This is Just Neat

I’ve known about this for a while but I figured I’d share it since many won’t know about the effort that goes into maintaining transmission lines.

Balls of steel.  That is a maneuver that has a pile of  things that can go wrong at any moment.  Most of those things will likely result in death.  That said it can and is done safely on a regular basis.

For those who don’t understand how attaching a helicopter to a 500 KV line doesn’t result in things failing you just need to remember what matters is a difference in potential.  The helicopter is a floating isolated point.  Since its isolated, its reference to “ground” can be shifted.  In this case as the helicopter approaches they use the wand to tie the helicopter to the same potential.  Once the helicopter at line match, so does everything else on the helicopter, including the people.

Once that connection is broken though the systems start drifting apart again.

And lets not forget if the weather turns there’s now another huge problem since wind can cause the helicopter to collide with the power lines.  The lesson there is a helicopter has 74,000 moving parts, all moving in opposition to each other, each with the common goal to kill you.

Still looks like it would be an interesting job, at least as a pilot anyway.  I have no interest on sitting on top of a 500 KV line, despite my knowledge of how it works.  I also know at 500KV it wouldn’t take much to create the current necessary to kill me should a piece of personal protective equipment fail.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

Quote of the Day – Anonymous (11/29/2012)

Reverse Reactive Power is a quantity defined by the IEEE and we know it is real and exists because the lights are on.

Anonymous – Discussion during a meeting


[We spent more time arguing about this subject than should have been allowed, the instigator just wouldn't let it go.  He couldn't understand the subject at hand and felt that the usage of the words were wrong.  Never mind every last power engineer in the room was saying it was perfectly descriptive of exactly what was required for the specification.

For an idea of how bad it was, I was waiting for the meeting to get physical as the instigator became very aggressive about his issue and ignoring the responses because he didn't understand it.  The person running the meeting was becoming notably upset at the unnecessary delay to moving forward and the fact he was ignoring the responses.

The person couldn't grasp the concept of directionality coupled with reactive power.  To him it was imaginary it didn't exist, current either leads or lags.  He couldn't understand that while it was imaginary in a mathematical sense, it was real, and it results in things such as heat and other issues.  What really got him though was the idea that power has a direction.

Finally one person restated, yes I said restated, that the IEEE has defined this term explicitly and finally justified his point at the end by noting that the fact lights over our heads were working and so obviously Reverse Reactive Power does exist.

It was about this time I was doing everything I could to suppress laughter.

There are days I both love and hate this job.  I will say I'm saving that quote and will paraphrase it when I find a situation like this again.

We spent lunch working on educating him on all the details of what it was, how it was measured, and why there was a direction involved.  He was a bit better but was still a little confused.  I will say it was probably a good thing I was my father's son instead of my father in this little incident.  I will say I heard his words in the back of my head, the phrase "You obviously have the intelligence of a banana slug" flashed through my brain in my father's voice.

Don't get me wrong, he's smart and sharp, but he knows jack about power, power systems, and what goes into protecting them.  Truly smart men recognize what they may not know and listen instead of insisting everyone else is wrong.  Especially when the others can mathematically show and prove their point.* -B]

*Geek out moment, Reactive Power is explicitly a mathematical quantity.  It is the complex or imaginary portion of Apparent Power.  Forward and reverse is applied merely to indicate the direction of power flow relative to a location.  For example which direction is power flowing in a power line?  To people in this industry directionality is what makes the world turn.  You need to know if the fault is in front or behind your monitoring equipment.  Well if you’re looking at the output of a generator and you see power flowing into the generator (reverse), that’s not a good thing and very rarely intentional.  Something is going to get very warm if you don’t do something soon.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

Why Did I choose Engineering?

Because of things like this:

There’s a serious personal reward to projects like that.  I do love how there’s even a trigger mode.

My wife just sat staring in astonishment.  Her dad has a prosthetic from an industrial accident.  While he doesn’t have smart limb, he does have a quite high tech limb that flexes and moves naturally.  Most people don’t even realize he has one unless he’s wearing shorts. 

10 years ago, this type of stuff was still fantasy for the most part.  The amount of processing and input gathering required limited the ability to create something usable.  Moore’s law is a freaking awesome thing.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

Yeah, That’s Always the Solution

Yes, read that title with a serious sense of sarcasm because unsurprisingly we have the following.

Some officials are calling for the U.S. military to take over the managerial structure of the Long Island Power Authority until power is restored on Long Island, where more than a quarter million homes and businesses are still in the dark after Sandy and a snowstorm.

Because fighting a war is so close to restoring and rebuilding the electric power system?  Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the military, but there is nothing to indicate they have the skills or abilities necessary to fix this problem.

Now it must be noted that the Navy does have a few men who actually do know something about the power system and distribution, but they also focus on it being aboard ship, with a smaller system with redundancy designed to survive casualties.  Others would look at the military and say, “Well the military has to supply power to their bases.”  Well even the military is lacking the people and skills to do that now days.

By September 30, 2003, most of the over two thousand utility systems owned and operated by the Military Departments are to be privatized. See DoD Reform Initiative Directive #49. Utility systems include systems: (1) for the generation and supply of electric power; (2) for the supply of natural gas; (3) for the transmission of telecommunications; (4) for the treatment or supply of water; (5) for the collection or treatment of wastewater; and (6) for the generation or supply of steam, hot water, and chilled water.

So what exactly would involving the government in the power restoration process do other than create an additional layer of bureaucratic red tape to go through?

There was a considerable amount of damage and it is very serious and not simple.  Many lines that have been repaired remain out of service because there isn’t enough power feeding in to support the line currently.  Not to mention the fact that there has also been damage to the natural gas system and other areas will not have power restored until the gas problems are fixed.

As I said previously:

So what we have is a bunch of distribution points that were/are full of water, need to be drained, the equipment cleaned, checked, maintained, and replaced possibly in some instances.  All of this must be done before re-energizing that circuit.

That takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight, and given the fact that salt water, metal, and electricity is involved  you better do it right.  If you don’t it will be more likely to fail in the future.

Does it suck being out of power?  Yes it does and anyone who thinks a utility doesn’t care about it’s customers being out of power, specifically a significant amount, doesn’t have a brain between their ears.  Each day service is down is a day of lost revenue.  Figure how many people there are, not to mention commercial customers, and then think about how much they’re loosing overall.

Yet again a group of people are screaming the government will magically solve the problem.  Most of those same people actually don’t have a clue about what’s actually going on.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

Quote of the Day–Ry Jones (11/05/2012)

Mother Nature is a bitch, and physics isn’t taking your call, either.

Ry JonesMy guess is I will never get to drive on the bridge currently under construction

November 5th, 2012


[It is amazing the number of people who have assured themselves that they are some how exempt from Mother Nature being a bitch to them, or that some how they are exempt from the laws of physics.  The worst part about it is those who do that rarely ever suffer the consequences for their decisions and choices, it’s always someone else who ends up taking the brunt of it.  -B]
Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.