* Posts by horsham_sparky

142 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Dec 2010


Blame of thrones: Those viral vids of PC monitors going blank when people stand up? Static electricity from chairs


Re: so the monitors are susceptible?

nope, there are actually more immunity tests than emissions tests. its just that emissions tends to be the ones that are more likely to fail.

ESD is included in the standard suite of tests, so there's no excuses. The monitors shouldn't be failing like this, but the reality is that cost is king, and many manufacturers don't bother with testing..


Re: BS EN 55024

Honestly, its not difficult to design electronics to withstand ESD, its just many engineers never bother finding out how.

I'm still amazed how much equipment that goes on the market never actually makes it to an EMC chamber..

Hell hath no fury like a radar engineer scorned



"Now a couple of mW may not sound much, but the peak power he (and his flash cubes) were subjected to was closer to 200mW… easily capable of firing a flash cube by irradiation."

Hmmm, I suspect they would needed to have taken off the dummy load to cause that effect, or the dummy load was much less than 70dB.. 200mW is a little bit less than what your smart phone puts out. CB radio's of the day put out around 5W.. and you don't hear any stories of anyone setting off flashbulbs in those days with CB radios.

Also remember that the CB radios might have been used in close proximity to the bulbs, probably less than a meter away, whereas the radar would likely to have been 10m or more (power reduces with distance to the inverse square law, which is why you need 2.5MW for long range search.. 10m would have been at least another 30dB to 40dB of attentuation depending on the efficiency of the transmit antenna and the receive "antenna")

Alright, I know the wavelength is longer on the radios and will couple less power into small circuits like the flashbulbs, but the difference is around 20dB, so the figures still don't stack up

Either the figures are misleading, or they didn't have the dummy load fitted, or its another sea story.

Disclosure, I frequently consult providing clients advice on Electromagnetic Compliance (EMC), so should in theory know what I'm talking about :-p

Boffins bash out bonkers boost for batteries


Re: Energy

Interesting factoid for you.. a laptop battery has a similar amount of energy stored as a WW2 hand grenade.. I worked it out many moons ago when looking at safety for a medical device, something like 250kJ from memory


Re: It's not about batteries

If that is indeed the case, I would suggest that the authors (as usual for academics) have vastly overstated the potential for improving battery life, given that a large chunk of mobile device power consumption tends to be things like displays and wireless data connections. A doubling of battery life might be realistic, but never the 100 times life as claimed.

And as others have noted, "discoveries" like this are ten-a-penny.. always many years away from being scaled up into volume, if at all

I still call Bo-Larks on this, but acknowledge the extreme media garbling of the facts..



speaking as an expert in electronics and power supply design, this makes as much sense to me as an ice skating mongoose that's dancing the bolero.

I would suggest that the only discovery here is someone has worked out how to make their arse talk..

now back to my cool, refreshing jar of healthy snake-oil :-)

Jaguar Land Rover ropes in Gorillaz to help it lure 5,000 'electronic wizards'


Re: Um... OK

Agreed, and ditto for my CV except on the Electronics side and add in many patents too :-)

To me this is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against older engineers, since many of the grey haired masters of Electronics typically struggle with software and computers in general, nevermind smartphones and tablets.

From reading other responses, I'm guessing their first challenge is getting the app installed and working..

UK.gov gears up for IR35 private sector crackdown – say industry folk


Europe is looking better..

Maybe I should take my skills over there instead? its not like this country has a shortage of Electronics Engineers or anything.. :-)

2014: El Reg booze lab proves Bluetooth breathalyzers are crap. 2017: US govt agrees


Re: Life is easier up north

doesn't always work.. Sweden has one of the lowest limits in Europe (0.2g/l compared to 0.5 for scotland and 0.8 for the rest of the UK). And booze there is hideously expensive.. and yet they still have big problems problems with drink driving;



Go figure! :-p


Re: Establishing a baseline - seemed to work OK

Frot the brief look at the BACTrack product, it seems a reasonably accurate fuel cell based unit.

One of the things people forget with these units is that you need to wait for a period of time after you last consumed any food or drink (20minutes minimum) to get a true deep lung reading (i'm assuming the unit makes you breath out deeply before it takes a sample). The reason is that you will have alcohol in your stomach and vapour in your esophagus after you've drunk alcohol which skews the readings. Food tends to make you belch which gives the same problem.

The other problem is the rate at which your body produces ADH (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) varies significantly depending on your health, whether you drink on a regular basis, the time of day etc etc.

Also the rate at which you absorb alchohol in your stomach varies on how much food you've eaten (i.e. empty stomach absorbs quickly so your blood alcohol level will spike high quickly, whereas with food in there it won't spike as quickly but hangs around longer)

So I wouldn't put too much faith in past performance of your body as it will change with circumstances and time...

sorry I'm a bit of booze-nerd, I had to know about this stuff when I was doing the electronics for the breathalysers :-p


Re: Too true


But then you have to train the bobbies to take blood safely (and without turning your arm into a pin cushion if you've been a troublesome drunk), or taking to you a hospital to have it done (thereby using lots of scant NHS resources)

Time is also a factor as your body is constantly breaking down the alcohol, so getting them to take a breath test at the roadside rather than a delayed blood sample will give a more accurate reading overall as to their state whilst they were driving.


Re: Too true

Best check yourself into hospital when you try that one.. :-)

Now IV caffeine.. that would be so much better than carrying a coffee cup around all day..


Too true

I used to work for the company that designs and supplies breathalyers to police forces worldwide. The roadside units are based on fuel cells and are pretty expensive. Even then their accuracy isn't wonderful, but its good enough provided you're sufficiently under/over the limit.

If there's any doubt, the analysers back at the station are based on infrared absorption, are are much more accurate (and correspondingly expensive).

The commercial units are all based on semiconductor sensors, which are frankly Sh*~te.. don't both with them. As the article says, if you're feeling it, you're over the limit. Even if you're not feeling it, you may still be over the limit.. I speak from experience of testing these things (yes I was paid to do that, hahahahaha!) :-)

And before you ask, you can't beat the analyser. Breath mints, mouthwash, penny on the tongue etc etc, all don't work. At best they add chemicals to your breath which the instrument is insensitive to. At worst, they will increase your reading (some older mouthwashes used to have alcohol in them). The best way to prevent alcohol being on your breath is avoid drinking alcoholic drinks... :-)

100k+ petition: MPs must consider debating Snoopers' Charter again


Not that it will make a blind bit of difference

But I've signed and emailed my local MP detailing the fact this database would be a goldmine for hackers, blackmailers, tabloids, husbands/wives suspicious of hubby, etc etc. Given that every man and his dog in government will have access, the chances of this database not being compromised are pretty remote.

And any criminal/terrorist that isn't completely 'tarded will simply use Tor, VPN etc etc to avoid being monitored. So they might catch a few of the dumber terrorsts/crims but they will compromise nearly every internet user in the UK.. Well done big gov! Putin must be laughing his ass off!

Sex ban IT man loses appeal – but judge labels order 'unpoliceable'

Big Brother

Medical treatment?

what's not mentioned here is that the guy went to his GP.. was he looking for treatment? why else would he tell these things to his GP?

It sounds like this guy needs treatment more than court orders, that's far more likely to end up with the right result of preventing him from raping/abusing women. Frankly how would a court order achieve that? if he were so inclined he could ignore the court order completely and go where his fantasies take him.

The law in this country seems to be skewed to devastating an accused persons life before any evidence is produced or proven in a court of law. Punish first, ask questions later mentality seems to prevail..

PM resigns as Britain votes to leave EU


Re: If I hear a single pensioner...

count me in.. though the pensioners involved being my parents, my dad voted out 'cause he can't land more than one sea bass anymore under new EU fishing rules on sports angling


Re: On days like today...

Thirded.. I shall miss his post pub nosh recipes..


English Independence vote in disguise

After the scottish referendum many people in England asked "why can't we vote to boot scotland out?" I reckon that's what this vote was really about, convincing them to have another vote and go for yes this time! :-p

On a more serious note, I was torn on this one.. heart was saying go (get rid of all those ridiculous EU laws), but the head was saying stay.. i.e don't screw our economy for the next 20 years while we go around trying to get new trade deals and the like.

I ended up voting to stay, and having seeing the congrats from the likes of Donald Trump, I'm off to dig my fallout shelter..with internet, beer fridge etc.. in fact I think I should just move to Germany, I can stay in the EU and still have some decent beer, though I might skip the currywurst

Pentagon fastens lasers to military drones to zap missiles out of the skies


Re: "given enough power, given enough beam quality, given enough altitude,"

Only if you happen to know the wavelength of the laser they're using..and even then its not too difficult to change the wavelength of a laser if you need to.

Black Helicopters

I reckon

They've already got a system that can knock out ballistic missiles.. probably satellite based. But it easier to keep it secret if they keep working on it in public and failing.. frickin' lasers on drones?! seriously? its all a smokescreen!

And of course, they never landed on the moon (it was faked), they can probe your mind with WiFi if you don't wear tinfoil hats, and Donald Trump is really an alien hell-bent on world domination! :-P

Bone-dry British tech SMBs miss out on UK.gov cash shower


not so Smart

I'm currently in a tech start-up consisting of myself (electronics hardware/firmware and CTO), and my partner (software and CEO). Do you think we can find a grant that doesn't require more time in applications/interviews/bovine excretion than it actually awards in grants? by the time we had finished the process and gotten a grant, we could have engineered it 3 times over (OK, maybe slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean).

I even have a friend whose wife works for the local grants group.. she said unless you have someone dedicated (i.e. you're a medium size company that can afford a full time "grants-getter") then don't bother.

in comparison to the amounts being awarded to companies that don't really need it, a paltry sum (say £30k) would have paid for all our prototypes (we do the engineering ourselves and outsource the manufacture). That would have allowed us to get up and running a lot faster. As it stands we have to contract part time to keep the company going..

The government needs to sort it out otherwise we'll only have banks and digital media firms left in the UK..

El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena



We had a team started when I was back at Uni (the original series with philippa forrester).. those were the days when the best battery you could get was sealed lead acid or Ni-Cad.

The rules were pretty tight at that point as well.. its tricky to get anything that has the run time, damage, weight, control and robustness and still meets all the rules. We never did crack it, we just didn't get the time to do it properly and graduated before finishing it. Oh well!

Would love to have another crack at it though.. there's a lot of new tech on the market now which would be interesting to use, particularly with batteries and motors and motor drives etc. Lester, get in touch if you need a sparky/embedded SW engineer on the job ;-)

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Itty-bitty pyttipanna


Var är chilisås ?

I've had this before in Stockholm.. where the addition of lashings of hot pepper sauce made it a dish worthy of note, particularly after a night on the alcoholic sauce (you need something to compensate for the fact that your bank account is now empty after a night out in stockholm!)

The egg yolk is particularly delicious when mixed in.. hmm, think I'll have to make some tonight :-)

NOxious VW emissions scandal: Car maker warned of cheatware YEARS AGO – reports

Black Helicopters

First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

I've seen many practises in my time as an Engineer that could be described as dubious as best and downright dangerous at worst. These always seem to involve management pressuring engineers into fudging results or designs, particularly when it comes to things like EMC compliance and regulatory/safety compliance.

I've been overruled more times than I care to count by managers/business owners who simply don't understand the implications of the decisions they make. As a contractor I have the luxury of being able to state my professional opinion and objections without affecting my career prospects (there are lots of contracts around for engineers like myself).

However what worries me is the permanent staff who do have to worry about it, and don't object.. the problem for them is that if something goes wrong, the law is that whoever signs off on the safety/regulatory aspects is the one most likely to be prosecuted and jailed.. particularly as instructions from management are nearly always verbal.. getting them to commit it to paper/email is like getting blood out of a stone.So this shoves the permanent staff between the proverbial rock and hard place

In this case it sounds like the engineer involved, did what I have always done.. commit it to paper/email, so there's a record when the smelly stuff hits the rotating air cooling device. The first rule of engineering is to cover thine arse! bravo to whoever the engineer was :-) I bet you they never find out who did the overruling...

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Bacon and egg sushi


Re: Where's the Bacon?

you mean swine surely?

and its mr.sparky to you :-p


Where's the Bacon?

oh there it is.. and there.. and eggs.. OMFG! I think I've just had a pork-gasm looking at that!

Top notch nosh el-reg, I thoroughly approve of the high porcine content :-)

Keep your stupid drones away from piloted aircraft, rages CAA


Re: defense system

I'm sure you could adapt one of these for the purpose :-)


defense system

its a problem that's relatively easy to solve. Install some UAV denial systems around sensitive installations (airports, nuclear reactors etc)and be done with it. Sure the systems are expensive, but they'll be far cheaper than the consequences and costs of a crashed passenger jet..

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Chopstick-collapsing Spam musubi


Spam spam spam spam egg

and spam.. except can I have mine without egg please? :-)

I wonder if that would work with Bacon.. anything can be improved with the addition of bacon!

Bloke called Rod struck by lightning for second time


Re: re how many are called Rod

isn't the odds of being struck twice just the odd of being struck once times itself, i.e. 1 in 3000 x 1 in 3000 = 1 in 9billion?

That said I haven't done probability maths in years and can't be arsed to google it (it's saturday after all)

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Tortilla de patatas

Thumb Up

Re: Yum!

third-ed.. I was going to suggest adding the bacon goodness.. smoked streaky preferably :-)

European Parliament mulls law on use of blood metal in tech


Please don't do another REACH to us

I've been working in the Electronics industry designing circuits and systems since 2000.. so I've seen the introduction of RoHS, WEEE and worst of all REACH legislation.

I can see the point of the WEEE directive (recycling waste electronics), which negates the need for the some parts of RoHS, namely leaded solders, as its easy to recycle and therefore doesn't contaminate the environment.. and incidentally makes electronics easier (there simply isn't a non-leaded solder anywhere near as good as the traditional tin-lead mix)

However Reach is an utter nightmare for us, as its a vastly larger list of substances, which changes at short notice.. for the average engineer, its simply not practical to check every single component in every design.

But at least with RoHS and to a lesser degree REACH, there are tests you can perform to determine the content of PCBs. However a conflict mineral is identical to a non-conflict mineral.. so this becomes even harder, as even fairphone have found, there's simply no way to be 100% sure.

So then the question is what is the point of a new law that cannot be enforced? how do you prove a company is using conflict minerals in their supply chain for a prosecution? and if you can, how can you prove they did so willingly?

For heavens sake EU.. we don't need any more hurdles to getting products out the door! The problem needs tackling at source, not at the end of a supply chain

SpaceX to deliver Bigelow blow-up job to ISS astronauts


I can't quite see it

I'm sure there should be a piece of string tied to it somewhere :-) it does look like a childs helium balloon! as long as the astronauts don't start talking like chipmunks..

Sir Terry remembered: Dickens' fire, Tolkien's imagination, and the wit of Wodehouse


Start at the beginning, the colour of Magic :-) it sets the tone for the rest of his books really. you don't have to read them in order, each book is a good read in isolation.. but you get to know the characters and the history if you do go in order though


RIP Terry

I'll be hoisting a pint of Turbot's Really Odd in your memory

Have been a fan since university days when I was lucky enough you meet you at a book signing at the Uni bookshop..

Say Hi to Albert, Death, Susan and the death of Rats for us :-)

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Smažený sýr



the only time to use marmite is if your driveway needs re-surfacing.. yuck!

blue cheese is the food of the gods though.. om nom nom


double dipping?

I thought that was unhygienic, or so sayeth Seinfeld anyway.. :-)


looks good..

now all it needs is some chili sauce! :-)

On the subject of cooked cheese, grilled or fried halloumi would also fit the post-pub nosh neckfiller category, seeing though its dead easy to make (slice it, bung it in a frying pan with a little olive oil and maybe garlic and herbs, fry on both sides 'till golden), its lovely cheesy and salty.. though the saltiness always makes me want another beer...

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: El Reg eggs Benedict


you had me at Bacon..

Anything tastes better with Bacon.. too much faff for a morning after hangover cure though, as tasty as it looks! think I'll stick with the triple fried egg chili and chutney sauce sarnie from last time.. which is also improved with the addition of Bacon (tried that yesterday) :-)

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie


Re: An explanation

hmmm I'm thinking of smokey bacon.. will go well with the chili sauce methinks :-) and crispy bacon is best with eggs, gives a nice contrast in texture with the runny eggs.. although rind is optional, can be a bit of a pain in sandwich (you end up pulling half the bacon out with every bite), but you can't beat the taste of crispy rind.. dammit I'm hungry now! luckily there's a cafe 5 minutes walk from the office :-)


Re: An explanation

Hey Sean.. good job overall buddy, despite the lack of decent chili sauce! the photo's did prompt me to go immediately down to the kitchen to have a go (I posted the story earlier on in the comments :-)

I'll definitely put bacon in next time though.. I'll have to make sure the ingredients are available in the fridge this saturday morning :-)


Re: Proper chili sauce

I already did, I told the story earlier on in the comments.. though I neglected to say it was the ghost pepper edition of mad dog 357 :-)


nom nom nom

having over indulged in curry and beer last night, and still suffering a bit from the cold this seemed to be a stroke of genius.. so off to the kitchen I went in search of what is to all intents and purposes "food porn"

I was fairly faithful to the recipe.. though I agree with earlier posters comments about the insipid flavourless encona so called "chili sauce", so instead I used a good dollop of Mad dog 357 (about a teaspoon full) with a couple of teaspons of nandos garlic peri peri for some extra flavour..

What can I say? it was a warming satisfying gooey mess, necessitating in a hasty shower and change of t-shirt.. and I feel much better already :-) Will definitely make it again.. though I feel the recipe could be improved with the addition of some bacon (anything tastes better with bacon!)

Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov


Re: The liberal arts people will game this

"How long before history gets rebranded as "past science"?"

I believe that should be "temporal science" :-)

same thing in Engineering.. "sanitation engineer", "meat distribution engineer" to name a couple..


Re: When I finished my STEM there were no jobs

As Ledswinger said, the quality of STEM education seems to have been declining in the UK. In Electronics Engineering, new graduates are often pretty useless when it comes to design work. But the degree at least gives them the basics, so after a couple of years of mentoring and practise they can become useful members of the team. I suspect that's part of the reason graduate wages aren't great.

The other part of it is that too many people can call themselves engineers these days, so yes the respect for engineers has declined. However its definitely possible to get decent wages, particularly in fields that are more difficult and in demand. RF Engineering and DSP are a couple of good examples.

I think the final part of the problem is Engineers themselves.. we're next to useless at negotiation compared to other parts of the company (e.g. sales, marketing etc), so on average our wages are lower, despite the fact engineers can make or break a company just as easily. If you believe the psychiatric studies its probably because most of us are Autistic to varying degrees! in fact if you believe an old 'el reg article, we're cold and dead inside, with no empathy for others.. sounds like most engineers that I know :-)


Too bloody right!!

Tuition fees should be based on their value to the economy and to society.. i.e. if Engineers are in high demand, engineering degrees should be lower cost and/or subsidised. Those that elect to study far less useful subjects like "David Beckham Studies" should be charged more to pay for those subsidies. Agreed this might not cover all the costs, but the gains in productivity and ultimately tax revenue for having more STEM workers available would easily outweigh the additional costs.

I keep seeing articles about Uni-grads working in jobs that have no relation to their degree.. what's the point of that? OK, i can understand that some industries can be difficult to get into, but if a significant proportion of students never get into their subjects then they have wasted their time and money as well as the taxpayers.

UK's CASH POINTS to MISS Windows XP withdrawal date


That's what you get for going with Microsoft

Windows was never intended as an industrial OS (ATM's would probably qualify as industrial, harsh environment, long service life etc)

There are other OS's out there with better security, support and licensing options, and I don't just mean the various flavours of Linux.

But companies like NCR go for windows because there are lots of Dev's out there with windows experience, and the inbuilt UI cuts down on some of the development time. Plus they can now charge their customers for brand spanking new ATM's rather than just upgrading the old ones.

Its the banks own fault for not specifying a more suitable OS and feature roadmap for these devices.. no sympathy at all.. just annoyance that the cost will be passed on to joe bloggs public yet again.

Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut


Re: Perspective

My facts are straight. I don't pay myself a full salary, I take some of it in dividends (like most contractors). I still pay PAYE to keep up my NI contributions. I fully agree, corp tax is paid on profits after expenses (i didn't state that it wasn't)

my point was that the original post was misleading, which I still stand by


Re: Perspective

Touché :-)

Not living/working in London, the ones I know earn considerably less than £500 per day. The additional costs of living in or commuting to London and the more specialist area (banking) probably accounts for the difference.

However I still stand by the fact your post was misleading as you didn't account for most of the costs contractors face. I regularly get told by permies/managers that I'm a rich contractor (I wish), purely because of this kind of misconception, which tends to get annoying after a while

My work-from-home setup's better than the office. It's GLORIOUS



This is the scourge of the engineering department.. being expected to build FPGA/microcontroller code, or run Matlab or Spice simulations on a PC that was designed for a company secretary who rarely uses anything other than Word or Internet Explorer (yep, the standard browser for the company, no you can't have firefox, its free! it can't possibly be legal!). 2GB of RAM which IE and windows swallows whole when you have more than a few windows open.. a single core CPU that needs its clockwork winding up regularly..

Anyone tried to design a PCB using a 15" screen? for heavens sake, my smartphone has more pixels! not fun!

*sigh* sorry rant over