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This page is dedicated to the 2 people who polished my problem -solving skills, both general and electronic. They are my old headmaster Mr W Egner, and Patrik Bladh, video engineer and master fixer!

Richard Buswell MSc

In 35 years of fault-finding and repairing electronics ranging from valve (tube) circuits to surface-mount solid state, the same general principles apply. My colleague Patrik Bladh and I worked together in Switzerland in 1977 - he was Swedish, with his own special command of English. The quotes I have put in here (marked *) are typical of his inimitable style.

1. It always shall be simple *

This is well worth remembering. Of course it isn’t always simple, but it is easy to think that something is going to be complicated merely because one only has a dim idea of how the thing works. People usually blame the part of a system that they don’t understand -  usually the electronic bit.  A friend of a colleague of mine was sent by his employer to sort out a fault on a piece of equipment they had supplied to a very well-known establishment in  Pasedena. When he arrived on site he found the equipment was switched off - in Britain a switch is off when it is up, and in America it is the opposite. Ah well, it
was rocket science!

2. Don’t get bogged down

My headmaster showed me how to solve mathematics problems by approaching them from different directions. Sometimes the first thing you try is based on wrong assumptions, and the longer you stick with one thing the harder it is to leave it and try something else. A fault will almost always give a trace of several symptoms. If you are getting bogged down, take a break - go to lunch or make an excuse to check something in the car. It clears the mind.

3. It always shall be power supplies *

The power supply is normally the most stressed part of electronic equipment. Devices there undergo a lot of thermal cycling, which results in mechanically- induced failures. They are usually also under a lot of electrical stress. Don’t forget to check the accuracy of the voltages. Sometimes quite strange effects come from power supplies that are just out of calibration.

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