Ideas for presenting theo

Subject: Ideas for presenting theo
From: Barb Philbrick <barb -dot- philbrick -at- PCOHIO -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 1994 21:34:00 -0500

Hello all!

I am currently writing a manual that must include control system theory
information in order for the user to properly set up the equipment.

The engineer and I have bounced around some ideas for presenting the
information, and so far, the best way we can think of is to compare it
to the manual (that is, guy on the shop floor) method. For example:

"In this application, you would stand downstream from the guide frame
and watch the strip before it enters the critical process. If the strip
was off-center, you would adjust a control knob enough to move the strip
to the correct location. You would then wait to see how the change
actually works. If the adjustment overcorrects, you would adjust the
knob a little bit the other way. If it undercorrects, you would adjust
the knob further in the same direction.

"The XYZ unit automates this action. The detectors "look" at the strip
and determines if it is off-center. If the strip is off-center, XYZ unit
sends a signal, which replaces the control knob, to the guide frame to
adjust the strip. It then waits and "watches" the strip to see how the
change affects the strip. If the adjustment overcorrected or
undercorrected, it sends a new signal to change the guide position."

And so on. The problem is that the engineers and I dislike this method
of presentation, partly because it oversimplifies and partly because it
seems condescending.

My question is: Does anyone have any better ideas? Have you found a good
way to present theory that is both clear without oversimplifying or
being condescending?

We are also using control block diagrams (which, I believe, can be scary
to some readers), and possibly some other diagrams that show the
components of the system. The engineer is just itching to throw some
calculus at the customers, but we decided that really isn't the best way
to get these concepts across (some members of our audience are plant
engineers, but there's likely to be a good-sized percentage that will be
scared off by the mere presence of an integral).

As always, any suggestions are appreciated.

Barb Philbrick
* CMPQwk 1.4 #9107 * ...Every morning is the dawn of a new error...

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