well and costs little. Much more reliable than any product Zenith sold in the 1960s.

Around the 1980s, we were sold on the idea that things have to work the first time/all the time... at least for an acceptable period... usually limited by newer technologies. We, being folks who were designing and making electronics.

I think we often have nostalgic moments where we remember a past time that really wasn't what we think it was.

Engineers don't have good equipment troubleshooting skills, but the equipment doesn't need much repair and the fixes are usually replacement. The economics have made replacement much less costly than paying someone to troubleshoot and repair.

Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:03 pm 
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This sort of reminds me of the well advertised plug in modular boards that were being installed in the television sets. These were supposed to be the new fangled technology of that era where the television sets could be serviced cheaply and quickly. From my personal experience, I know of no television set whatsoever where I ever had to replace any of those modules as they never did fail. In fact, it seemed that the television sets with those modules took even longer to service.


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:19 pm 
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When entire circuit boards can be manufactured overseas at ultra cheap prices, there's really no need to do logical troubleshooting, unlike in the past. In the 1960's, automated printing presses were controlled by countless 4PDT relays, latching relays, dozens of solenoids, and countless micro switches clicking away on ratcheting mechanical cams. Trying to figure out which relay had a burnt/intermittent contact took a considerable amount of troubleshooting - - - I don't fondly recollect those days! Especially since the relay box was at floor level - - - - :) If the engineers ever had to troubleshoot these presses in the field, I'm sure they would have relocated the control boxes pronto.

IMHO, a lot of overly-complicated technology is used just because it's there - - - and cheap, not because the product needs it. Cars are a good example.
A good auto mechanic would put a long-shafted screwdriver handle in his ear, place the blade on various parts of an engine, and tell you whether you had piston slap, valve clatter, bad lifters, or bad water pump/alternator bearings. "Back in the day", you had to have a good working knowledge of whatever it is you were working on. These days, not so much. But I guess that's progress.

Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:21 pm 
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To Bluestar; I tried, but couldn't post the pic of Quasar's "Works in a Drawer".

Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:30 pm 
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When I was servicing electronics I saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship. I looked around and decided that connecting devices together on a network looked like it would have more future. So I got all the certifications and moved to networking. First on coax and then twisted pair. Turned out to be a nice long career path. Still requires the same logical troubleshooting approach and problem solving mindset. Technology changes too fast to expect to do the same thing your entire career. My advise to young people is: keep your skills up, seek new knowledge, get more education, take risks, embrace change and be FLEXIBLE. Much like the fireman on a steam locomotive; it was no fault of his that diesels took over and it certainly wasn't because he was not good at his job. But his job was no longer needed.

A second thought: There was a big push to move young people into the "information" age with computer skills. That was fine but the Internet put a monkey wrench in the works. Skills based on information only can be performed anywhere and the Internet makes it possible for your job to move to India in a heartbeat. Jobs that require a good knowledge base and skill, but also need that to be physically present help to mitigate the issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:32 pm 
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I see a parallel with today's throw-away (un-repairable) computers, radios, TVs, etc, and today's cars, and even farm tractors. I used to be into restoring antique tractors and farm equipment. I belonged to a club that once had a guest speaker. He commented that it will not be possible to restore today's farm tractors because of all their plastic parts and digital electronic systems. He was right. Once John Deere quits supplying a computer assembly for a certain tractor, that 500K+ tractor will become a throw-away.

Not to stray too far from the subject at hand, but have you heard of the "right-to-repair" movement going on among farmers who own these expensive tractors? Seems big companies like John Deere have taken the position that all the software needed to run and repair these tractors belongs to the company.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features ... 00-tractor


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:33 pm 
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I still remember the little jingle they played during the quasar "Works In a Drawer" commercial.


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 Post subject: Re: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
PostPosted: Apr Wed 14, 2021 5:50 pm 
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SparkyDan wrote:
To Bluestar; I tried, but couldn't post the pic of Quasar's "Works in a Drawer".

Dan



That's okay as I think we all have a pretty good recollection of those Quasar television sets. If anything, television sets with that design were usually more expensive to purchase and repair.


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