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.

How to Check a Circuit is Dead

If you want to check a circuit is dead (not live), you should always use the three point method. First check a known live circuit, then check the dead circuit and finally recheck the live circuit. Carrying out the procedure ensures that the meter is working before and after testing for the dead circuit. A few additional measurement tips to make things safe:

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Tip – Latitude and Longitude on Large Scale Plans

If you are working on a large plan, get the real coordinates [latitude, longitude] for two or more points and add them to the drawing. That way you can always work out the scale and dimensions.

I know that drawings have scales, grids etc. on them and they are supposed to work. However, many times I've come across drawings where things don’t tie up. There can be hundreds of reasons ...

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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 in 1827 by Georg Ohm the law defines the relationship between voltage, current and resistance in an electric circuit.

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What does N+1 mean?

The term 'N+1' relates to redundancy and simply means that if you required 'N' items of equipment for something to work, you would have one additional spare item. If any one item of equipment breaks down, every thing can still work as intended. For example if you need two UPS for a small data centre, you would install three to have N+1; if you have a water pump in your building your would install a second one for N+1; if you require three transformers to power your facility you would install four for N+1.

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Always Use PPE

A lot of our members work in countries where PPE (personal protective equipment) is regulated or they work for companies/organizations which take employee safety seriously. Unfortunately, there are places/companies where little or not thought is given to safety and daily peoples lives are put at risk. If you are working on live circuits then you should always use PPE.

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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 Fallen 10, Steven Erikson

If you recognise the quote then you already know what an exciting journey this series by Steven Erickson is. If not then the only thing I really need to say is that you must read the series.

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Differential protection, the good old days

This morning I was explaining how differential protection works to a junior engineer. To give him something to read I opened up the NPAG (Network Protection and Automation Guide, by Areva) and turned to Chapter 10 ‘Unit Protection of Feeders’. I was immediately confronted with Marz and Price, circulating current systems, balanced voltage systems, high impedance series connected relays, illustration like the attached, etc. ... and remembered my early years. A time when if you mentioned differential protection to an electrical engineer, they would turn and run in the opposite direction.

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Voltage Drop in Installations - Concepts

Problems on achieving maximum voltage drop within an installation come up often. Depending where you live, local regulations will have different limits on maximum allowable voltage drop, however the intent of all of these is to ensure sufficient voltage is available at the equipment so that if functions correctly. Specified voltage drops are generally not for an individual cable but for the full installation; from the point of supply connection to the final equipment. Thus the overall voltage drop is a combination of individual voltage drops across multiple cables.

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New Mail Chimp

We've been sending out Newsletters on a regular basis for a few weeks now. To do this we have been using Google's Feedburner service. While Feedburner is a fantastic product (and free of cost), to improve our Newsletter delivery we have changed to a paid service. All Newsletter and update emails are now being delivered by mailChimp (http://mailchimp.com).

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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, less familiar to others.  This post is a quick introduction to motor starting.

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Back to basics - the Watt (or kW)

When thinking about watts (W) or kilowatt (kW = 1000 W) it can be useful too keep in mind the fundamental ideas behind the unit. Watt is not a pure electrical or mechanical unit, but is a measure of the rate of doing work.  Let start at the beginning and understand the meaning of work

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8 Steps to Low Voltage Power Cable Selection and Sizing

A recurring theme on our forums is cable sizing. Now many installations are unique and require special consideration. However, a lot of the time things are just repeated. When looking at low voltage power cables I generally always start with the same basic strategy.

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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...

Fault Calculations - Typical Equipment Parameters

A frequent problem in fault calculations is the obtaining of equipment parameters.  While it is always preferable to use the actual parameters of the equipment...

Motor Insulation

Insulation on a motor prevents interconnection of windings and the winding to earth.  When looking at motors, it is important to understand how the insulation...

Write your best report

Years ago I was told that you should always try to write the best report you can.  Many years later I still think on this as one of the better pieces of...

IEEE Winds of Change

IEEE TV has a part series of videos on wind power and it's implication. For a really good overview to the technologies and issues around wind power, these...

110 or 230 Volts

I've been considering a blog on the 110 or 230 Volt issue for a while.  While browsing the Internet I came across a great summary by Borat over at  engineering...

Cable Sizing Tool

Our cable sizing tool is one of the more popular tools on the site.  The tool enables cables to be sized in compliance with BS 7671 (the IEE Wiring Regulations...

Voltage Levels to IEC 60038

The standard aims to consolidate AC and traction voltages within the industry and defines the following bands: band 1 - A.C. systems 100 V to 1...

Harmonised Cable Codes and Colours

Within Europe the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) has standardised the both the designation and colour of cables.   ...

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 ...

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