We're a little crazy, about science!

A big revision

Ever have a really good idea, maybe even a “big idea?” Well I’ve apparently had a few, but some are bigger than others and currently we’re diving into some very intense experiments using my “big idea,” but we’re running into certain limitations. While I could happily call it here, not put the effort into doing anything about it, and just live with it, that’s not happening. For anyone who knows me, that’s not even an option. So instead big idea is getting a big revision.

Maybe not even a revision, just a reimagining. Think, same idea, better execution. I mean, we rebuild it, we have the technology… better, stronger, faster (wow, I’m old). Over the past couple of days I’ve been hammering out how to do it. The preverbal hamster in the wheel was going full speed and I had the solution, I really did, but there was no way to execute it. So I’ve been scouring the internet for the information I needed only to find out that the information was not there. It’s been a frustrating experience.

I’m used to (mostly) being able to just google whatever I need and get pinout diagrams for things or product specs for just about everything under the sun. I am not a fan of digikey for example because navigating that website is a huge pain for me, but I still manage to find everything I need regardless of how poorly its designed (my opinion frankly).

The information I’ve been looking for wasn’t something hidden, I’m 98% convinced it’s a trade secret, like not shared on the internet stuff. Maybe no one has shared it because it’s not needed, I don’t know, but I really needed it and it’s nowhere to be found. So my options were either buy some things to sacrifice and figure it out myself or email the companies that make the stuff I’m interested in and ask for the information. Neither option is ideal.

Buying very expensive equipment only to disassemble it is a huge no in the lab unfortunately. I’m sure hospital-PI would trust me if I really pushed the issue, he’s let me do weirder things, but frankly I don’t trust my abilities. Some things are just far outside my skill set and while I’m not a smart man, I’m smart enough to at least be aware of that much. In short we would be spending a lot of money just to verify that the thing I ordered was actually what I needed. The best case scenario is that it was and I didn’t completely ruin the stuff in the process, the worst case, well I don’t want to talk about that. At the end of the day, this was not the way to go about it!

The alternative would be to beg the companies to disclose the information to me. This assumes they have the information readily available, which is not a great assumption, but they may. Unfortunately it also assumes it’s information they would feel comfortable divulging. It could really be a trade secret that they don’t want to share and the only way I could get the information would be some super tech ninja reverse engineering path. The other issue would be having to share with them what I was planning, which asking a company to tell me something without wanting to give away my secrets typically doesn’t end well. So basically this wasn’t an option either.

Which brings me to the resolution part of the story!

Yes, google came through for me and I found an obscure product sold by a partner company for roughly a 10th of the price I was afraid I was going to have to pay and it is almost certainly something I can disassemble and reassemble in the configuration I need it in. As usual everything is very hush, hush and I can’t talk about big idea, or the big revision, but I REALLY wish I could. Sorry everyone.

I will say this is going to take big idea from the lab to something that looks professional. Not 100% needed and if that was the only thing that we were getting out of the deal I wouldn’t bother, but that’s not all! I’ll now be able to bypass a lot of the limits we’re running into and rushing around to borrow other equipment to solve. I’ve also come up with a way to add some new and interesting capabilities to my big idea that will make hospital-PI very happy, but will also give me a chance to do some really interesting things that we were limited to doing previously.

Also somewhat big news, if I haven’t previously mentioned it… Hospital-PI is doing a project where big idea would be a perfect fit to piggyback on his project. Not only would it be huge for me, it wouldn’t add more work to his experiments (well minimal work). We could potentially learn some really cool stuff if that works out and it has the potential to help a lot of people. Making these changes now will ensure that I get the best result. I’m hoping this next part will move just as quickly as the original big idea hardware creation went.

Unfortunately the hangup is funding. Hospital-PI threw a lot of lab money at the project (as in his own personal lab funds that are for whatever the lab needs). While I haven’t even spent half of what he gave me, I don’t know if those funds are still available to me. Plus this new upgrade is really two different upgrades and I would prefer to do both, but we may not even have the funds to do one of them. Worse, even though the funds are his to spend, the hospital needs to approve the purchases since they will be over a certain dollar amount and since we’re in the process of getting a new fancy lab space (thanks hospital!) funds have been somewhat frozen in preparation for the new space.

Will I get the parts I need? Will we have time to construct the next iteration of big idea? Will the hospital bureaucracy keep us from making history? Will I stop asking all sorts of questions in this format like a big weirdo?*

Find out this and more… soon… ish?

* No, no I won’t.


4 responses

  1. Hour after our work is never over.

    Not much to say except feature creep is always suspect, and secrecy is good. You don’t need to worry about the usuals here, but the Internet has ears and never forgets.

    We’re patient. Looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 11, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    • Thanks! Yeah, I look forward to being able to finally share. It’s frustrating for me because I’m just so excited to tell people! haha

      Liked by 1 person

      June 12, 2022 at 11:54 am

  2. If you really needed information out of an equipment manufacturer, you could set up a non-disclosure agreement with them – which would protect any secrets you gave them, as well as any they gave you. If you’re just thinking of using their product in a unique way rather than developing a competing product, they might be willing. My employer has gotten trade secret information about some of the parts we use under NDA, because we’re using them in a non-standard environment and need the extra knowledge to help guard against radiation faults. But that might take help from a legal team and be way more complicated and time-consuming than what you’re actually doing, so I’m glad you found an alternative.

    And yes, of course we can wait to hear the full story about this. Don’t worry.

    Ugh, the times I went on Digikey or Mouser and tried to find (for instance) a type of connector without knowing what it was called. I’m not sure what the right way to do a giant searchable parts catalog is, but they sure are frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 11, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    • OH! That is a great idea!! I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me frankly. An NDA would be ideal I think. I’ve met some of the people who run the company before and they seemed pretty nice, so I think they would go for it. Time is a factor (as always), but it wouldn’t hurt to try!

      I don’t know the solution for digikey either, but maybe more pictures? There has to be a better way to organize all that information. I just don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 12, 2022 at 11:56 am

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