chapter

3

Understand the System

“It is not so impossible, however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work, and this, I have endeavoured in my case to do.”

—SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE FIVE ORANGE PIPS

War Story. When I was just out of college and trying to get experience (among other things), I took on a moonlighting job building a microprocessor-based valve controller. The device was designed to control the amount of metal powder going into a mold, and it took measurements from a scale that weighed the powder (see Figure 3-1). As many engineers do (especially still-wet-behind-the-ears engineers), I copied the basic design (from a frat brother who had used the same processor chip in his thesis project). ...

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