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.

Capacitor Theory

Capacitors are widely used in electrical engineering for functions such as energy storage, power factor correction, voltage compensation and many others.  Capacitance is also inherent in any electrical distribution systems and can play a pivotal role in it's operation.

In order to fully understand capacitors and their use, it is essential that electrical practitioners have a good understanding of capacitor theory.

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Introduction to Cathodic Protection

If two dissimilar metals are touching and an external conducting path exists, corrosion of one the metals can take place.  Moisture or other materials acting as an electrolyte between the metals create an electrochemical cells  (similar to that of a battery).  Depending on the metals, one will act as a cathode and one as an anode of the cell. 

Under this arrangement, stray d.c. currents will flow. In the same was a a normal cell, an electrochemical reaction takes place and there is a resulting corrosion of the anode.

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Frame Leakage Protection

While not as popular as it once was, frame leakage protection does still have some use in some circumstances.  In essence frame leakage is an earth fault type protection.  A current transformer installed in a connection from the frame to earth monitors  any fault current and operates an instantaneous relay.

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What is Aircraft Ground Power

Ever wondered what kind of power an aircraft uses when parked at the airport stand.

Normally the aircraft generates it own power, but when parked with the engines switched off power provided by the airport would be connected to the plane.  This connected power is typically 115 V at 400 Hz and is called ground power.

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Photovoltaic (PV) - Utility Power Grid Interface

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are typically more efficient when connected in parallel with a main power gird. During periods when the PV system generates energy this can be utilized and the grid energy used at other times.

For large PV systems, any connection interface is likely to need discussion with the power network operator. For smaller systems (around 10 kVA), there are existing standards which will facilitate making a functional and safe grid connection. This note looks at some of the standards.

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Fault Calculation - Per Unit System

Per unit fault calculations is a method whereby system impedances and quantities are normalised across different voltage levels to a common base.  By removing the impact of varying voltages, the necessary calculations are simplified.  

To use the per unit method, we normalise all the system impedances (and admittances) within the network under consideration to a common base.  These normalised impedances are know as per unit impedances.  Any per unit impedance will have the same value on both the primary and secondary of a transformer and is independent of voltage level.

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Fault Calculation - Symmetrical Components

For unbalance conditions the calculation of fault currents is more complex. One method of dealing with this is symmetrical components. Using symmetrical components, the unbalance system is broken down in to three separate symmetrical systems:

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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 and institutions.  While these are great in themselves, there is a whole range of innovation carried out by hobbyist and amateurs. In this note, I intend to post videos of interesting robotics projects I come across which have not been developed by big institutions.

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Multimeter

Multimeters are undoubtedly the most common item of electrical test equipment in use.  Often it is the first piece of equipment people will turn to when trying to visualize and obtain data on an electrical system.

As the name suggests, a multimeter is an single meter with the ability to measure several electrical quantities. Nearly all multimeters will include the measurement of at voltage, current and resistance.

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IEC 60287 Current Capacity of Cables - Rated Current

In the previous note we looked at the approach taken by the standard to the sizing of cables and illustrated this with an example.  We then looked at one method of applying the standard and identified resources enabling the calculation of all the various parameters involved.   In the note we are going to put everything together and reveal the necessary equations for actually calculating the cable maximum current rating.

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Introduction to Current Transformers

Current transformers (CTs) are used to convert high level currents to a smaller more reasonable level for use as inputs to protection relays and metering equipment.  Within electrical systems, current transformers are essential to ensure the correct functioning and control of equipment and for providing operational data and information.

This introductory note looks at the construction of current transformers and their specification

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HTML Symbol Entities

HTML supports a variety of entity symbols which can be entered using either numbers or an entity name.  The number or name is preceded by the ‘&’ sign and ends in a semi-colon (;).  To enter a symbol switch to HTML view in the editor and enter the number or name (Ω for example).  

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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...

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are cost effect and reliable, making them suitable for many applications.This note examines topics of interest associated with the...

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...

Lighting - Lamps

Lamps are the essential part of any luminaire. These are the light generating components. Since the advent of electrical lighting in the middle of 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...

Low Voltage Fault Tables

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

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...

IEC 61439 - The Switchgear Standard

The new standard IEC 61439 replaces the old 60439. Compared to the old standard, the new 61439 is a more clearly defined and takes into account the assembly...

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...

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...

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