Mostly OT: meeting with some designers of cardiac implants

Photos not available per no binaries on this NG.
I met today with at least a dozen folks at Boston Scientific (BSC), where I'd been invited to share my findings re: a person (me) with
implanted cardioverter doing welding with processes that involve an electric arc. There are several such processes in common use. My interest and investigation focussed on two such processes that I've used and want to continue to use, MIG and TIG. I don't care about stick anymore because there's nothing I'd do with stick that I can't do at least as well with MIG. YMMV.
Y'all may recall that the usual guidance is "don't do it" and that I wasn't satisfied with that broad-brush treatment so I did a bit of investigation. The good folks at BSC were very helpful about providing me technical info beyond "don't do it", and they were very interested in my findings. They have a huge campus in a northern suburb of St. Paul. I had no idea they were this large. See attached satellite shot. (Sorry, RCM) I know the parts contained in my red outline are Guidant (now BSC) and some of the buildings outside my red bound may also be theirs. Upon arrival I was met by Ken and we walked thru a long skyway encircled in yellow on the attached sat view. This skyway has display cases showing their history, and the walls are lined with many hundreds of patent plaques. There are 8 senior technical fellows on this campus, four of them attended this meeting. I suspect that is quite unusual. In my experience, it usually takes at least a vice presidential presence to get more than two or three senior fellows in the same meeting. The rep who assisted with my implant was also there. They showed me a Telegen that was all taken apart so I could see what was inside. They loved it when I got my magnifying glass out of my pocket. "Does that lens have video?" "Oh yeah, spread-spectrum wireless -- see that innocent-looking van down there in the parking lot?" They make their own capacitors, lithium-iodine batteries and titanium cans. Guidant actually pioneered the use of lithium-iodine batteries in these devices, Medtronic followed somewhat later. During an excellent luncheon they told me quite a lot about the device I have, including the signal processing technology used -- fascinating! The presenter was delighted to see that I was tracking just fine. When I'd paraphrase to check my understanding he'd beam and say "yes! That's exactly right!" I also saw some history. Implanting a cardioverter as recently as the 80's was a big deal: several hours of surgery which included splitting the sternum and sewing a conductive patch to the heart. The devices were nearly the size of a paperback book. I'm definitely glad I waited. I got to see leads like those that were snaked thru my veins and lodged in my heart. I can see how that's a tricky bit of craft. The physician is guided by real-time fluoroscopy but it's a good trick to make a lead take a hard left when it must do so to get where it needs to be. Then it was my turn. I'd prepared a powerpoint presentation just to remain more or less organized ... but I had NO "bullet" word slides. I purely hate those impediments to discourse. I brought it on an USB stick because Ken had said all of their conference rooms have 'puters and projectors that someone presumably has made work together. That seemed simpler than messing with my laptop. My slides were all photographs of the instrumentation I built, lab setups, scans of pages from my lab databook including scribbles and X-outs, oscilloscope screen shots, etc. I suppose I spoke for about 45 minutes not including discussion time. I invited open discussion and spontaneous questions any time. The atmosphere was very casual and collegial. I brought most of the hardware I'd built as "finger food" to pass around and look at. Engineers love "real stuff". They seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. One asked, "you did all of this in a week and a half?" "Uh, more like 5 days ... but I was motivated!" At another juncture someone asked how I might choose between welding processes as in TIG vs MIG. I gave several reasons, including that TIG is much more amenable to precise welding of small objects like "butt welding needles together." I got an odd look. "Why on Earth would you butt-weld needles together?" I grinned and said, "hey, I'm retired, I don't have to make sense!" They loved it. These folks clearly care about what they do beyond production of income. They see preservation and extension of quality life as what they do. There are signs in the parking lot depicting active people doing what they want to do. I heard one comment, "not exactly our typical customer..." Another said "geez, kin we hire him?" The general impression seemed to be that they were amazed at how thorough I had been in the limited time I had. That was easy to explain: avoidance of mulekicks to chest is an excellent motivator. One younger engineer, maybe mid-30's, introduced himself as being pretty much the fields and EMI guy. His name was Kippola. I said, "are you a Finn?" The tech rep lady looked at me like "did you really say that?" but Mr. Kippola grinned, said "yup"! "Michigan Tech?" He beamed. "Yup!" "AW RIGHT! We're probably the only two in the room that can pronounce sauna correctly." He laughed. "Oooh, yah!" It is possible to trick this device with an external magnet to either disable delivery of shock therapy or just to record what it's seeing. I knew this before but the doc slammed that lid shut right now. Today the tech rep sorta conspiratorally said that she'd be talking to both Dr. Lin and the device nurse. This could get interesting. I was impressed with her immediately upon first meeting post-implant, in my hospital room early next morning. High-energy, totally open to questions and she had answers. Kevin S. showed up. He and I worked on several projects together back at HON and had a lot of fun doing them. The notion of having fun at work was somewhere between novel and anarchistic in many parts of HON but it seems to be quite OK at BSC. Maybe Kevin brought a little of that with him when he went there, who knows? I left a CD with them that has my powerpoint slides, all of my data, mfrs datasheets of key parts I used to make my instrumentation, photos, etc etc that pretty much documents everything I did, how I did it, why I did it that way, what I was thinking, and my results and conclusions. Someone mentioned patent possibilities. I said as far as I'm concerned my stuff is all available free to anyone interested. They gave me a lapel pin that I think is a total hoot: it's a red heart with a yellow lightning bolt. They actually gave me two of them, one for Mary. They also gave me a very nice polo shirt with "Boston Scientific" embroidered over the pocket. It was a lot of fun. I had a great time today.
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Don, Good job! Those folks are true professionals and exposure to them is very unusual. Your activities clearly perked their interest. I had a similar experience to yours with FN in Belgium (another story), but it is very personally rewarding when others recognize your work. Steve

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On Sat, 7 Mar 2009 09:22:51 +0100, "Steve Lusardi"

I'd like to hear more about your experience with FN in Belgium if you can share it.
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Great read, Don. I can see you're a hard guy to say no to. So, bottom line, is it safe to TIG weld? Only with certain precautions?
Karl
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On Sat, 7 Mar 2009 02:32:50 -0600, "Karl Townsend"

It will be. I still have some E-field concerns from the HF start, but E-fields are amenable to control with shielding.
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Great story!
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Reading your account was a nice way to start the morning.
Wes
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On Sat, 07 Mar 2009 01:24:34 -0600, the infamous Don Foreman
So where are they available? Or is the PPT slideshow emailable? Sounds like fun.
--snippage of good discourse--

You bet they are. You saved them (tens/hundreds of?) thousands of dollars worth of investigative work.

Aren't you glad they had considerable experience with (and miniaturization technology for) these things -before- you got yours? ;)

Yeah, thumb drives are a whole lot easier to work with.

Good show, mate. We wannabe engineers do, too.

Bwahahahaha!
And that's marketing.

<g>
Is that UP talk? <tilts his head with a small frown>

That's definitely the type of person you need to talk to at those times. It's too bad that more people don't "get it."

Howzbout ULing those to the Dropbox?

Cool.
Excellent! And thanks for the play-by-play on your field trip, Don.
Stay well!
-- "Not always right, but never uncertain." --Heinlein -=-=-
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On Sat, 07 Mar 2009 06:14:08 -0800, Larry Jaques

At 65 megs I'd say not. I tried zipping it, didn't help. Powerpoint is horribly consumptive but I'm amazed that zipping doesn't help.

Yah, it's Yooper which is very similar to MN Iron Raincher (phonetic spelling of ranger).

I don't think they accept .ppt files.
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On Sun, 08 Mar 2009 00:13:12 -0600, the infamous Don Foreman

Crikey, is that a six hour presentation, or what? =:0>

Condolences. ;)

And a real biggie at that. Did you use multi-MB file sizes on the pics? How many pages are in that beast?
-- "Not always right, but never uncertain." --Heinlein -=-=-
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On Sun, 08 Mar 2009 06:20:40 -0700, Larry Jaques

That's just the nature of Powerpoint. There are 25 slides, nearly all photos, none of which is > 686K and most of which are less than 200K. Many are under 100K.
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On Sun, 08 Mar 2009 06:20:40 -0700, Larry Jaques

Doug White's suggestion of trying to print to PDF was a good one. That got it down to 8 megs. I put that up at http://members.goldengate.net/dforeman/welding_w_ICD /
I'll leave it up for a week or so.
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wrote:

That's the way we transported PowerPoint presentations to printers and to people in the field, in the medical communications business. As PPTs, they often ran to 300 MB.
MS has never, in my experience, done a decent job with compressing them. You can do it but it requires around five or six steps, within PowerPoint. The biggest offenders are the result of using "Fast Save" (unclick it in the options; it leaves old versions in the file); letting your photos and drawings run out of the cropped area and leaving them that way (you can't see the cropped area, but it's still there in the file); saving as "PowerPoint 95 compatible" (no compression to speak of) and using big files and raw file formats for photos and other illustrations. Depending on how you do it, you may have to convert each one to JPEG (photos) or PNG (line drawings) individually.
It's a pain in the rear. And it's a job that people in the agency always passed on to me, because I was the only one there who knew how to do it. I wasn't smart enough to act dumb. <g>
-- Ed Huntress
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On Mon, 09 Mar 2009 01:13:08 -0600, the infamous Don Foreman

Very cool. After seeing how much you did in so little time, I'm even more impressed.
Say, who's that old fart in the plaid robe in the sensor position pic? ;)
P.S: What, no pic of the lapel pin Bawstin Sci gave you?
-- "Not always right, but never uncertain." --Heinlein -=-=-
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On Mon, 09 Mar 2009 04:04:02 -0700, Larry Jaques

That's a flannel shirt, dammit!

http://members.goldengate.net/dforeman/welding_w_ICD/heart_pin2.jpg
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On Mon, 09 Mar 2009 22:30:50 -0600, the infamous Don Foreman

My bad. <gigglesnort>

Cool!
I'm just glad they've come out with technology which will help an older generation keep a heart on. <wink wink, nudge nudge, knowwhatImean knowwhatImean?>
-- The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity. --Epicurus, Principal Doctrines
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Gee, we all thought the yellow bolt signified striking an arc.
Congratulations. It's not common that such companies even notice an individual customer.
Joe Gwinn
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On Tue, 10 Mar 2009 09:50:46 -0500, the infamous Joseph Gwinn

Oh, he can. He merely rips the electrodes out of his heart through the artery and goes to work with the compact li'l unit. Sweet!

I'll ditto that. (Kudos on not being a run-of-the-mill patient, metalworker, or RCMer, Don. We appreciate knowing you.)
-- The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity. --Epicurus, Principal Doctrines
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I had a question about the various fields but you answered them in the pdf.
Saw your picture, I bet your wife still thinks you are a hottie ;)
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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I sure didn't expect that, but I sorta checked and you done drilled the X-ring. Life is full of little surprises, day-yum!
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