what is electromagnetismSince for some reason I am still in an electrical mood today, let’s keep moving forward with the next step in our learning about motor theory. Yesterday, yes, yesterday, a post went up on the first step of this subject – magnets. Magnets set the foundation for how motors work, the why.

More of the why is coming in this post on electromagnetism. All of this is weird, science fiction stuff but it is also so awesome to know about. These magnetic lines and fields are flowing all around us, emanating from most things. Your phone being held up against your head, yikes.

Pieces of electrical equipment such as motors and generators, transformers and alternators, use magnetic electrical circuits in order to operate. Man somehow figured out that he can control this magnetism with his own hands, he can produce or control the magnetizing force.

We can produce a magnetizing force through an electrical current passing through a magnetic coil, like iron.

At the end, we should all be way more familiar with some basic principles of electromagnetism, how a magnetic field can be created using a coil of wire, and how to determine the direction of a magnetic field.

With that, we are off, rolling like a couple of freight trains. Click the button to keep reading. Read more

Magnets – Fields, Poles, Turning Motors

what is a magnetHave you ever looked at a piece of equipment and wondered how it was rotating? Such as, what is making that fan turn? Most likely a motor of some sort is making that equipment or machinery turn, somewhere. A motor could be connected directly, called a direct drive, to the machinery. Or, it can be connected with maybe a sheave and belt arrangement. Yeah?

But what makes those motors turn? This post is going to go over not how motors work, but actually, physically what makes them turn or rotate in the first place.

A motor turns basically because of magnets and fields, and the arrangement of poles, and this is what I’d like to go over. I’m thinking this post on magnets will make up like a larger piece of motor theory. So motor theory will be the large topic, and magnets will be a sub-topic. And magnets are the root of motor motion so is also where we should start.

Hopefully, when you are at the bottom of this page, you will know properties of magnets and also some magnetism principles.

If you were to stop and look around on a busy corner, and truly grasp what was in front of you, you’d see so many motors in action. From vehicles, to fans, the coffee grinder motor at Starbucks has a motor with magnets that must follow the same principles as every other. An infinite number of pieces of electrical equipment operate because of like the collection of these rules and laws – that could be called magnetism.

All motors and power generating “motors”, run on magnetism. You ready? Read more

Parallel Circuits Explained

what is a parallel circuitYes sir, taking another shot at keeping on with the basic electrical training. A few weeks ago we started this section with series circuits and I mentioned that we’d eventually put a post up about parallel circuits. This is it baby.

Hopefully when you get to the bottom of the page, you will be able to:

  • Recognize parallel circuits.
  • Be able to define what a parallel circuit is.
  • Be able to solve for values in parallel circuits.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both parallel circuits and series circuits. We are not going to get into that here but didn’t want you getting confused between the two already. At some point after this post, probably in another 2 months ha ha, we will go over the last type of circuit that I don’t really know about, a combination of the two, a series-parallel circuit.

Parallel circuits have unique characteristics. Because of them, parallel circuits are the most widely used type of circuit. Power distribution in large cities is sometimes accomplished through parallel circuits, where feeder lines that deliver the power are connected in parallel to each other. Read more

Converting a T-12 Light Fixture to T-8

difference between a t-12 and t-8 light bulb

Look at the size difference between the T-12 & T-8 bulbs. Sharpie for comparison.

This post is going to go over how to convert a T-12 fluorescent light fixture to T-8. As you may already know, T-12 fluorescent light bulbs are a thing of the past. It’s important that as either a building engineer or even a homeowner that you understand how to modify an existing light fixture.

Hopefully by the end of this pic heavy post you’ll know what you’re looking for when you open up a light fixture, then the steps to replace the ballast and bulbs, and then how to put it back together.

Every fluorescent light fixture is different and it would be impossible to have a separate article for each type. Use the engineering side of your brain if your fixture is different and make some tiny changes to the procedure.

As always, safety is the number one priority. You might open up the light fixture, see all the wires, and immediately think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Trust me, converting a light fixture from T-12 to T-8 is relatively simple. Think of it like a puzzle you have to solve.

If you do attempt to tackle this project, make sure all electricity to the light fixture is off. I’m sure I’ll mention it again as we go but your safety is completely dependent upon you.

The reason you might want to know how to convert a light fixture over from a T-12 type ballast and bulbs to the T-8 type is because T-12’s are being phased out and virtually outlawed. The T-12 bulbs consume more energy when illuminated, and also they are larger physically which means it takes more resources to make them AND then dispose of them.

Another bonus is that going from a T-12 size bulb to a T-8 size does not require you to change out the light sockets, or tombstones, as they’re known in the trade.

So, if you think this is a project you can do, and building engineers you should, keep reading to find out the basic steps for conversion. If I had to rate the difficulty of this project, I’d put it in the moderate category. You want to have at least a basic handle on electricity and wiring. Read more

What is a Series Circuit?

series circuitsIn the last post, about electricity, or first post in the fundamentals of electricity, we laid the foundation. We started with the basics. Already we are jumping into some heady stuff – series circuits.

There are different kinds of electrical circuits – series, parallel, and series-parallel. Later we’ll cover the last two, or at least parallel (I am just now learning about series-parallel.) The two circuits you must have a handle on are series and parallel.

In each type of circuit there are rules that dictate the operation. For you to be able to later troubleshoot an electrical issue, or perform a calculation say trying to figure out total current, you need to understand the differences between the circuits.

You ready? Read more

Electrical Fundamentals Module #1 – The Groundwork

basic electricity

From askpins.com

You’ve probably been wondering when we were going to finally switch it up a little, get away from that nasty steam and HVAC stuff. We’ll get back to it soon enough as those are both huge parts of building engineering. Everyone has their strengths and electricity is not one of mine lol.

I discovered this electrical fundamentals book that lays out the basics first and then eventually gets into circuits, motors, and controls and more.

This first post for the fundamentals of electricity is going to set up our foundation of electrical terms,
definitions, and concepts. Having a good handle on these will only help us all later on when we get into
things like motor or circuit troubleshooting (really one of my weak points.)

Later we will lay out some basic definitions of electrical terms like voltage and resistance but first let’s
discuss what an electrical charge is. Read more

Fluke Multimeter Symbols

fluke multimeter symbols chart

The dial choices on a Fluke 115.

A cool thing about using wordpress (the platform that powers this site,) is that it shows you at a glance on your dashboard, some of the search terms people have used in the last couple days to get to your site.  I have noticed one that semi-regularly keeps popping up on there is “fluke multimeter symbols.”

As of now, I had nothing up about it.  I do have a couple different things about Fluke though so the Googs saw that and thought, oh, his site is about Fluke.  Alas, it is not.  That is only 1 of about 68 ways I try to monetize this place.

Anyways, I brought the user’s manual home from work for my meter.  I was going to try and re-create the symbols in Paint or something.  Yeah, no.  Then I tried to take a picture with 2 cameras, no?  Okay whatever.  Finally, and what I should have frickin’ done in the first place, I went to their site and found the online manual for my meter, the 115 in this case. Read more

How to use a multimeter – Voltage

how to use a multimeter

Checking voltage on an outlet.

Using a multimeter can be a bit scary right?  If you put your test probes there, will you get the proper reading?  Might you get shocked?  The post below is supposed to help out with using a multimeter, or a voltmeter as some call it, to measure voltage.

Resistance and current will be addressed later, this one hopefully is strictly for measuring voltage.  As we mentioned before, voltage is the driving force behind the current.  Without voltage, our little electron friends don’t move.

Why it’s important to know how to use a multimeter

For one, you’re a person, don’t you want to know how to use one?  Also, you may have an issue come up at home or work that you need to solve.  Maybe it’s an outlet at home that all of a sudden doesn’t seem to work.  Maybe it is the all important coffee maker at work that has no power.

Whatever it is, especially the frickin’ coffee, you have to solve it.  With meters being the scary bastards that they are, you have come to the right place.  First though… Read more

what is electricity

Electricity – basics like voltage & current, some dude named Ohm

basic electricity

We called electricians Sparky in the Navy.

I bet you just love me hopping around from topic to topic don’t you?  Especially when it comes to our training.  So far we have done pumps, some engineering fundamentals, and some building engineering fundamentals like systems you can expect to see.

We are going to sort of continue down the basics of engineering path and today define some simple electrical stuff – terms like voltage, current, and resistance.  And then we will briefly get into this crazy cat named Ohm who so lovingly gave us Ohm’s Law.  Why can’t I have a law named after me?  Larsen’s Law.  It says the same thing as Ohm’s Law just in a cooler way. Read more

How to Change a Ballast

how to change a ballast

Execution time old ballast.

Have a light blinking in your home? Does it stay on for a few minutes, turn off, then come back on, over and over? You probably have a failed ballast. Sure it can be intimidating but read this article and by the end you’ll be a pro.

I originally had this article up over at ezinearticles, it was my most popular one over there.  Near the bottom of every article an author is allowed to have a resource box – one where I can write “click here to check out my site.”  Since this site is new, I wanted to change my resource box on the how to change a ballast article to link to here, buildingengineertraining.com.

Over the past like 3 days, they have rejected it 4x.  I got this right?  Ezine won’t let me link back from my own article that I gave to them?  Um, okay.  I shall just take it away then and have it up on my site?  Hello? Read more