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Nokia Datasuite less than magic

Your Mobile Magic article in the March 2001 issue was very interesting reading, if not a bit too kind to the likes of Nokia.

I purchased the Datasuite 2.0 a few years ago and found it to be OK but overpriced. When I upgraded my laptop computer and reinstated it, I found out that infrared communications did not work any more, for the reasons you point out in the article. Hoping for a quick fix from Nokia proved elusive and when Datasu­ite 3.0 came out, I thought I would upgrade and thereby solve my problems. Not so.

Not only was it impossible to get the upgrade from Nokia but they kept referring me to dealers who did not stock it. They all wanted to sell me the new version complete, not the upgrade. You would think a large company like Nokia would have a website where you can just download these things using your credit card.

I finally did find it on the web but not from Nokia or one of their dealers. It was a freebie and I did not have the slight­est feeling of guilt downloading it, under the circumstances. Needless to say, it did not solve my problem and I am very happy that I did not pay for it.

The point I am trying to make is that a multi-billion dollar company cannot make a small piece of comms software work. How ridiculous. And they keep advertising the product as being infrared-capable. Sure, if you like to run 6-year old software on an ancient laptop, it works fine.

Horst Leykam,
via email.

Historical articles needed

Am I correct in writing that SILICON CHIP is now the only Australian magazine catering for the electronics enthusiast? If so, then congratulations! I am very pleased that I can still find a magazine that has interesting articles and projects to build. Keep them coming.

However I think there is something missing: historical articles describing electronics from the past; similar to the articles written by the late Neville Williams. There must be a lot more stories to be told and a lot of information to be col­lected before it is lost forever.

In the past I have enjoyed the historical articles in SILI­CON CHIP such as the series on "The Evolution of Electric Rail­ways" and "The Story of Electrical Energy". Any historical arti­cle is wonderful reading. Is there any more of this sort of material coming? They would ‘round’ SILICON CHIP up quite nicely. What do others think?

Duncan Graham,
Hamilton, New Zealand.

Licence required for cable installers

I read with interest your comments on electrical wiring. You may also be interested to know that the ACA (Australian Communications Authority) now stipulates that installers of alarm or computer cable (where it is fixed) require a licence. The "reason" behind this brain-wave is that these devices can be connected to the telecommunication network and licensing install­ers will stop them from possibly causing damage to their phone network, even though modems and alarm panels have inbuilt isola­tion (and have done so for probably more than 10 years).

The upside to this is that there are now a number of train­ing programs available in the cabling areas. The downside (apart from the revenue collecting side) is that if Joe Citizen decided to run his own home computer network (cable behind the plaster and putting sockets in the wall) between his office and bedroom, he would be breaking the law unless he has a licence (assuming one of his computers is connected to the phone system).

The ACA "Cabling Provide Rules" book states that "cabling without a current registration or a current licence is a criminal offence punishable on conviction by fine". You can apply for a transitional registration which enables you to achieve ACA’s competency requirements by 2 October 2003.

So now you need a licence to run wires. Makes you wonder what you will need a licence for next!

Phillip Star,
via email.

More information can be found at: www.aca.gov.au/standards/cabling and www.standards.com.au (look up CCM.PACKAGE. Communications Cabling Package cost $165.00).

Australian GPS software available

I really enjoyed your article on GPS for a PC in the April 2001 issue. I thought I would drop you a line on an Australian GPS software pack. It was written by Des Newman in Queensland with a trial package available at www.oziexplorer.com.au

This package allows the user to run moving maps scanned into a PC. Maps can be calibrated and used with almost all the features available on the most expensive GPS units.

Des provides a special price for Australian users who wish to upgrade to the registered program. This is by far the best program I have used for GPS and is always under review and up­grade.

Doug Braidwood,
via email.

Electrical engineers have little chance of a licence

In regard to Mr Hoolhorst’s letter on pages 12 & 13 of the May 2001 issue, he is wrong in point 9 where he says that in Australia there is no way to avoid the 4-year apprenticeship. This is totally untrue. Even minimal research, like one or two phone calls, would have shown that there are many ways to become a fully licensed electrician. I’m actually quite surprised that SILICON CHIP did not know this.

You can do a TAFE course "Electrical Wiring For Engineers", which allows you to sit an exam for an electrical contractors license. You are also eligible for this if you have done a TAFE associate Diploma or Diploma in Electrical Engineering.

After seeing the nightmare work of home handymen and wir­ing, I believe that unless you have a license, you should be heavily fined for even touching an electrical terminal. I’ve seen so-called handymen using speaker cable to run power, not using double-insulated cable, using unprotected cable outdoors, using the wrong coloured wires (I kid you not, Green/Yellow used as active), and making double-ended plug/plug extension leads.

The point is, this voltage is deadly. It only takes one idiot to wire something wrong in a house for it to kill people. You may think you know what you’re doing but a little knowledge is dangerous.

Darryl Lewis,
Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
Enterprise Application Developer,
Information Technology Services,
Ultimo, NSW.

Comment: firstly, NSW IS THE ONLY STATE that has a structured path for electrical engineers and associate engineers to become licensed electrical contractors.

Secondly, the Electrical Wiring course for engineers has been superseded by a new course, "Certificate III in Electrical Wiring". Why the new course? Many electrical engineers and asso­ciate engineers who properly completed the old course were then FIRMLY REFUSED LICENCES by the electrician dominated "assessment committee" and the resultant indignation forced the introduction of the new system where you have to be assessed and accepted as suitable BEFORE they allow you to do the course. MOST electrical engineers and associate engineers simply don’t qualify!

An electrical engineer has to have had VERY CLOSE day to day involvement with the work of electrical installations of various types for AT LEAST TWO YEARS and MUST DEMONSTRATE A GENUINE NEED FOR A CONTRACTORS LICENCE before that engineer has any chance of making the grade with the electricians who make up the overwhelm­ing majority of the members of the "assessment committee". A very important point here is that design experience is simply nowhere near enough, regardless of the type and period of that design experience!

For others with lower qualifications it is much worse. None of the various electronics qualifications, not even the Associate Diploma in Electronics Engineering, qualifies you to apply to do the "Certificate III in Electrical Wiring" and then gain a li­cense. Only the Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering is a suitable qualification enabling you to apply.

Secondly, an associate electrical engineer must have proof of not two (which is already too long) but AT LEAST FOUR YEARS of VERY CLOSE day to day involvement with the work of electrical installations of various types and again, MUST DEMONSTRATE A GENUINE NEED FOR A CONTRACTORS LICENCE before that associate engineer has any chance of gaining approval to do the "Certifi­cate III in Electrical Wiring".

Help wanted on curve tracer

I bought an old Leader LTC-905 transistor/Fet curve tracer with probes and leads at the local markets for a few dollars and although it works fine, I don’t know how to interpret the plots it makes on my scope when testing transistors. Perhaps someone out there either has a manual for it, or knows how to interpret the scope display.

john-richardson@bigpond.com

Transformer needed for Tektronix scope

I have a Tektronix 422/r422 with a defunct high voltage transformer (Pt No 120-0378-02). I am hoping there is someone out there who can tell me were I can get a replacement unit from. I would be very grateful and would pay all the required costs.

Mick Jezzard
(mjezzard@senet.com.au)

3 Comley St, Brighton, SA 5048.

Engineers and technicians are competent to do electrical work

I am commenting as an electrician about non-electrical personnel doing their own wiring. Firstly, I cannot understand why an electrical engineer is not permitted to do his own wiring, espe­cially since he designs installations and therefore must know more than the average electrician. Silly rules like these must cause anger and frustration.

Electronics technicians also work on far more complicated circuitry than the average electrician. But I do believe the general philosophy and work practices are quite different for these two disciplines. A technician may find much of an electri­cian’s wiring rough but providing the electrician runs cables beside beams, not over them, uses correct cable sizes and junction boxes and follows earthing requirements, the installation is safe.

I read the example where the electrician wired to the line side of a main switch; one can only call that electrician a goose. Some electricians also fail to check the condition of the MEN. I would have thought that to be his first priority as a bad or non-existent MEN is the most common cause of the fatalities we read about in the newspapers from time to time.

Tradesmen from all different trades know if a "trady" has done the work and so it is with an electrician. That is not to say I believe a technician cannot do a better job than me on an install. I also find it ridiculous that an electrician should electrically check a piece of equipment a technician manufac­tured. But I also believe an electrician has skills that a technician does not have, even though the circuitry is rudimentary.

I can understand the frustration of technicians; surely they should be allowed to cross-skill (it wasn’t too long ago that an electrician could not cross-skill into refrigeration even though refrigeration involves lots of electrical work) but I do believe they need to be taught the philosophy of this trade.

But please keep wiring out of the hands of the general public. Let’s not have such a closed shop but I believe some training is essential.

John,
via email.

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