PSN-L Email List Message

Subject: Re: Fw: John Cole's Mini-Mini Lehman
From: ted@..........
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 12:24:39 -0400

Hi.  My name is Ted, and I'm a seismoholic.  I define that as somebody
who's willing to try anything and even learn some new stuff to get their
own station up and running.

Take somebody who sends in the classic note to the psn list - "I just found
out about you guys, and I've been thinking for years about building my own
sensor.  Where can I get some plans?"  Well, when he finally gets to work
building that Lehman it's not going to be the first time he ever held a
screwdriver.  He's driven in the same screwy way that a lot of us are, but
he must be pretty mechanically minded in addition to the interest in the
earth sciences.

But even among the inmates of the asylum there's a distribution of
abilities.  Face it you hardware geniuses - there are a lot more ways to
put a pile of parts together wrong than right.  (And that *really* applies
to electronics!) Look at all the creative solutions that have been
developed (no, invented!) for the point where the base of the Lehman boom
is supported by the crosspiece.  These ideas were born out of necessity.
But not everyone believes it is necessary for their home-built Lehman to
work.  We all get frustrated.  Some react by leaving the hobby.  Others
react by coming up with new approaches.

There's a bunch of folks out there who want the results without building
their own stuff.  That might mean that they actually have a life.  (Ouch!)
But nobody can make me believe that the guy who buys his gear, then
actually runs his own seismic station and enjoys it, won't be an asset to
Amateur Seismology.  Are Hams who buy their radios allowed to talk to guys
who make their own?  Sure they are, the question is what do you bring to
the community.  Our strength is that united by a common interest we bring
enough skills in separate areas that they overlap to cover many areas.

My MS is in Engineering Science but it was actually Aquatic Ecology, so I'm
not any type of engineer.  But try and list the set of "skill areas" you
have to be familiar with to construct your own sensor, hook it up to a
computer, build an amp/filter, wire it all up, put your data on the web,
and understand where your quality challenges are for future improvements?
Jeepers, it covers pretty much everything outside of Philosophy and
Religion - woodworking, metalworking, mechanical eng., electrical eng.,
circuit design, soldering skills, power supply engineering, software, PC
repair.  Plus to have a clue what you are finally seeing you have to
understand some seismic theory and geology.  Even Windows!

So my thesis is that nobody is going to be able to acquire all those skills
"on the fly" - you've either got confidence (right or wrong) you can build
the thing or you're not going to start.  Now the list of folks with a
goodly subset of those skills is darn small.  What do we do about the rest
of the world?  I say, bring 'em on in and make it as easy as possible.

Back in 1979 if I had any money I would have bought anything I could just
to be able to have a finger (imagine, my own finger!) on the pulse of the
planet.  But you couldn't buy anything back then except Heathkit chart
recorders.  So I bought one and it worked perfectly until I tried to
reconstruct it into a drum recorder.  Disaster, and it never worked again.
I went outside my skill set hoping I could learn enough on the fly, but got
burned.  Oh well, maybe a PC could do the job...  But I couldn't have
gotten anything working without the help of folks like Jan Froom, Steve
Hammond and Dick Chelberg who knew enough engineering and electronics to
complement somebody who could program a little.  You're hearing from a guy
who, for two years (!) thought you could get +/- 12V out of two 6V

And I did *not* make my own earthquakes!

Ted Blank


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Larry Cochrane <cochrane@..............>