Tag Archives: PLC

Episode 67 — Pragmatic

wrenchElectrical engineer John Chidgey joins us in this episode of The Engineering Commons to talk about ladder logic, podcasting, and an engineer’s role in making the world a better place.

  • An open invitation to discuss general engineering issues got Jeff started in the world of podcasting.
  • Carmen, Brian, and Adam became trapped involved as co-hosts on this podcast when Chris Gammell left the show.
  • Our guest for this episode is electrical engineer John Chidgey, who has worked in several engineering domains, including RF hardware, systems engineering, and the oil & gas industry. He also produces a weekly podcast, Pragmatic, and authors the Tech Distortion website.
  • Carmen and John are fans of making coffee with the Aeropress.
  • Citizens band (CB) radio served to interest John in electrical engineering.
  • John notes that there is a general trend toward standardization, as the costs of customization are too high for many companies.
  • For a while, at least, John had a job that may (or may not have) required a security clearance.
  • Our guest moved into the controls industry around 2003, installing programmable logic controllers (PLCs) for industrial clients.
  • Many PLCs can be programmed using ladder logic, which originally was nothing more than a schematic for wiring together electromechanical relays.
  • John has had some bad experiences programming PLCs with software implementing function block diagrams.
  • “Where there is a choice, there is a problem.”
  • After testing out several other podcast concepts, John launched the Pragmatic podcast to cover engineering topics in a practical and actionable manner.
  • John mentions the Hypercritical blog, written by John Siracusa.
  • Carmen is excited to read the recent OS X 10.10 Yosemite review that John Siracusa wrote for Ars Technica.
  • “Engineering is all about tradeoffs.”
  • In additional to covering technical topics, John’s podcast sometimes covers non-technical issues like weather forecasting and coffee.
  • John reveals that he loves using whiteboards.
  • A live chat room has recently been added as a feature of the Pragmatic podcast. Jeff doesn’t think he could handle the additional cognitive load while recording interviews.
  • We’ve gone meta with a podcast about podcasting!
  • John occasionally gets requests for career advice, although many times engineers write in to simply point out technical errors.
  • According to our guest, engineers can change the world by providing reliable services and infrastructure that will improve people’s lives.
  • John can be found on Twitter as @JohnChidgey and @PragmaticShow. His podcast is Pragmatic, and his website is Tech Distortion.

Thanks to Daniel Oines for the untitled photo of a crescent wrench. Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.