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One of our work colleges retired after 49 years at work.

 

He'd achieved what he wanted/needed to achieve, and he was seeking a less stressful life on the Gold Coast of Australia enjoying the weather there.

He was working with us doing shift work, and while it can have benefits, there is a price to pay, and as you get older it can be harder to handle/manage.

 

 

Background

Clive had always been into Hardware, but surprisingly he'd dabbled in a little software way back when Commodore 64's came onto the market.

So it surprised me that he never kept playing with software, but he certainly kept designing and building unique solutions at work.

 

Our previous ATC system used a couple of main frame style computers that received the data and fed it out to the various displays, etc.

Looking back it wasn't anything special when I joined, but at that point was being replaced by much newer technology ... well hardware anyway.

 

Clive had been very instrumental in getting a remote changeover system working, and one of the guys had saved the control panel just for his retirement.

 

The day came and someone asked if we could hook it up and make some lights function so it looked like it was going.

I was the obvious choice since I was the only one at work playing with anything that could do it.

 

 

Arduino

So the choice was ... you guessed it .... an Arduino.

A full kit was purchased so that Clive could reuse it and spark that software programmer lurking somewhere in him.

 

A prototyping shield and some driver chips were added, along with batteries, and a few minor changes to some wiring.

 

 

Normally this would have mounted in a 19inch rack mounting, but a beautiful wooden box was made by one of the controllers to house the unit.

 

 

 

As you can see the quality of the woodwork was outstanding.

 

 

 

Software

You need to understand that this was in the days when things happened a little more slowly.

Switching content from one main frame to another wasn't without interruption to service, and it had to be done in the right sequence.

Get it wrong and you start again ....

 

By now the old system has been out of service for about 10 years, so trying to recall exactly how we used to operate it was ... lets just say a few people scratched their heads.

Luckily we had the wise idea of keeping the documentation (hence why I knew what to connect where), and we found an old instruction.

 

There were quite a few late nights spent trying to get this running and doing what it should, but in the end it worked.

 

 

Presentation

The team had a dinner to celebrate Clives retirement and it was only fitting that we not only gave him this but reminded him of some of the lighter moments of his career.

No retirement would be complete unless you also invited the Christchurch Facility Manager (our bosses, boss) whose service record you'd beaten by one year, and therefore he did the honours of the story telling.

And so the story, including the original paperwork he signed when he joined, along with the tales of disaster and rescue was told by Norm, with much enjoyment all around.

 

When it came to give Clive the gift, Greg asked if he could remember how it worked.

The look of deep thought about whether he could remember soon turned to shock/delight/wonderment as it light up and started flashing ... just as it would had it been connected to the real thing.

 

 

So this tale is here to say that it was amazing what joy a few dollars worth of processor and some recycling can bring.

 

 

And in case he forgot us, we did give him a photo taken in the centre with all 17 staff in it, and added our names ....

 

 

Video

No pixels were harmed in the making of this video ... because there isn't one.

 

 

This was included to show that it doesn't always need to be about the hardware.

 

Mark