TECHNOLOGY Feed

Wire train removes old catenary wire above train tracks

Septa catenary wire

This video depicts SEPTA’s flotilla-like “wire train” renewing the catenary wire above the tracks on the R7 Chestnut Hill East line as it works its way past the Mount Airy train station. The wires become worn after decades of use. The workers are taking down old catenary wire, dropping and sliding it into the gondola for scrap metal. The new catenary wire is already in place and running trains. Naturally, for the safety of the workers, the catenary is de-energised and grounded.

The following description is from a SEPTA blog post of July 13, 2017
“In our world, a catenary is a system of overhead wires used to supply electricity to a locomotive, streetcar, or light rail vehicle which is equipped with a pantograph. The pantagraph presses against the underside of the lowest overhead wire, the contact wire.
Current collectors are electrically conductive and allow current to flow through to the train and back to the feeder station through the steel wheels on one or both running rails. Unlike simple overhead wires, in which the uninsulated wire is attached by clamps to closely spaced crosswires supported by poles, catenary systems use at least two wires. The catenary or messenger wire is hung at a specific tension between line structures, and a second wire is held in tension by the messenger wire, attached to it at frequent intervals by clamps and connecting wires known as droppers. The second wire is straight and level, parallel to the rail track, suspended over it as the roadway of a suspension bridge is over water.
Simple wire installations are common in light rail, especially on city streets, while more expensive catenary systems are suited to high-speed operations.
The Northeast Corridor in the United States has catenary over the 600 miles (1000 km) between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. for Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express and other trains. Commuter rail agencies including MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, and Metro-North Railroad utilize the catenary to provide local service.
Overhead line equipment can be adversely affected by strong winds causing swinging wires. Power storms can knock the power out with lightning strikes on systems with overhead wires, stopping trains if there is a power surge. During cold or frosty weather, there is a risk of ice build-up on overhead lines. This can result in poor electrical contact between the collector and the overhead line, resulting in electrical arcing and power surges.
On the Media/Elwyn Line, we're working on replacing 17 miles of 80+ year old overhead catenary wire. We're also building/installing new catenary support poles.”


Planes land in quick succession at small airport

Wings field landing airplane - 1

Last year we were driving by Wings Field, a small airport just outside of Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1928. We noticed some people siting on lawn chairs atop a small knoll directly across the street from the one landing strip watching the action. Just a few weeks ago we decided to follow suit.

The airport was busy, especially with what appeared to be practice or training flights. About four planes landed in approximately a three three minute interval as confirmed by the time stamp on the videos we took. One red and white plane, remaining within our sight, took off and landed at least four times. Some planes overshot the runway on their approach and had to make corrections. A couple others took somewhat sharp turns to line up with the runway and descended steeply. Twice a plane came in for touchdown, likely too far near the end of runway and ascended again without landing.

These practice flights were interspersed with commuter flights. After these landings we saw cars exit the parking lot. Occasionally we exchanged congratulatory waves with the drivers who only minutes before had been airborne.

The aircraft we saw were all propeller planes of different vintage. One larger plane that appeared to seat four or more had its wing above the cockpit , evoking the Spirit of St. Louis. It was followed by a shiny sleek new model that looked like a hornet.

Watch video of airplanes landing in quick succession here. For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wings_Field

Wings Airport administration has been asked to contribute to this story and it will be updated when new information becomes available.


Fun with Zoom Scrabble and a new Scrabble "Cheat Sheet"

Your correspondent participates in a Scrabble group which used to meet at some place where we could eat, drink, talk and, yeah, play some scrabble. We've made the switch to online Scrabble and although there are digital options for multiplayer scrabble games such as through POGO,  we have been sticking to the tactile experience and playing via Zoom. There has been some contention about the play of certain words such as "jew" as a verb, especially since the "j" is worth 8 points! In the 2020 version, "jew" is gone as is "wop" and "wog" from the handy 3-letter word list.

Download Improved 2020 Scrabble Cheat Sheet.pdf (219.4K)


New camera helps eye doctor maintain safe distance

Dr amy weber clarus fundus

Because Covid-19 has forced ophthalmologists to spend less time close to a patient's face, Thorp Bailey Weber Eye Associates have acquired a Zeiss Clarus Fundus camera to take wide angle high resolution digital images of the retina. Dr Amy Weber explains that in a traditional eye exam, after a patient’s pupils have been dilated, she needs to be in close proximity to the patient to do the exam. Now, with the images produced by the Fundus she can zoom in close enough to see every blood vessel. Dilation is only needed in special circumstances such as when the patient has a history of retinal tears or is experiencing flashes. Watch video interview of Dr Weber explaining how high resolution digital camera helps her keep safe distance from patient during exam.


Why trust Philadelphia's new voting machines?

Rabb voting machines yt
We  received a voicemail on our landline from Pennsylvania State Representative for the 200th district Chris Rabb (pronounced like "dab") with an invitation to try out,
this past Friday, Philadelphia’s new ES&S voting machines at the Wadsworth Branch Public Library. Your correspondent planned to first attend a yoga class at the nearby Lovett Branch Public Library, then head over to Wadsworth to get acquainted with the new machines which have been in the news. See Philadelphia's New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopoardy... Coincidentally, PhD renaissance man, yogi and fair election activist Josh Mittledorf was substitute teaching. After class, I asked Mitteldorf to explain his concerns about the new machines. He pointed out the ES&S company’s sordid history and claimed that the software it uses could possibly skew results; even election officials purchasing the machines do not have access to the software to verify its integrity because, in legal terms, the software is considered a trade secret.

I headed off to Wadsworth where a representative from the Philadelphia City Commissioners' office walked me through how to use the new machine and referred me to Rep Rabb for any additional questions. The voting process is initiated when a voter inserts a physical ballot into the machine.  On a large display screen, the voter then touch taps the candidates they want and, when done,  the printed ballot with the voter’s choices shows up behind a window panel for the the voter to approve before submitting their vote. Predictably, on the demonstration machine, your correspondent voted for Democrat Party candidate Nick Foles for President and Green Party Candidate Julius ("Dr. J" Erving) for U.S. Senate. Then it was time to buttonhole Rabb.

Interview with Rabb

BR (your correspondent, Brian Rudnick): Are these machines secure?

CR (his Pa State Rep Chris Rabb): No.

BR: How do we know the election is not being stolen?

CR: We don’t.

BR: We don’t? Well that’s not good.

CR: I agree. Just like any system, Any system  is imperfect.

BR: Any system- even a paper ballot system…

CR: Well paper ballots can be stolen…

BR: Why don’t we have access to the software in the systems?

CR: I don’t know.

BR: You’re our representative, can you ask?

CR: The City Commissioners’ office is here so you can ask directly.

Watch video of activist and Pennsylvania legislator expressing concern about integrity of new ES&S voting machines in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Electrofishing the Wissahickon

Electrofishing

In a short time, aquatic biologists from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission netted hundreds of fish from the Wissahickon Creek just above the covered bridge - and then returned them to the water. Biologist Aaron Henning (center in photo) relayed that SRBC had won the contract to assess the health of the waterways in this region as part of a national study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The day before, Henning, his teammate Matt Shank and Michelle Peck from Region III IEPA were working down on the Schuylkill River in the less scenic refinery area. Electrofishing entails putting a weak electrical current in the water through a rod, which actually attracts the fish Henning says, to momentarily stun them. This gives the biologists enough time to identify them by species, take measurements and, for some of the larger specimens, take plugs of tissue to test for PCBs and other contaminants. Henning showed off two large, American eels, a species that lives in fresh water but migrates to spawn in the ocean. The squirming pair were eager for release. More photos here

Watch video here


Kushner envies Zuckerberg's Facebook Data - painted

Jared kushner envies data of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg painting
 
"These are some of the folks that have been haunting my dreams. These are the folks that I've been thinking about, watching on TV...and so much of the imagery... I feel a need to process it in some kind of way that helps me cathartically to just deal with everything that's going on. It's also a way of exercising my free speech. This painting is called "Data Envy." This is Jared Kushner [senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Trump] looking curiously or longingly at Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook founder. He's interested in data, how to use that data machine that is Facebook to potentially win over the whole country. There's moments that I can picture in my mind that results in what we are living through now." Germantown painter Colleen Quinn's other dark portraits depict former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Quinn was exhibiting at the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival. Watch video of artist describing her painting of presidential advisor Jared Kushner longing for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his data.

Conservator demonstrates preservation techniques

Conservator demonstratres conservation techniques
At a preservation workshop through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, Free Library of Philadelphia conservator and private consultant Meg Newburger explained, often in hushed tones, the threats to books, paintings, ephemera and other treasured objects posed by aging and exposure to the environment and pests. Then she conducted a hands-on demonstration of the archival materials and methods for keeping our precious items intact for posterity, an art and science she had clearly mastered

PLA Conference Exhibitors Tout their Wares

Frey conveyer belt system

At the 2018 Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia Exhibitor Hall.

Choose Your Own Adventure marketer Elizabeth Adelman introduces the line's new card game and "demo guy" Greg Loring-Albright demos it. Stephanie Kardon talks up Voyant's job and company searching and tracking platform. Catherine Hazlitt of 3branch shows how a light table designed for a library children's room can illuminate plastic manipulatives and xrays. Anthony Frey (above) of tech logic demonstrates how the Hennepin Library Director designed library conveyor belt system moves RFID and bar-coded returned materials into their proper bins for re-shelving. Mark Unthank, whose name is centuries old, is the chief Cool Nerd at the eponymous company that aggregates library ebook offerings and the like. Natalie Nardini promotes the Bedtime Math Foundation which encourages you to do some math with your kids at night with a book or their app. Felicia Ambrogio of Infobase Learning touts the tons of information available through their platform. Rhode Island Novelty guy says the squishy ball and the sequined marine animals are what's hot. Watch publishers and library software, furnishings and technology vendors talk about their services and products for public libraries.

PLA 2018

A vignette here

 


Mobile car detailers make drone action movie

Mobile car detailing duo make drone movie
​As your correspondent was walking home, a guy operating a drone above was in the street opposite a white sports car idling in the driving lane. Maki Hristo has a mobile car detailing business. Before he and his partner started cleaning and detailing the sports car in a nearby parking lot they were filming the car while it was still dirty with a drone-mounted 4K camera for their aerial “before” shots. Both the “before” and “after” will likely soon be presented among the slick music videos showcasing their detailing talents on Instagram and YouTube @MakiMotors Watch car detailers make movie with 4k drone camera