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Proto Design Labs

Revolutionizing Modern Railroading with Tektronix: Follow Jim Burke's Journey 

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When Jim Burke retired from his engineering job at Intel, he wanted to do something different – enter Proto Design Labs, and Jim’s mission to modernize model railroading. Jim, a lifelong Tektronix fan, used the Tektronix 5 Series Oscilloscope to test his embedded switch for model railroads.

From Intel to Model Railroading Innovations

“Suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands, and I thought about whether I wanted to start a company or something like that. I wasn't sure what to do," Jim said.

Jim’s profession trajectory began with a job at Intel as an Applications Engineer and his involvement in the company’s smartphone projects. After retiring, he had to decide what to do next. He had a passion for model trains and recognized the possibilities of manipulating their components, which motivated him to set up Proto Design Labs.

The Need for Digital Decoders

Jim investigated the difficulties that model railroaders faced in ascertaining the switch positions. He and his team noticed this issue and started working on creating digital decoders to deliver a precise and easy way to see the switch settings. Watch our video to discover how Proto Design Labs offered an answer that revitalized the model railroad experience.

Empowering Innovation in Model Railroading

With the Tektronix 5 Series Oscilloscope, the Proto Design Lab team decoded information from the Digital Command Control (DCC) bus, a proprietary technology in the model railroad industry. Real-time decoding provided invaluable insights into commands, software behavior, and decision-making processes, empowering Proto Design Labs to optimize their digital decoders.

The Unmatched Performance of Tektronix: A Driving Force

"If I were to compare (the Tektronix 5 Series MSO) with a car, Tektronix is the kind of car that, you like it so much you drive past your house because you don't want to stop driving, that's what this oscilloscope is like."

Jim’s journey demonstrates the transformative power of passion, innovation, and engineering.