I really don't want to admit defeat, but I JUST CAN'T FIX THIS THING.

  • #1
Disconnected
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Ugh, this is really bothering me. I'ma keep the details of the actual thing I was working on vague here just cuz.

Back in January (or early February?) I got kinda bored just learning and not being involved, so I wondered about and pestered Pros and postdocs to see if anyone had something interesting and challenging that I could work on for them. I don't know what I was expecting to happen, but someone ended up giving me a reasonably important piece of equipment (a part of a really cool detector) that needed to be fixed. They were using the backup at the moment, but it wasn't as good.

So they needed this thing fixed, but no one knew how to fix it Nor did anyone really know how it worked. So they kinda just gave it to me and one other (who dropped out almost immediately, saying he wanted to "concentrate on course work"), assigned us a little nook in the corner of one of the labs, and said "make it work".

Well, I got to know my way around the lab really well. I got to know how to use weird and interesting new equipment. I got to know a bunch of cool masters and phd students, and I got to know the lab tech. I had a BLAST. It was a great adventure trying to work out what was going on with this piece of electronics.

One thing I didn't do was fix it. I cannot figure out what is wrong with this thing. I feel like I've checked everything I can think of. It's almost the end of term and soon I am going to have to send an email to the prog and postdoc that gave me the thing and tell them I failed, and that I couldn't fix it.

I really, REALLY don't want to send that email. I feel like I should be able to fix this thing, and I REALLY want to impress this professor.

Anyways, yeah. Whine whine whine. This has me in a bad mood. I know I should be working on my exams but I can't get my mind off this damn thing.

There is a 60% chance that none of that ^ made any sense. In which case, I'm sorry.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Mech_Engineer
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You're going to have to tell us what this "thing" is, what it does, and what seems to be wrong with it if you expect us to give ay useful feedback.

Pictures help too, if nothing else.
 
  • #3
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Well, I mostly wanted to vent. Not sure what the real point of posting was other then to whine. But here's a quick rundown.

Well, when I said it "broke" I kinda lied. It never worked. It's version 2, and they are running on a mixture of version 1 and of software (they want it all to be firmware). It's a synchronizer for a detector/veto trigger. The electronics are really way above me, but the idea is pretty simple. Info comes in from the main trigger, the synchronizer sends info to both the main DAQ and the veto DAQ to start (back)recording, and adds a very high resolution time stamp.

But currently no information is coming out of the time stamp output (a phat ribbon).

So we checked all over it for dry solders (no joy), checked the variable resistors, checked that the sockets were all in the right place (there are 18 sockets on the front. The only manual anyone seems to have is for version 1), fooled around checking tons of little things that popped into our head, but nothing seemed wrong... Except, of course, that it doesn't work.

I know I was kinda hopeful thinking I could fix something this far above me, but I'm still bummed I can't.
 
  • #4
Mech_Engineer
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Sounds to me like you need to troubleshoot the path of information through the system- if you find where the breakdown is you're that much closer to finding a solution.
 
  • #5
Disconnected
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Sounds to me like you need to troubleshoot the path of information through the system- if you find where the breakdown is you're that much closer to finding a solution.
Yeah. I wasn't as systematic as I should have been. The problem I'm having is that there are like 7 inputs, and I am kinda baffled as to how to troubleshoot all of them at once?

I am pretty sure that if I can't work it out this week I am going to try to make some friends in the electrical engineering department or something...
 
  • #6
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some items are not really fixable. at least not in an economic way. and the sort of equipment we used to fix MIL electronics would cost millions of dollars, and quite a few man-hours invested in each diagnostic program. i wouldn't sweat it too much. sometimes faults aren't even observable and you just have to guess about what component is bad, replace it, and see what happens. eventually, the last thing you did worked and you get a good run. i'd just take this as an opportunity to learn as much as you can. about the protocols, some kind of standard measurement BUS, or just tinkering with electronics.
 
  • #7
AlephZero
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If it never worked, trying to find a "fault" may be the wrong approach.

Possibly, what you need to do is just design and build a device that does work.
 
  • #8
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The equipment is probably not as important as you think so get your priorities straight ,send the E-Mail and concentrate on your exams.
 
  • #9
Danger
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I agree with Aleph, with one minor exception (and he probably thinks it without expressing it).
These people don't want you to fix their device; they want you to invent it. If you are going to do so, insist upon a legal agreement sharing the credit and any profits. While the initial idea and construction was theirs, they are counting upon you to figure out and implement the part that they couldn't. That will make you a co-inventor.
 
  • #10
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Hit it with a hammer.
 
  • #11
Disconnected
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Hit it with a hammer.
Let's just keep this quiet... But we tried that.
 
  • #12
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Lol, love the hammer! Just hand it back and site un-reconstructible differences. They will just nod and shrug.
 

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