The IP KVM People: Unplugged - Five Fun Minutes with Adder's Senior Hardware Engineer

The IP KVM People: Unplugged - Five Fun Minutes with Adder's Senior Hardware Engineer

Welcome to the first issue of The IP KVM People: Unplugged! Your opportunity to find out more about the people at the heart of Adder.

In our first issue, we catch up with Cam Caine, senior hardware engineer, and find out what makes him tick and why he loves working at Adder!

Hi Cam! Welcome to The IP KVM People: Unplugged!

If you could design a robot to do one task for you, what would it be, and what would you name the robot?

I’ve given this some thought and tried to think of all the things that either I don’t enjoy doing, or I find time-consuming or difficult. A robot chauffeur would be cool, but let’s be honest – we’re nearly there with that. We have robot vacuum cleaners too, and the plethora of food delivery services is almost like having a robot chef.

I think on reflection I’d quite like a robot dentist – maybe more a robot hygienist. You know, something you could bung in your mouth, and it’d brush, floss, descale and all that good stuff.

Let’s face it, to do a good job there requires time, effort, and a certain dexterity that not all of us (me) have. A twice daily total dental service robot sounds pretty cool.

What would I call it? I think I’d call it “Mechanical Michaela”, for two reasons. Firstly, that’s the name of my dentist, and secondly, it’s a bit of a mouthful ;)

What's the craziest or most unusual project you've ever worked on, and what did you learn from it?

A number of years ago I became involved in a minority interest sport in a minority interest social group. I race hats – steampunk hats. Now, if you want to win at hat racing, you take a remote-controlled car and put a hat on it. I didn’t fancy doing that, so over the years I’ve built:

  • A hover hat – a hovercraft built from a top hat with a shower cap skirt. From this I leaned a variety of things like, brushless motors, speed controllers, hovercraft dynamics, and gyroscopic motion control but most of all I learned that hovercrafts are stupidly difficult to control.
  • A monowheel – this was a self-balancing hat running inside a bicycle rim, using an encased quadcopter for drive. I learned once again that this is how not to win at hat racing.
  • A waterwheel powered hat – This hat had a waterwheel (made from plastic playing cards) attached to each wheel and used bilge pumps to circulate water from troughs up and over the wheels. I learned two things here, waterwheels need lots of water to run, and if that water ends up on the floor, you need to chase after your hat with a watering can, to top it up!
  • The only winning hat I’ve ever built was the Dastardly Double-Six Speed Machine of Doom. This is essentially a tank using domino pieces for the tracks and skateboard wheels for drive, and it’s fast!
Cam's steampunk racing hats

If you could go back in time and work on any engineering marvel from history, what would it be, and why?

Well, first, we’d need to invent the time machine, but if I could only take a single one-way trip, then I guess it’d have to be to the start of the industrial revolution. I love the idea of harnessing natural energy sources, so working with windmills or waterwheels would be pretty awesome.

If you could invent any gadget or device to make your life easier, what would it be, and how would it work?

Whoops – I think I answered this one under the robot question!

What's the most challenging engineering problem you've ever solved, and how did you come up with a solution?

There are technical problems and there are engineering problems and they are different yet interrelated. I’ve faced some pretty challenging technical problems over the years, but probably the most awkward was with a design I inherited when starting a new position. This was solved with dogged determination, a refusal to fail, and a cunning piece of test software. It transpired that there was a fundamental design issue with a graphics controller IC I was using, and its operating window was inadvertently constrained. This resulted in a compromise of performance over temperature.

Which leads to engineering problems. Engineering is all about compromise, it’s about balancing features against development effort against product costs, and that’s a challenge every day!

Why do you love working at Adder?

Adder is an awesome place to work. There are opportunities to be involved in all aspects of the business and everyone is friendly and welcoming. The technology is constantly changing as KVM interconnection interfaces drive data rates ever higher. Our on-site manufacturing facility leads to a greater appreciation of the nuances of product design, and it’s a great buzz to see products I’ve worked on being built and packed, ready to be shipped to Adder’s global customers.

Hat's off to Cam - what an interesting five minutes! Keen to join the team and share the 'buzz'? Find out more about our open vacancies here.

Keep an eye out for the next issue of The IP KVM People: Unplugged!



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