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.

Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Insulation

While there are a vast array of cable insulation materials, these are often divided into two general types; Thermoplastic or Thermosetting. For example the current capacity determination of a cable in accordance with the UK Wiring Regulations is categorized into thermoplastic and thermosetting cables.

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Our internet address and Vanity URLs

Visitors who like to type web address rather then click menus may be interested in how our URL structure works.

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Smarter Electrical Distribution

The other day I came across an article in Technology Review on the development of a smart transformer. A professor at North Carolina State University is developing a transistor based transformer capable of coping with both dc and ac and of directing power to where it is required. His idea is to shuffle power around the grid in the same way that the internet intelligently moves data around.  The interesting thing from this is that people are starting to address the way we move power around.

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Cold Fusion (or not?)

Recently I have seen a few interesting articles on viable cold fusion; the combining of atoms at room like temperatures to create boundless energy. Now after a bit of research I have discovered the are a few proponents [believers] and a lot of skeptics. The jury is not out, but just in case the technology comes in as a winner here is the latest and it happens to be a working machine.

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Lead us, Warleader

Delum, who had watched all in silence, his face empty of expression, now spoke in turn. ' "Lead us, Warleader, into glory."'

Reading is something I do regularly and at the moment I'm working my way through Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Enjoying the series so much I decided to give it a bit of a plug.

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Why is electricity so hard to understand?

It's been a busy few months on different projects or busy couple of decades depending on how I look at it. I can say that on the odd (frequent) occasion when trying to explain something (i.e. electricity) I felt like banging my head against the wall. To be fair to everyone this does include talking to electrical engineers as well as non-electrical types. I have found out that I'm not the only one to wonder why it is difficult to understand electricity and as it turns out the answer may not simply be that everyone else is not quite with it.

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Paths of Flight

GE have put together a time-lapse video shown flight take-off and landings at some airports. An interesting view:

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Generator Sizing & Operation Limits

When selecting a generator, there are inherent limits on the active and reactive power which can be delivered. Generators are normally sized for a certain kW at a power factor of 0.8. However, to understand the operation fully, it is necessary to look at the generator reactive power curve.

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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 videos are excellent. Each video is around 10 minutes and can be watched at:

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Autonomous Vehicle Challenge

Two driverless and solar power vans have departed from Italy on their way to China via the silk road. During the 13,000 kM trip the vans will drive themselves on standard roads. The hope is that this will help to prove the viability of using current technology to enable autonomous vehicles on public roads.

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Getting Started with Patents

If you have a great idea or invent something the last thing you want is someone to steal the idea. One of the things you can do is protect the intellectual property of on the idea by using patents.

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MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare, makes the materials used in teaching all MIT subjects available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world.

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Understanding Circuit Breaker Markings

IEC 60947 is the circuit breaker standard and covers the marking of breakers in detail. Any manufacturer following this standard should comply with the...

ABB Technical Guides - Motor Operation

ABB has produced a range of technical guides that offer concise explanations of the major technologies and technical issues in low voltage AC drives. ...

Microsoft OneNote

A couple of months ago I came Microsoft's OneNote and downloaded the 60 day free trail. Since then I have been using it regularly and now have a full license...

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...

Generation of a Sine Wave

A fundamental concept behind the operation of alternating current systems is that voltage and current waveforms will be sinusoidal – a Sine Wave. This...

Random Numbers

Using laser optical pulses the random number generator utilizes the time between arrival of random photos to generate the numbers, ensuring true accuracy...

LED Replacement Light Bulb

The inventor of the first visible light-emitting diode makes history again this year as it begins to show customers a 40-watt replacement GE Energy Smart...

GE's Shingijutsu Factory

GE's latest thinking on product manufacturing is he Shingijutsu philosophy or Lean production system. They have started applying this at the Louisville...

The dc resistance of conductors

This is the first of two posts on the resistance of conductors. In the next post I will look at the ac resistance, including skin effect and we deal with...

Resistors

Resistors are electronic components that oppose the flow of current.  Manufactured in various types and ranges they have a wide application to electronics...

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