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Becoming an Engineer.

Building In Earthquake Country? Why Steel Is A Preferred Construction Material

Posted by on Aug 19, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Building In Earthquake Country? Why Steel Is A Preferred Construction Material

If your construction project is anywhere along the west coast of the United States, then you are in earthquake country. Not only do you have to worry about load stress and the other variables that keep a building standing, you must consider the stress caused by the sudden movements of an earthquake. Steel metal fabrication has proven to be the most effective material for earthquake-proofing structures because of its ductility and malleability. What is Ductility? Ductility is the ability of a solid material to deform when under tension without breaking. In materials science, this is one form of plasticity. This is what allows steel I-bars to bend in the wind without breaking, or those same I-bars to handle the sudden twisting and shaking of an earthquake. What is Malleability? Malleability is another form of plasticity. This allows a material to deform when compressed, also without breaking. Structural steel may be formed into many shapes. It can be cast into I-bars meant to support skyscrapers and bridges or rolled into thin sheets, destined for use in duct systems or even decorative cladding, a roofing material. What is Steel? Steel is an alloy, made primarily of iron and carbon. The carbon acts as a strengthening agent, making steel much stronger than forged iron. Steel is either smelted in a Basic Oxygen Furnace, or BOF, or in an Electric Arc Furnace, or EAF. Structural steel is normally forged in the EAF furnace. After melting, the liquid steel is formed into beam blanks, cooled, reheated and then pressed into shape using giant rollers. The huge pieces are cut into smaller lengths that can be more easily shipped, then cooled.  Examples of structural steel items are I-beams, structural channels, or C-beams, angle cross sections, plates and joists.   How Steel is Used to Help Earthquake-Proof a Structure Reinforces Concrete to Absorb Stress Rebar is a form of steel that strengthens concrete. Thick reinforced steel rods are woven into a framework that acts as a skeleton for the poured concrete. Concrete on its own supports weight quite nicely, but it doesn’t handle side to side motion well. On bridges, even the day to day movement from traffic can cause un-reinforced concrete to crumble and fail. The same goes for buildings with concrete walls and/or substructures. Rebar helps absorb the structural stress of an earthquake. Makes Design Elements for Earthquake-Proof Structures Earthquake-proofing larger buildings, including skyscrapers, involves using special structures to absorb movement stress. Steel is used to manufacture many of these items. Diaphragms are the individual horizontal structures of a building. Each storey has a roof and a floor, which makes up one diaphragm. They are stacked on top of each other as the building progresses. In an earthquake-proof building, each diaphragm has its own deck, with each deck having its own horizontal reinforcement. The decks also receive vertical structural support through the connections to the building frame. Think of a building as a layer cake. Each layer is a diaphragm. The frosting in between the layers holds them in place. The frosting around the outside of the cake connects with the frosting between the layers, keeping the cake together. Trusses are also made of reinforced steel. These structures are placed at a diagonal on each deck, reinforcing the rectangular frame. To use the cake...

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How To Properly Clean An Oil Immersion Lens Used In A Microscope

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Properly Clean An Oil Immersion Lens Used In A Microscope

Oil immersion lenses are used in microscopy due to providing enhanced resolution of images. Immersion oil lenses are designed to be dipped into the oil so a thin film covers the glass. While this technique offers superior viewing of a specimen, it complicates the lens maintenance process and can cause significant damage to both optical and non-optical surfaces on the microscope if improperly handled. Below is how you can thoroughly and carefully clean an oil immersion lens: Tools and materials needed Lens tissues – always use high-quality lens cleaning tissues designed for use with precision optics. Never use facial or toilet tissue to clean a lens; despite their soft feel, these tissues contain tiny abrasive particles that can damage an oil immersion lens. Pure cotton cloths can be used as long as there are no traces of laundry detergent or other contaminants in the fibers. Lens blower – there are dedicated lens blowers available, but an ear bulb syringe works well as does gentle compressed air. However, be careful using compressed air so that no contaminants are ejected from the air flow such as compressor oil or fine abrasive particles. Canned air also should not be used due to its tendency to emerge from the can as a super-cooled liquid; this can result in damage to the glass. Commercial lens cleaning solution – this product contains distilled water as well as a few other chemicals such as alcohol in a carefully mixed formula. Do not apply common household cleaners such as glass spray or ammonia to the lens, though pure distilled water is always safe to use. Loupe magnifier – this enables you to see the lens surface clearly so you can inspect it for cracks, chips or other damage. Pencil Paper Step-by-step procedure 1. Prepare your workspace – before beginning, you will need to set-up an appropriate workstation for the work. Be sure your station includes an uncluttered, well-lit, flat desk. Clean off dust or other loose debris that might adhere to your lenses, and shut off fans or other sources of drafts. 2. Inspect the lens – after removing the lens from its mount, carefully inspect it with the loupe magnifier. Draw a simple diagram noting the locations of chips, cracks, pitting, distortion or any other anomalies. If you see any damage, then contact an optical supplier to see if it is still usable in its current condition or if the lens will need replacing. 3. Remove the immersion oil – begin cleaning the lens by placing a clean tissue across the surface of the lens and allowing it to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Replace the tissue as soon as it begins to show signs of filling with oil; repeat this process until the bulk of the oil is removed. 4. Saturate the lens with cleaner – using your solution, saturate the lens so that it is completely covered. Again, place clean tissues on top of the lens to remove the solution and traces of oil, but do not drag the tissue across the lens. Repeat the process of saturating the lens and removing oil with clean tissues until you can no longer see any visible oil. 5. Wipe the lens carefully in a circular motion – after removing the oil, roll up...

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The Truth Behind Eight Big Myths Of Geothermal Heating

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Truth Behind Eight Big Myths Of Geothermal Heating

As an increasing number of companies make the transition to more eco-friendly operations, even things like the building’s HVAC system need to be considered. If you’re looking for an effective commercial heating system for your building that will help you reduce your environmental footprint, geothermal heating is a great option. Unfortunately, many people overlook these systems due to myths about their operation. Here’s a look at several of the most common myths about geothermal heating and the real facts behind them. Myth: Geothermal systems aren’t renewable because they require electricity. Truth: Geothermal heat systems are not heavily dependent on electricity to function. These units only draw minimal electricity to transfer significant amounts of heat or cooling air from the soil to the building. Myth: You Need a Lot of Space for geothermal HVAC systems. Truth: The geothermal systems that take up large amounts of space use horizontally-installed loops under the surface of the soil. If you don’t have a lot of property for your geothermal system installation, you can opt for a vertical installation instead. You may also be able to utilize an aquifer on the property instead, placing the loop beneath the aquifer, reducing the demand on your property significantly. Myth: Geothermal pumps make too much noise. Truth: Most geothermal systems make little, if any, noise. There’s no outside equipment to run and disturb your neighbors or disrupt your outdoor space. In fact, you likely won’t even know it is running most of the time. Myth: Geothermal systems don’t last long Truth: An earth loop geothermal system will likely last for many years, because the heat exchanger is installed indoors, so it isn’t exposed to the elements. And, the loop is protected beneath the soil’s surface, so it doesn’t suffer from exposure damage. The most common maintenance need for these systems would be a new heat exchanger, which is not only quick and easy to replace, but also affordable. Myth: Geothermal systems are only for heat. Truth: Although they gained their initial popularity as a heating system, geothermal heat pumps are equally effective at distributing cool air. In fact, you can even install a heat system that functions as both your heating and cooling system, but you might want to have a backup heat system if you are in an area where temperatures approach freezing in the winter. Myth: Geothermal systems require you to put refrigerant lines underground, which could be dangerous to the environment if they burst. Truth: Most geothermal heat systems rely on water in the loops, not refrigerant. This makes them completely harmless to the environment if a line should break. Myth: Geothermal systems use a ton of water. Truth: The original geothermal heating systems used to pump water through the system and then discharge that water as waste. As a result, they developed this reputation for wasting excessive amounts of water. The newer geothermal heating systems don’t actually consume any water. In fact, if you use an aquifer to exchange heat, the water that the system uses will be returned directly to that same aquifer in a complete cycle. Myth: Geothermal heat systems are simply too expensive. Truth: There are some incentive programs and tax credits that you can explore to help ease the initial financial burden of setting up a geothermal heat system....

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Can You 3D Print Wiring For A 3D Printed House?

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If recent news stories have piqued your interest in constructing a 3D printed house, you may be wondering about what must happen after the 3D printing itself has taken place. While these houses can be constructed at a very low cost — as low as $5,000 per home built — this cost generally doesn’t include electricity, plumbing, or any of the other necessities you’ll need to make your house habitable. However, there are technological developments in the works to allow you to 3D print not only the exterior structure of your home, but wiring harnesses, switches, and all other necessary electrical components. Read on to learn more about the advantages of 3D construction as well as what you’ll need to do (or hire someone to do) when it comes to electricity. What are some advantages of a 3D printed house? Unlike a “stick-built” or modular house, a 3D printed house is generally constructed from some sort of masonry — clay, cement, or even mud. The 3D printer quickly builds layer upon layer to form walls and even corners. The resulting structure is very solid and energy efficient, keeping cold air inside during the summer and warm air inside during the winter. 3D printed houses are particularly useful in the Southwest, where high temperatures and a very dry climate necessitate adobe-style houses. In addition to being eco-friendly and solid, 3D printed homes are remarkably inexpensive. The cost to construct a stick-built home or a modular home can be ten times or more the cost to construct an identical 3D printed home — giving you much more in house funds to invest in a larger lot or better school district. These homes can also be built quickly, and don’t require large crews to run the 3D printer. How should you run electricity through a 3D printed house? From the interior, a 3D printed house looks unfinished — walls are bare clay or cement. You’ll need to install drywall to give the home a polished look — but before that, you’ll need to have an electrician run the wires. Because the walls are bare, this process shouldn’t take too long, and the drywall contractors will be able to begin work before the electrical contractors are completely finished. Be sure to let your electrical construction specialist know your intended purposes for each room. For example, if you’re planning to make one bedroom a full-time office, you’ll probably want extra power outlets and possibly a cable or internet wire within easy reach of the wall intended for your desk. If you plan to convert a portion of your bedroom to a laundry room, you’ll want a special grounding outlet. If you’d instead like to continue the 3D printing theme, you may be able to print basic electric switches yourself — saving time and money on installation. Although current technology doesn’t support the ability to 3D print every wire or harness needed to fully electrify your home, you’ll be able to take pride in knowing that you created your wall switches by “hand.”  Will you eventually be able to 3D print a house that comes move-in ready? Through a new technology called “contour crafting,” you may soon be able to move straight in to your 3D printed home. This process is still under development, but would...

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Prepare Your Overhead Crane With Adequate Lighting And Other Safety Features

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Safely operating workplace machinery requires adequate lighting. However, overhead cranes are designed in a way that can inhibit good lighting. And lighting isn’t the only issue when working heavy equipment. Other optional accessories increase the safety of your crew. Below are some crane features to consider which decrease hazards at your work site. Equip Your Crane with Lights Because overhead cranes run the length of the ceiling, they easily obstruct the lighting in a warehouse. To combat this drawback, cranes should be equipped with their own lighting. There are a few ways to lighten the area around your crane. Ideas to consider include: Bridge Lights: An electrician can install lights from your bridge beams. These lights are helpful because they are located below a main part of the crane. They won’t be blocked like your ceiling lights. And added benefit of bridge lights is that they are situated much lower than the high ceiling lights of your warehouse, improving the light throughout your workplace. Reflectors: You can use high bay reflectors to enhance the lighting around the crane. However, when the crane is in motion, reflectors are more limited than other lighting options. If you already use reflectors, you can look at this and install crane-lights to the underside of your catwalk for consistent lighting. LED Light Strips: Another good option is to install LED light strips. These can be placed virtually anywhere, and are controlled with remotes that give you the option of dimming lights when the crane isn’t in use. LED light strips can be used on the floor, placed directly on the crane, or installed wherever you experience inadequate lighting. Other Safety Features to Consider Lighting is one of the most important factors in the safety of your work crew. Productivity couldn’t even begin without adequate light. Equally important, however, are these crane accessories. These features cut down on the hazards your coworkers face operating the equipment. A Warning Horn: When machinery is running and large loads are being transported, the volume level in the warehouse increases dramatically. If, for any reason, another worker is unaware of a shifting load, you need to get his attention quickly. To avoid workplace injuries, install a warning horn that can be heard above the din of work.  Object Sensitivity: When it’s time to perform crane maintenance or upgrade it, look into getting object sensitivity. This is a feature that causes the crane to stall if an object – a person or misplaced load – is blocking the crane’s path. Limit Switches: Limit switches are used to help ensure workplace safety by regulating not only the load, but the crane as well. Limit switches are designed to measure the load’s weight, lift height, and number of rotations. If any of these is too excessive, the limit switch cuts power to the crane so the problem can be dealt with. Lifting Tongs: There are a variety of lifting tongs available for overhead cranes. Determine which is best for you based off of your load type. For example, some tongs are better designed for cylindrical loads, such as pipes. Some tongs can be adjusted to hold different sizes and shapes while others are intended for uniform objects. The right lifting tong ensures efficiency with each lift. There are many ways to improve...

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FAQs About Renting Dumpsters For Short-Term DIY Home Renovation Projects

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Whether you are ripping off your roofing or renovating your kitchen or bathroom, you’ll need to rent a dumpster. But, there’s more to renting a dumpster than you may realize. Here are a few frequently asked questions, and questions that should be frequently asked (but aren’t), when it comes to renting dumpsters for DIY home renovation projects. Will You Need a Permit? You will need to get a permit to keep the dumpster in the street if you don’t have a driveway or yours is not large enough for a dumpster. Call your local municipal permitting authority office to find out if you need a permit. If you are required to get a permit, don’t order the dumpster until you have your permit in hand or you could risk being fined. Should You Notify Your Homeowner’s Association? Take a look in the contract you have with your HOA. Sometimes, HOAs have guidelines in place for dumpster rentals. More than likely, you will need to send them a notice that you are renting a dumpster. It’s a good idea to send the HOA a schematic or diagram of where you plan on placing the dumpster if there are no established guidelines for where to locate dumpsters. Send this notice in as soon as possible to give them time to approve or disapprove it. Can You Put the Dumpster In Grass? Do not put the dumpster directly on grass. The dumpster will need to be placed on a hard surface. If you are planning on putting the dumpster in your yard, you’ll need to buy thick plywood to create a hard surface. The reason for this is so the metal rollers underneath the dumpster do not get stuck in the soil, which can happen if the dumpster is full and/or rain softens the ground. This can damage the rollers and make it nearly impossible to remove the dumpster from your yard without damaging your grass and soil. What Will You Put Into the Dumpster?   When ordering your dumpster rental, inform the customer service representative what types of materials and items you will be placing in the dumpster. Be as specific as possible. That way, the rental service will issue you the right dumpster for your needs and for their end-disposal requirements. For example, if you are removing your share of the 7-10 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles that are removed annually, the dumpster service may dispose of the shingles in a landfill or through an asphalt recycling service. What Will Happen If You Put Forbidden Items In the Dumpster? Be sure to know exactly what can and cannot be placed into the dumpster or you may be stuck with it until forbidden materials are removed. This can put a damper on your timeline and may lead to additional costs for disposal. There are several reasons for this: the roll off dumpster service may not be able to legally transport hazardous materials and dangerous items the landfill where the dumpster will be taken may not take certain items and materials Be sure to get a list of all the materials that cannot be accepted, especially if you are cleaning out a garage or shed. Things like paint cans, household chemicals, and gas-operated lawn care equipment and appliances are typically forbidden...

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Hints And Tips For Safely Storing And Handling Scrap Metal

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Throughout the past decade, collecting and selling discarded steel and aluminum has become a popular way to cash in on rising scrap prices. If you’ve thought about getting some extra pocket change by storing those aluminum cans you’d normally leave curbside or collecting random metal scrap, then you’ll want to read these tips on storing and handling these valuable materials. Consider Your Storage Options Before you set about collecting your scrap metal, you’ll want to find a good place to keep it safe and secure. There are several options to choose from, depending on how much scrap you plan on collecting and cleaning: Unused garage and/or attic space – It’s a quick and sensible option for storing small amounts of scrap metal. If you’re into small brass items or copper jewelry, it’s just a matter of tossing a bag or two in an unused corner. You should also make enough space to sort and process your finds. Large shed or barn – If you already have one or if you have enough room on your property to accommodate one, you can build a shed or devote some barn space to your scrap finds. Storage locker – If you can’t keep a shed on your property, you may be able to park your scrap metal at a storage facility. Make sure scrap metal isn’t on the list of disallowed goods in your rental contract. Dumpster – You can also rent or purchase a used dumpster to store your scrap metals. Keep in mind that some municipalities require a permit to keep a dumpster on the premises. Warehouse – Devoting warehouse space to your scrap metal is only feasible if you plan to store large quantities of it. Research your options carefully, as warehouse space can be expensive to rent in comparison to a dumpster or a storage locker. Open storage – Leaving your scrap metal out in the open is the quick and dirty solution, but it’s also one that’s most tempting to thieves. It can also be deemed an eyesore by neighbors and passersby. Having a storage area does more than just cut down your trips to the recycling yard. It also gives you an opportunity to save your scrap for periods when scrap prices for certain metals are at their highest. You’ll also have a stockpile you can cash in for emergencies.   Sorting 101 A great eye and a strong magnet are your best friends when it comes to sorting out valuable metals. Ferrous metals like steel, iron and various iron alloys are magnetic and, as a result, can be picked out of a pile quickly. Other metals can be quickly identified visually and sorted accordingly: Iron and steel – Magnetic, much heavier than aluminum, prone to rusting Aluminum – Non-magnetic, lighter than steel, does not rust but corrodes instead Copper – Features a brilliant brownish-pink color that oxidizes green, highly valuable Brass – Features a yellowish color, sometimes called “copper alloy,” commonly found in pipes, decorations and instruments Copper wire – Available in grades of 12 percent to 85 percent, can be stripped and sold for regular copper prices, copper-coated aluminum wire sometimes mistaken for copper wiring Stainless steel – Non-magnetic, corrosion-resistant, may contain nickel alloys Handle with Care Sharp points and jagged edges are a...

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5 Forms Of Essential Security Protection For PLC Systems

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Businesses often rely on the automation of PLC systems to produce products, run assembly lines, and ensure secure packing. While it’s become the norm to rely on the advanced technology found in an Eaton PLC, it’s also important to have specific security functions for the machines. PLCs use both physical hardware and computer software to work together and each has vulnerabilities that must be secured to help protect companies. Consider the following five security upgrades that can improve the performance of a PLC and ensure accurate results, no matter what type of business you run. Extended Firewalls Running a sophisticated PLC system often involves connections that run from a warehouse, a shipping room, and the main IT room. Most of the internet firewalls are applied to computers and devices in the IT room, leaving the other rooms vulnerable to malware attacks and viruses. A lot of this software runs on commercial operating systems that can be purchased by anyone. This makes it easy for hackers to figure out the equipment that you’re running on and ways inside of it. By setting up multiple firewalls, you can contain the network to your business and allow everything to stay contained and protected. Each portion of your PLC set up should have its own firewall to ensure the most protection. Security Patches It’s easy to fall into a groove when your software and equipment is running smoothly. It’s still important to stay up to date on the latest updates from the software and hardware companies that you purchased a PLC from. These companies will often release security and software patches that improve performance, remove bugs, and prevent security breaches from occurring. If you’ve registered your software and hardware, you will likely get these patch notifications automatically. If you want to find out about any security patches, then you should visit the official manufacturing page of the company that you purchased the PLC software from. Do not purchase any third-party software patches. You should use only official releases for the most protection. Software Customization Protecting the software in person is just as important as protecting it through the network. When setting up your PLC software, you can set administrator passwords to help prevent anyone from logging on and making changes to technical data or settings. Set the password like any other important password. This includes a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols to make it secure. It’s also a good idea to change the password every three to six months to ensure that the software stays protected. If someone leaves the job or a position changes, this is another good reason to change passwords. Physical Security Data and functions can be easily compromised if someone gains physical access to software and security. The best steps for adding security to this is enhancing the control of access to the room. One of the best ways to add security is by using a key card system. With a key card system, you will have access to a full log and entries to the room. Only specific key cards can gain access to the room and it will help ensure the best security for protecting PLC devices and software. Full PLC Upgrades One of the worst security vulnerabilities for a PLC system is outdated equipment. When...

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