Steven McFadyen's Articles

Steven is a Chartered electrical engineering consultant with considerable experience on major internationally recognised and award winning projects in Europe, South East Asia, and the Middle East. His expertise has been called on for numerous technically challenging projects in power systems, airports, rail, mining, pharmaceutical, datacentre, and other industries.

What happened to the cable notes?

If you are wondering what happened to our cable notes, the short answer is that we have moved them to myCableEngineering.com.  The "Knowledge Base" at myCableEgineering.com have tonnes of useful technical information on power cables.  By adding our myElectrical cable notes, this resource, it is now even better. 

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Cable Sizing Software

When sizing cables nearly, everyone uses some form of software. This ranges from homespun spreadsheets to complex network analyses software. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

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Photovoltaic (PV) Panel - Performance Modelling

In an earlier note on the site [Photovoltaic (PV) - Electrical Calculations], the theory of solar (PV) cell calculations was introduced.  In particular the post looked at the PV cell equivalent circuit and the electrical characteristics of the cell.  This note expands on the previous post and shows how we can use tools like MatLab to model the performance of a complete solar panel.

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Load Flow Study – how they work

A load flow study is the analysis of an electrical network carried out by an electrical engineer. The purpose is to understand how power flows around the electrical network. Carrying out a load flow study assists the engineer in designing electrical systems which work correctly, have sufficient power supplied by the power grid, where equipment is correctly sized, reactive power compensation is correctly placed and transformer taps are optimised.

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Tips for a better Low Voltage Protection Discrimination Study

Carrying out a protection system discrimination study is critical to ensure the correct functioning of  the electrical system in the event of faults.  The IEC defines discrimination as:

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What is an Open Delta Transformer

In three phase systems, the use of transformers with three windings (or legs) per side is common.  These three windings are often connected in delta or star, resulting in common transformer configurations such as delta-delta or delta-star.  An open delta transformer is a special arrangement which uses only two windings.

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Star-Delta Motor Starting - Performance

Many questions sent in to the site are in connection with motor starting and in particular star-delta.  For all but the simplest application, there is merit in performing a more detailed study.  Carrying out a software study allows both the electrical performance and that of the connected mechanical systems to be evaluated.

This note illustrates by example one possible approach to studying the performance of a star-delta motor starting circuit.

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Electromagnetic Fields - Exposure Limits

Exposure to time varying magnetic fields, from power frequencies to the gigahertz range can have harmful consequences.  A lot of research has been conducted into identifying these effects and developing recommended safe exposure limits.

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Induction Motor Equivalent Circuit

Induction motors are frequently used in both industrial and domestic applications.  Within the induction motor, an electrical current in the rotor is induced by a varying magnetic field in the stator winding. The rotor current produces it's own magnetic field, which then interacts with the stator field to produce torque and rotation.   

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How D.C. to A.C. Inverters Work

Traditionally generation of electricity has involved rotating machines to produce alternating sinusoidal voltage and current (a.c. systems). With the development of power electronics during the last several decades, semi-conductor devices are now frequently used to convert direct current (d.c.) to a.c. to power conventional alternating current systems.

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How a Digital Substation Works

Traditionally substations have used circuit breakers, current transformers (CT), voltage transformers (VT) and protection relays all wired together using copper cables.  With advances in digital technology, communications and standards, this is now changing to what is known as the digital substation.   This is an introduction to the digital substation and the bits and pieces which go into making up the system.

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A mechanical engineering paper, some history and memories

I was digging in my bookshelf and came across the 80th Anniversary Association of Mine Resident Engineers, Papers and Discussions Commemorative Edition (May 2004). Within it's dark covers, is a paper I wrote many years ago. Reading through the paper, brought memories of my arrival in South Africa. It seemed a shame to lose them all again; so this is my first off-topic post in a while.

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Hazardous Areas – IEC and NEC/CEC Comparison

Depending where in the world you work, you are likely following one of two standards International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) National...

Motor Starting - Introduction

Motor starting and its associated problems are well-known to many people who have worked on large industrial processes. However, these things are, of course...

Low Voltage Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are switching devices whose primary function is to isolate parts of an electrical distribution system in the even of abnormal conditions...

DC Motor Operation

Coils of wire on the rotor carry a d.c. current which generates a magnetic field. A stator magnetic field is created using either permanent magnets or...

Understanding Motor Duty Rating

One of the comments on my Motor Starting Series was asking for something on duty cycles. Here it is. As a purchaser of a motor, you have responsibility...

Robotics - Home Innovations

We have a sister note to this (Robots - Interesting Video), in which I have posted some videos of interesting robots developed by commercial corporations...

Back to Basics - Ohm’s Law

Electrical engineering has a multitude of laws and theorems. It is fair to say the Ohm's Law is one of the more widely known; it not the most known. Developed...

Three Phase Current - Simple Calculation

The calculation of current in a three phase system has been brought up on our site feedback and is a discussion I seem to get involved in every now and...

Welcome back Bottle

‘Kept looking at a card, y’see? Kept looking at it. Welcome back Bottle. Gods below welcome home. The Crippled God A Tale of the Malazan Book of the...

What are you reading!

Reading is a bit of a hobby of mine and I"ve done a few off-topic posts in the past on this. Rather than continue doing the occasional post I thought ...

Have some knowledge to share

If you have some expert knowledge or experience, why not consider sharing this with our community.  

By writing an electrical note, you will be educating our users and at the same time promoting your expertise within the engineering community.

To get started and understand our policy, you can read our How to Write an Electrical Note