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retro:doa-board

Board is "Dead-on-Arrival" or "Dealing with difficult customers"

A humorous story from the 90's, when, working as a systems integrator, I have built a Network Management System for an array of microwave stations that were supplied by the company that I was working for back then.

The project of building the GUI-based NMS started as an emergency because the customer refused to accept the entire array, unless it was accompanied by a graphics NMS. The customer considered that the OEM provided command-line interface (CLI) for the management of the array was not enough for their expectations.

A deadline was set to three weeks! I identified the fastest workaround as an implementation of a SCADA board in an industrial PC, that would collect all dry-contact signals from one of the microwave stations, as well as controlled actions by the activation of switches. Luckily, the microwave stations allowed the control of remote stations who participated in this array of stations, via an internal control channel. Therefore, with one connection to one station, I could control all stations of the link.

One software developer started working on the Graphical User Interface, which would be a mimic of the microwave station front panel, based on Visual Basic. An industrial PC and an Advantech PCL-720 SCADA board were ordered with an expedited procedure.

To cut a long story short, the NMS was prepared on time, a group of customer representatives came for training, the system was shipped and installed and the entire project was accepted, making us all very happy!!!.

After a couple of weeks, we received a box, containing the board, along with a short ultimatum:

Board Dead-on-Arrival. Repair immediately.

Just have a look on the board, with this massive hole and the burn marks!

 PCB top view

 PCB bottom view

Definitely it was not DoA :-) Nobody has ever found out what really caused this hole. All ICs were working perfectly. Well, although it was easy to repair the board because the density of the PCB trails at those times was really small, I could not send it back to the customer at such a condition. Luckily, there was sufficient profit margin for the entire project, so I shipped a new one and kept this one in my “Archive of Terror”.

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retro/doa-board.txt · Last modified: 2021/10/19 01:20 by Ilias Iliopoulos