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.

Bows and Arrows

It starts with me reading one of the Horrible History books with my son (Groovy Greeks). Arrows were mentioned which lead to the discussion of the bodkin arrow head. To show him how much work was required to make one of these arrow head I started searching videos on Google and YouTube. During this process we came across the following interesting documentary on the longbow as a weapon. Being a history video which was able to keep my eight year olds son attention for nearly an hour, I think it deserves a bit of publicity.

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Robots - Interesting Videos

The robot folding towels post below was interesting enough at the time to post a link.  Recently I’ve come across a couple of other interesting videos which demonstrate the abilities of some robots being developed by Boston Dynamics.

One is BigDog which is capable of throwing breeze blocks around. The potential uses of machines which can do this sort of task are enormous. One of the projects aims is to develop machines which can go anywhere we can (and they are quite some way to achieving that goal).

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Large Hadron Collider

The 27 km, Euro 6 billion  Collider lies on the border between France and Switzerland, took nearly 30 years to complete.  Some of the lofty goals for the collider include the search for and investigation of the Higgs boson particle, dark energy, anti-mater, other dimensions and small black holes. 

 

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Skin Tapping Input

Tapping your forearm or hand with a finger could soon be the way you interact with gadgets. A new technology created by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University uses 'body acoustics' to turn skin into an interactive input device.

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Why a Sine Wave?

I received this question by email a few weeks. First thoughts was that it is a product of the mathematics of rotating a straight conductor in a magnetic field. While I guess this is the primary issue, after some thinking I have come up with few reasons why a sinusoidal wave is advantageous:

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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.  The technical guides cover subjects such as the basics of variable-speed drives, dimensioning a drive system, electrical braking, harmonics and AC drives, and bearing currents.

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Sony Pocket eBook Reader

For the past few years I have reading eBooks on my HTC touch phone. On and off I have debated buying an eReader and recently purchased a Sony PRS-300 (eReader Pocket Edition). While I was happy using my HTC phone to read, I didn't realize what I was missing. Using the Sony eReader makes a world of difference.

The eReader uses E Ink technology making the text really clear. There's a nice amount of text on each page and using the device is simple. Purchasing and downloading books is easy and the device can hold two or three hundred books. Above all it is really pleasurable to read on the device.

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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. If you don't know what OneNote is, the best way to see how it works is to download the free trail and have a go.

Microsoft's describes the software as:

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Lightning Protection and Earth Electrode Resistance

Most installations involve some form of lightning protection system which is connected to an earth electrode.  The function of the earth electrode is to dissipate the lightning strike safely in to the ground.  Often the performance of the earth electrode is specified and verified by stating a maximum resistance and ensuring that the installed system meets this.  Resistance is easily understood and an easy property to measure.  However, it is only indicative of the performance of the earth electrode under lightning conditions.  Other parameters have a more signification effect.

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1,000 kV UHV First for China

At the beginning of the year China put the world's first 1,000 kV UHV transmission system into operation. Transmitting power at over a million volts is just amazing.  Some key facts about the system are:

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Lightning Risk Assessment (IEC 62305)

IEC 62305 'Protection against lightning' requires a risk assessment be carried out to determine the characteristics of any lightning protection system to be installed. There is a lot of hype about about this being a complicated process, however in reality it is very simple.

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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...

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...

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...

Batteries

A battery consists of one or more cells, each of which use stored chemical energy to produce electrical energy, There are many types of cells and these...

Low Voltage Fault Tables

The following tables provide quick order of magnitude fault levels for a a range of typical low voltage situations.

Difference Between Live and Dead Tank Circuit Breakers

A quick post in connection with an email question: Live Tank - the circuit breaker the switching unit is located in an insulator bushing which is live...

E-Ink

Before the technical, some general information. E-ink display are found in a lot of e-readers, some mobile phones and similar devices and the intent is...

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is a field that covers a wide variety of sub-fields, including electricity and electronics. It is a field that goes back to the...

International System of Units (SI System)

The International System of Units (abbreviated SI) is the world's most widely used system of units.  The system consists of a set of units and prefixes...

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...

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