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Terry Mackenzie-hoy

Terry Mackenzie-hoy

Mackenzie-Hoy is a consulting acoustics and electrical engineer – machoy@iafrica.com

Motorised pogo sticks

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     15th February 2019 During World War 2, it was very important that signals from the various governments involved in the war to the various armies, navies and air forces be kept secret. Signals, or messages, had to be in code or cipher to make them difficult for the opposition to read. A 'code' and a 'cipher' are not... 

Smart grids

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     8th February 2019 An Internet definition of a smart grid is: "An electricity network based on digital technology that is used to supply electricity to consumers via two-way digital communication. This system allows for monitoring, analysis, control and communication within the supply chain to help improve... 

The perfect public address system

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     1st February 2019 In September 2108, Patricia de Lille gave a speech in the Cape Town City Hall as part of the opening of a revamped hall, which project had taken nine months. Despite the hall having a reverberation time of 2.3 seconds, her speech was clear, understandable and free from distortion. The reason for... 

Beta testing

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     25th January 2019 Recently, we (the okes in the office an' me) bought two of a device that is supposed to repel insects. Well, not only. The box (as seen on TV) has a statement that it is an "ultrasonic pest repeller" and will repel "rats, roaches, flies, spiders, mice, fleas, ants and mosquitoes".  The devices is... 

Cash flow

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     18th January 2019 In the cartoon the two guys are talking. One says, I have a design problem. The other guy says, there are no problems, only challenges. One such challenge in any consulting engineering business is cash flow. All clients of consulting engineers know that, if they go to the supermarket, they have... 

Working smarter 

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     14th December 2018 As I become older, I regret that there are some inventions, electrical and otherwise, which will not be created in my life time. It would be a tragedy if I did not share the invention ideas with you in the hope that some young dynamo would take up the baton. Starting simple. Crying children are... 

Fusion reactors: Tokamak

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     7th December 2018 In 'nuclear fission', the nucleus of an atom breaks up into two lighter nuclei. Okay. I will say that again. You get some atoms which are heavier than others, right? Like lead is heavier than iron (that's why you get more for it at the scrapyard). So uranium is a heavy atom. If you fire a small... 

Killing the professions

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     30th November 2018 I am a qualified electrical engineer who holds a university degree and is registered as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). I am a member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. I have a consulting practice and we offer acoustics and... 

Redoubling Your Effort

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     23rd November 2018 The definition of 'fanaticism' is when you redouble your effort when your aim is forgotten. And in that world of climate change, that area of cosy illusions and comforting half truths, this has finally occurred. The climate believers think that carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing the world to heat... 

A small town in Germany

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     16th November 2018 "Come on, Terence, " said Harry, "don't you know about the Hannover Fair ?" "In Hannover, Germany?" I said. "Exactly," he answered. 

My Mini Budget speech

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     9th November 2018 I read an article that summed up the points made in the speech of our latest Finance Minister, Tito Mobweni. It is a document that is full of this new unit of currency, the 'bn'. Forgive me, I am guessing here but the bn has been created to save paper, I think. Well, not really.  Before, one... 

Electric healing

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     2nd November 2018 Many years ago, I had a conversation with a very nice physiotherapist.  The subject got onto electrotherapy, the curing of muscular aliments by the application of electricity. She explained to me that there were two types of current: galvanic and faradic. She explained that these had different... 

Potential issues with charging electric vehicles

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     26th October 2018 All the big automotive manufactures are making electric vehicles (EV). Why? I mean that, right now, internal combustion (IC) engines, gearboxes, drive systems, instrumentation . . . the whole lot . . . are pretty much sorted for the conventional cars (let us call them IC cars), so why retool for... 

Electric cars one more time

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     19th October 2018 Audi recently flighted a number of advertisements about its new all-electric car. This is due in 2019 and, if my job was to be an electrical reviewer, I might well go on from there, citing charge times, range, power performance and how to jump-start it if the battery is flat. But I am not going... 

The elephant in the room

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     12th October 2018 From Wikipedia: "The expression 'the elephant in the room' defines a situation which refers to a question, problem, solution or controversial issue which is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment... 

Adventures on the Eskom system – Part 4

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     5th October 2018 In my last column on the Eskom integrated power system, I explained that I worked for Eskom as the senior engineer for operations in the Eastern Cape for nearly two years. My region, the Eastern Cape region, included Port Elizabeth. Eastern Cape Control reported to me and all I had to do was to... 

Yet more adventures on the Eskom system

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     28th September 2018 In my last column on the Eskom integrated power system, I explained that I worked for the State-owned power utility as the senior engineer for operations in the Eastern Cape for nearly two years. The backbone of the national grid was the 400 kV powerline system and the 220 kV powerline system.... 

Recorded music

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     21st September 2018 From the first voice and music recordings of the 1800s, nothing much changed in the early part of the 1900s. Wind-up gramophones with paper mache cones were used for the reproduction of music that was stored on metal or wax discs. There was no electronic amplification – the recording was done by... 

Adventures on the interconnected electricity system

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     14th September 2018 In my last column on the Eskom intergrated power system, I explained that I worked for electricity utility as the senior engineer for operations in the Eastern Cape for just under two years. The backbone of the national grid was the 400 kV powerline system and the 220 kV powerline system, which... 

A reflection on latest IRP iteration

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     7th September 2018 The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is a government plan that supposedly sets out  the future development of the South African electricity generation system. In theory, government passes the plan around for comment by industry and municipalities and everybody agrees, after which government policy... 

Adventures on the interconnected power system

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     31st August 2018   I worked for State-owned power utility Eskom as the senior engineer for operations in the Eastern Cape for just under two years. It was a fabulous job. I reported to the chief engineer, who, in turn, reported to the regional manager. But both the chief engineer and I had a reporting... 

Electric cars: a real good thing?

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     24th August 2018 When I was young, our family would go to the Natal South Coast on holiday. The roads were not great; so, we would have to stay overnight halfway to Durban. At holiday times, there was a lot of traffic and sometimes the going was slow. Recently, Gregg and I went up the garden route on a project.... 

Riots and strikes

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     17th August 2018 We are in an era of strikes and riots. Workers at State-owned power utility Eskom have been on strike for weeks and have just settled, the taxi drives are on strike, the public workers union are threatening a strike, platinum workers are on strike, and so on. All strikes happen with the usual... 

Playing with mental clarity

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     10th August 2018 There is a serious disconnect between engineers and production idea people.  Production idea people want to innovate. They want a new thing every year. They do not want improvements, they want change – out of the box! Dynamic! Some of these ideas are good but few are ground-breaking. What is... 

Professional fees

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     3rd August 2018 You can get advice from a fairly good consulting engineer at a rate of about $700 for an eight-hour day which is near enough to R1 200 an hour. This would be a person who is registered as a professional engineer and has at least 20 years' experience. The rates that individuals and consulting... 

Engineering gut feel

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     27th July 2018 So, there I was at a site meeting. As acoustics engineers, we had designed a roof build-up for the building which was under construction; firstly, to comply with thermal insulation requirements and, secondly, to comply with sound insulation requirements. We had been called to the site meeting to... 

The elephant in the substation

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     20th July 2018 Everybody knows that renewable energy is great for us all: it is free, it does not pollute, it keeps big bad Eskom on its toes and it  represents huge investments in South Africa. What is there not to love? The bids for various wind power farms (this is the amount for which Eskom has to buy power... 

The war is over

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     13th July 2018 Alan Campbell mentioned to me that, since this column is titled Electrically Speaking, it really should be about electricity. Good point. Well, water is normally supplied by pumps, and pumps work on electricity. So, joining the dots, this column is about water. Or more specifically the recent... 

People say . . .

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     6th July 2018 In the Santam television advert, the ever-so-twee sweet likkel girl says that the first person to live to 200 has already been born. Well, she would know, wouldn't she? These sort of statements are whipped out by the media in order to shock and amaze – almost so that we can say how clever we... 

Unbundling Eskom

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     29th June 2018 It should be evident to everybody that State-owned electricity utility Eskom is in the following condition: (a) The road transport coal supply contractors have for years been ripping off the system – the trucks get loaded with good-quality coal, which is driven to an export depot. They then pick... 

Operation North Pole II

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     22nd June 2018 In last week's column, I told of Abwehr officer (German intelligence officer) Herman Giskes, head of Abwehr Section IIIF, who set his mind to capturing British agents who were either dropped by parachute into Holland or landed by boat. This was his plan: the Abwehr should concentrate on trying to... 

Operation North Pole

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     15th June 2018 Once upon a time, I tell the youth, there was a world war called World War II. Germany and Italy were fighting the UK, France and the US. The Germans invaded and occupied France, Holland, Belgium and Norway. The British decided to disrupt the German occupation of France and Holland by parachuting... 

Honest fee proposal

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     8th June 2018 I thought what it would be like to write a fee proposal in which I was honest about the services we will offer in a fee proposal for a contract. Here it is: Dear Client, 

Error messages and biometrics

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     1st June 2018 I thought I would write about error messages but it isnot a long enough topic for a whole column, so, in the later part of this column, I will also write about biometric identification. Error messages are the information that you are given, unusually on a screen, when you enter some data that is... 

The ‘going to the moon’ conspiracy

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     25th May 2018 One of the problems with the 'common man' is that he is really very stupid. Such persons not only do not know but do not know that they do not know. I recently heard somebody discussing the bible. They explained to the dinner guests that some passage "used to be in the bible" but 'they' (some... 

Really back in the day

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     18th May 2018 When I was in first year at the University of the Witwatersrand, in 1972, there were two computers. One was called IBM 360 West and the other IBM 360 East. West was for us students, East was for staff. Each of the computers was housed in an air-conditioned building (unusual at the time – we... 

Wheel of industrial safety has turned too far

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     11th May 2018 There is no hotter topic than safety matters on mines and industrial plants. It has become a religion. Like all religions, it causes some unintended problems. When I was young, I worked for a number of years on various mines and industrial plants. (I did this to get money to pay my university... 

Wither fundamental knowledge?

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     4th May 2018 I was drinking at the bar Elsabe used to call A Touch of Sadness. I was with an architect and Pierre F, a brilliant French fine artist and great conversationalist. Oh, yes, he has a doctorate in oceanography and used to work for the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The... 

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