Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
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What Causes the Noise in the Sound System? -- To test if it is the source of the noise, you have to disconnect both wires for the relay from the fire alarm panel so the fire alarm system isn't injecting any signal into the microphone cables. Make sure there is no power from the fire alarm control panel going through the fire alarm wire inside the conduit...Read More

What Makes an AC Solenoid Coil Overheat? -- Doing a fire alarm inspection, a technician saw a solenoid on a valve in the kitchen at a church. He removed... Read More

Does a Second Ground Rod Protect Circuits from Lightning? -- For lightning protection, is that second ground rod driven into the earth outside a building any earthly good?Read More

What is an Arc Flash? -- Burning, blinded, deafened, an electrician is thrown across the room; having reached into a live electrical panel, all he did was to drop... Read More

Does it Void the UL Rating to Drill Conduit Holes? -- It sounds like a simple question, but it's a question of practicality, UL rating, and the acceptance by the AHJ. Unless it's a go in all three ways, it's not a good idea to drill conduit holes in equipment boxes...Read More

What is Capacitive Lag? -- A capacitor is defined as -Two Conductors Separated by an Insulator-. Wire is a capacitor. Wire also has resistance, and the power supply -digital transmitter or signal generator- sending a signal through the wire has resistance...Read More

Does Low Voltage mean Power Limited? -- Many times, and from many people in all levels of the power limited community, and not just the fire alarm community), I have heard the words -low voltage- used to mean -power limited-. I know this is...Read More

What is the Difference Between Electricity Flow and Signal or Power Flow? -- Signal flow isn't thought of as the movement of electrons or charges in a single wire - signal flow is thought of the transfer of signals or power along a -pair of wires-, a wave guide, or even transmitted through the air (or outer space) from one place to another. Signal flow is the transfer of forces...Read More

Which Way Does Electricity Flow?-- So... In a wire, negatively charged electrons move, and positively charged atoms... Read More

Why was the Automatic Voltage Regulator Damaged? -- The Automatic Voltage Regulator is an electronic device. As such, it is itself capable of being damaged from transient voltage spikes that come in on the power line. Yes, it is designed to reduce voltage spikes that come in on the power line, but the voltage spikes that it's designed to correct are relatively long. Lightning strikes or work on the outside power lines can induce voltage spikes that are far shorter...Read More

What is a Flyback Diode? -- Someone Thinks the Flyback Diode is Important. Manufacturers all over the world spend good money installing these diodes, they must think they're ... Read More

What is an Induction or Switching Power Supply Transformer? -- In the United States they're called Flyback Transformers; in other countries they're called Line Output Transformers (LOPT). Even automobile ignition coils use... Read More

Is Conduit Ground Good Enough for Electronics? -- The National Electrical Code (NEC) is concerned with fire safety and with electrical safety. The electronic technician is concerned with those issues, but the electronic technician is also concerned with signal transmission ...Read More

Shouldn't the Ground Rods be the Same Resistance? -- The grounding-rods themselves are large electrical conductors. The resistance of each rod, from one end to the other is essentially zero ohms. For all practical purposes, your ohmmeter will say zero ohms for each rod. They are connected using a large diameter braided copper cable, which your meter will also show as zero ohms...Read More

How Does a Relay Work? -- They're electrical switches; like a light switch on the wall, a relay turns on or off the electricity. The difference between a light switch on the...Read More

How Do I Use a Multimeter? -- A multimeter doesn't -do- anything; a multimeter shows you what is happening. But to use a multimeter correctly, you first have to know what it does. -Multi- means many, and -meter- is an indicator - it shows you something. Overall, a multi-meter shows you many things. A multimeter, though, can only show you one thing at a time...Read More

How Long does a Sealed Lead/Acid Battery Last? -- The lifetime of a battery is affected by the remaining shelf life, its gradual loss of capacity, the temperature that the battery is stored at and used at, and the actual current used from the battery. Other less common factors are also involved, so the Amp/Hour Rating on a battery is not a hard and precise science...Read More

What Does E=IR Really Mean? -- If it isn't just a word, and it isn't really something to be memorized in order to pass a test, what do the letters in Ohm's Law really mean?... Read More

What is "Power Limited?" -- Whether it's a transformer, or it's a power supply of any type, it requires a stamp from a testing laboratory like UL, ULC, CE, FM, CCC, or other testing laboratory. The stamp means that the testing laboratory has tested it, found it to be safe, and put it on their...Read More

What's the Purpose of the Zener Diodes? -- The circuit is just about the same as a Conventional Class B fire alarm circuit. The "control box" it's connected to looks like it has explosion detection devices also connected to it, and when explosion is detected, the control box closes a valve for people safety as well as property safety and protection...Read More

What are Pull-Up or Pull-Down Resistors? -- Pull-up or Pull-down resistors are resistors whose job it is to pull and Integrated Circuit's (IC) input voltage either up to the power supply voltage, or down to circuit ground. The IC's input is usually high resistance; high enough that the moderate resistance on the Pull-up or Pull-down resistor acts like a short to the power supply (Pull-up resistor) or a short to circuit ground (Pull-down resistor)...Read More

Recording a Message in a Place-of-Refuge or in an Elevator -- You've installed a message box in the place-of-refuge or in the elevator, and now you have to use your voice to record the emergency message. The message is to make sure that someone having a real emergency . . .Read More

Isn't Electricity Power of AC or DC Volts and Amps? -- The term "Electricity" was in use well before the discovery that atoms aren't the smallest particle. In other words, the term "Electricity" was used before the electron was discovered to be only a part of an atom...Read More

How is a PCB with Mixed Lead Components Assembled? -- Long ago, before the Printed Circuit Board was invented, the original soldering technique consisted of hand soldering... Read More

Can you please explain how to connect the Flyback Diode to an Alternator? -- A flyback diode isn't a diode that is especially made for use in a flyback situation; it's an ordinary diode that is used to prevent the voltage surge created... Read More

Do Electrons Move or Charges Move? -- I am teaching 4th graders. Everything in their materials show electricity flowing out the negative terminal of D-cells, through components such as wires, bulbs, motors and back into the positive terminal. My school district, formerly provided us with an answer key showing a similar circuit but had electricity flowing in the opposite direction. I just watched...Read More

How Can I be Better in My Field? -- In any field of profession, whether a person can be "better" or not doesn't really depend on which books are best -over time that will change- or which school one goes to -most learning occurs after schooling-, but how a person does will depend on a person's -Attitude-...Read More

What is 24 VDC Filtered, Regulated, and Peak Voltage? -- A power supply doesn't supply power - a power supply converts power. This is true of a DC power supply, and this is true of the utility power supplying power to the power supply. At the utility power generating station, they take the power that has been converted to steam, the power that has come from a dam across a river, the power that comes from wind, and then turn generators, creating the utility power. The power they generate...Read More

The RS585 Network Keeps Having Communication Errors -- We have a weighting scale machine connected to a CPU using an RS485 Network. After time, when we make a patch of glue, one or two of these scales show many communication errors. We have changed... Read More

How do You Re-Surface Contacts? -- Most of the contact surfaces I've worked with are either a solid material, like solid copper, solid copper alloy, or solid silver, or else they are plated, like copper plated with gold, copper plated with nickel alloy, or copper plated with silver. The plating, if used, is never really thick and can be scratched down to the sub-material if a hard substance like a file or screwdriver is used. Because...Read More

Does Replacing an Overheated Transformer Make the Power Supply Bad? -- A transformer is made up of two coils of wire. The primary side and the secondary side. There are no other electrical components inside a transformer. The only way a coil of wire can get hot is that too much electrical current passes through the wires. Once in a great while, the windings inside the transformer can short out causing too much current to flow through the other wires, but that kind of internal short would probably burn out the fuse, or blow the circuit breaker. The original problem that caused...Read More

What is a Short on a Fire Alarm System? -- For all electrical circuits, a short is a short-cut that the electricity is jumping across. Usually, a short is thought of as one wire touching another wire. The short accidently connects the wires together so electricity flows freely from one wire to the other. When the electricity flows freely from one wire to the other, the electricity doesn't... Read More

How Does One Connect RS232? -- So two pieces of equipment can send data to each other, RS232 carries the data. When connecting the equipment using RS232, there's guessing the RS232 is wired correctly, and then there's knowing ... Read More

Wiring - Is It Power Limited or Non-Power Limited? -- It's the power supply, not the wiring, which determines whether it is a Class... Read More

What is an RS485 Communication Network? -- RS485 is a two wire data communication system where both wires are considered the carrier of the signals. As such, there is no ground/return. Two, three, four, up to dozens of devices ...Read More

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