My Favorite PCB Story:
I’m a retired Electrical Engineering Professor. I taught at a an upstate New York college campus at a time when we had a thriving EET program which provided courses in PCB design and fabrication. Early on in my 30 year career there, we used a solvent based system of Kodak chemicals, including the lithographic film process to produce our negatives. We had 4-5 labs a week in which I taught the process from doing a positive, using layout tape, through creating a negative, using a process camera, then developing and etching with KPR-3 and Ferric Chloride.
The photographic process was a lot of fun because we could see success right there in the tray of developer. This was, of course followed by the Stop Bath, Fixer and wash. I had also done a stint as a commercial photographer in a former life, and knew my way around the chemicals.
I shared duties with another professor who helped in the lab, and I decided to play a little trick on him.
One day while we were mixing up the chemicals for a lab, I took out an unused beaker, rinsed it out and set it aside. I pretended to mix up one of the chemicals that end up water clear. With the two bags of developer and Fixer sitting there, I put some water in the clean beaker and walked over to my friend and said, “I just mixed up some fixer or developer but I can’t remember which. Can you tell me which?”
He pulled himself up to his full height and with great professionalism, he gently waved his hand over the beaker and took a sniff of the breeze. That way he wouldn’t take in too much of the odor or splash any chemical in his face. He wrinkled his nose and said “This is fixer. Put it in the last tray”. I don’t know what he was really smelling, maybe the lingering odors from all the times we used those chemicals, sounded really sure of himself, so I said thanks and promptly took a big drink of the beaker full of water!
He totally freaked out! His eyes were like pie plates and he was speechless for a moment, then he quickly pushed me over to the eye-wash and yelled for me to spit it out! Don’t swallow!
Of course I already had swallowed, and by then I couldn’t hold my composure at all. The trick worked so well I was amazed and started laughing uncontrollably. He thought I was having convulsions and it took me a second to stop him from trying to do a Heimlich Maneuver on me. I was doubled over laughing and gasping for breath but he started to get the drift that it wasn’t a life threatening situation and then turned red with a mixture of surprise, anger and embarrassment. I knew him well enough to be sure he wasn’t going to go ballistic and tried to reassure him it was a practical joke and no harm was meant or done. He calmed down and paced for a bit before he used a few expletives on me and I apologized for the embarrassment.
He got over it and learned to smile at it, but all the while he was planning his revenge. He did get me back one day with the “Swedish Roller Rectifier” trick…but that’s another story.
- Shared November 23, 2012