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Terry Mackenzie-hoy

Terry Mackenzie-hoy

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

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... 

Some opportunities

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     27th April 2018 An unusual quiz: you are asked a set of questions which are largely hypothetical but, nevertheless, interesting. The questions are (as far as I remember) as follows: Would you chose to be (a) invisible (b) be able to predict the future (c) be able to read a person's mind but only briefly (d) be... 

Electronic loneliness: the nature of communication

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     20th April 2018 I claim that communication is only possible between two systems which have different information content. The information content of a system is the probability that it will receive a message it has never received before. Put more simply, if my information content is 100%, then I know everything... 

Goodbye to copper

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     13th April 2018 Copper, the metal, has been around for a very long time. The Copper Age predates the Bronze and Iron ages and ran from about 4500 BC to 3500 BC. Copper has stuck with us – wooden ships were sheathed in copper and the domes of buildings were made from copper – it does not corrode. The Statue of... 

Cattle class

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     6th April 2018 I was in Uganda. Lovely people, beautiful scenery, traffic nightmare, airport nightmare. Entebbe International Airport is 40 km from the capital, Kampala. It takes two hours to travel from Entebbe to Kampala. Departing, your baggage is X-rayed three times and you are metal-detected three times.... 

Driverless cars and robots

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     30th March 2018 Let us imagine that two robots, Og and Box, are playing chess against each other. To make sure the game progresses, Og is allowed to make a move every seven seconds. Box is allowed to move every eight seconds. At the fifty-sixth move, there is an impasse, since both are allowed to move. Who moves... 

No visible horizon

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     23rd March 2018 The title of this column is that of a book written by Joshua Cooper Ramo, which is about flying aerobatics. As you read on, you will find that aerobatics have little to do with this column. But I like the phrase 'no visible horizon', since, I think, it accurately represents the electronic future... 

Engineering design that’s deplorable

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     16th March 2018 My experience with my Mercedes-Benz C180 has been an engineering delight. The driving and ride and interior are a matter for discussion in a motoring magazine – I am talking about engineering, bru. Look at the following: you are driving along and a dog runs in front of the car. In many  cars, you... 

New Cabinet appointments

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     9th March 2018 When I worked for State-owned power utility Eskom, the top position went to either to engineer or an accountant, often turn by turn. When the engineer was in charge, the system was solid and reliable and we had all the smart and cool stuff we needed. When the accountants were in charge, the... 

Why the Koeberg nuclear power station was built

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     2nd March 2018 A lot of people are very much against South Africa building another nuclear power station. Many hope that the first project that President Cyril Ramaphosa throws under the bus will be a new nuclear power station. It is a sensitive topic. 

Millions, gigabytes and gigawatts

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     23rd February 2018 All the really frightening climate change graphs have the vertical scale in tenths of a degree. The scale is from –0.6 oC to 0.8 oC (about 1.4 oC). On the horizontal axis, the time is given as from 1880 to 2018, a period of 138 years. We know that, routinely, temperatures can change from, say, 12... 

Unlikely electrical devices

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     16th February 2018 Often, a layperson comes up with an idea that is totally not going to work and that sounds as if it will work. Then we electrical engineers have a problem since, no matter what you (we qualified engineers with 34 years experience) say to the layperson, the layperson (LP) produces increasingly... 

Western Cape water crisis

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     9th February 2018 I think that living by the sea and near Table Mountain has an effect on the local population of Cape Town. Do note that I was brought up in the then Transvaal and, thus, I was told how intelligent the Capetonians were; how civilised and how caring, compared with us carpet baggers who lived on the... 

Getting more efficient

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     2nd February 2018 About four years ago, I launched a project called the 400 W house. The house I proposed would use no more than an average of 400 W of electricity an hour over a 24 hour period. I specified a fridge that would use 180 W, a TV at 90 W, an induction cooker/hob at 900 W and an induction water heater... 

Back from the dead 

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     26th January 2018 Of late, I have been telling various people about what it is like to be a DNA engineer – where, before you qualify or finish school, it is in your blood. I do not mean that the young  child built things out of stuff, thus indicating engineering traits; I mean that the child, from young, had... 

German fascination with SA wind power

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     19th January 2018 Germans seem to be very interested in wind power generation in South Africa. Don't know why. First we had German-born Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz running the Energy Centre at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In this position, he proposed a power generation model that was... 

Smoke and mirrors

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     15th December 2017 In September 2016, a '50-year-event' storm occurred in South Australia. Power system voltage transients caused nine wind farms to shut down, and two large wind farms – the Hornsdale wind farm and the Snowtown wind farm – reduced output by  86 MW and 106 MW respectively in the space of one second.... 

Phase angles

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     8th December 2017 I was in a courtroom the other day and the public prosecutor was asking questions . Unfortunately they were not engineering questions and I am an engineer. Thus, I did not understand the questions or why they were being asked. As a true engineer, I would say, "Ah, if you mean . . .", and I would... 

What should we ban?

By: Terry Mackenzie-hoy     1st December 2017 Edgar Allen Poe wrote that he took drugs, since "it has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom”. Chuck Palahniuk wrote :“I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some... 

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