Area 51


I started working on a new instrument line this week. So far it’s been great. The entire swing shift crew are good people that have a fun time while working hard. This is what I’ve needed for a long time.

My first task here in Area 51 is pretty simple. Usually when a person first shows up on an unfamiliar instrument line, you try to find jobs for the new person that ease them into the product. They’ve given me the job of tuning A6 boards which are really cool looking. The ground plane on both the component and circuit sides of these boards are gold plated. I haven’t seen anything like this before. Most of the time PC boards are always the same dull green fiberglass. The A6 PC board in these boxes is a sampler that takes frequencies from the instrument’s YiG Oscillator and mixes them down. For example if the YiG is kicking out a 5Ghz signal, the circuitboards can’t handle it. So the A6 board down converts 5Ghz to say, the 300Mhz range and then feeds it out to certain boards and this allows them to all stay in a phase locked loop.

Anyway, there’s a particular circuit on the A6 board that has a capacitance problem. To fix it a larger value capacitor has to be installed. I sit here in front of a testbed instrument with untuned A6 boards, take some measurements and make a rough tune. Then I have to open the board up. It has a special metal clamshell cover on both sides of the board to help shield it from radio frequency interference and electromagnetic interference. Once that’s removed I clip out one capacitor on a circuit and solder in a slightly higher value part based off my initial tuning info. The sheilds are replaced and after a little more testing for desired tune range, I’m done. They’ve got boxes filled with dozens of untested A6 boards for me to work on so I’ll be doing this for a while. It’s kind of like being in the Army and getting stuck peeling potatoes, but I don’t mind.


~ by factorypeasant on November 7, 2005.

2 Responses to “Area 51”

  1. Taters? What’s taters?


  2. hey Razor. how are ya? drop by for some booze and grub soon…

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