First Check Power, Then Check Clocks

It was during my first job as a computer technician in high school that I developed the maxim: first check power, then check clocks.

When you approach a repair job, first check the power supply.  Not even a machine in perfect working order can run without energy.  Restoring power is your highest value repair because a power failure is so common, so complete, yet so easily remedied.  A live power receptacle, a new electronic power supply, fresh batteries or a tank of fuel are all within easy reach.

Sophisticated machines cannot run without a clock to synchronize their operation. Only the power supply will work without the clock.  Digital electronic circuits march to the beat of a crystal.  Steam engines pulse to the rhythm of their valve gear. Check that all subsystems of the machine are receiving their timing signals.

It’s embarrassing how often I forget this rule myself.  I’ve wasted hours troubleshooting a machine whose power switch was simply turned off.  Did I mention that you should first check power, then check clocks?


This article was originally published by John McGehee, Voom, Inc. under the CC BY 3.0 license.  Changes have been made.