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Having Trouble in EE

  1. Sep 5, 2008 #1
    I don't know what it is, but I seem to have the hardest time learning about testing equipment. When it comes to learning the material dealing with almost any EE subject I'm fine, but give me a logic analyzer I've never seen before and I can't figure how to use it. For example, I understand the concept of triggers when using scopes or analyzers, but it takes me forever to figure out how to set them.

    This has become a major frustration for me during labs. I always need someone to show me how to use them, usually when I'm frustrated, which hinders my ability to learn haha. It seems like it's only getting worse because everytime I see a new piece of equipment I barely try to learn how to use it by myself before I give up and ask for help.

    I look at the manuals but the information never seems to stick very well. Is there something else I could be doing to improve my learning curve? I know this is an odd problem, but it's one that really bothers me; these are the kind of skills I know employers will be looking for, the practical kind.

    Speaking of practical, are there any books out there that discuss practial uses for the stuff I'll be learning in school so I can see how they're actually used? I have a feeling that'll help me out a lot.

    Btw, I'm in my second year of my program; I've taken devices up to FETs, two Dig classes, DC/AC and am now taking a Computer Systems class (this one is kind of a tough class for me, tbh).

    Sorry for the long post, and thank you for any help!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2008 #2
    Hi James!,
    Whenever youm come across any new instrument, you should go through the mannual and following the directions immediately on the instrument. See whether you are going in the right way or not. Here let me Caution you that you always proceed a step ahead and after viewing the result, come back to original step where you have started, irrespective of whether right or wrong. No doubt this is a labourious work, but it will give you the confidence needed to operate the instrument for its full utilisation. This is the practice I am following to explore and get acquainted with new gadgets and using them to my use. Hope this will help you to over come your trouble.
    Muralikrishna.
     
  4. Sep 6, 2008 #3

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF, James. This is a great place for info and advice.

    Don't sweat it having a small bit of problems getting used to using different pieces of equipment -- honestly, we deal with it every day. Take yesterday, for example. I was working on a chip bring-up borrowing another engineer's workbench on a weekend (my bench was full of another project), and needed to use his LeCroy 'scope for some work. My LeCroy 'scope and his are only about 2 years apart, but the overloads on the buttons and the placement of the functional areas (trigger, vertical, horizontal, channels, etc) are completely different. What a pain in the rear. Very frustrating, but you just have to relax and focus, and you will eventually find what you need. Even if it is now hidden behind a different overloaded button, several menu levels down, with a different name. Sux, but get used to it, and get good at it.

    One of the things I did early on in my studies and my work career, was to challenge myself to set up an instrument completely before letting the first trigger through. No hunt and peck, no trial and error, the goal was to be good enough with instruments to be able to set up all the dials and buttons and settings ahead of the first trigger, so that the first trace was what I wanted. Actually 'scopes and logic analyzers were the easier instruments to make this happen, and Curve Tracers were always the hardest. To set up a Curve Tracer with a particular transistor in the socket, and get a classic trace on the first try, was always a challenge, and it made me feel good when I got good enough to make that happen, no matter the component that I was plugging into the test socket.

    So hang in there. Learn how components work, how instruments work and what their variable setting capabilities are, and challenge yourself to set the instruments up before the first trace trigger. It's good to get into that habit.
     
  5. Sep 7, 2008 #4

    berkeman

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  6. Sep 7, 2008 #5
    We commonly have to take kit that has been hired for the job. They always come with the manual. Thats nice - but when it is very new full featured screen menu driven spectrum analyser, the learning curve can take up a significant time, and the boss thinks you arrive and start measuring immediately.
     
  7. Sep 7, 2008 #6

    berkeman

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    As a supervisor or manager, you lead by example. As a troop, you expect that level of expertise by your supervisors, or at least you should expect and have that.

    At my work, we mentor new engineers to help them get up to speed quickly. Many companies assign mentors explicitly -- we are small enough that the mentoring happens pretty naturally.

    If your new boss is having a problem mentoring new employees, the problem is not yours, it's his and the company's. It helps the bottom economic line if supervisors and managers do their jobs and mentor new employees to make them very valuable to the company.
     
  8. Sep 7, 2008 #7

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    BTW, In case I may or may not sound too pro-management in this thread, this would be a good time to dedicate a personal weekend to learning this instrument. Not that I just spent a big part of my weekend at work or anything. There are times when it's important to be willing to put forth extra effort...
     
  9. Sep 8, 2008 #8
    :smile:
    I have had several weekends doing that. So far, its been 2 types of Agilent, a Rhode & Schwarz and a Anritsu.
    They are all supposedly "intuitive", but each chooses to be so differently. I only get away with this because most of the measurements are straightforward. The sillies are now to stop, because the company has now invested in one.
     
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