=== Harmonic direction measurements ===
PSL has been awarded an exciting new research contract by CEATI to design an instrument for measuring the direction of harmonic flow. I think it's a fascinating technical problem: harmonic voltages and currents are, by definition, pure sine waves, so they have no direction - instead, we will be looking at the phase angle between the voltages and currents (and possibly the three-phase sequencing as well). The new instrument will have to be more accurate, by a couple of orders of magnitude, than any existing field instrument for measuring these angles - an interesting challenge! The project is funded by several utilities, led by Electricit=E9 de France and Hydro Qu=E9bec. My old friends Mack Grady and Bill Moncrief will be involved, too: Mack will be developing software for this project, and Bill will be doing the field investigations. Watch for the results in a year or so.
=== New engineers at PSL ===
I'm very pleased that two talented engineers will be joining PSL. The remarkable Andreas Eberhard starts next week as a Vice President, and Barry and I are looking forward to his energetic enthusiasm. Andreas speaks German, French, Japanese, and English (with some Spanish, too), and is an excellent engineer. Matthew Muh is just finishing his Masters degree at U.C. Berkeley in Electrical Engineering, and he will start at PSL as an Instrumentation Engineer in June. Matthew speaks English and Cantonese, and will work directly with me on the CEATI harmonics project. Welcome, Andreas and Matthew!
=== New IEC Voltage Dip Immunity standard completed, at last ===
The new IEC 61000-4-34 Voltage Dip Immunity standard, for equipment that is rated at more than 16 amps per phase, is finished at last! This is an excellent standard - it should improve the reliability of industrial equipment, world-wide, at minimal cost. We've built this standard into our Industrial Power Corruptor sag generators, which can handle loads up to 200 amps continuous per phase at 480 volts, with an optional 1500 amps per phase peak. Now we're writing application notes now for this standard - let me know if you would like to receive them when they're ready.
=== IEC meeting hosted by Power Standards Lab ===
IEC standards sometimes seem to be accepted as absolutes, but they're actually written on blank sheets of paper by groups of human engineers. Typically composed of one or two experts from each interested country, these Working Groups meet every 6 months or so to argue, discuss, negotiate, and actually put words and numbers on paper. The next meeting of Working Group 9 of IEC Technical Committee 77A, for example, is responsible for updating IEC 61000-4-30, the power quality measurement standard. Our next meeting will be hosted and chaired by PSL in San Francisco on 13-14 October 2005. I'm fond of the members of this group. (Photo) We've been meeting in various cities all over the world for the last 7 years, and we've become colleagues and friends as well as standards engineers.
=== The PSL Volt and The PSL Ohm calibrated at NIST ===
We instrumentation engineers are fascinated by references - at least I know I am. For example, here are a couple of photos I took during my travels last year of the platinum meter in Paris that was the basic reference of the metric system, and of the Korean national meter in Seoul, complete with two-level nested carrying case.
Last month the PSL Volt was calibrated by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology directly against the U.S. National Volt. It turns out that the PSL Volt's value is 1,00000096 volts, with an uncertainty of 0,00000026 volts. The PSL Ohm was also calibrated - actually, it's a 0,1 ohm 4-terminal resistor (Photo), with a value of 0.09999863 ohms, with an uncertainty of 0.00000005 ohms, at exactly 25.00 degrees C. PSL also maintains a primary phase angle standard, good to about 12 millionths of a degree at 50/60 Hz, and a rubidium atomic clock -- the same type that's installed on the GPS satellites. By combining these standards, we can derive almost all other standards, including capacitance (current, voltage, and time); inductance, etc. We use these standards to verify our calibration systems, which in turn are used to calibrate the instruments that we ship to you.
=== A very early power quality monitor ===
While putting together the previous item, I came across a rather blurred photo I took of what must be one of the first power quality monitors - it's in the Technical Museum in Paris, and it clearly monitors both AC voltage and frequency. The frequency meter is especially clever: it's a row of mechanically-resonant iron reeds, each tuned to a slightly different frequency, with a magnetic coil nearby. Whichever one is shaking hardest, that's the frequency! I'm not sure of the date on this instrument (I would guess in the 1890's). Does anyone know of an earlier power quality instrument?
=== Power Quality Teaching Toy - a FREE program ===
Thousands of people have downloaded free copies of my Power Quality Teaching Toy program - it's a program for engineers and engineering students that teaches an intuitive, graphical way of understanding displacement power flow, three-phase sequence vectors, harmonics, voltage dip/sag effects on power supplies, flicker, etc. Download the program. If you have trouble downloading it, that's probably because it is a program, and your network security system may be properly skeptical about downloading executable programs. Send me an e-mail with your postal address, and I'll send it to you on a CD-ROM. Translations are coming: Patxi Pazos of Iberdrola has completed the Spanish translation, and I just have to find time to make the technical adjustments to incorporate his graceful work. German and French will follow shortly, followed (I think) by Italian, Polish, and a couple of other languages. (My apologies to my Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean colleagues: when I wrote this program, I did not allow for double-byte characters, so translations into Asian languages will be difficult.)
=== PSL expands into new building ===
Next week we're moving into our new building (photo) in Alameda, California - an island on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. We've designed our space from the ground up for working on electric power testing and instrumentation, complete with a temperature-regulated calibration lab, four different utility services (120/208, 240 delta, 240/400, and 480 delta), 50 Hz and 60 Hz, an environmental chamber that runs from -60=BAC to +90=BAC, a 6000-volt 5000-amp impulse generator, an enclosed software development area (something our software engineers have wanted for a long time), a training center for our world-wide visitors, and much more. Our communications with you may be disrupted briefly next week while we move - please be patient with us!
=== Power Quality Relay hits reliability benchmark ===
Our low-cost PQ1 Power Quality Relay has reached 10,000,000 unit-hours of in-the-field operation without a single reported failure - not one!   These rugged little sensors detect power line impulses as short as 500 nanoseconds, and voltage sags and swells according to a variety of built-in standards, including SEMI F47 and IEC 61000-4-11. You can buy them anywhere in the world - just visit the PQ1 Power Quality Relay web site. I've recently been especially impressed with industrial equipment in the semiconductor industry that use PQ1's to re-initialize their process after power disturbances. It's a simple way to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars of power conditioning equipment... not bad for a little sensor that costs just US$290.
=== Access to technical papers on power quality ===
Are you a researcher having trouble getting access to technical papers on power quality? Send me an e-mail, and I'll see if PSL can help. For example, we're helping an engineer in Egypt collect technical papers on harmonics and revenue meters. We have a good library here at PSL, and I have lots of friends in the industry who are always willing to help.
=== See you soon! ===
In the last few weeks I've been traveling all over, helping out with power quality issues: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Spain, Phoenix, Boston, etc. Maybe I'll see you next month at PQA in Vancouver, or IEEE Power Engineering Society meeting in San Francisco, or somewhere in else in the world.
Power Standards Lab
New contact information, effective 16 May 2005!
Power Standards Lab
1201 Marina Village Parkway #101
Alameda, CA 94501 USA