funny how there's a computer in almost anything...

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nthach
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21 Dec 2010, 2:01 pm

... even the mundane, like a furnace. We had a new furnace installed, a Trane XV95 high-efficiency model. On the outside, except for the PVC vent piping, it's like a plain jane furnace, a white(or gray)good.
Image
but, once you get the covers off to the inner workings, you see a PCB that looks like has a few relays like this -
Image
and upon closer inspection - I and looked at the furnace when it was being unboxed and it actually has firmware on that board as well as variable-frequency drive GE PCM/ECM motor running the blower. I think this is a STMicro ASIC or CPU driving things:
Image

I'm amazed that even in the most mundane thing, there's a computer running the show. I'm shocked that something that was controlled previously with relay logic, a few bimetallic sensors and mercury switches are now orchestrated by a CPU driving transistors which in turn drive relays after processing inputs from sensors - in this case a thermostat using a thermistor as well as a few sensor. It's amazing how far technology has come.



Last edited by nthach on 21 Dec 2010, 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Asp-Z
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21 Dec 2010, 2:26 pm

Yep, get used to that. We'll be hacking Linux onto our toasters soon.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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21 Dec 2010, 2:32 pm

You might be interested in Alan Cooper's book 'The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity.'
http://www.amazon.com/Inmates-Are-Runni ... 849&sr=1-3

basically, how computers are the great complicators.

and this example from google books, a navy technician enters zero in a calculation, the computer divides by zero, and the whole ship goes dead in the water?? Apparently so.
http://books.google.com/books?id=04cFCV ... &q&f=false



Last edited by AardvarkGoodSwimmer on 21 Dec 2010, 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nthach
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21 Dec 2010, 2:36 pm

Asp-Z wrote:
Yep, get used to that. We'll be hacking Linux onto our toasters soon.

Sony and Samsung are running Linux-based RTOSes on their TVs and in the case of Samsung as well as their comrades at LG, they are also running Linux on high-end washing machines and refrigerators.



Fatal-Noogie
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21 Dec 2010, 2:42 pm

Wow. Talk about overengineering.

The same thing is happening in the automotive world.
The gear heads have less to play with because
less is mechanical and more is electronic or electrical.
It's like my mechatronics professors said,
"Cars today are essentially computers on wheels." (specifically Priuses)
That has the benefit of more efficiency and less wear,
but it has the drawback that they're so fantastically complex
that fewer people have the expertise to diagnose and fix problems.

I think it's a dangerous trend, because the more complex
our appliances become, the fewer people understand how they work,
the more that technical knowledge becomes consolidated in corporations,
the more we depend on those corporations for maintenance and upgrades.

It also means consumers are more inclined to throw away faulty items
since they can't figure out how to repair them.


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nthach
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21 Dec 2010, 2:49 pm

Fatal-Noogie wrote:
The same thing is happening in the automotive world.
The gear heads have less to play with because
less is mechanical and more is electronic or electrical.
It's like my mechatronics professors said,
"Cars today are essentially computers on wheels." (specifically Priuses)
That has the benefit of more efficiency and less wear,
but it has the drawback that they're so fantastically complex
that fewer people have the expertise to diagnose and fix problems.


I envy you go to Cal Poly. I'm sadly at hipster, ditz, Prius and fixie infested SFSU.

If you think a Prius is overengineered with computers, go play with a W126/W140 chassis Mercedes S-Class or the older Lexus LS400s, back then those came out they are overengineered as well but unlike the Prius you can fix the Benz or Lexus without a laptop running Toyota's Techstream TIS and a CAN interface. At least the Prius is reliable. I can't say that for a German car with all its electronics like a newer BMW 7 Series/Mercedes S-Class/Audi A8.



Asp-Z
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21 Dec 2010, 2:50 pm

nthach wrote:
Asp-Z wrote:
Yep, get used to that. We'll be hacking Linux onto our toasters soon.

Sony and Samsung are running Linux-based RTOSes on their TVs and in the case of Samsung as well as their comrades at LG, they are also running Linux on high-end washing machines and refrigerators.


I'm not really surprised about the TVs, but washing machines and fridges? Hah.

Do toothpicks run Linux yet? :P



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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21 Dec 2010, 2:53 pm

The thermostat is my parents home had all this 'reset' program, temporarily adjust, day, night, etc., etc. I could not get the heat to come on. Then I lifted up this plastic lid and there at the bottom of the thermostat where the old fashion hand switches: 'heat . . air . . auto' , fan: 'on . . auto'

So the new system was a complicated overlay over the old system!



Orwell
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21 Dec 2010, 3:04 pm

Asp-Z wrote:
Do toothpicks run Linux yet? :P

Not yet, but there is work on a port, building on the work of the very popular "Dead Badger Linux."


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Asp-Z
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21 Dec 2010, 4:10 pm

Orwell wrote:
Asp-Z wrote:
Do toothpicks run Linux yet? :P

Not yet, but there is work on a port, building on the work of the very popular "Dead Badger Linux."


:lmao:



ruveyn
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21 Dec 2010, 5:30 pm

No funnier than wheels and levers in almost everything.

ruveyn



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23 Dec 2010, 1:04 am

Asp-Z wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Asp-Z wrote:
Do toothpicks run Linux yet? :P

Not yet, but there is work on a port, building on the work of the very popular "Dead Badger Linux."


:lmao:


My frozen pedigree badger(I guess that is OEM?) is arriving just after Christmas. Its the Honey Badger model.
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2004/200 ... dger.shtml


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23 Dec 2010, 4:29 am

Fatal-Noogie wrote:
That has the benefit of more efficiency and less wear,


I agree with everything but this. A Prius is about as efficient from a gas perspective as an old Civic. Once you include batteries, the Civic is far more efficient. Tires still wear out, brakes still wear out, computers do contrary to popular belief wear out. Alternators and starters wear out on conventional cars and I've destroyed a couple electric power tools too, a big expensive electric motor is not excluded from wear and there is still a gas engine and at highway speeds it is always on.

I'm now getting 37mpg on the highway in a mid-sized sedan with an automatic transmission and a 3L V6 and I'm pretty sure that it's running rich. My friend Zack smelled the exhaust once and he told me it smelled "rich as f**k". Anyone who really likes working on cars isn't going to have a problem getting a REAL good car till they become rare and collectible

These days you can get a Nissan 300ZX (the fastest Japanese car pre-90s) for $500 and I'm telling you it's completely possible to get 40mpg out of it if you ditch a lot of excess weight and drive it fairly easy with a good tune.


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23 Dec 2010, 9:35 am

nthach wrote:
I'm amazed that even in the most mundane thing, there's a computer running the show. I'm shocked that something that was controlled previously with relay logic, a few bimetallic sensors and mercury switches are now orchestrated by a CPU driving transistors which in turn drive relays after processing inputs from sensors - in this case a thermostat using a thermistor as well as a few sensor [and with DC motors controlled by variable-speed drives and everything deeply interlocked]. It's amazing how far technology has come.

To me, it all seems shockingly and unnecessarily complicated. Modern stuff might be super-efficient and so on, but I am an old-school mechanic who used to be able to fix just about anything and keep it working in spite of almost whatever.

My wife and I now have a dual-fuel stove in the kitchen, however, and we purchased the specific model we have because its gas burners on the top have regular rotary valves and will work even without electrical power for the igniters.

As ever: Less is better.


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techn0teen
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27 Dec 2010, 8:41 pm

Computers calculate things in a way that are way less error prone than humans. Would you rather have a computer calculate and administor that radiation dosage for an x-ray or have a doctor hand calculate it and then manually administor it?

Having exact calculations are important and useful for almost everything. But when I see things like electronic mouse traps or computerized cups, I think it is ridiculous. As an engineer, I am a big fan of keeping things simple.

Maybe I am biased because I am a computer engineer?