Career and Accomplishments Highlights

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Senior Hardware Engineer for Morningstar Corp

Bringing my tenacity, experience, and attention to detail, to Morningstar's award-winning power conversion product development team.

Zigbee IOT Proof of Concept Work

A customer of SFL required a rapid proof-of-concept development to support a pitch of a commercial multi-room environmental control system to management. We connected a local Zigbee thermostat and magnet/reed switch to a Zigbee controller, communicated up through Zigbee2MQTT and Eclipse Mosquitto to the Azure Cloud IoT service. How cool!…
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LoRa Proof of Concept for Eye on the Ice In-Ice Sensors

After the disappointment of the Z-Wave implementation of an in-ice sensor for the Eye on the Ice system, Filipe and I did a survey of other RF communications technologies, and settled on LoRa, per this blog entry.  After evaluating several modules and then obtaining a few more, we settled on…
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Open Source Consultant for SFL

Worked with Savoir-faire Linux to provide solutions to customer challenges using open-source.

Serve as Chair of IEEE Winnipeg Section

In the quiet days of early 2019, I answered the call from Dr. Witold Kinsner to take up the vacant position of Vice-Chair of IEEE Winnipeg Section.  I was happy to do so. In October 2019 and again in February 2020, I was able to go to the Region 7…
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Z-Wave Proof of Concept for Eye on the Ice In-Ice Sensors

As outlined in my blog post about Modern RF Communications Modules, around 2008, my team at Norscan developed the Eye on the Ice system for Hans Wuthrich, Master Ice Maker.  It is a great system, and still works well.  Unfortunately, the Linx FHSS modules have gone obsolete.   For the moment,…
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Management of Wabtec Embedded Software Team

Wabtec's Winnipeg plant is actually in Oakbank, about 30 km (18 mi) outside of Winnipeg.  Oakbank is a small community of a few thousand people, surrounded by farmland, and, to the northwest, hills with rock quarries. This was originally a small Winnipeg company called iders (pronounced by most people as…
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Implement IRIG-B Decoder in LINUX and on EFM8UB2 Universal Bee

I've been advised that one of the biggest challenges in the installation of power utility relays & recorders can be the setup and configuration of the IRIG-B time code distribution. If there was a small, inexpensive hand-held device that could read the IRIG-B signal, and tell us all its characteristics…
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Preliminary Proof of Concept Work on ERLPhase Fault Location Algorithm

The very cool thing about sigma-delta conversion is that there are trade-offs that can be made with the data after it is captured – sampling rate versus inherent filtering versus resolution versus noise floor. These are all inter-related. ERLPhase wanted to investigate travelling wave fault location. Technicians captured mock fault…
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Develop ERLPhase 2nd Generation DC Analog Isolation Module

The original DC isolation module, developed under my direction around 1999, used an unconventional custom off-line power supply and four Analog Devices AD204 isolation amplifiers, to provide isolated voltage and current input from DC to about 1 kHz.  This opened up a new market for recording sensors and telemetry signals…
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Work with GE-Reason Brazil on Next Generation COSI-CT Architecture

The original design of what's now the COSI-CT was developed at NxtPhase in about 1999.  When I was with NxtPhase Winnipeg from 2001-2003, I was involved in an informal internal evaluation of the system, and recommended significant changes.  It wasn't that the design was bad, but that it could be…
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Develop Wireless Remote Access to GE-Alstom Equipment inside SRP Perkins Substation

Salt River Project Power (SRP) had a mystery in its transmission network - some disturbances were unexplained.  By installing a COSI-CT and my newly-developed VT, and a GE-Reason recorder at the Perkins Substation, GE would get some valuable operational data from a local substation, and SRP would find out the…
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Develop LINUX Test Tool for GE-Alstom COSI-CT Management Processor

The only way to talk to a COSI-CT Management Processor was the COSI-CT Control Panel program in MS-Windows.  It knows the structure of the EEPROM parameter storage in the Management Processor, and interprets it accordingly - for instance, if a single byte value is used, it shows it as an…
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Serve as Chair for SAE Arizona Section

I contacted SAE Arizona in February 2014, to see what was happening locally, and see if I could attend some presentations.  I was immediately asked if I could do a presentation in 2 weeks, which I did.  It was great to meet everyone, and they were very warm and inviting. …
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Update Alstom DIT COSI-CT Management Processor

I was only at Alstom Grid DIT in Phoenix a couple of months, when an question came from management, "Does anyone here know PIC assembly language?" Well, I do!  So I took on the modification of the COSI-CT Management Processor firmware.  The code was written circa 2003, and was based…
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Counsel Easun Reyrolle Relay Development Team

ERLPhase Winnipeg had the challenge of bringing a relay development team up to speed at their parent company, Easun Reyrolle of Bangalore, India.  ERLPhase had the experience but could not spare the resources.  So, I took a term contract to assist in helping to get the Bangalore team started. Culture…
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Change Home Phone to VoIP

With all the changes in my life 2011-2014, there came a point where I realized that I'd like to carry the same phone number with me. Fortunately, my family's historical phone number from 1972 had just been given up a few months before by my ex-wife, and since my name…
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Elecsys acquired by Norscan Instruments

Elecsys was exciting and fun, but not all that profitable.  There just wasn't enough high margin work to keep us going. Meanwhile, Ken Sontag, owner of Norscan Instruments Ltd., was looking for a strategy to expand his product base and change the focus of his company. We were brought together…
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Contribute Update to NTP Project’s IRIG & WWV Tone Generator

I've always wanted to create a WWV(H) decoder.  Sigh.  In the late 1980s, I played with switched capacitor filters (MF10 springs to mind, but that's a relatively low order filter, maybe it was the MAX7490 or MAX7413?), and with NE565 PLLs, to try and pull the 100 Hz subcarrier out…
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Development of Ankle-Brachial-Index Measurement Proof of Concept for Koven

Paul Koven, founder of Koven Technology Canada, was dying, and wanted to see his dream of an automatic machine measuring the ankle-brachial-index of patients.  With a very short time frame, Elecsys was asked to create a proof of concept. Elecsys produced that proof of concept in about 6 weeks, using…
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Safe Power Supply Testing on TESLA 3000 MPB

One of the substantial changes for the TESLA 3000 was the incorporation of the DR2/TESLA power supply right onto the MPB.  The DR2/TESLA power supply was an amazing accomplishment, able to operate full power at reasonable efficiency from 38Vdc to 300Vdc.  A custom buck switchmode pre-regulator was used to bring…
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Development Support for TESLA 3000 MPB

The TESLA 3000 MPB was developed for NxtPhase by Fidus in Ottawa.  It went fairly well, until the prototype board would just not recognize the Ethernet NIC, at all.  Michael Miller asked Elecsys to investigate. I insisted that we boot LINUX on the board.  Fidus advised that it was not…
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Development of Flex-Header Controller for Honey Bee

Brian Fletcher of Honey Bee had contacted Vansco to do a small electronic assembly for them, but Vansco was too large and busy, so they referred him to Elecsys.  We happily took on the task of creating a controller for their new 42 foot combine flex header. The challenge is…
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Production Support and Test of TESLA 3000 AIB using GPIB

After performing the design and full verification of the TESLA 3000 AIB, Elecsys was asked to support the manufacture of the boards at Trilogy-Net in Calgary.  There were challenges in getting the boards to work, mostly because of the silly little LM358BP, which is in a tiny 8 microbump package. …
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Elecsys starts with a… Last Call?!?

Elecsys started out with what could have been a "bang", but ended up being a "whimper".  My "whimpering" from lack of sleep! Two businessmen from the Riding Mountain area, Terry Ledoux and Rene Roncin, contacted Vansco about development of an remote controlled duck decoy animation system.  Vansco was too busy,…
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Founded Elecsys Solutions Inc.

As 2003 drew to a close, it was apparent that NxtPhase was having financial challenges.  Its CT & VT developments were costing a lot, and progress was not as quick as hoped.  I left NxtPhase to do independent consulting, but then in early 2004, I joined with Jason Fuith in…
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Developed TESLA 3000 Analog Input Board (AIB)

The TESLA 3000 was designed to put the analog-to-digital conversion as close as possible to the rear panel, so the AIB had 6 x TI ADS8364 6 channel 16 bit SAR ADCs on it, with the associated front end and conditioning circuitry. A Xilinx Spartan 3 FPGA directed the acquisition…
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Serve as Chair of SAE Manitoba Section Second Time

I was honoured to serve as Chair of SAE Manitoba Section a second time.  Although it's small, we have a great group of volunteers!

Design Time Sync System and Write TimeServ for TESLA

As the developer of the MPB, programmer for the IRIG-B decoder, and designer of the synchronization logic in the FPGA, I had originally documented the way that the time synchronization was to work.  It was implemented by our DSP programmer, Bob Jackson, and the X86 programmer, Michael Miller. Later, during…
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Attend SAE Leadership Development Seminar Second Time

We have a small group of active executive in SAE Manitoba Section.  I served on the executive continuously from 1991 until I moved away from Winnipeg in 2011, and then reconnected with SAE Manitoba every time I was in the area. In 2001, I was again Vice Chair for SAE…
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APT Becomes a part of NxtPhase

At the end of 2000, Vansco decided to focus its effort on its core business, and sought to divest the APT Division to a power-utility-related entity.  It turned out that a company called NxtPhase, based out of Vancouver BC, had been developing digital instrumentation CTs & PTs for power transmission. …
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Purchased and Installed Red Hat 5 – and Did Some Hacking

We were promoting the "Manitoba Power Connection" of Manitoba Hydro, Teshmont Consultants, Vansco, Manitoba HVDC Research Centre, and the University of Manitoba.  The HVDC Research Centre had a new real-time simulator system called RTDS (Real Time Digital Simulator) and an off-line simulator called EMTDC, both of which used their power-system…
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Work on GPS, Heads-Up Displays, Vision-Based Vehicle Speed Measurement

After years of very long hours and hard work, I was relieved when Vansco offered me the position of Chief Research Officer.  Vansco built me a lab in a quiet area of the plant, gave me resources and ideas, and asked me to play. This only lasted a short time,…
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TESLA 2000 Released

The TESLA 2000 was the most sophisticated disturbance recorder of its time.  It used two MPBs, connected together by a bidirectional DSP-to-DSP synchronous serial link.  This gave the TESLA 36 analog inputs. However, it was the software which made the TESLA so outstanding.  Although the serial port connection could be…
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L-PRO and T-PRO Released

The delay was stressful, but the results were worth it!  Manitoba's very own 6 input (x 3 phase, always) protective relay became a reality! The Analog Input Board (AIB) was configured to manage any mix of CTs and PTs, up to 18 discrete inputs. The L-PRO came out first, then…
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Serve as Chair of SAE Manitoba Section

I was concerned about having to serve as chair for SAE Manitoba Section's Governing Board, but I shouldn't have been.  With the help of all the other great people on the Governing Board, it worked out fine.  We had an excellent year.

System Undervoltage Controller on DR2 Platform

Manitoba Hydro required a special controller at the Dorsey Substation.  We developed the System Undervoltage Controller (SUVC) to implement their algorithm on our new APT Relay platform, which we called DR2.

Serve as Chair of PES Chapter of IEEE Winnipeg Section

When my involvement in the APT Division of Vansco was at its peak, I almost always went to the local Power Engineering Society meetings, which were held during lunch hour at a local hotel.  When the chair of the local chapter stepped down, Tom Molinski of Manitoba Hydro, Dave Fedirchuk…
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Attend SAE Leadership Development Seminar

As Vice-Chair of SAE Manitoba Section, I attended the SAE Leadership Development Seminar in Warrendale PA.  It was very helpful to put faces to the names of the people on the other end of the phone. It was here that I saw the best innovation that I had ever seen,…
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Developed the DR2/TESLA Main Processor Board (MPB) and Other DR2 & TESLA Boards

I used to say, "those aren't electrons flowing on the MPB, those are my blood cells!"   In a philosophical sense, it was true - the development of the MPB drained me like no other project effort, before or since. With multiple processors on board - 2 x PIC 16C MCUs…
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Challenged More and More: DR2 and TESLA on the Same Platform

We did focus group studies, discussed with customers, went to trade shows and conferences, and finally, settled on the development of two platforms for the power utility market: a TMS320C32-based platform for the relay, which we would call the DR2 (DR1 would have been the units developed using TMS320C30 at…
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Appointed General Manager of the APT Division of Vansco

With the departure of the Conviron business, Ed and Terry Van Humbeck asked me to take on a new venture - creating the APT Division and leading it into the power utility sector. We had been doing collaborative work with Dr. Glenn Swift and colleagues at the University of Manitoba…
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Download and Try Pre-1.0 LINUX

Sometime around v0.91 to v0.93, I downloaded LINUX - probably Slackware - and gave it a try.  The first time it booted, I said, "yes, yes, that's the way a real operating system announces itself when it boots!" However, I didn't have a practical use for it, so I went…
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Developing Specifications and Architecture for the Conviron CMP4000

The CMP3000 was starting to show its age in the early 1990s.  It was agreed all around that we should start working on the next generation, the CMP4000. I spent over 6 months pretty much full time working with Chuck Leibert, R&D Manager of Conviron, in the definition of the…
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Developed an Alternator Limit Controller for a New Flyer Bus

New Flyer had a problem on their hands.  They had shipped 26 buses to a property in southern California where they had omitted the little vendor-supplied 24V alternator from the Thermo-King air conditioning system, instead opting to use the main 24V bus to operate the fans.  Unfortunately, at idle, the…
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Developed Fuse Panel and Turn Signal Modules for Ford New Holland “P53”

Ford New Holland had purchased Versatile Farm Equipment, brought some new products to the plant, and Vansco was providing much of the electronics that went into all of its tractors. A new tractor was being made, which at the time was called "P53".   It needed a power distribution panel /…
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Worked on an IRIG-B Decoder

Manitoba Hydro wanted an IRIG-B decoder unit.  It would listen to modulated IRIG-B, decode the time, and provide details of the time on a serial port.  Filipe Fernandes and I did the system architecture.  Filipe designed the board, based on a Motorola MC68HC11 development kit, and did the programming in…
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S-PRO for Dorsey-Forbes Transmission Line

The T-PRO wasn't warmly received, but engineers within the MAPP region noticed the flexibility of the platform.  There was a particularly challenging aspect of stability of the Dorsey-Forbes Transmission Line that could not be readily solved using conventional relays.  Minnesota Power (MNP) asked Dr. Swift if a better algorithm could…
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Involvement in Revitalization of SAE Manitoba Section

I received an invitation to dinner, on SAE's dime.  At the time, I was wondering why I was paying for SAE & IEEE, etc., and being from Winnipeg, it's hard to turn down a free dinner.  So, I went. Well, in spite of what was apparently a long and eventful…
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Developed the Conviron Integrated Logger Controller (ILC) Card

The CMP3000 has a very sophisticated network operating over isolated RS-422 signals in a ring-bus arrangement.  Each controller has a bypass relay which would heal the ring-bus in the event of controller or communication board failure.  The Zilog Z8530 Serial Communications Controller (SCC) chip was used to talk HDLC on…
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Developed the PDR (Power Disturbance Recorder) into the DSR (Dynamic Swing Recorder)

Vansco was an important partner of the IAMC for the development of a new product for Manitoba Hydro - the Power Disturbance Recorder (PDR).  This was an innovative system that had a Central Station and multiple Remote Stations, connected by modems.  In practice, we had Remote Stations be as far…
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Promoted to Engineering Manager, Industrial Systems

I clamoured for a promotion, and finally got it! James White and I were named Engineering Managers.  James was given half the team for Embedded Systems Engineering, and I was given the other half for Industrial Systems Engineering.  Our offices were side-by-side in the building at 1305 Clarence.  We worked…
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The Original T-PRO

The University of Manitoba's Department of Engineering has a strong Power Systems group.  At the time, Dr. Glenn Swift had a student, Zhiying Zhang, working on his PhD thesis, which embodied the very cool concept that a transformer's "standard operating life" between oil change and inspection (typically 7 years, by…
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Developed the Kodiak Scoretec Ultimatic U1000 Scoreboard Controller
Developed the Kodiak Scoretec Ultimatic U1000 Scoreboard Controller

Initially, Kodiak came to Vansco to fix a problem on their previously-developed MOS 6502-based shot clock.  There was some kind of a bug in the code, and all they had was a paper listing.  They didn't even have the binary, just a working EPROM!  I found the bug, rolled out…
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Developed Transformer Winding Controller model 114000

This was the last in the series of transformer winding controllers developed for Micro Tool and Machine.  It was an amazing work of their craftsmen! The main mandrel was driven by a large stepper motor, giving fine pitched accuracy on the winding.  There was a second, smaller stepper motor driving…
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Developed 36V Signal Flasher for Can-Car Rail

James White redesigned the "standard" 12 Volt turn signal flasher to use a MOSFET output, then he modified the design to successfully run on 24 Volts for bus & truck applications. At about the same time that James was doing this, Can-Car Rail approached us to develop a 36 Volt…
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Implement Statistical Process Control for Versatile Turn Signal Flasher

Inspired by early instruction on statistical process control, I noted that we had ongoing continuous problems with the turn signal flasher flash rate and duty cycle.  The flasher does two rates - turn, and hazard.  To meet the SAE J590, there rates each have minimum and maximum rate limits, but…
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Developed Transformer Winding Controller model 109000

This was one of a series of transformer winding controllers developed for Micro Tool and Machine.  It used an variable speed eddy current clutch with induction machine drive.  As part of a three-person development team, my responsibility was for the electronics, and for the main controller software development.  Like the…
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Developed Fully Mitre Transformer Core Shear Controller

One of a number of controllers that Vansco developed for Micro Tool and Machine, my thesis partner Danny Lew and I took on the development of the Fully Mitre Core Shear Controller as our undergraduate thesis.  We built upon the existing software and main controller board, but had to modify…
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Developed the Conviron Temperature Limit Controller (TLC)

Relatively simple in concept, this was a 3 channel comparator system based on one or two remote LM35 temperature sensors placed in the growth chamber, and two remote precision linear potentiometers mounted on the front panel .  For simple chambers - those without the CMP3000 control system - it would…
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Develop ComSat Infrared Satellite Dish Positioner with CSA Approval

In the early 1980s, satellite television became a fairly large thing, especially for those who lived in rural areas and who couldn't get cable.  Indeed, even moderately wealthy city dwellers who had a large yard (or a large roof) would get satellite TV. In order to watch multiple channels on…
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Wrote Temperature and Humidity Control Algorithms for Conviron CMP3000

After completing the floating point math package, I dove into writing custom PID control algorithms for the Conviron CMP3000 controller.   We were able to attain temperature control to about +/- 0.1 deg C and humidity control to about +/- 2% RH, in chambers with interior size ranging from about that…
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Wrote Floating Point Math Package for MC6800

With the ongoing development of the Conviron CMP3000 environmental control system, Vansco needed someone to develop software.  I stepped up and was asked to develop a floating point math package to support the control algorithms.  It worked!  With minor bug fixes, it was in service for the next 15+ years.…
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Design Improvements on Versatile Turn Signal Flasher

We had turn signal flashers that that would misbehave from time to time, varying wildly, even though the math said it should work properly.  I investigated. It turned out that the supply to the main timing IC, a bipolar 555 timer, was reliant on the drop across the turn signal…
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The IBM PC was introduced to the world in August, 1981.  We at Vansco got 2 of the original PCs in December, 1981.  Both had something like 128 kB of memory.  One of them had dual 5-1/4 inch single-sided double-density  floppy drives, the other had none. One of the PCs…
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Linearizing the YSI 44030 NTC thermistor for the CMP3000 Analog Input Board

Some things just stick in your memory - like the part number of a thermistor, for instance...  well, maybe not for you, but for me.  Yikes. In second year, the development of the CMP3000 control system was in full swing.  Mike Stasenski was working on the CMP3521 Analog Input Board. …
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Debug prototypes of Enercorp AI-1 Air Infiltrometer

The IAMC (Industrial Applications of Microelectronics Centre) had developed a product called the Air Infiltrometer 1 for Enercorp.  The AI-1 could automatically measure the leakage of a home by replacing one of the doors with a large fan, and measuring the pressure drop across it as the fan was sped…
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Design Improvements for Conviron CMP3000 Switching Supply

The power supply for the CMP3000 controller was failing and needed some work. It had a crowbar circuit across its output, to protect the expensive & sensitive downstream control circuitry.  Unfortunately, it would kick in once in a while, sometimes causing the power supply to burn itself up.  It wouldn't…
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Developed Electric Heater Load Shedder Sequencer for Lion Industries

Vansco Electronics was in bay 3 of the Industrial Technology Centre, at Lagimodiere and Fermor.  Lion Industries, a similarly sized mechanical product manufacturer, was next door in bay 2. With the energy shortage in the recent past, and ongoing issues with the cost of oil, the Canadian government sponsored the…
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Started Work at Vansco Electronics

Looking for a job while at first year university, I heard that Ed Van Humbeck was starting an electronics business, so I asked if he had work for me.  Vansco hired me to build turn signal flashers for Versatile tractors.  I wasn't very good at production soldering, but when they…
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Experimentation with TTL and Making a Television Transmitter

I built 8 digit frequency counter using Vector wire-wrap technology, but my front end design had poor sensitivity. Then, for the science fair, I designed & built a simple TV transmitter, with horizontal & vertical retrace counters and end-of-frame equalization generator.   I obtained a still-functioning Plumbicon camera tube from a…
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Toying with Television

I had very little money, but I did want to toy with television technology.  My oscilloscope was a DeVry Technical Institute tube type, with recurrent sweep (as opposed to triggered sweep), which made it difficult to capture signals.  I was given an old TV with no picture... so I pulled…
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Hacking the No. 19 Set

After buying the Hallicrafters S-77A, I was enthralled with the other radio that Mr. Hall had.  He wanted $75 for it.  I counted my pennies, scraped and scrounged, and a couple of weeks later, my dad took me back to get it.  I thrust $73 into Mr. Hall's hand and…
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Bought a Hallicrafters S-77A All-Band Communications Receiver

After years of using the old Viking tabletop radio to listen to my beloved shortwave bands, I saw an advertisement in the classified section of the Winnipeg Free Press, for shortwave radios.  A fellow named Mr. Hall, who lived down on Landsdowne Ave (a rough part of town now, but…
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Start Shortwave Listening and Antique Radio Hacking

Received Viking tube radio c. 1940 and started listening to the world!  Studied circuitry and performed repairs.