* Posts by simonpearse

6 posts • joined 15 Sep 2015

Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch?


power outage

One of my customers installed 3 PC's to run a taxi booking/dispatch system. They decided to do things properly, so they got an electrician to install an independent ring with sockets for the computers, the screens, printer, router, radio TNC, and some spare sockets. The ring was run off a smallish UPS.

So far so good.

Since the ups would only provide a short duration in the event of a power failure they bought a small generator, so if mains went, the ups would take over for long enough for them to get the generator out of the cupboard and connect it to the input of the ups.

Seemed very good.

Some years later a digger in the street severed the mains. Remember those 'spare' sockets.... two electric heaters and a kettle had found their way onto the circuit so the UPS threw a tantrum. They couldn't find the key for the cupboard containing the generator. The fuel in the generator was several years old and no-one new where the starting instructions were. An arguing mob of irate drivers soon had sore arms from pulling on the starter handle. then some bright spark noticed that the shop two doors away had power. And they had a long extension lead. Soon they had a working computer, screen, router, and TNC.

Now an even brighter spark reasoned that if they removed the socket from the extension lead and replaced it with a plug, and plugged that into one of their wall sockets, it would power their 'ups' ring and all their computers would work. I suspect that their degree of familiarity with H&S laws was about as advanced as their knowledge of three phase mains distribution (yes the shop down the road was on a different phase)...

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One of my customers, a Taxi company, had a few PC's connected to a small UPS with a small 2-stroke generator as backup.

The computers were wired to their own rig main connected to the ups. The generator was kept in a locked cupboard. There had been no mains issues for several years until a digger severed the mains supply in the street.

Over the years everything and its brother had been connected to the 'UPS ring main' We're talking kettles, electric heaters etc, so the ups lasted a few mS before failing.

They couldn't find the key for the generator cupboard. so after a while the door got forced. The petrol was years old and they had lost the starting instructions. After an hour of getting a sore arm someone noticed that the shop next door still had power so they went looking for a long extension lead. Unfortunately this would only get one PC going so some genius came up with the idea of removing the socket from the lead and replacing it with a plug. The plan being to plug said lead between the shop next door and a socket on the ups 'ring' so that all the sockets would be live. They reasoned that this would keep everything working, and once power was restored they could simply remove the extension lead.

Those familiar with 3 phase may look away at this point.

Sir Clive Sinclair in tech tin-rattle triumph


black watch

I still have my black watch,and what's more it works as well now as it did when it was new. (sadly).

In 1974 Prof Eric Laithwaite gave the RI christmas lectures attended by clive sinclair (and by me!). Laithwaite had a bee in his bonet about gyroscopic anti-gravity. In the new year CS set up two guys in a room at the st Ives rivermill playing with gyroscopes until some wag pinned a fake letter on the company notice board.

Dear Sirs, I recently purchaced a Sinclair Anti-gravity belt from Dixones for 39.99. All was going well until, at a height of 50 fee, one of the two hearing-aid battery clips (enclosed) flew out of the case....

The project was quietly cancelled.

BAN the ROBOT WHORES, says robot whore expert: 'These AREN'T BARBIES'


Re: Prostitution

No, I think thats the card swipe.


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