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Tales from the Cube: Soldering at Sea

Tales from the Cube: Soldering at Sea - RF CafeMr. Steve Gross has a nifty story from his time in the U.S. Navy as a shipboard electronics technician in this edition of EDN's "Tales from the Cube." When at sea, access to spare parts is very limited so you often have to exercise a combination of ingenuity and creativity (not necessarily mutually inclusive traits) to get the job done. In his case it was the need to find a suitable replacement for a Darlington pair transistor in a piece of specialized test equipment. With the help of a visiting engineer, he came up with a working circuit.

Tales from the Cube: Tales from the Sea - RF CafeThis scenario reminds me of another of my own tales from earlier days as a technician, but only from the standpoint of constructing a semiconductor component from pieces of others. For a couple years I worked closely with a few engineers on special projects. The guy who managed the small group spent most of his career as a technician in the manufacturing realm of the company. He was not a degreed engineer. His position was secured because of a special relationship (yes, legitimate) with the special customer. All the other team members (except me) were "real" engineers, and they somewhat resented the manager's control over them even though he never tried to "pull rank." One day the group was sitting at a table discussing a particular circuit design and the manager made a comment about making a transistor out of two discrete diodes. I kid you not. You should have seen the looks the engineers (all electrical types) gave each other when he said that. Even I, at the time working on my BSEE degree at night, knew he had violated the old adage that it is better to remain silent and appear to be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Yep, you guessed it. Because the schematic symbol for a transistor - and the physical construction for that matter - implies that it might be actually constructed from two back-to-back diodes, he assumed you could connect the two anodes together (for an NPN), call the joint the base and call the two cathodes the emitter and collector.

Two diodes do not a transistor make - RF Cafe





Posted  September 29, 2013