Most people don’t remember how all of this was started, so I’m sharing the story here. I believe that it explains our philosophy very well…I’ll try to keep it short, but no promises.
Many years ago, when I was a fairly new electrical engineer, I was tasked with assisting a technician who was repairing circuit cards in a very old security system, one made by Info-Graphics (which should date this story nicely). We found that the system was nearly impossible to support, as the exact replacement components were no longer available. After a bit of analysis, I was able to locate currently manufactured variations for the most critical parts, and functionally equivalent parts for the rest.
The parts that mattered were in completely different package types than what was required and, after some discussion, it was determined that IC adapters simply could not fit inside the limited space provided. It just didn’t seem like there was a good solution that involved the original PCB. So what was my solution? Recreating the PCB from scratch, of course.
I approached the customer and presented my idea. They, in turn, listened politely and just as politely told me no. It wasn’t that the idea was a bad one, it was that I was unproven, inexperienced. I walked away from that meeting feeling like I had let down the technicians and, more importantly, the end user. I kept seeing this pile of hardware that had been rendered to paperweights because of this one board. I realized that this feeling of failure was one that I didn’t care for, so instead of accepting that the customer’s ‘no’ was the ending, I instead spent my evenings and weekends designing the replacement on my own dime. I drew up the schematics, laid out the board and , once the PCB’s had arrived, did all of the assembly. I then brought the completed product into work with me, presented it to the lab lead and asked if I could install it into the testbed. Saying that he was skeptical was a bit of an understatement, but after going over the schematic and my approach he reluctantly agreed to let me place it into the testbed… and it worked. Now, if I said that everything that I’d made since worked the first time that I’d installed it I’d be a liar, but the God of Engineers certainly smiled upon me that day.
The day that the customer came in to witness the prototype board working in the system was the beginning, the start of our journey. They were very impressed with the results, with how quickly I was able to create something, that integrating a replacement into a system was actually feasible, which led to more and more projects of increasing difficulty (I still have nightmares about the 8-layer, 120+ IC PCB that I was tasked with replacing that had no schematics, of course), eventually transitioning from individual boards to complete sub-systems. The experience that we take away from each project that we’ve completed allows us to support ever more complex mission-critical redesigns, each building on the next; e.g., our testing support gave us the knowledge to support the AN/GTM-3B Cable Test Set for our Marines, a design that went from white-paper concept to deliverable that met all requirements (including MIL-28800 Class III environmentals) in 60 working days.
If there’s something that we truly love, it’s a challenge. Think you have an impossible design problem or a system that we can’t support? We accept that challenge. Give us a call and let’s talk.
– David Simanowitz, President and CEO
And by the way, if anyone out there needs a communications board for a CAS-100, give me a call – I may still know where the schematics are.