Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ohm my goodness

Okay, being the dork I am, I could not resist an electrical engineering joke. I am currently being punished for having it so easy out here. Yesteday I spent eight hours inside three different switchgear rooms. For the non-engineering folk, a switchgear is a massive piece of equipment that ranges between 1600-4000 amps. A typical house is 60-100 amps for reference. Anyway, the switchgear was medium voltage! Super scary. Another lesson (I keep forgetting that everyone else is not a super electrical nerd), voltage is categorized as either low, medium, or high. Houses and most commercial buildings are low. Power plants and transmission lines are high. Medium is reserved for college campus distribution or VERY large buildings (think convention centers or the Sears tower). Anyway, low is enough to kill you. Medium will not only kill you instantly, but it will probably reduce you to ash. No imagine me in a room surrounded by 4000 amp (mega huge!) medium voltage switchgear....for eight hours! Plus I had to create an exact replica drawing of the rooms, so I had to measure everything......with a metal tape measure. So here I am, touching this scary humming (oh yes it is humming) equipment while holding a metal object against it by myself in a small room (okay it was a large room full of large equipment so it felt crowded). Boy I have never felt so scared. I said an "our father" during the first measurement. To add to the drama, the rooms were super cooled. I had a huge duct blasting cold air into the space plus two standing fans that always seemed to be blowing right on me. I debated shutting off the standing fans (goosebumbs the size of marbles) but I didn't want to risk upsetting (overheating) the equipment......nice equipment, be good to Lindsay.


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