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Old 02-12-2014, 05:48 PM   #19681
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Originally Posted by y8s View Post
OK let me rephrase: we have 5 actual analog phone lines.

We don't care what happens to them once they get into the office as long as any of a dozen phones can make up to 4-5 simultaneous calls and each phone has its own extension. Also voicemail is nice.

When I say digital phones, I guess they are IP PBX? I've done about 20 minutes of research on phones that aren't for my house so bear with me.

The replacement the boss is looking at is (I think) the FVC-70 here:
VoIP PBX phone systems, telephones and accessories for small and medium size business by FortiVoice
No personal experience but a buddy works with this; Asterisk.org. Maybe Joe P can comment.
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Old 02-12-2014, 05:58 PM   #19682
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The meters you are referring to are generally known as "smart meters." They are considerably more advanced than the meters I am talking about, but could be considered the next evolutionary step.
(...)
Sorry if I put you to sleep with that history lesson.
No, I get what you're saying. And I'm familiar with the technology, I just had no idea that they were even still in use anywhere, much less being deployed in new installations. I'd have at least expected them to shift over to a GSM/CDMA-spectrum transceiver like the alarm companies all seem to have. Cheaper, more reliable, easier to deploy... really no downsides.



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No personal experience but a buddy works with this; Asterisk.org. Maybe Joe P can comment.
Nope. I have zero recent experience with tiny little systems that speak POTS. The last loop-current systems I touched intimately were 1A2 (electromechanical.)
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:14 AM   #19683
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I just had no idea that they were even still in use anywhere
Believe it or not, most meters in the country are still read by hand.


Utilities are a bit unique in that technology utilized is expected to last forever. This is not very fair, nor is it a good practice, but it probably the result of the following: reliability demanded of the power system are extremely high, the profit margins of regulated utilities is very small, and some of the older electro-mechanical equipment did last forever. The rapid obsolescence you see in the telecom industry puts off a lot of utilities to the idea. As an example, of equipment reliability some of our substations have electro mechanical meters and relays in them. The newest of the meters is from the mid 1980's. They are in some of the harshest electrical environments in the world, and yet they still run and are still relatively accurate (99.8-100.2%). This is all with no maintenance, because no one knows how to maintain them anymore.


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Cheaper, more reliable, easier to deploy... really no downsides.
I agree with this from a technical point of view, when you start to look at the logistics of how to deploy and manage such a system, it starts to become a nightmare.

My utility has something like 4 million customers. if we decided to use a cellular system for all of out customers, we would need to replace all 4 million meters. certain states, like PA, require all meters be tested for accuracy one last time before they are scrapped. When you are doing replacements, you are disturbing meter sockets that have not been touched/moved in 80 years in some cases. It is not unheard of for an old socket to flash, start a fire and burn a customer's house down (this happened to PECO in Philadelphia, they had a bunch of house fires during their smart meter deployment). To give you an idea of scale, at one point our smart meter deployment plan was to deliver 20,000 meter a week to our store room and install them throughout the company. It was estimated this would take several years to deploy them to all customers.

That is just the physical part of installing meters. I would consider that the easy part, it is a lot of work, but it is simple. The backend, which involves communications systems, data management, software/firmware updates and training of all personnel on the new equipment is the really challenging part. Good decisions and documentation is required in order to make the entire thing manageable.

The thought of having to go through this every 10 or 20 years as cellular communications technology becomes obsolete is what keeps many utilities from taking the plunge. That and the crushing cost of such an upgrade.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:08 PM   #19684
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Originally Posted by Davezorz View Post
Believe it or not, most meters in the country are still read by hand.
In the mid to late 80's, my local utility added a box onto all the meters. This was wired to a display that was mounted outside. This was supposed to make reading quicker. They all failed within a couple of years.

They still send the same guy around as when I bough my house in 1986. He's the happiest man I've ever known. Always a smile, usually a joke, and never, ever grumpy. If that was my job, I'd be miserable. Well, more miserable than I already am.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:22 PM   #19685
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davezorz View Post
Believe it or not, most meters in the country are still read by hand.
I find this astonishing, not just for power, but I assume that this is also true for water and gas as well.

How on earth it is still economically feasible to have an army of people walking around looking at meters and writing down the readings just blows me away. I mean, that is the absolute definition of "job which is more effectively and more cheaply performed by a machine."



I mentioned cellular only because it's what all the alarm companies have done. Doubtless, the best solution is for the utility to provide its own bandwidth. I have no idea what technological challenges are involved in this.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Davezorz View Post
As an example, of equipment reliability some of our substations have electro mechanical meters and relays in them. The newest of the meters is from the mid 1980's. They are in some of the harshest electrical environments in the world, and yet they still run and are still relatively accurate (99.8-100.2%). This is all with no maintenance, because no one knows how to maintain them anymore.
I totally understand that, and I have no problem with it. Inside a generating station or similar O&O facility, there's little advantage to having wireless remote telemetry. But at the consumer end, why on earth would you not spend a little money up-front to save many times that downstream?
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:42 PM   #19686
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
...
How on earth it is still economically feasible to have an army of people walking around looking at meters and writing down the readings just blows me away. I mean, that is the absolute definition of "job which is more effectively and more cheaply performed by a machine."
...
Not to mention that the old meters do not allow for the lucrative 'time of use' functions. I actually think that was THE major incentive for the conversion, at least with PG&E here in norcal.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:58 PM   #19687
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They still send the same guy around as when I bough my house in 1986. He's the happiest man I've ever known. Always a smile, usually a joke, and never, ever grumpy. If that was my job, I'd be miserable. Well, more miserable than I already am.
Classically, being a meter reader was a really good job for those who had it. The education requirements are pretty low, so for the people who make a career out of it, it is probably one of the best gigs they can get. Like most utility workers, the pay would be ok, but the benefits would be excellent.

It is also considered good utility business practice to keep you meter readers happy. They are the face of the company, the person the customer sees most, so you want their attitude and demeanor to reflect well on your company.



Quote:
How on earth it is still economically feasible to have an army of people walking around looking at meters and writing down the readings just blows me away. I mean, that is the absolute definition of "job which is more effectively and more cheaply performed by a machine."

I mentioned cellular only because it's what all the alarm companies have done. Doubtless, the best solution is for the utility to provide its own bandwidth. I have no idea what technological challenges are involved in this.
Part of the problem I think is that many meter readers are part of the union, so you will run into lots of friction there any time you try to change how they work.

most utilities have 0 wireless infrastructure in place in order to interrogate meters. for this reason, most plan to use existing cellular phone data networks to interrogate the meters when deploying smart meters. The cost of installing their own system would be very expensive to the utility. Electric rates are set by the state public utility commissions, so you cant just increase what you charge your customers to cover your costs, you have to convince the PUC to allow you pass the cost of this onto your customers. When you factor in that most meters only have to be read about 6 times a year, then the cost equation starts to tip away from an automated system dramatically.

The writing is on the wall however, the only thing really holding back automated metering is institutional inertia.

One system that I like is called powerline carrier. It injects a signal in the thousands of hertz range onto the power line in order communicate with a collector in the substation. The frequency is so low that it is almost immune to interference. It can even travel through transformers. The original system had a carrier frequency of about 500 HZ, and it would take 17 hours to get a days worth of data out of the meter.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:13 PM   #19688
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Had to drop some parts off at the guy building my motor and the motors for our endurance car. He showed me the progress he made on my VVT motor so far.

Blasted, painted, decked, bored, honed and line-honed the main caps with the ARP studs. VVT glory here we come. Someday.

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Old 02-13-2014, 05:18 PM   #19689
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Cool pictures belong in the pictures thread. There's too many ponies there.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:35 PM   #19690
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Cool pictures belong in the pictures thread. There's too many ponies there.
What's that got to do with the prize of teeth in China?
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:55 PM   #19691
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Grab a work-order: CS: Rear Window Will Not Go Up (among other issues)


Jump in the car, try to roll down both rear windows, neither works. Ah, window lock is on, unlock the windows, and both rear windows work.... So I concluded the hatch has a power-window, and it wasn't broken as I had assumed. Press the "up" button, and it rises. Up, down, up, down......

I couldn't bring myself to charge them the $98 for the diagnostic time.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:11 PM   #19692
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I couldn't bring myself to charge them the $98 for the diagnostic time.
If the customer did not thank you, I will; Thank You for being honorable!
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Old 02-14-2014, 03:26 PM   #19693
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You're right Brain. There is no hate in this thread. My bad.
Olympic Luge Relay Controversy - Business Insider
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:58 PM   #19694
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Sup queers,

I'm back from playing in the sandbox. I'm gonna sell my NB to finance a build on my NA. It's because I'm a poor decision maker. Its gonna be bitchen'. My goal is 225hp to the wheels, probably on a stock exhaust. Imma get a kit from FM or Begi.

Did Pusha and Fae get unbanned? Is the trackspeed engineering kit almost out? Is MT.net as G as it was back in the day?

Sincerely, Shearhead_3:16
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:01 PM   #19695
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You missed some fun ****
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:26 PM   #19696
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Did Pusha and Fae get unbanned? Is the trackspeed engineering kit almost out? Is MT.net as G as it was back in the day?
Welcome back!


Fae has been un-banned and re-banned a couple of times since you've been gone. I can't remember the current status.

The Trackspeed kit will be out any day now.

And yes, we still love the D.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:11 PM   #19697
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Welcome back!


Fae has been un-banned and re-banned a couple of times since you've been gone. I can't remember the current status.

The Trackspeed kit will be out any day now.

And yes, we still love the D.
Thanks yall, got a eye on that TSE kit
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:37 PM   #19698
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Welcome back!


Fae has been un-banned and re-banned a couple of times since you've been gone. I can't remember the current status.
status update: unbanned, unaware.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:05 PM   #19699
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status update: unbanned, unaware. touring with his dark alt metal band.
fixt.
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:19 PM   #19700
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Q: How many blondes does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: It shouldn't take more than one person to perform this task, regardless of their hair color.
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