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Creative hardware hacking isn't just for personal projects at home... oh, no! A lot of creative hacking goes on in the workplace, too. This particular hack came about due to a need to simplify and (semi-) automate the process of programming several different kinds of custom chips used in a then-new product being rolled out, so that the units could be produced without people dropping by my office every couple of hours asking me to burn chips for them. Its original form, shown here, served the company well – or well enough, at least – for several years (a couple of years longer than I did, in fact), but in June of 2005 I was asked if I could drop by and have a look at it, as it was starting to get a bit flaky.
As you can see, it's the very definition of "hack" – crude, inelegant, cobbled together out of a mismatched assortment of parts, but it does the job. Or at least it did... now, though, it was apparently having trouble booting on occasion, and sometimes didn't want to program one of the chip types correctly. Since I was the one who built it in the first place, I agreed (for a modest fee, of course!) to take a look at it and see about getting it working again.
...Oh, and maybe while I was at it, could I do something about that daughterboard and power supply hanging off the side?