Monday, 26 January 2015

Connected Devices

It is projected that tons and tons (sorry billions and billions) of devices will be connected as we move forward. There is going be a h*** lot of data that is going to be generated and analyzed. As we put things into perspective do we really need all that data ? Are we really solving a problem by collecting data , providing analytics, Business Intelligence etc etc. But wasn't that what SCADA told us when it was introduced. Don't get me wrong, I am not barging against IoT / Connected Device or anything of that sort. I am actually a proponent of such devices and love to implement, create and install such devices. My point is that these devices need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Not everything can be connected, not everything has to be connected . Some connected devices that we see proposed / advertised are really cool technical outfits but one needs to think what pain point are they going to solve ? Are we going to send data back and forth just for the sake of it or are we really going to do something useful out of it ? Do we need this device to be connected or are we just trying to ride a wave ? Challenging questions, but will definitely save you a lot of time, effort and some green stuff down the road.
Connect devices that are really going to give you some value for money , analyze that and then go for it full steam. Some interesting case studies to follow ...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Are Food Handlers washing their hands?

We regularly eat in restaurants/office canteens/road side eateries. We eat at these locations because the food tastes good. Sometimes we eat at a place because we don’t have a choice.

We prefer high end restaurants to road side eateries because we feel that these guys will be more hygienic as compared to the road side eateries. Okay they will make our pockets light but hey … better safe than sorry!

Do we really ask them if they can prove that they are hygienic or is this purely an assumption?

I have been told time and again – Ass u me and you make a a** of u and me.

Don’t you think that these high end restaurants who charge us more than Rs. 800 per person each time we visit them to dine out should be able to prove that their food handlers are hygienic? These guys surely take a lot of efforts to maintain the high standards that they have set for the hygiene and quality of their food alright. But what about the people who are handling this “high quality – hygienic” food? Do they keep their hands clean? Can these restaurants prove it?

The next time you visit a high end restaurant will you ask them if they can prove that their food handlers wash their hands regularly? I will.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Fast Food and Fast Engineering

Nobody wants to "waste" time cooking these days and so we have McDonalds, KFC etc. etc. Surprisingly engineering students don't want the hard work these days and so we have some individuals and organizations (surprising aint it) that will give you fast access to whatever you want for your engineering degree. I am sure that a final year electronics project can soon be ordered as a Number 3 with Fries and Coke on the side (Fries and coke will keep you busy while the project is being cooked). A Computer Science project could be Number 2. No disrespect to Electronics ... you could be assigned number 2 ... just take it.

We would be eventually creating a pool of engineering resources that would definitely be good at one thing if not anything else - Sourcing. Well thats a lot of work by itself. Finding the right person who can do your project for you, negotiating the price and the timeline, following up to see if the work is on track and finally getting the deliverable and releasing the payment. Lot of work.

Kids are learning quickly .. not necessarily the right things, but hey at least they are learning. Their parents are spending a lot of money for their "Engineering" education. So what who wants to be a techie anymore .. management is in and hey you wont even need a management degree once you go through this entire process of "getting your project done". Two birds in a shot. Way to go.

Welcome the amazing engineers that we are and will be getting. They are not just engineers, they are adept at management too.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

MAPYN LLC: And you thought that drilling was a Mining Enginee...

MAPYN LLC: And you thought that drilling was a Mining Enginee...: "While designing an FPGA Based control system for a renowned Industrial Control System Equipment Manufacturer, we came across a 'showstopping..."

And you thought that drilling was a Mining Engineers task ...

While designing an FPGA Based control system for a renowned Industrial Control System Equipment Manufacturer, we came across a "showstopping issue" after the populated board came back. The PCBA was a fairly complex controller using a Cyclone III FPGA from Altera. Due to some reason the layout engineer missed the fact that the FPGA has a slug underneath that has to be connected to ground. Well bygones remain bygones and here we were with the 144 pin TQFP FPGA soldered on the board giving us no chance to sneak underneath to get access to the ground plane.

There you go - one more interesting day at MAPYN !!

Just when we had almost concluded that another turn around was inevitable before we can actually "bring up" the board, one engineer who was looking at the layout came running down the stairs.

"What if we drill our way till we get access to the slug ?" he asked. I looked at him with a look that basically said "What are you smoking this morning ??"

But then some rounds of discussion and some time infront of the tool boxes and the PCBA, started giving me some confidence that maybe this is actually possible. (Looking back , maybe it was me who was smoking something)

Pressure can sometimes make you accept such dangerous suggestions , doesn't it ?

Well so here we were in front of the layout measuring the exact area where we could get access to the slug and marking that area on the board. Some components on the bottom side were kind enough to give us way to this drilling operation. (So the layout guy did something right , didnt he? ... ouch )

Now here was the plan. Slowly start the drilling operation by counting how many layers of the 6 layer board have we crossed (counting copper and substrate both of course) and finally stop when the right number arrives.

It was not actually as hard as I thought it would be. Thanks to the Black and Decker toolkit that we have at MAPYN. After 45-60 minutes of careful drilling and brushing away the filings there was a point when I actually saw the silver color, and the drill bit felt as if it was hitting something harder than what we were drilling against for the past hour.

Yeah !! This was it. We have hit gold... no sorry silver .. no sorry slug (It was actually a pleasure this time that I did not see gold .. because had I seen it that would have meant that I am staring at the bonding leads and that would not have been a pretty sight at all). So much for not being a gold digger !

Anyways. There I was with the slug in front of me .. what next ?

Now the next step was to take some solder paste and carefully apply it to the exposed slug. That was a tricky part because the drilling exercise had exposed the internal planes and the fear was that the solder would short the internal layers and that would be the end of story.

So carefully we applied the paste, took the rework station hot air gun and starting carefully blowing hot air (not literally...) on the newly created well.

As soon as I saw the paste melt I quickly grabbed the small 30 AWG wire that I had in my other hand and inserted the stripped end in the well and removed the air blast.

Success was not a one-shot thing here, but patience and persistence bore fruit and there we were with the other end of the wire being soldered to the ground connection on the board.

Felt good to finally do real soldering (I will no more complain if I have to solder 0402 parts.. at least not after this task).

Byteblaster connected and bingo ... the binary file was in the Flash and board was up. We almost danced as if the project was over .. only to realize after a couple of minutes that it had actually just ... started.

MAPYN Blogging

I am Ajay Nagarkar from MAPYN LLC. I am using this blog as a platform to share the challenges that we face in MAPYN as we design next generation products for our customers and how we overcome them. This is a platform for me to share our learnings so that maybe someone down the line faces something similar and comes out of the rabbit hole faster than we did !
Enjoy !