Destroying a Miracle: An ME Paying Some Respect to the EE's (only slightly woodworking related)

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 06-06-2008 10:23 PM 1606 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This blog is photo-less.

I haven’t done many blogs without photos before.

I was taking some photos today with my trusty Kodak digital camera, and trying to save a few steps, carried it by my pinky, while carrying some woodworking.

But, let’s backup a little.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (ME).

I remember suffering through some Electrical Engineering (EE) courses at the State College, and absolutely hating them. I had to take them to do something “interesting” after I graduated with my ME degree. So, I took them, but never did respect them.

I didn’t do particularly well in those EE clases. In one class we spent an entire semester drawing circuits and calculating things, without ever seeing one single electrical, or electronic item in person. I suppose, that’s why I hated the class so much. I need to see things in person.

From that experience, I never did really give any respect to EE’s. Not that they aren’t smart, or create great things. I just didn’t like the class. I decided that EE was not for me. I need to touch things. Always have. Some things don’t change.

Ok, so I’m carrying the camera by the carrying strap with my pinky, with the camera still on, and ever so gently bumped the protruding telephoto aparatus thingy on the “woodworking.” The woodworking won.

I sat down to pull off the photos, and the camera wouldn’t work. Listening closely while cycling it on and off a few times, I discovered that something was wrong in the protruding lense looking thing. It must have been that gentle little “bump” on the woodworking.

Ok, so I got mad.

Then a few minutes later I tripped over a shoe laying below the step into the house, and twisted my only “good” ankle.

I got madder. Wrapped up the ankle in a bandage with an ice pack, and decided to eat.

So, I ate lunch, watched something silly on tv, and then, the thought hit me, “Hey, I’m an ME, I can fix anything.”

Fixing that camera would be a good project, just sitting on a stool, staying off my sore ankle.

So, after lunch I went out to the shop and started removing screws on the little camera.

There was a bunch of them screws, of various sizes, thread pitches, and lengths. Then, some pins and springs fell out. That wasn’t good. I didn’t see where they were before they fell out.

I got it all torn apart, parts laying all over the little tray I was disassembling over.

I found the little motor and the little gearing system that drives some type of gearing in the little protruding lense thing.

Ok, no problem, must have just “jumped” a gear when it took the “bump” with the woodworking.

I did that little “jump a gear thing” one time trying to restore an old Corvette in my ”pre-married-I’ll-spend-my-time-and-money-on-what-I-want-years-thank-you.” Some things change.

At the time when I worked on the junker-Corvette (a single and lonely man), I pulled out the Distributor and it’s attached shaft, but didn’t think to mark where it was sitting when I pulled up the gear. Well, to be honest, I didn’t know when I pulled it up that it had a gear on the bottom. I know that now.

I did get the distributor back in place a few weeks later, but must of gotten it just one cog out of alignment, but I didn’t know it at the time. Several weeks later, my friend Mike Patterson told me that something must be wrong, after he helped me try to “time” the restored engine. He saw that we couldn’t adjust anymore, and asked about the “distributor gear”. “Oh, yea, that thing.” So, I fixed it by raising it and slipping it one tooth the other direction. I guessed which direction to turn it and put it back in place. The engine ran like a champ then. That sorta builds your pride a little with a thing like that. After all, I’m an ME for crying out loud.

So, I’m sitting there on the stool with my sore ankle throbbing, thinking I can fix this little gear driving thing in the protruding lense thing in this simple little camera.

By this time, I’ve lost control over which of the 8-10 different sized tiny screws went where.

I kept tearing it apart to get the tooth to slip one cog. Oops, that little lense looking thing with the rubber gasket has to go somewhere back in there.

Rats, I bet that little gold colored strip of plastic with little gold looking circuit connectors inside of it shouldn’t have gotten torn.

Ok, now that I have it apart, I finally get those little cogs apart. I never did get them back in the place it should be, as I couldn’t remove the steel pin that has set the little gear in place when it was assembled. Only way to get it past that tooth… to force it a little with the screwdriver.

Well, that didn’t work.

Better put it back together, maybe it will work by a Miracle.

ZAAAAAMMMM! “Ouch! What in the world was that sharp pain in my finger?”

I must have touched something that allowed the Flash Battery to short out on my finger tip. Man, that hurts.

Ok, going back together, assured that this camera is now a piece of junk.

Back together. Oops, 8 screws left over, two springs, two pins, two plastic parts, and one metal thingy. Where did they go?

I turned it back on , and it does fire up, but the protruding lense thingy just stays in one position, making little “I’m stuck” noises.

Ok, it’s finished, now to the trash can. No, wait, I’ll let my kids see what cameras look like on the inside. I used to tear everything apart when I was kid. Some of them went back together. Some things don’t change.

As I was destroying this little electronic gadget today, I was completely overwhelmed by the “Miracle” that occurred when all I did was point that camera at something (when it worked) and pushed the button.

What an amazing achievement that little digital camera is, both in it’s past ability to take photos, and the mechanical motor and gears, and the electronics that can take an image, and convert it into a file that I can either print, put on the internet, or give to someone on a disk.

Wow, what a Miracle a small digital camera is. The real Miracle is that some hard-working EE’s designed this thing. Course, they needed an ME to put it together. An ME better than me.

I have a whole new respect for EE’s now.

Too bad my fat ME fingers messed with the camera, and that the “woodworking” got in the way with that little “bump.”

Too bad I already spent my “economic stimulus check” as I now need a new camera.
I’ll be photo-less for awhile I feel.

I hope you have a better day than I’ve had.

Thanks for reading, sorry no pictures in today’s blog.
Mark DeCou

p.s. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 16:18

(This story and text is protected by copyright 2008, by the author M.A. DeCou, all rights reserved, not to be used without permission)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

11 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4817 days

#1 posted 06-06-2008 10:56 PM

Ah, the old “I can fix it” delusion. I’ve done that more times than I care to admit.

-- Working at Woodworking

View TreeBones's profile


1828 posts in 4902 days

#2 posted 06-06-2008 10:56 PM

Sorry about your camera. I had the same problem with mine. The lens wont open anymore after a small bump. It still sits and I wont try and do anything. I am more careful now with my new one.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 4608 days

#3 posted 06-06-2008 11:48 PM

They never do seem to go back together again right. Can’t tell ya how many times I did that. I feel for you Mark…........if only we lived closer together, but then I would be taking a chance on a “BUMP”. However, I really liked this blog. Do you really think this story needs to be copyrighted? HA!!!
Good one …Dave

-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4791 days

#4 posted 06-07-2008 12:38 AM

Hey Mark,

Sorry to hear about the camera.

Funny, I’m an EE by training and throughout school (which took a long, long time doing it almost all at night…but that’s another story) my relatives would hear that I was going to school for electronics and would show up at the doorstep with everything from broken toasters to TV’s to fix! Some I could, some I couldn’t. Some I did not bother with. What’s interesting is that most of the stuff that came my way to fix ended up being a mechanical kind of a fix. Very rarely did I fix a circuit – more often a bad soldier joint.

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow is a better day and you get to build something.


-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5115 days

#5 posted 06-07-2008 01:30 AM

I’m not sorry about your camera, you did the “DIS-assemble” all on purpose so you brought this on yourself. See, here’s what I would do, because I’m not an ME or an EE but, I, am a carpenter. We in the Carpentry world know one thing. Never use a screwdriver for what a hammer is meant to do. I’d have fixed it very simply. But then using a hammer on a camera almost guarantees the end result. Combine the hammer with a few carefully chosen words from the English language to which we refer to as “Pardon my French”. swing the hammer with a force that would make John Henry proud and show the camera who is boss… Still no pictures, but the story is more abrupt and exciting.

What really would have sucked is to find out afterwards that the battery was just low and the lense wouldn’t operate on a dead battery.

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4964 days

#6 posted 06-07-2008 02:32 AM

I still do this…but with a twist. I tend to put all the parts in a box thinking I’ll get a lot smarter at some point in the future and be able to fix it. I like Obi’s idea. Hammer or screwdriver, the end results always seem to be the same…only one brings satisfaction, the other frustration.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5193 days

#7 posted 06-07-2008 02:48 AM

I really really really miss seeing pictures of this adventure!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4700 days

#8 posted 06-07-2008 04:37 AM


This is a nice blog. It touches a note with many of us since we have all tried to fix something similar to the camera, whether it be a car, tool, or appliance. With an “I can fix that” epiphany of sorts we rely on our educational or personal expertise to “wing it”. Invariably, as you mentioned, we end up with a piece of junk and become frustrated at our inability to complete the repair. In the end Obi’s idea is considerably more satisfying and winds up achieving the same results.

Enjoy the new camera.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4774 days

#9 posted 06-07-2008 04:58 AM

I feel for ya——we’ve all done this. I can’t tell you how many boxes (for those special things that we will want to put back in that same box when we move, etc.), that I’ve saved to only never be able to put the original product back in the way it came out. I don’t save boxes any more, I just plan to use those great big, blue blankets from the moving companies. No sense putting myself in more pain!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View pyromedic602's profile


164 posts in 4627 days

#10 posted 06-07-2008 04:59 AM

Im sure it is a conspiracy created by the EE to make the ME appreciate them more.

Have fun camera shopping!

-- Pyromedic602, free wood is always good wood

View rookster's profile


67 posts in 5029 days

#11 posted 06-09-2008 08:54 PM


This was laugh out loud funny. As I read it, I was reminded of so many times when I thought I could fix it myself (and I don’t even have the excuse of being a Mechanical Engineer). The latest was this weekend when I disassembled my egg beater drill to attempt corrective maintenance to gears dammaged by a previous owner. When I removed the shaft and saw a small ball bearing bounce onto the workbench I couldn’t help panicking. Fortunately, the eggbeater seems to be less fussy than the crankshaft of my bicycle was. The guys at the bike shop probably had a field day at my expense…

My condolences for the loss of your camera.

-- Rookster, (

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics