Tuesday, February 8, 2011


One of the areas I have the most trouble with when I construct a project for my radio interests is the physical layout of the larger components. The big variable capacitors and switches and coils and the like. I usually look at how others have done this and sometimes use this as a guide.  But I usually go with some current traditional method and am not always happy with the way it turns out. Oh it works OK but quite often it is larger than I want or not as elegant as I would like. This last time was no different.

There was a product for doing part of this that would have made this exercise a whole lot easier and simpler and direct but it has not been available for quite some time as the company that produced it no longer does so. It was bought out and the new owners decided to take the company in a different direction. I have seen this product a number of times and though about making one myself but as it used ceramic parts that were specific to it and producing these parts as shown would be out of my ability, I dismissed this though out of hand. My thought was that in order for it to work, I had to make it exactly the way was originally made.


It finally occurred to me that I could make one that would work as well (if not better), look good and be easy to put together. I did not have to make it exactly like the original at all. Just use the basic concept and currently available materials. I had become my own victim of absolute thinking.  My knowledge and experience in this situation had worked against me.

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few. - Shunryu Suzuki

Far too often we find that our knowledge and experience works against us in solving problems or finding new and different ways of accomplishing what we need or want. Those that manage to invent and create and solve problems in spite of their vast knowledge and experience - who think nearly always outside of the box - we at first refer to as ludicrous. After we have seen their wisdom we call them genius.  They have managed to retain the view and insight of the beginner. People such as Tesla and Einstein and DeForest.

Too often we think in absolutes. Something HAS to be done a particular way.  It did not work before therefore it can't POSSIBLY work now.  We let our knowledge and experience box our thinking in and lose our imagination in the process. We become our own automatons too willing to accept  ideas as categorical with out further examination of them.
When instead we could look at a solution and say "Hey...this might work. All we need to do is change this part or do it a bit differently." 

We need more beginners and fewer experts.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” - RFK


Alan said...

One of the all-time great handheld cameramen (and a very good teacher of production skills) in the world, an engagingly cheerful fellow named Dick Reizner, has as his "hook line" a very simple production phrase: "It doesn't have to be, it just has to look like it is!"

The famous airport sequence at the end of Casablanca was shot with a heavy dose of "fog", on a studio soundstage, using what's known as forced perspective to make a smaller simulated airplane and "little people" as the ground crew around it appear more distant than it was.

Relating that to your post, it's not necessary for something to be the original, it just has to work properly.

All that said, expertise is valuable, and informed opinions are generally far more valuable than guesswork.

I suspect that includes comments on blogs.

cmaukonen said...

I agree. As long as it does not get into the way of creativity. Lately imagination and creativity have taken a back seat to knowledge and expertise.

Alan said...

See, I'd go so far as to say that your experience and knowledge were what opened that door for you when it came to making the particular assembly you needed.

They're not mutually exclusive by a very long way.

In the ideal, they reinforce each other.

cmaukonen said...

The yen and the yang.