February 06, 2012

Design by Cthulhu

An unnaturally uniformly straight series of yellow outlines lay across the width of the computer monitor looking like the handiwork of a prolific serial killer with obsessive compulsive disorder. Outlines marking not the location of the dead but the future site of a bank of relays. Each socket identical, shoulder to shoulder at an interval of 0.200 inches or 200 mils in the X axis. Each one exactly 6 inches North of the Holy Origin in the far lower left corner of a printed circuit board yet to be. The relays will be born by robot midwives into this rectangular two dimensional world. A world made by robots from fiberglass and copper protected by the familiar green solder mask ubiquitous to electronics everywhere. A virtual world created in software that will become real when I email the CAD files to the fabricator with a credit card number.

Each of the relay contacts fits into a 50 mil diameter hole. The steadfast primary color blue is assigned for the virtual display of holes.  The holes are surrounded with perfectly centered copper disks known as pads on the top and bottom surfaces. Green for top copper and red for bottom. The pads have a good Christian diameter of 100 mils and every contact lies on X-Y coordinates that are wholesome faithful numbers ending with at least two zeros.

When a relay is released from duty an invisible predatory terror of magnetic energy stored in the relay coil goes hunting for a fragile semiconductor to destroy. A rank of diodes stands guard 500 mils North of the relays waiting to confront this terror. Each one squarely centered on his assigned relay. A straight and true uniform series North-South lines of top copper 10 mils wide in green marry the diodes to the relays.

With a keystroke the virtual world view is transmuted as with x-ray vision to make the bottom appear to be on top. A thick red conductor precisely centered on designated relay contact hole centers and 75 mils wide stretches left and right the entire width of the monitor carrying power to each of the relay armatures. It is the law of this land that top copper conductors travel North and South while bottom copper roads lead East and West.

It is Monday morning and I am hiding amongst straight laced, roundly numbered, pious, familiar friends in a finished section of the board. Not yet ready to face the unfinished anarchy nearby. At these coordinates with substantial zoom the chaotic lines are safely masked from view, their demonic chants unheard.

Over there, beyond this narrow view, is a feral gang of digital signals that burrow into the board with 13 mil holes. An odd number. A prime number mandated by the fabricators smallest drill. A malignant unlucky number that when blessed with a virtuous 30 mil pad the hole defiles the pad. A melding of the two creates a demon spawn offspring 8.5 mil asymmetrical copper ring. There is no amount of zoom that permits the software to display the exact center of these evil pits of oddness. I am certain the fabrication company is a co-conspirator in a vast sinister plot.

These digital parasites attack the vulnerable marrow of the board. They spread their diseases on the internal layers formed by sandwiched laminates of copper and fiberglass below the surface. The deep tumors grow on 45 degree angles in a feeble attempt to appear benign. They sneak underneath unsuspecting analog circuits on the surface injecting ghostly voltage echos of tortured hexadecimal screams. The software renders these internal copper layers with colors unseeable by eyes of the male gender. Foreign colors lurking in the slums of the color wheel, indigo, mauve.

Like an old neighborhood in the process of going bad the 45 degree angles look fine at first glance. On high zoom the ragged pixelated edges of the copper traces can be seen. The spacing between the traces looks uniform but the numbers are the bastard offspring of the square root of two, 14.14 mils and his retarded nephew 7.07

The last vestiges of civilization are swept away at the edge of the world. The mauves and indigos burst out onto the surface like tentacles of a monster from the fourth dimension. The perpendicular order of the reds and greens is disrupted and all traces on all layers are twisted into irrational angles. Angles the software can not display. Angles that would drive you insane if you saw them. The final destination is a portal to another world, a portal guarded by an alien metric connector, with 39.37008 mil holes at an interval of 157.08431

That way madness lies.


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