Diary of a Trainee Electronics Engineer: February 2016Follow article
Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, 3-phase and Flood Hacking
A look at what February has brought, including new projects, events attended and being introduced to new concepts as part of my HND course.
A Busy Month
February feels like it's been non stop. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (ACR) show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. I know it sounds a little odd, a trainee electronics engineer attending an event for air conditioning and refrigeration, however, one of my parents has worked in refrigeration for over 30 years, so since being very young I’ve always been interested in what they do. I’ve tried to understand refrigeration concepts and look at what work they’ve done over the years, and with it being another area within engineering I was keen to find out more.
I've never been to the NEC before so that was an experience in itself, and all I can say from first impressions is it's enormous! You could get lost in the car parks alone.
One of the first stands I visited was Innotech, a company that specialise in building automation controls and software for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and energy management systems. I was immediately attracted to the display, there was a presentation running on a large screen which showed system schematics. This also included logic gates, which is something I have been looking at recently as part of my course. Again I found this very interesting as it allowed me to see how something I’ve been working with on perfboard in class can be applied in industry.
One of the devices which Innotech had on their stand was a controller with 40 analogue and digital I/O connections. Again this was of interest to me as I could relate this to development platforms I have worked, on such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
I got really excited to see how electronics is applied in other industries within engineering. The only frustrating thing being that since I'm used to working with open source platforms, I wanted to see how these devices worked inside. I was told that these particular devices are programmed using C++, a programming language I am interested to learn more about.
I wandered round the other exhibition stands and talked to other people about what they do and explained what my role is as a trainee electronics engineer. I sat and listened to one of the talks which explained about various refrigerants, their impact on the environment and what the economical alternatives would be. This was very interesting,
Work Work Work Work Work
Excuse the annoying title, its been played non-stop this month so it felt necessary – sorry Rihanna!
I started a really cool project this month which involves making a visual display for a river level monitor. I went through the process of designing the enclosure and prototyping, this before I cut the final design out of acrylic. I had a lot of fun doing this, although it took quite a few prototypes first, because I had never previously made a completely enclosed case with finger joints/teeth and slots. I'll be completing a blog post about this soon and it should be up within the next week.
I’ve also done some pretty cool stuff as part of my HND course this month. In Electrical Power we've started looking a three-phase power supplies, which includes balanced and unbalanced circuits, I was able to wire a circuit up with test equipment and measure the current reading based on the size of resistor load chosen. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to use 240 Volts for safety reasons, so when it came to the exercise we used 60V as an alternative.
This was really fun to do and I personally prefer the hands on approach to learning as opposed to just studying with textbooks
In Advanced CAD I've started doing 3D designs in Autodesk Inventor. I've done some in AutoCAD before, but it's good to get experience with another design tool.
For utilisation of electrical energy I’m currently writing an assignment based on many different kinds of lighting, from high and low pressure mercury vapour lighting and high and low pressure sodium lamps, to Metal halide lamps. This Includes things from general construction, operating principles, efficacy and life expectancy. It's still in the pipeline at the moment, but I'm hoping to have this finished before the end of the month, along with an Engineering Design assignment to produce a report on soldering stations.
Since I’d visited the NEC I was interested in looking at what other events they have coming up. After a quick search I found that the National Electronics Week exhibition is being hosted there in April! So I booked a place and I’m looking forward to attending this!!
I also have Flood Hack to look forward to attending next month, so hopefully this will be another productive month.