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Author Topic: What is the most expensive board you ever smoked?  (Read 3599 times)
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Santa Fe
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Just got to thinking. There were a number of new post form people who zapped their motor shields. I thought it might make them feel better to know that they are not alone.

While working as test manager for a company that manufactured mass spec units, I managed to short the internal high voltage source to main PC board with spectacular results. The machine itself retailed for $300,000. The PC board, of course, could be replaced so the whole unit was not destroyed, but can you imagine how you would feel if you were a lab tech doing chemical analysis and you zapped it?

The up side is that we corrected the problem, and since it was my job to try and break these guys... well I did my job even though I didn't know I was doing it at the time.

So since I really don't know what the repair would have cost outside the "test" situation, lets just say I zapped a $300,000 piece of equipment.

We have $300,000... do I hear anything higher?
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SE USA
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not here, my worst was around 300 bucks
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My worst was a botched repair on a $900 plasma TV. A bead of solder had rolled around one of the power MOSFET pins and connected the heatsink to ground. Made a bunch of cool spark fountains, but also fried the power supply, control board, Z-sus, and Y-sus boards.
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Not sure this was really my fault, but I was setting up some file servers and turned on 8 machines at once, and caused a dip AC power line which was bad enough to fry every single hard drive.  These were $25,000 machines that each had 5 2-gig SCSI drives which were worth $2,000 each at the time.  Total damage was about $80,000.   The worst (best) part was when the repair tech replaced all the drives he did the same thing I'd done.  $160,000 in total damage isn't quite your $300,000 threshold, but it was real damage to production environment equipment and actual repair dollars that had to be paid.

They upgraded the power lines the next week.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 11:52:08 am by Oracle » Logged

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I didn't destroy anything but data, but once we had an emergency in final test that required a "main power down". I shut off the breaker in that area. It turned out the IBM370 upstairs was on the same circuit and they were doing payroll.

Jim
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I didn't destroy anything but data, but once we had an emergency in final test that required a "main power down". I shut off the breaker in that area. It turned out the IBM370 upstairs was on the same circuit and they were doing payroll.

Jim

Man, didn't your mama ever tell you not to mess with those that cut your paycheck?  smiley-wink
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i built fairly big power supplys once 3u rack mount with a very big transformer in it and a lots of really big cap's ones nearly the size of golf balls. i'd make 25 at a time and hem they would go into test. a couple of times a year i'd get one of the caps the wrong way round. each powers supply was probably the best part of a grand. when they popped they hit the ceiling.
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Santa Fe
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Quote
$160,000 in total damage isn't quite your $300,000 threshold, but it was real damage to production environment equipment and actual repair dollars that had to be paid.

I think I need to step aside for Oracle. Replacing the board on the machine I fried wouldn't even come close to $160,000.
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I connected the output of a pretty expensive, huge 25kVA no-break (UPS) to the mains of the power company.  The loud "bang" that followed was louder than a gunshot, and I was scared shItl355 for a moment!

Fortunatly none of the servers were on at the time.

Repair: equivalent to US$ 3,000

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In terms of the old washing machine style disks, when I had been at Data General for a year or two, we were beginning the software qualification of the MV/8000 or Eagle that was the machine at the core of Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine.  My part begins after the end of the book, when the machine had been delivered to the software groups.  In my case, I was one of the programmers on the DG/L compiler, which was Data General's version of Algol 60, and I had one of the large removable CDC disk platters to mount on my test system.  Just as in all hardware bringups, time on the initial machines was very limited, and I pulled some 3am shifts to get the s/w validated.

Now, at that time and place, most of the disk platers were a whopping 180 megabytes of space, but I had one of the relatively rare 277 megabytes of disk space.  At the time, we only had 6-8 of these drives in the Westborough facility.  At one point, I had a head crash on the disks (where the disk head was out of alignment and crashed into the disk platter).  Not knowing what a head crash was, I swapped disks and tried to boot with the standard disk so I could run FIXUP on the disk, thinking it was just a normal OS crash.  Now we had 2 drives with broken heads.

Field Circus takes down the first machine, and I or somebody else takes the disk to another drive to run FIXUP, and now we have 3 drives down.  Somebody else does the swap the drives trick, and now we have 4 drives down.  Somehow, it doesn't end there, and somebody else swaps drives on a different machine, and now 5 drive are now broken.  They took the entire Field Circus case over to watch the rebuild, since it didn't happen so often.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 09:59:45 pm by MichaelMeissner » Logged

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In terms of the old washing machine style disks, when I had been at Data General for a year or two, we were beginning the software qualification of the MV/8000 or Eagle that was the machine at the core of Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine.  My part begins after the end of the book, when the machine had been delivered to the software groups.  In my case, I was one of the programmers on the DG/L compiler, which was Data General's version of Algol 60, and I had one of the large removable CDC disk platters to mount on my test system.  Just as in all hardware bringups, time on the initial machines was very limited, and I pulled some 3am shifts to get the s/w validated.

Now, at that time and place, most of the disk platers were a whopping 180 megabytes of space, but I had one of the relatively rare 277 megabytes of disk space.  At the time, we only had 6-8 of these drives in the Westborough facility.  At one point, I had a head crash on the disks (where the disk head was out of alignment and crashed into the disk platter).  Not knowing what a head crash was, I swapped disks and tried to boot with the standard disk so I could run FIXUP on the disk, thinking it was just a normal OS crash.  Now we had 2 drives with broken heads.

Field Circus takes down the first machine, and I or somebody else takes the disk to another drive to run FIXUP, and now we have 3 drives down.  Somebody else does the swap the drives trick, and now we have 4 drives down.  Somehow, it doesn't end there, and somebody else swaps drives on a different machine, and now 5 drive are now broken.  They took the entire Field Circus case over to watch the rebuild, since it didn't happen so often.

I was a field service engineer for Varian Data Machines (later bought up by Sperry Univac) in the 70s and knew well of that type of failure, that if a disk drive had a head crash that one should never attempt to mount the removable disk pack involved in the crash into another different functional disk drive, as it would only then cause a new head crash on that drive. Usually took a customer at least one first hand experience before that lesson sunk in. Their lose wasn't in the drive (other then downtime) as they usually had a service contract with us that covered that, but the lose of the disk pack which was like $1,200 for the ten platter disks was not covered by us. As I recall we sold our two drawer disk drive (about the size of a pizza oven) for around $50,000 at the time. Boy has the cost of computing been reduced. Heck we charged around $1,200 a month just for the field service contract on our average minicomputer system.

Lefty
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This isn't an instance of me frying some hardware, but an amusing instance still.

Back about 12-14 years ago we were working on a new product that supported two new cameras from Dalsa, one a high speed 2k linescan camera, and the other a high speed 2kx2k areascan camera.  Both cameras were in identical packaging with identical connectors.  However, the linescan camera operated on 24v and the areascan camera only operated on 12v.  Needless to say, it was entirely possible to connect the 24v power supply to the 12v camera.  Our lead engineer was constantly lecturing everyone about the risk, and to always be sure what camera and power supply they were using (the power supplies were identical in appearance as well).  About a month into the project, the lead engineer was the one to plug the 24v power supply into the 12v camera.  And of course, the areascan camera was the more expensive of the two as well, $20k at the time vs I think $7k for the linescan.
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I got the power lines wrong way round on a prototype, the unit sold for $25,000.
Only blew two parts but one was a BGA device.
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The team that installed some of my displays in a major supermarket decided they would tap into the mains supply ( while live ! )  to the  checkouts, on a Friday afternoon.
Each till had a long line of trolleys queued up.

Big bang and flash,  it takes half an hour to reboot the system, so all the customers left their trolleys in the queue, and went to another supermarket ....

Luckily it was nothing to do with me, and  I have never found out what the costs were to the supermarket ( loss of sales, frozen food thawing in the trolleys etc, etc. )

The most expensive mistake by the team I was part of ( not me though ) was at a NASA tracking station in '67, when one of the guys sent the wrong command to the just launched , first ever , all UK satellite ( Ariel3 ) and instead of making it send back high speed data, it switched from the main transmitter , which was supposed to last years, to the back up transmitter  - there was no command to revert to the primary one.   
   This  could have been a multi million booboo, but the satellite continued for its life on the backup, thank heavens.
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@ Grumpy Mike  " Only blew two parts but one was a BGA device. "

then you find out how good you are with a solder sucker and wick ?
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