I grew up in Claremont, NC where I began using computers at the age of 5 thanks to my Father who exposed me to both DOS and the Internet before I even started middle school (1999)! Around this time is when I started getting into computer hardware and hardware modifications. During these teenage years I started to realize how much I enjoyed soldering and creating/repairing electronics. There were many modifications/upgrades my Father and I did over the years between Middle School and College. A few examples include: motherboard voltage mods, GPU voltage mods, sound card mods, amplifier mods, and DIY guitar effects pedals (BYOC).
One of my other passions as I approached my first year in high school was (American) football. During my Senior year season I was voted by the “Midwest 2A” HS coaches poll as an All Conference Outside-Linebacker (Conference Award), 3x “Red Zone Player of the Week” (Conference Award) and I won Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year 2004 (Individual School Award).
I also set the 2nd highest power rating in 30 years, still to this day (Individual School)! Power Rating is calculated by taking your lifting maxes (1 repetition, highest weight possible, i.e. most dangerous) and dividing by your body weight: ((bench + squat + power clean + jerk press ) / (body weight)). Mine calculated out to 8.03!
I was also able to get into the sought after “Red Club”. The Red Club requires a 400lb squat, 300 lb bench, 275 lb clean, 275 lb jerk and 3.0+ GPA; had to get 4 of the 5 to get in. Here lay some of the most talented athlete names in the history of our weight program at my HS (Newton-Conover), multiple D1 players and at least 1 NFL player. You will find most names found below are also seen on the board above. Neither boards were easily attainable, especially when you consider you only have till your 17 or 18 to achieve such records.
The type of hit shown below will get you thrown out of the game these days, due to the ducking of my head, which delivers a chin shot with my facemask. You are still able to hit a running back with your helmet incidentally, but the hit below would be called targeting. When I played (Senior year was 2004/2005) the only things you couldn’t do while playing on defense, was to spear someone (jumping off your feet with head first contact) or fighting. If you didn’t obviously lead with your head and jump, you rarely got called for anything back then. I did this because I had 2 shoulder surgeries (both sides) and didn’t trust my shoulders.
If you watch the hit closely in slow-motion, I get the initial helmet-to-helmet hit to take him off balance (he goes from an athletic stance to pigeon-toed) while simultaneously throwing an arm bar to send him flying. His feet/body travel 3 yards through the air from the initial hit location, that completely surprised me after contact! Sadly, the cost of making hits like these would be much higher than I ever expected.. For the sake of honesty, I want to mention that my team lost the game below and the running back below scored the most points in the game.
The running back in the video above had D1 colleges talking to him about the next season, but I’m not positive he actually did. Regardless, it was this type of size disadvantage that set me up for failure from the start. You can’t fight physics, especially at 145-150lbs… Little did I know at ages 16 to 18, this would do permanent damage to my spine. I have been living with chronic neck pain for 11 years now, the last 5 years without being on any opiates, ever. I feel like I need to tell people, my pain went down when I came off of opiate pain medicines. I also went through concussions (three of them), dozens of broken bones, multiple surgeries and more; still I’d do it all over again given the chance.
In this day and age, we know that prescribing someone with chronic pain an opiate based pain med for a substantial length of time will only weaken the body’s natural pain relief systems, creating the sense your pain is worse than ever. I would rather see our doctors in the USA point patients toward natural alternatives & non-narcotics for pain relief, including low impact exercise (such as walking 2+ miles daily)! I used to believe that the more I moved, the more I hurt, but that is 100% false. By getting out and moving you are maintaining and/or increasing your joint mobility and joint health (neither of which can be done with any medication).
(Or else, you might get bone spurs/osteophyte formations on your spine like me!) It’s pretty difficult to see in this picture below, but they are between C3 and C5.
By the time I was entering college I had nearly 10 years experience building/fixing/modifying computers + computer hardware and this opened the door for me to the IT field. My first IT position was with the NC Department of Waste Management. Here I would learn more about troubleshooting and PC + Network repairs than all my previous years with computer hardware combined. By my second year I was promoted to lead hardware tech and things were looking bright.
Life happened during my 3rd year with the NCDWM and I had to leave Raleigh to deal with medical issues (mentioned previously). However, this would lead to me working for Lowe’s HQ in Wilkesboro, NC. Here I would be a part of the team responsible for an international hardware upgrade for every Lowe’s store, literally all of them (Evergreen was the name of the project). Each night we would take entire stores offline to upgrade to IBM Blade servers and replace every point of interaction for employees in the store. On average each team member had 5 stores down per night which was roughly 300 pieces of hardware. This exposed me to a tremendous amount of information on networks and network administration, as well as managing large workflows. I gained valuable insight into fiber optics and how to troubleshoot fiber optics, along with your standard CAT5/CAT6.
I was with Lowe’s HQ for about a year and the project ended because we had successfully upgraded every store across the globe. This was when I made the toughest decision of my life (so far), return to school and finish the last 2.5 years of my Engineering degree, or use my experience to move up the ladder in IT. I decided I wanted a deeper understanding of the things I was using every day and I left a competitive job field for my Engineering degree.
Things with regard to my return to college changed slightly and I will now be moving to one of a handful of colleges in the area with real Audio Tech, Audio Engineering, or Electrical Tech programs (like Clemson & UNC-Charlotte). I learned that the knowledge I had from over a 15 years of practical troubleshooting did little to help me in any EE college courses. For example, the 2nd (and final) general circuits class at NC State does not involve any soldering! From what the seniors told me in 2017, EE graduates these days never have to solder at NCSU! I loved that college, but in the end nobody in the department even noticed my departure (except for a few friends).
After I left NCSU I knew I wanted to do something that I could present to colleges/companies as an example of my abilities. From electronics troubleshooting & soldering, to working with real world companies. I do everything for this site including writing, editing, photographing and my projects ideas. I rely on ingenuity to get me by when items break or just stop working all together. The main skill needed for this type of repair is soldering. Soldering, in my opinion, is one of the most important skills an Electrical Tech/Engineering graduate/student can learn. Learning is easy, mastering all the aspects of soldering, including surface mount devices (SMD), is not.
The lack of soldering in Electrical Engineering at NC State was sad and shocking to me. I knew my first time at State in 2007 you DID have to solder in the first circuits class, it’s no longer like that. An EE graduate who can’t solder is like a race car driver who can’t change their own tires when needed. Once I finished planning how to showcase such skills for interested parties, Hallman Labs was born! I slowly built the website up after I left college. Now I average 4-5 times the amount of traffic as before. Any companies looking for a skilled hardware technician and is willing to give a permanent hire with benefits, please use the contact me tab!
I am on the last steps of launching my vintage parts related business on Ebay and this will eventually transition to selling directly from my website. I am offering both NOS (New old Stock, never used) and used components. All of which have been tested on devices like the Extech 380193 LCR Meter, EDS 88A-IIs, Sprague TO-6A, BK Precision 810C and others, before offering them for sale. I provided an entire page focused on this content and it includes a 400+ line excel sheet which contains the individual test data on every single capacitor you will find on Ebay for sale by my Ebay account: HallmanLabs. This is why my posts slowed dramatically from August through the end of September. I was gearing up to launch this part of the site, instead of the more frequent blog style postings.
Thanks for reading my bio.
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