Dr. Fist

Unlike many engineers fresh out of college who enter the world of high technology, veteran engineers like Dr. Fist and DJ Danny Mac actually know what they’re doing. I’ve worked closely with young mechanical, electrical, and software engineers who have graduated from respected schools all over the country in recent years. Not many of them have the aptitude or skill for the profession they’ve chosen. It’s disappointing and also frustrating when you have to deal with engineers who can’t hack it. Frequently I wonder what in the hell college professors are trying to teach these guys. Do they encourage their students to intern anywhere while in school for some valuable hands-on experience? I’m not sure.

Dr. Fist has been working at Bill and Dave’s company for a couple decades I reckon. Over the past year and a half I’ve relied upon him for systems support and for advice dealing with tons of random projects that have been dumped on me. He’s been a tremendous help. Whenever I’m stuck with a serious problem that I just can’t solve Dr. Fist and DJ Danny Mac are the guys I call to get things sorted out. It’s like being able to request a heavy artillery strike to wipe out nuisances. Both of them are our swing shift engineering support and they are damn good at what they do. I’m probably not smart enough to be an engineer but if I was, I’d want to be like these two kooks.

I’ve spent some time talking to Dr. Fist about how he became interested in electronics and what he did for work before getting a job with us. From the sound of things Dr. Fist seems like he must have been a very gifted child. He was fascinated with all things electrical in nature from a young age. Little boys are troublemakers and one of the things Dr. Fist liked to do was short out the power to his neighborhood. He threw lengths of exposed wire over high voltage power lines and watched a light show of sparks as everyone’s houses went dead. Once, he bought a kit that allowed him to convert an old tube television into an oscilloscope. I didn’t know anyone had even thought of such a thing back in those days. Dr. Fist even figured out how to broadcast over a local television station with practically no real equipment. That’s impressive for a kid to pull off. Himself and a few friends apparently were able to sing “Home On The Range” during a popular TV program which completely drowned out the show’s dialog. Nobody caught Dr. Fist for this prank despite the fact that a local newspaper ran a story about the mysterious “Home On The Range” singers.

Like myself, Dr. Fist has collected a wide variety of vintage electronic gear. He must think I’m a pest because I keep picking his brain about different kinds of obsolete technology. Stuff most people have never seen much less think about. Lately I’ve been on a quest for Nixie tubes so I bother Dr. Fist about them whenever I see him in a hallway or stop by his cubicle. Man, he’s got some crazy stories. Years ago he picked up a used pulse laser from a Bay Area surplus store. The laser was a model from an Army laboratory and according to Dr. Fist the beam was not constant. It had to charge up then fire off. When the laser was active for a brief period of time the beam could burn through solid objects. Part of the charging mechanism gave off so much energy that it would cause a sheet of binder paper to burst into flames if it was held nearby. Sounds like fun to me. He mentioned that laser output power is sometimes measured in Gillettes. That is, how many Gillette razor blades a beam can burn through if they are stacked in a row. I never knew that.

Recently I ran across a pretty funny website that documented a clever portable electronic design someone had thought up for keeping a single mug of beer cold. http://folk.ntnu.no/arnesen/peltierbeer/index.html
The project seemed like something our employees would be able to build easily so I forwarded the weblink out to a bunch of guys in my department. Someone else then forwarded that link on to Dr. Fist. His response was amusing…

As a senior in high school (1970) I connected a peltier cooler in an icechest. Project goal, keep a sixpack cool for a week on a single battery and remain portable. I ended up cheating and used a battery from an ICBM. Small, powerful, mega expensive, not rechargeable. Price prohibited product market. On the Guinness cooler the guy made. Keeping a dark beer cool on a hot day is even more important because the sun heats it faster than a light beer. He made a number of basic principle errors of not controlling his heat/cold sources. There have been advances in the technologies of batteries and peltier devices that could produce a marketable product. I like my pop ice cold not just cool, keeping it cold in the sun is a bit more of a challenge. This would also enlarge the market for the cooler.

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~ by factorypeasant on September 24, 2006.

2 Responses to “Dr. Fist”

  1. i

  2. he’s awesome. one hell of a good guy. top notch engineer too.

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