Advertisement

Blog

Planet Analog Spotlight on Aubrey Kagan, EE, author, designer, consultant

Editor’s note: I am pleased to have Aubrey Kagan back as a blogger for us on Planet Analog after a brief sabbatical. Aubrey brings a wealth of diverse design knowledge, Excel tips with a technical, educational, reminiscent, and light, witty style.

Aubrey Kagan was born and grew up in Zimbabwe (it was Rhodesia back then). He has a BSEE from the Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa, Israel) and an MBA from the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). Here is his story.

When I graduated with my MBA, there was a recession in South Africa and I returned to engineering in order to find employment. I stayed there ever since. A lot of my blogs describe the arc of my career- I will give the links to some of them below.

I started out working for Racal in military telecommunications (Have You Ever Been Blindsided by Your Own Design?) and was encouraged to get into microcomputers. I started my own business, Quantum Electronic Design, to leverage my knowledge (one eyed man in the land of the blind) in industrial design.

How It Was: PCB Layout from Rubylith to Dot and Tape to CAD

How It Was: Programmable Logic

Allowing Microcontrollers to Learn About Their Environments

How a Coffee Packaging Machine Educated Me

Think before you leap

I discovered that long term consulting paid the bills a little better and so I joined a company named Zylab which morphed through several turns to consulting for a subsidiary of de Beers.

Diamonds are Forever

Unintended Consequences

When I moved to Canada in 1989 I got a job in the aerospace industry (Spar Aerospace/MacDonald Dettwiler Associates) working on the Canadarm 2 (the robotic arm on the International Space Station)

My time as a rocket scientist

I then returned to industrial electronics at the German connector manufacturer Weidmuller which was later spun off into Emphatec, Inc. I am currently Engineering Manager there. (many, many blogs are about my 25 year sojourn – see list later)

Up until Weidmuller I had very little to do with analog design, normally converting an analog signal to digital at the very first opportunity. However, being in industrial signal interfacing has necessitated that I get a little closer. I can’t claim to be an expert, nor that I am comfortable with analog, but I do more than dabble and I seem to be relatively successful at smaller designs. It has also allowed me to work with a multitude of designs, industries and approaches

Writing

I started writing in a long defunct South African magazine in an attempt to drum up business, with little success. That morphed into some design ideas published in EDN and Electronic Design (see lists below). My supervisor thought I had a talent for writing and urged me to write an article and when the right opportunity presented itself I wrote it for Circuit Cellar (and republished on Planet Analog (An AC Current Generator An AC Current Generator, Part 1, An AC Current Generator, Part 2, An AC Current Generator, Part 3, and An AC Current Generator, Part 4)). I took to writing some more articles for Circuit Cellar (see list) and in the process I then came up with an article on the use of Microsoft Excel in electronics. This idea was developed and published as a book “Excel by Example: A Microsoft Excel Cookbook for Electronics Engineers”. Since then it seems every time I have an opportunity to use Excel, I create a model and end up writing about it as a design idea or a blog on Planet Analog (see list). One offbeat idea on using Excel to create a Traceability Matrix became one of the top design ideas of 2005 in Electronic Design.

Max Maxfield enticed me to write a few guest blogs on “The Way Things Were” and then Rich Quinnell persuaded me to write for Microcontroller Central. When that folded I wrote for EE Times and Planet Analog. EE Times transferred its focus to embedded.com and I moved with it. (see lists)

Starting up in South Africa at the beginning of the microcomputer revolution allowed me to get involved with many ideas, especially since the physical and political distance meant that we had to re-invent the wheel. In industrial interfacing there are many different technologies and every industry has its own techniques and sacred cows to say nothing of very targeted ideas and so my exposure to different technologies has been quite widespread albeit at a rather simple level.

Publication lists

EETimes blogs, Design Ideas and Incidentals

Excel Related Publications

Planet Analog Blogs.

Without a Paddle (embedded.com)

Circuit Cellar

8 comments on “Planet Analog Spotlight on Aubrey Kagan, EE, author, designer, consultant

  1. antedeluvian
    December 16, 2016

    I have just received notification from Dropbox (as have many others) that Dropbox are discontinuing the “Public” folder technique which is the approach I have taken for all of my files that I distribute. I must have hundreds of references across Aspencore's forums, not to mention elsewhere on the web. They are all going to be BROKEN from March 15 2017.

    My apologies, although it is really not my fault. I have no real idea where to start and the corrections will probably have to be in the comments and not to the blog links themselves, so please post the request as and where you find them. I will try my best to respond, although right now ongoing changes to this and other Aspencore websites are not being communicated to the blog poster.

    At worst contact me at akagan at sympatico dot ca

  2. antedeluvian
    March 15, 2017

    As mentioned before these links have changed

    Excel Related Publications

     EETimes blogs, Design Ideas and Incidentals

     I will work my way through my other blogs now and update the links as I find them.

     

     

  3. michaelmaloney
    October 31, 2018

    It's really great to read more about your background! I think that it's always important to have a look back and remember the different experiences in life that has made us the expert, or the aspiring-experts that we are today! Hold on to these memories and that great head of hair man! Thanks for sharing your story with all of us here!

  4. AubreyKagan
    November 1, 2018

    Michael

    Thanks for the kind words- as for the hair, it is nothing compared to times past. Take a look at the “then” photo here

    How It Was: Medicine and Sinusitis

  5. Steve Taranovich
    November 1, 2018

    Hi Aubrey—Sorry about the lack of notification of these blogs—I will have IT set a priority to fix this

    Best regards,

    Steve T

    Editor-in-chief

  6. Steve Taranovich
    November 1, 2018

    Hi Aubrey,

    I am happy to see you blogging on Planet Analog again —-we are again having blog comment difficulties from time-to-time but Aspencore is systematically re-doing most all of the websites for a better reader and contributor experience—stay tuned

    I know about allergies—I am allergic to almost everything on Earth—-including antihistimines!!!!!

  7. albertputnam
    November 30, 2018

    Hello,

    Forgive the out of the blue.

    I am looking at half a warehouse bay of databooks. National, AD, Motorola, etc.

    Cimetrics has gotten good use of them over 25 years. Especially with microcontrollers and RS485 communications. But the time has come for them.

    I saw your article on Preserving Databooks from a few years back.

    Would like to provide you with a 128G USB3 stick and get a copy of your archive.

    And then send most of our warehouse to paper recycling.

    You can email to contact me via standard support channels at Cimetrics and someone should get it to me. But I am also putnam at cimetrics dot com.

    I am also seeing many interesting topics on your Planet Analog blog posts. And I sense an Excel to embedded connection in your path *grin*.

    We are very interested in power and communications isolation… our latest has been with low cost DCDC converters powering fault tolerant transcievers like the Exar XR33052. And it goes on from there….

    Be happy to trade ideas.

    Cheers, Albert

     

     

     

     

  8. ChristopherJames
    February 22, 2019

    It's great to read your journey – thank you so much for sharing your story with us! You've most certainly achieved so much and I'm sure that this is just the beginning. There is always so many more things to discover and invent so looking forward to you adding to your list of accolades here!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.