Sometimes it *is* all about the blinky light

This is a great story of an amazingly innovative solution to a difficult and expensive problem.

Generally, as engineers we want to get to the root cause of a problem, and fix it at the source.  EMI is a classic example of that – find the source of the noise and squash it there rather than build elaborate shielding.  But sometimes, that’s not an option, much like the rocket in the article.  Sometimes, the best solution is to accept the noise and work around it.

The classic EMI workaround is the spread-spectrum clock generator.  Some call it a cheat, some call it a magic bullet. And I call it situation-dependent.  And they are less than the $5 NASA spent to fix the $100M rocket.


*Credit for this title goes to a departed good friend of mine, Ed Kirk, who at IDEO once pronounced that it “really is all about the blinky light.”

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