July 10, 2017 - OBITUARY FOR DON WETZEL OF PALOMAR ENGINEERING/LOON VIDEO/M-ONE
It is with deep sadness that I have to announce that Don Wetzel, the designer and manufacturer of the M-One
lens drive motor and Loon Audio boom poles, has passed away. He began to feel ill in early June and
was soon too weak to work. When he finally saw a doctor they discovered he had a severe abdominal infection.
He was rushed to the hospital and emergency surgery was performed to remove the infected tissue but the infection
was too widespread and he passed away on July 10th, 2017.
Before I continue let me assure everyone that this will have no effect
on the delivery and support of any BarTech products. I have a large backlog
(several years worth) of the parts Don made for me and I see no problems in
continuing to manufacture my products with no drop in quality or delay in delivery.
For those who have M-One motors and need service, contact Peter Hoare at Hocus Products
(http://www.hocusproducts.com), as he has been doing
M-One repairs for some time now and is working to acquire the supply of parts Don left behind to
allow him to do all repairs. You can e-mail Peter directly at email@example.com.
If you had already sent a motor to Don contact me as I am compiling a list of motors that
should be in Dons facility so the person handling the estate can see to returning them to
their rightful owners. Any information you may have, especially serial numbers, should be
included in any e-mails you send me.
I met Don in 1990 when I first started at Cinema Products. He was the VP of Engineering and my boss.
He was the most talented mechanical designer I have ever met. He had little formal education in
engineering and worked from an innate understanding of mechanical function. Don had a great sense of
humor and a work ethic unlike any I have ever seen. He thought nothing of working 60 hours a week and
frequently worked 100 hours a week. He was always happiest when working. In the 27 years I knew him
he took one vacation. Other than work he loved cats, guns, and fast cars. He had, at one time, the
fastest car in Montana, a state with the most lax speeding laws in the nation.
I know there are many people who were justifiably unhappy with Don due to his poor customer service
and long repair times in the last few years. I can assure you it bothered him tremendously. If you
doubt this check the postings prior to 2011 and you will see nothing but praise for his prompt customer
service. In 2010 his company had to downsize and it left him with no staff. Trying to do everything
himself was nearly impossible so he relocated to Temecula in Southern California to work with another
person who was going to take over a large segment of the work load. Unfortunately, after spending a
tremendous amount of time and effort to relocate his entire manufacturing facility to Temecula, the other
person backed out of the deal and left him high and dry. Since the only reason he had moved to California
was to work with this person Don decided to move back to Montana. This was when everything began to go wrong.
The effort to move back was even greater than the move down to California had been as he had to do it by himself
and while under severe time restraints from his landlord. This totally exhausted him and he never fully
recovered physically or emotionally. Numerous attempts to hire help always failed for one reason or another.
Don attempted to simply work harder to get caught up but he was now in his mid sixties and he simply could not
work that hard any more. He also began to develop some health problems, such as diabetes, that slowed him down
even more. This began a downward spiral he never recovered from. He tried valiantly to meet all his obligations
but things just got worse. Eventually his health problems caught up to him. All I can say is it he never ignored
his customers needs because he did not care, but only because he could not put in enough hours to do everything that
Don was born and raised in central Texas. He learned his mechanical skills from his father who worked in aerospace
and as an instructor teaching various manufacturing skills, such as machining and welding. Almost no one knows that
Don was also an award-winning trumpet player. He believed this saved his life when he was drafted to serve in Viet Nam
as he was able to get assigned to the Army marching band instead of being sent into the jungle to retrieve blown up
armored vehicles, a job that, as a machinist, he was initially assigned to that had a very high mortality rate. After
the Army he worked for various companies, most notably Xerox, working on the design of a x-ray mammogram machine.
When Xerox cancelled this project Don went to work for Cinema Products in 1988. He left Cinema Products in 1995 to
work as a consultant and later co-founded K-Tek, the boom pole manufacturer, in 1996. Some of his boom pole designs
are still in production today. He parted ways with K-Tek in 2000 to start Palomar Engineering and designed the
M-One lens drive motor. In 2005 he joined with Clay Bradley and started Kintla Corp. which consisted of Loon Audio,
making boom poles, and Loon Video, making the M-One motor. He was still designing new boom poles up until his death.
Jim Bartell, Owner, BarTech Engineering
July 12, 2010 - BARTECH DIGITAL RECEIVER
The new BarTech Digital receiver is now available, allowing the BFD to be used with digital motors. Click on the link below for more information
Click here to go to the Digital Receiver page.