Mar 27

Deep inside the intercom

Posted by Matty

I hope the title doesn’t make you think that this post is about some kind of weird electronic pr0n or something.


Maybe it is. There’s really only one way to find out. Ickclay the inklay.

Electronic pr0n pics are on the right. Yep… wires, circuit boards, and transistors. All posed tastefully, of course.

For some reason, a pretty common feature in houses around here is the intercom system. They must’ve been all the rage in 1980. Intercom systems, Rubik’s Cubes, and “Baby on Board” signs. There’s probably a link there somewhere, but I can’t figure it out.

Anyhow, there are intercom boxes in the bedrooms. They connect to a central unit in the kitchen, and another unit at the front door. You can listen to the radio and talk between the units. I even made it play nice with my iPod.

Sometimes I wonder if the intercom remembers bygone days wistfully when Pat Benetar songs play on the iPod. Ahh the melancholy memories of carefree intercom youth.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling the need to fix things. I went to work on the intercom. The doorbell (also controlled by the all-powerful intercom) had recently stopped working and I was determined to find out why. I grabbed a screwdriver and pulled the main unit from the wall.

While inside the old M&S Model 338 (made right here in Dallas, natch), I noticed something kind of cool. On the circuit board, there were people’s initials by the soldered components.

I think it’s pretty interesting. Now a days circuit boards and electronics are made by robots, and I doubt that you would discover someone’s signature if you took apart your camera or laptop. –But you should do it anyway. Taking apart stuff is fun!

Then I started thinking … how often does one physically sign their own work? I’m a technical writer and you’d think that I’d credit myself all the time on documents and manuals. But in all the years that I’ve been writing, I think I’ve signed my name to something only once or twice.

How about you? Do you sign your work and what do you do? Please comment. I’m curious.

6 Responses to “Deep inside the intercom”

  1. Jen da Purse Ho Says:

    i always sign my work. hahahaha. your tinkerings never cease to amaze me. 🙂

  2. P-la Says:

    I love that! Thanks for sharing! I don’t sign my work. Or ever remember signing my work. Maybe it’s a sense of “nothing ever comes out as good as I imagined it” so I’m afraid to ‘own’ it.

  3. chris Says:

    Ah, yes, the home intercom system . . . several of my friends in junior high had them in their houses (great for spying on siblings), and I have to admit, I was a little envious. The house I grew up in was small enough (and the walls thin enough) that there was no need for an intercom — Mom just shouted from one end of the house and I could hear it crystal-clear in my room at the other end!

    I think it’s really cool that people left their initials on that circuit-board! I don’t have a lot of opportunity to sign my work, unless you count putting my name on everything at my desk and lab bench, but that’s more to discourage borrowers than to say “I made this 1M NaCl solution”.

  4. Nanc Says:

    First off – thanks, Matty, for fixing the doorbell/front intercom. Also, maybe you shouldn’t bring up your iPod music list. It might scare/laugh people off.

    The initials on the circuit board are pretty kewl. I don’t really recall ever having to sign my work or identify myself as the writer… until now. And everyone’s against it. Different era, I guess.

  5. Betty Says:

    In the late 1960’s, we (my parents, and I was dragged along) were looking at new houses in College Station (we looked at houses for years, but never did buy). My favorite was a white French-provincial looking house with a crystal chandelier over the entryway and a INTERCOM SYSTEM at the front door. I thought that was the coolest. I still remember the house was $45,000–far out of our price range at the time. {sigh} (The adobe-style down the street was $36,000, but it didn’t have an intercom system.)

  6. Rachel Says:

    First, I need to commend you on your use of “natch”, a word much discussed in our house.

    Next, I need to ooooohhh and ahhh again over your fancy house with a fancy intercom. Maybe someday, I will see it…

    To finally answer your question: no. I rarely sign my work, though it depends on what work you consider…I do put my name on my website and other websites for which I contribute. I also used to put my name in HTML code (for tech writing) to call my attention to something. Before launch, I could run a search for “Rachel” and be pretty assured that I wouldn’t get any false positives, though, a few did manage to go live. oops.

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