My dad..

Has never been a believer in buying things off the shelf when building them would do just as well. A few cases in point:

1) When I was a kid, I used to love Capsella (actually, I still do, and my collection of the stuff now is prodigious, I just never have time to play with it any more). He built me, out of a radio shack kit and some truly ingenous hacks, including drilling appropriate sized holes in screws so that they could be used as terminals for the capsella jumper wires, a remote control for my capsella.

Later, capsella came out with a commercial remote, but it wasn’t nearly as cool as the one he built – it was infrared, for one thing, whereas his was 27Mhz RF..

2) FOr one of the churches we attended, he built a remote mixing console, complete with multiple modes (preset and remote), a box that you could basically wander around the church with ajusting levels, seperate feedback-removing shelving filters for every one of the inputs, and other features that boggle the mind. Not to mention the ‘supress-the-air-conditioning’ button, which may not have been the best idea because I think the chiller tended to freeze up the lines when they didn’t have air flowing over them at the other end – but used a really interesting hack to take advantage of unused bandwidth on the buzzer lines that notified the ushers when it was time to bring people in..

Now, the amazing thing about all this is that *everything* he did there, pretty much, took hours – even tens or hundreds of hours – and in many cases, it was available off the shelf. But, in all of it, he achived a level of craftsmanship I can only aspire to. Whether roll-your-own was the best move or not, you have to admire the quality level he achived in roll-your-own. Once, after getting the power supply for some widget or other put entirely togeather, he realized he had forgotten a fuse. Now, my usual reaction to goofs of this nature is to shrug and figure there’s a circuit breaker in the basement for just that reason, but he actually disassembled the entire mechanical collection o bits, added a fuse, and put it all back togeather – at a cost of some 2 hours, as I recall.

As I said, quality. And no, he doesn’t read my journal. 😉

As a side note, I think he got this from my Uncle Joe, who perhaps I should have had more exposure to.. Uncle Joe was a engineer, and in his 60s undertook to build a retaining wall for the creek below his house. several hundred bags of cement later.. well, let’s just say that the retaining wall will outlast the house – and, possibly, the creek.

One Response to “My dad..”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Let it be said, Your Dad sounds like a helluva guy. Uncle Joe too. My Dad didn’t excel at things like that, but I still love him. He’s got a good heart, and he did well enough just to make it through the tough times growing up. Where did Joe and your Dad obtain their skill, knowledge, curiosity ? ..their dad ?

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