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Thread: well, the darn thing is out

  1. #1691
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Silicon - Unobtainium Alloy Transistors

    Quote Originally Posted by gmwillys View Post
    Unobtainium is a perfect term around here. I see it used constantly.
    I’ve just got to tell this story:

    In the early 1970’s I was working on a proposal for some aircraft radio system on which Magnavox (the company name that year) was teaming with another company as a bidder. We were writing proposal sections under impossible deadlines and trying to write “here is how we are going to do it” stories quicker than the real engineers could finish analyses of what was possible.

    I was writing a transmitter section and every analysis we had done indicated that the transistors were going to be way too hot to meet the reliability guidelines we had been assigned. It was about two o’clock in the morning and in weak moment I made the statement that we would meet the derating spec by using high temperature silicon-unobtainium alloy final devices in the transmitter. (I honestly don’t know if I had ever heard the term before, I may be a co-inventor…). I knew full well that one of the staff reviewers would catch that remark and I would have to rewrite it the next day – but it was getting to be Oh-light-thirty and I was out of ideas.

    By the next day another panic hit and I never revisited the unobtainium section. The proposal draft was sent off to the integration team at the prime contractor (it may have been Sylvania) and folks started to pull things together. Someone found the phrase about 1:00 AM in another all nighter session. As I found out later, the prime contractor threw a fit – but as more people read the section it got funnier and funnier and people ended up in a case of the sillies.

    It actually led to folks taking a look at what were patently unrealistic reliability specifications and modifying several sections to reflect reality. I got the Golden Pencil Award for that proposal – a badly gnawed #2 Yellow Pencil with No Eraser glued to a scrap of plywood with a marking pen inscription.

    I would probably get fired for that today. People take things ‘way too seriously. As I once told the boss of the month “Don’t take yourself so seriously, sir. Nobody else does.”

  2. #1692
    Senior Member pelago's Avatar
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    "I’ve just got to tell this story"
    Way cool, should have sent the thing to Collins radio!!..
    wish I still had my KWM2A, actually had one in the travel case with pwr supply and full crystal pak,, got stolen by movers on household move and i could not get full value from gov when i reported it....

  3. #1693
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Collins KWM-2A

    Quote Originally Posted by pelago View Post
    ... should have sent the thing to Collins radio!!.. wish I still had my KWM2A,
    A. Collins was our primary competitor in the UHF aircraft radio business. Magnavox and the succeeding companies did not do HF radios and we only did VHF-FM (30 -88 MHz) as a repackage of VRC-12 modules into the ARC-131/FM-622 helicopter radio. Probably the high point of my career was when we put the ARC-187 into just about every P-3C in the world - a Navy aircraft that had been a Rockwell/Collins platform for years.

    B. But, having said that - Collins built great HF radios. The KWM-2A was a neat package of radio. I wish I had one too.

    How is Jake doing?

  4. #1694
    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    OK fellas, my father communicated with his parents from Korea via HAM radio! low AM frequency "skipped" around the atmosphere. His best buddy was involved with the early "Short Wave" stuff.

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