Monday, 12 September 2011

Power electronics

Power electronics is the application of solid-state electronics for the control and conversion of electric power.

Power electronic converters can be found wherever there is a need to modify a form of electrical energy (i.e. change its voltage, current or frequency). The power range of these converters is from some milliwatts (as in a mobile phone) to hundreds of megawatts (e.g. in a HVDC transmission system). With "classical" electronics, electrical currents and voltage are used to carry information, whereas with power electronics, they carry power. Thus, the main metric of power electronics becomes the efficiency.

The first very high power electronic devices were mercury arc valves. In modern systems the conversion is performed with semiconductor switching devices such as diodes, thyristors and transistors. In contrast to electronic systems concerned with transmission and processing of signals and data, in power electronics substantial amounts of electrical energy are processed. An AC/DC converter (rectifier) is the most typical power electronics device found in many consumer electronic devices, e.g. television sets, personal computers, battery chargers, etc. The power range is typically from tens of watts to several hundred watts. In industry the most common application is the variable speed drive (VSD) that is used to control an induction motor. The power range of VSDs start from a few hundred watts and end at tens of megawatts.

The power conversion systems can be classified according to the type of the input and output power
AC to DC (rectifier)
DC to AC (inverter)
DC to DC (DC to DC converter)
AC to AC (AC to AC converter)

As efficiency is at a premium in a power electronic converter, the losses that a power electronic device generates should be as low as possible. The instantaneous dissipated power of a device is equal to the product of the voltage across the device and the current through it (). From this, one can see that the losses of a power device are at a minimum when the voltage across it is zero (the device is in the On-State) or when no current flows through it (Off-State). Therefore, a power electronic converter is built around one (or more) device operating in switching mode (either On or Off). With such a structure, the energy is transferred from the input of the converter to its output by bursts

Power electronic systems are found in virtually every electronic device. For example:
DC/DC converters are used in most mobile devices (mobile phones, PDA etc.) to maintain the voltage at a fixed value whatever the voltage level of the battery is. These converters are also used for electronic isolation and power factor correction.
AC/DC converters (rectifiers) are used every time an electronic device is connected to the mains (computer, television etc.). These may simply change AC to DC or can also change the voltage level as part of their operation.
AC/AC converters are used to change either the voltage level or the frequency (international power adapters, light dimmer). In power distribution networks AC/AC converters may be used to exchange power between utility frequency 50 Hz and 60 Hz power grids.
DC/AC converters (inverters) are used primarily in UPS or renewable energy systems or emergency lighting systems. When mains power is available, it will charge the DC battery. If the mains fails, an inverter will be used to produce AC electricity at mains voltage from the DC battery.
Power semiconductor device
Power semiconductor devices are semiconductor devices used as switches or rectifiers in power electronic circuits (switch mode power supplies for example). They are also called power devices or when used in integrated circuits, called power ICs.

Most power semiconductor devices are only used in commutation mode (i.e they are either on or off), and are therefore optimized for this. Most of them should not be used in linear operation.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

GSM Tracking

Mobile phone tracking tracks the current position of a mobile phone even on the move. To locate the phone, it must emit at least the roaming signal to contact the next nearby antenna tower, but the process does not require an active call. GSM localisation is then done by multilateration based on the signal strength to nearby antenna masts.
Mobile positioning, which includes location based service that discloses the actual coordinates of a mobile phone bearer, is a technology used by telecommunication companies to approximate where a mobile phone, and thereby also its user (bearer), temporarily resides. The more properly applied term locating refers to the purpose rather than a positioning process. Such service is offered as an option of the class of location-based services (LBS).

The technology of locating is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations, so if you know which base station the phone communicates with, you know that the phone is close to the respective base station.
Advanced systems determine the sector in which the mobile phone resides and roughly estimate also the distance to the base station. Further approximation can be done by interpolating signals between adjacent antenna towers. Qualified services may achieve a precision of down to 50 meters in urban areas where mobile traffic and density of antenna towers (base stations) is sufficiently high. Rural and desolate areas may see miles between base stations and therefore determine locations less precisely.
GSM localization is the use of multilateration to determine the location of GSM mobile phones, usually with the intent to locate the user.
Localization-Based Systems can be broadly divided into:
  • Network-based
  • Handset-based
  • SIM-based
  • Hybrid


Network-based techniques utilize the service provider's network infrastructure to identify the location of the handset. The advantage of network-based techniques (from mobile operator's point of view) is that they can be implemented non-intrusively, without affecting the handsets.
The accuracy of network-based techniques varies, with cell identification as the least accurate and triangulation as moderately accurate, and newer "Forward Link" timing methods as the most accurate. The accuracy of network-based techniques is both dependent on the concentration of base station cells, with urban environments achieving the highest possible accuracy, and the implementation of the most current timing methods.
One of the key challenges of network-based techniques is the requirement to work closely with the service provider, as it entails the installation of hardware and software within the operator's infrastructure. Often, a legislative framework, such as E911, would need to be in place to compel the cooperation of the service provider as well as to safeguard the privacy of the information.


Handset-based technology requires the installation of client software on the handset to determine its location. This technique determines the location of the handset by computing its location by cell identification, signal strengths of the home and neighboring cells, which is continuously sent to the carrier. In addition, if the handset is also equipped with GPS then significantly more precise location information is then sent from the handset to the carrier.
The key disadvantage of this technique (from mobile operator's point of view) is the necessity of installing software on the handset. It requires the active cooperation of the mobile subscriber as well as software that must be able to handle the different operating systems of the handsets. Typically, smart phones, such as one based on Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone, or Android, would be able to run such software.
One proposed work-around is the installation of embedded hardware or software on the handset by the manufacturers, e.g. E-OTD. This avenue has not made significant headway, due to the difficulty of convincing different manufacturers to cooperate on a common mechanism and to address the cost issue. Another difficulty would be to address the issue of foreign handsets that are roaming in the network.


Using the SIM in GSM and UMTS handsets, it is possible to obtain raw radio measurements from the handset The measurements that are available can include the serving Cell-ID, round trip time and signal strength. The type of information obtained via the SIM can differ from what is available from the handset. For example, it may not be possible to obtain any raw measurements from the handset directly, yet still obtain measurements via the SIM.


Hybrid positioning systems use a combination of network-based and handset-based technologies for location determination. One example would be some modes of Assisted GPS, which can both use GPS and network information to compute the location (although in most A-GPS systems all computations are done by the handset, and the network is only used to initially acquire and use the GPS satellites).
Locating or positioning touches upon delicate privacy issues, since it enables someone to check where a person is without the person's consent. Strict ethics and security measures are strongly recommended for services that employ positioning, and the user must give an informed, explicit consent to a service provider before the service provider can compute positioning data from the user's mobile phone.
In Europe, where most countries have a constitutional guarantee on the secrecy of correspondence, location data obtained from mobile phone networks is usually given the same protection as the communication itself. The United States however has no explicit constitutional guarantee on the privacy of telecommunications, so use of location data is limited by law.

Cognitive radio

Cognitive radio is a paradigm for wireless communication in which either a network or a wireless node changes its transmission or reception parameters to communicate efficiently avoiding interference with licensed or unlicensed users. This alteration of parameters is based on the active monitoring of several factors in the external and internal radio environment, such as radio frequency spectrum, user behaviour and network state.
The idea of cognitive radio was first presented officially by Joseph Mitola III in a seminar at KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology, in 1998, published later in an article by Mitola and Gerald Q. Maguire, Jr in 1999.[1] It was a novel approach in wireless communications that Mitola later described as:
The point in which wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the related networks are sufficiently computationally intelligent about radio resources and related computer-to-computer communications to detect user communications needs as a function of use context, and to provide radio resources and wireless services most appropriate to those needs.[2]
It was thought of as an ideal goal towards which a software-defined radio platform should evolve: a fully reconfigurable wireless black-box that automatically changes its communication variables in response to network and user demands.
Regulatory bodies in various countries (including the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, and Ofcom in the United Kingdom) found that most of the radio frequency spectrum was inefficiently utilized For example, cellular network bands are overloaded in most parts of the world, but amateur radio and paging frequencies are not. Independent studies performed in some countries confirmed that observationand concluded that spectrum utilization depends strongly on time and place. Moreover, fixed spectrum allocation prevents rarely used frequencies (those assigned to specific services) from being used by unlicensed users, even when their transmissions would not interfere at all with the assigned service. This was the reason for allowing unlicensed users to utilize licensed bands whenever it would not cause any interference (by avoiding them whenever legitimate user presence is sensed). This paradigm for wireless communication is known as cognitive radio.
The first phone call over a cognitive radio network was made on Monday 11 January 2010 in Centre for Wireless Communications at University of Oulu using CWC's cognitive radio network CRAMNET (Cognitive Radio Assisted Mobile Ad Hoc Network), that has been developed solely by CWC researchers
Depending on the set of parameters taken into account in deciding on transmission and reception changes, and for historical reasons, we can distinguish certain types of cognitive radio. The main two are:
  • Full Cognitive Radio ("Mitola radio"): in which every possible parameter observable by a wireless node or network is taken into account.[7]
  • Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio: in which only the radio frequency spectrum is considered.[8]
Also, depending on the parts of the spectrum available for cognitive radio, we can distinguish:
  • Licensed Band Cognitive Radio: in which cognitive radio is capable of using bands assigned to licensed users, apart from unlicensed bands, such as U-NII band or ISM band. The IEEE 802.22 working group is developing a standard for wireless regional area network (WRAN) which will operate in unused television channels.[9][10]
  • Unlicensed Band Cognitive Radio: which can only utilize unlicensed parts of radio frequency spectrum.[citation needed] One such system is described in the IEEE 802.15 Task group 2 specification.[11] which focuses on the coexistence of IEEE 802.11 and Bluetooth.[citation needed]
Although cognitive radio was initially thought of as a software-defined radio extension (Full Cognitive Radio), most of the research work is currently focusing on Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio, particularly in the TV bands. The essential problem of Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio is in designing high quality spectrum sensing devices and algorithms for exchanging spectrum sensing data between nodes. It has been shown[12] that a simple energy detector cannot guarantee the accurate detection of signal presence, calling for more sophisticated spectrum sensing techniques and requiring information about spectrum sensing to be exchanged between nodes regularly. Increasing the number of cooperating sensing nodes decreases the probability of false detection.[13]
Filling free radio frequency bands adaptively using OFDMA is a possible approach. Timo A. Weiss and Friedrich K. Jondral of the University of Karlsruhe proposed a spectrum pooling system[6] in which free bands sensed by nodes were immediately filled by OFDMA subbands.
Applications of Spectrum Sensing Cognitive Radio include emergency networks and WLAN higher throughput and transmission distance extensions.
Evolution of Cognitive Radio toward Cognitive Networks is under process, in which Cognitive Wireless Mesh Network (e.g. CogMesh) is considered as one of the enabling candidates aiming at realizing this paradigm change.


Main functions

The main functions of Cognitive Radios are:[14][15]
  • Spectrum Sensing: detecting the unused spectrum and sharing it without harmful interference with other users. It is an important requirement of the Cognitive Radio network to sense spectrum holes. Detecting primary users is the most efficient way to detect spectrum holes. Spectrum sensing techniques can be classified into three categories:
    • Transmitter detection: cognitive radios must have the capability to determine if a signal from a primary transmitter is locally present in a certain spectrum. There are several approaches proposed:
    • Cooperative detection: refers to spectrum sensing methods where information from multiple Cognitive radio users are incorporated for primary user detection.
    • Interference based detection.
  • Spectrum Management: capturing the best available spectrum to meet user communication requirements. Cognitive radios should decide on the best spectrum band to meet the Quality of service requirements over all available spectrum bands, therefore spectrum management functions are required for Cognitive radios. These management functions can be classified as:
    • spectrum analysis
    • spectrum decision
  • Spectrum Mobility: is defined as the process when a cognitive radio user exchanges its frequency of operation. Cognitive radio networks target to use the spectrum in a dynamic manner by allowing the radio terminals to operate in the best available frequency band, maintaining seamless communication requirements during the transition to better spectrum.
  • Spectrum Sharing: providing the fair spectrum scheduling method. One of the major challenges in open spectrum usage is the spectrum sharing. It can be regarded to be similar to generic media access control MAC problems in existing systems

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Electric power system

An electric power system is a network of electrical components used to supply, transmit and use electric power. An example of an electric power system is the network that supplies a region's homes and industry with power - for sizable regions, this power system is known as the grid and can be broadly divided into the generators that supply the power, the transmission system that carries the power from the generating centres to the load centres and the distribution system that feeds the power to nearby homes and industries. Smaller power systems are also found in industry, hospitals, commercial buildings and homes. The majority of these systems rely upon three-phase AC power - the standard for large-scale power transmission and distribution across the modern world. Specialised power systems that do not always rely upon three-phase AC power are found in aircraft, electric rail systems, ocean liners and automobiles.

                                              A steam turbine used to provide electric power
In 1881 two electricians built the world's first power system at Godalming in England. It was powered by a power station consisting of two waterwheels that produced an alternating current that in turn supplied seven Siemans arc lamps at 250 volts and 34 incandescent lamps at 40 volts.However supply to the lamps was intermittent and in 1882 Thomas Edison and his company, The Edison Electric Light Company, developed the first steam powered electric power station on Pearl Street in New York City. The Pearl Street Station initially powered around 3,000 lamps for 59 customers. The power station used direct current and operated at a single voltage. Since direct current power could not be easily transformed to the higher voltages necessary to minimise power loss during long-distance transmission, the possible distance between the generators and load was limited to around one-half mile (800 m).
That same year in London Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs demonstrated the first transformer suitable for use in a real power system. The practical value of Gaulard and Gibbs' transformer was demonstrated in 1884 at Turin where the transformer was used to light up forty kilometres (25 miles) of railway from a single alternating current generator.Despite the success of the system, the pair made some fundamental mistakes. Perhaps the most serious was connecting the primaries of the transformers in series so that active lamps would affect the brightness of other lamps further down the line. Following the demonstration George Westinghouse, an American entrepreneur, imported a number of the transformers along with a Siemens generator and set his engineers to experimenting with them in the hopes of improving them for use in a commercial power system.
One of Westinghouse's engineers, William Stanley, recognised the problem with connecting transformers in series as opposed to parallel and also realised that making the iron core of a transformer a fully-enclosed loop would improve the voltage regulation of the secondary winding. Using this knowledge he built a much improved alternating current power system at Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1886.
By 1890 the power industry had flourished and power companies had built literally thousands of power systems (both direct and alternating current) in the United States and Europe - these networks were effectively dedicated to providing electric lighting. During this time a fierce rivalry known as the "War of Currents" emerged between Edison and Nicola Tesla who was employed by Westinghouse over which form of transmission (direct or alternating current) was superior. In 1891, Westinghouse installed the first major power system that was designed by Tesla to drive an electric motor and not just provide electric lighting. The installation powered a 100 horsepower (75 kW) synchronous motor at Telluride, Colorado. On the other side of the Atlantic, Oskar von Miller built a 20 kV 176 km three-phase transmission line from Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt am Main for the Electrical Engineering Exhibition in Frankfurt.In 1895, after a protracted decision-making process, the Adams No. 1 generating station at Niagara Falls began transferring three-phase alternating current power to Buffalo at 11 kV. Following completion of the Niagara Falls project, new power systems increasingly chose alternating current as opposed to direct current for electrical transmission.
Although the 1880s and 1890s were seminal decades for the development of power systems, developments continued throughout the 20th and 21st century. In 1936 the first commercial HVDC (high voltage direct current) line using Mercury arc valves was built between Schenectady and Mechanicville, New York. HVDC had previously been achieved by installing direct current generators in series (a system known as the Thury system) although this suffered from serious reliability issues. In 1957 Siemens demonstrated the first solid-state rectifier (solid-state rectifiers are now the standard for HVDC systems) however it was not until the early 1970s that this technology was used in commercial power systems.In recent times, many important developments have come from extending innovations in the information technology and telecommunications field to the power engineering field. For example, the development of computers meant load flow studies could be run more efficiently allowing for much better planning of power systems. Advances in information technology and telecommunication also allowed for remote control of a power system's switchgear and generators.
Basics of electric power
Electric power is the mathematical product of two quantities: current and voltage. These two quantities can vary with respect to time (AC power) or can be kept at constant levels (DC power).
Most refrigerators, air conditioners, pumps and industrial machinery use AC power where as most computers and digital equipment use DC power (the digital devices you plug into the mains typically have an internal or external power adapter to convert from AC to DC power). AC power has the advantage of being easy to transform between voltages and is able to be generated and utilised by brushless machinery. DC power remains the only practical choice in digital systems and can be more economical to transmit over long distances at very high voltages.
The ability to easily transform the voltage of AC power is important for two reasons: Firstly, power can be transmitted over long distances with less loss at higher voltages. So in power systems where generation is distant from the load, it is desirable to step-up (increase) the voltage of power at the generation point and then step-down (decrease) the voltage near the load. Secondly, it is often more economical to install turbines that produce higher voltages than would be used by most appliances, so the ability to easily transform voltages means this mismatch between voltages can be easily managed.
Solid state devices, which are products of the semiconductor revolution, make it possible to transform DC power to different voltages, build brushless DC machines and convert between AC and DC power. Nevertheless devices utilising solid state technology are often more expensive than their traditional counterparts, so AC power remains in widespread use.
                                An external AC to DC power adapter used for household appliances
Components of power systems


The majority of the world's power still comes from coal-fired power stations like this.
All power systems have one or more sources of power. For some power systems, the source of power is external to the system but for others it is part of the system itself - it is these internal power sources that are discussed in the remainder of this section. Direct current power can be supplied by batteries, fuel cells or photovoltaic cells. Alternating current power is typically supplied by a rotor that spins in a magnetic field in a device known as a turbo generator in a power station. There have been a wide range of techniques used to spin a turbine's rotor, from superheated steam heated using fossil fuel (including coal, gas and oil) to water itself (hydroelectric power) and wind (wind power). Even nuclear power typically depends on water heated to steam using a nuclear reaction.[15]
The speed at which the rotor spins in combination with the number of generator poles determines the frequency of the alternating current produced by the generator. All generators on a single system, for example the National Grid (UK) rotate synchronously (i.e. at an identical speed) and will target a set frequency, in European countries 50 Hz. If the load on the system increases, the generators will require more torque to spin at that speed and, in a typical power station, more steam must be supplied to the turbines driving them. Thus the steam used and the fuel expended are directly dependent on the quantity of electrical energy supplied.
Depending on how the poles are fed, alternating current generators can produce a variable number of phases of power. A higher number of phases leads to more efficient power system operation but also increases the infrastructure requirements of the system.[16]
In national electricity grid systems the frequency and number of phases are usually specified, the commonest being three-phase at 50 or 60 Hz. However there are other considerations. These range from the obvious: How much power should the generator be able to supply? What is an acceptable length of time for starting the generator (some generators can take hours to start)? Is the availability of the power source acceptable (some renewables are only available when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing)? To the more technical: How should the generator start (some turbines act like a motor to bring themselves up to speed in which case they need an appropriate starting circuit)? What is the mechanical speed of operation for the turbine and consequently what are the number of poles required? What type of generator is suitable (synchronous or asynchronous) and what type of rotor (squirrel-cage rotor, wound rotor, salient pole rotor or cylindrical rotor)?


A toaster is great example of a single-phase load that might appear in a residence. Toasters typically draw 2 to 10 amps at 110 to 260 volts consuming around 600 to 1200 watts of power
In addition to sources of power, all power systems have loads that use the electrical energy to perform a function. These loads range from household appliances to industrial machinery. Most loads expect a certain voltage and, for alternating current devices, a certain frequency and number of phases. The appliances found in your home, for example, will typically be single-phase operating at 50 or 60 Hz with a voltage between 110 and 260 volts (depending on national standards). An exception exists for centralized air conditioning systems as these are now typically three-phase because this allows them to operate more efficiently. All devices in your house will also have a wattage, this specifies the amount of power the device consumes. At any one time, the net amount of power consumed by the loads on a power system must equal the net amount of power produced by the supplies less the power lost in transmission.
Making sure that the voltage, frequency and amount of power supplied to the loads is in line with expectations is one of the great challenges of power system engineering. However it is not the only challenge, in addition to the power used by a load to do useful work (termed real power) many alternating current devices also use an additional amount of power because they cause the alternating voltage and alternating current to become slightly out-of-sync (termed reactive power). The reactive power like the real power must balance (that is the reactive power produced on a system must equal the reactive power consumed) and can be supplied from the generators, however it is often more economical to supply such power from capacitors (see "Capacitors and reactors" below for more details).
A final consideration with loads is to do with power quality. In addition to sustained overvoltages and undervoltages (voltage regulation issues) as well as sustained deviations from the system frequency (frequency regulation issues), power system loads can be adversely affected by a range temporal issues. These include voltage sags, dips and swells, transient overvoltages, flicker, high frequency noise, phase imbalance and poor power factor.[21] Power quality issues occur when the power supply to a load deviates from the ideal: For an AC supply, the ideal is the current and voltage in-sync fluctuating as a perfect sine wave at a prescribed frequency with the voltage at a prescribed amplitude. For DC supply, the ideal is the voltage not varying from a prescribed level. Power quality issues can be especially important when it comes to specialist industrial machinary or hospital equipment.


Conductors carry power from the generators to the load. In a grid, conductors may be classified as belonging to the transmission system, which carries large amounts of power at high voltages (typically more than 50 kV) from the generating centres to the load centres, or the distribution system, which feeds smaller amounts of power at lower voltages (typically less than 50 kV) from the load centres to nearby homes and industry.
Choice of conductors is based upon considerations such as cost, transmission losses and other desirable characteristics of the metal like tensile strength. Copper, with lower resistivity than aluminium, was the conductor of choice for most power systems. However, aluminum has lower cost for the same current carrying capacity and is the primary metal used for transmission line conductors. Overhead line conductors may be reinforced with steel or aluminum alloys.
Conductors in exterior power systems may be placed overhead or underground. Overhead conductors are usually air insulated and supported on porcelain, glass or polymer insulators. Cables used for underround transmission or building wiring are insulated with cross-linked polyethylene or other flexible insulation. Large conductors are stranded for ease of handling; small conductors used for building wiring are often solid, especially in light commercial or residential construction.
Conductors are typically rated for the maximum current that they can carry at a given temperature rise over ambient conditions. As current flow increases through a conductor it heats up. For insulated conductors, the rating is determined by the insulation.  For overhead conductors, the rating is determined by the point at which the sag of the conductors would become unacceptable
Capacitors and reactors
The majority of the load in a typical AC power system, is inductive; the current lags behind the voltage. Since the voltage and current are out-of-sync, this leads to the emergence of a "useless" form of power known as reactive power. Reactive power does no measurable work but is transmitted back and forth between the reactive power source and load every cycle. This reactive power can be provided by the generators themselves but it is often cheaper to provide it through capacitors, hence capacitors are often placed near inductive loads to reduce current demand on the power system. Power factor correction may be applied at a central substation or adjacent to large loads.
Reactors consume reactive power and are used to regulate voltage on long transmission lines. In light load conditions, where the loading on transmission lines is well below the surge impedance loading, the efficiency of the power system may actually be improved by switching in reactors. Reactors installed in series in a power system also limit rushes of current flow, small reactors are therefore almost always installed in series with capacitors to limit the current rush associated with switching in a capacitor. Series reactors can also be used to limit fault currents.
Capacitors and reactors are switched by circuit breakers, which results in moderately large steps in reactive power. A solution comes in the form of static VAR compensators and static synchronous compensators. Briefly, static VAR compensators work by switching in capacitors using thyristors as opposed to circuit breakers allowing capacitors to be switched-in and switched-out within a single cycle. This provides a far more refined response than circuit breaker switched capacitors. Static synchronous compensators take it a step further by achieving reactive power adjustments using only power electronics.

Power electronics

Power electronics are semi-conductor based devices that are able to switch quantities of power ranging from a few hundred watts to several hundred megawatts. Despite their relatively simple function, their speed of operation typically in the order of nanoseconds means they are capable of a wide range of tasks that would be difficult or impossible with conventional technology. The classic function of power electronics is rectification, or the conversion of AC-to-DC power, power electronics are therefore found in almost every digital device that is supplied from an AC source either as an adapter that plugs into the wall (see photo in Basics of Electric Power section) or as component internal to the device. High-powered power electronics can also be used to convert AC power to DC power for long distance transmission in a system known as HVDC. HVDC is used because it proves to be more economical than similar high voltage AC systems for very long distances (hundreds to thousands of kilometres). HVDC is also desirable for interconnects because it allows frequency independence thus improving system stability. Power electronics are also essential for any power source that is required to produce an AC output but that by its nature produces a DC output. They are therefore used by many photovoltaic installations both industrial and residential.
Power electronics also feature in a wide range of more exotic uses. They are at the heart of all modern electric and hybrid vehicles - where they are used for both motor control and as part of the brushless DC motor. Power electronics are also found in practically all modern petrol-powered vehicles, this is because the power provided by the car's batteries alone is insufficient to provide ignition, air-conditioning, internal lighting, radio and dashboard displays for the life of the car. So the batteries must be recharged while driving using DC power from the engine - a feat that is typically accomplished using power electronics. Where as conventional technology would be unsuitable for a modern electric car, commutators can and have been used in petrol-powered cars, the switch to alternators in combination with power electronics has occurred because of the improved durability of brushless machinery.[28]
Some electric railway systems also use DC power and thus make use of power electronics to feed grid power to the locomotives and often for speed control of the locomotive's motor. In the middle twentieth century, rectifier locomotives were popular, these used power electronics to convert AC power from the railway network for use by a DC motor.[29] Today most electric locomotives are supplied with AC power and run using AC motors, but still use power electronics to provide suitable motor control. The use of power electronics to assist with motor control and with starter circuits cannot be underestimated and, in addition to rectification, is responsible for power electronics appearing in a wide range of industrial machinery. Power electronics even appear in modern residential air conditioners.
Power electronics are also at the heart of the variable-speed wind turbine. Put simply, conventional wind turbines require significant engineering to ensure they operate at some ratio of the system frequency (the ratio being accounted for using gears), however by using power electronics this requirement can be eliminated as can the gears leading to quieter, more flexible and (at the moment) more costly wind turbines. A final example of one of the more exotic uses of power electronics comes from the previous section where the fast-switching times of power electronics were used to provide more refined reactive compensation to the power system.

Protective devices

All practical power systems contain protective devices that serve two purposes: firstly, to minimise harm to people and animals that may come in contact with the power system and secondly, to isolate faults and protect the power system and its various elements from damage. The quintessential protective device is the fuse. When the current through a fuse exceeds a certain threshold, the fuse element melts producing an arc across the resulting gap that is then extinguished. Given that fuses can be built as the weak point of a system, fuses are ideal for protecting circuitry from damage. Fuses however have two problems: First, after they have functioned, fuses must be replaced as they cannot be reset. This can prove inconvenient if the fuse is at a remote site or a spare fuse is not on hand. And second, fuses are typically inadequate as the sole safety device in most power systems as they allow current flows well in excess of that that would prove lethal to a human or animal.
The first problem is resolved by the use of circuit breakers - devices that can be reset after they have broken current flow. In modern systems that use less than about 10 kW, miniature circuit breakers are typically used. These devices combine the mechanism that initiates the trip (by sensing excess current) as well as the mechanism that breaks the current flow in a single unit. Some miniature circuit breakers operate solely on the basis of electromagnetism. In these miniature circuit breakers, the current is run through a solenoid, and, in the event of excess current flow, the magnetic pull of the solenoid is sufficient to force open the circuit breaker's contacts (often indirectly through a tripping mechanism). A better design however arises by inserting a bimetallic strip before the solenoid - this means that instead of always producing a magnetic force, the solenoid only produces a magnetic force when the current is strong enough to deform the bimetallic strip and complete the solenoid's circuit.
In higher powered applications, the protective relays that detect a fault and initiate a trip are separate from the circuit breaker. Early relays worked based upon electromagnetic principles similar to those mentioned in the previous paragraph, modern relays are application-specific computers that determine whether to trip based upon readings from the power system. Different relays will initiate trips depending upon different protection schemes. For example, an overcurrent relay might initiate a trip if the current on any phase exceeds a certain threshold where as a set of differential relays might initiate a trip if the sum of currents between them indicates there may be current leaking to earth. The circuit breakers in higher powered applications are different too. Air is typically no longer sufficient to quell the arc that forms when the contacts are forced open so a variety of techniques are used. The most popular technique at the moment is to keep the chamber enclosing the contacts flooded with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - a non-toxic gas that has superb arc-quelling properties. Other techniques are discussed in the reference.
The second problem, the inadequacy of fuses to act as the sole safety device in most power systems, is probably best resolved by the use of residual current devices (RCDs). In any properly functioning electrical appliance the current flowing into the appliance on the active line should equal the current flowing out of the appliance on the neutral line. A residual current device works by monitoring the active and neutral lines and tripping the active line if it notices a difference.[31] Residual current devices require a separate neutral line for each phase and to be able to trip within a time frame before harm occurs. This is typically not a problem in most residential applications where standard wiring provides an active and neutral line for each appliance (that's why your power plugs always have at least two tongs) and the voltages are relatively low however these issues do limit the effectiveness of RCDs in other applications such as industry. Even with the installation of an RCD, exposure to electricity can still prove lethal.

SCADA systems

In large electric power systems, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) is used for tasks such as switching on generators, controlling generator output and switching in or out system elements for maintenance. The first supervisory control systems implemented consisted of a panel of lamps and switches at a central console near the controlled plant. The lamps provided feedback on the state of plant (the data acquisition function) and the switches allowed adjustments to the plant to be made (the supervisory control function). Today, SCADA systems are much more sophisticated and, due to advances in communication systems, the consoles controlling the plant no longer need to be near the plant itself. Instead in today's power systems, it is increasingly common for plant to be controlled from a central remote site with equipment similar to (if not identical to) a desktop computer. The ability to control such plant through computers has increased the need for security and already there have been reports of cyber-attacks on such systems causing significant disruptions to power systems.
Power systems in practice
Despite their common components, power systems vary widely both with respect to their design and how they operate. This section introduces some common power system types and briefly explains their operation.

Residential power systems

Residential dwellings almost always take supply from the low voltage distribution lines or cables that run past the dwelling. These operate at voltages of between 110 and 260 volts (phase-to-earth) depending upon national standards. A few decades ago small dwellings would be fed a single phase using a dedicated two-core service cable (one core for the active phase and one core for the neutral return). The active line would then be run through a main isolating switch in the fuse box and then split into one or more circuits to feed lighting and appliances inside the house. By convention, the lighting and appliance circuits would be kept separate so the failure of an appliance would not leave the dwelling's occupants in the dark. All circuits would be fused with an appropriate fuse based upon the wire size used for that circuit. Circuits would have both a active and neutral wire with both the lighting and power sockets being connected in parallel. Sockets would also be provided with a protective earth. This would be made available to appliances to connect to any metallic casing. If this casing were to become live, the theory is the connection to earth would cause an RCD or fuse to trip - thus preventing the future electrocution of an occupant handling the appliance. Earthing systems vary between regions, but in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia both the protective earth and neutral line would be earthed together near the fuse box before the main isolating switch and the neutral earthed once again back at the distribution transformer.[33]
There have been a number of minor changes over the year to practice of residential wiring. Some of the most significant ways modern residential power systems tend to vary from older ones include:
  • For convenience, MCBs are now almost always used in the fuse box instead of fuses as these can easily be reset by occupants.
  • For safety reasons, RCDs are now installed on appliance circuits and, increasingly, even on lighting circuits.
  • Dwellings are typically connected to all three-phases of the distribution system with the phases being arbitrarily allocated to the house's single-phase circuits.
  • Where as air conditioners of the past might have been fed from a dedicated circuit attached to a single phase, centralised air conditioners that require three-phase power are now becoming common.
  • Protective earths are now run with lighting circuits to allow for metallic lamp holders to be earthed.
  • Increasingly residential power systems are incorporating microgenerators, most notably, photovoltaic cells.

Commercial power systems

Commercial power systems are in many ways similar to residential systems but are often much grander in scale. One of the main consequences of this is that, unlike residential systems, electrical designs for larger commercial systems (e.g. shopping centres, office buildings, etc.) are rarely done without simulation. The key focus in simulating commercial power systems is typically to ensure the supplied voltages are within reasonable limits and the wire sizes are appropriate for the expected load however some consideration may also be given to system transients. Many larger commercial installations will also have an orderly system of sub-panels, (i.e. distribution boards separate from the main distribution board) so as to allow for better system protection and more efficient electrical installation.
One of the largest appliances connected to a commercial power system is typically the HVAC unit and ensuring this unit is adequately supplied is an important consideration in commercial power systems. There are also typically other requirements jurisdictions place on commercial systems that are not placed on residential systems: In Australia, commercial systems must comply with AS 2293, the standard for emergency lighting, which requires emergency lighting be maintained for at least 90 minutes in the event of loss of mains supply. In the United States, the National Electrical Code requires commercial systems to be built with at least one 20A sign outlet in order to light outdoor signage.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More On DSP Kit TMS320c6710


This module describes the TMS320C6713 DSK development board and how to use it in a Code Composer Studio (CCS) v3.3 project that uses DSP/BIOS. An example project is included.


  • TMS320C6713 DSK Technical Reference
  • SLWS106D: TLV320AIC23 Technical Manual
  • SPRA677: A DSP/BIOS AIC23 Codec Device Driver for the TMS320C6713 DSK
  • SPRU616: DSP/BIOS Driver Developer's Guide
  • SPRA846: A DSP/BIOS EDMA McBSP Device Driver for TMS320C6x1x DSPs

DSK Hardware

The following figure shows the block diagram of the TMS320C6713 DSK hardware. The heart of the DSK is the TMS320C6713 DSP chip which runs at 225 MHz. The DSP is in the center of the block diagram and connects to external memory through the EMIF interface. There are several devices connected to this interface. One device is a 16 Mbyte SDRAM chip. This memory, along with the internal DSP memory, will be where code and data are stored.
On the DSK board there is a TLV320AIC23 (AIC23) 16-bit stereo audio CODEC (coder/decoder). The chip has a mono microphone input, stereo line input, stereo line output and stereo headphone output. These outputs are accessible on the DSK board. The AIC23 figure shows a simplified block diagram of the AIC23 and its interfaces. The CODEC interfaces to the DSP through its McBSP serial interface. The CODEC is a 16-bit device and will be set up to deliver 16-bit signed 2's complement samples packed into a 32-bit word. Each 32-bit word will contain a sample from the left and right channel in that order -32768 to 32767.
Figure 1: TMS320C613 DSK Block Diagram taken from TMS320C6713 DSK Technical Reference
Figure 2: Simplified AIC23 CODEC Interface taken from TMS320C6713 DSK Technical Reference

DSK6713 Audio Project Framework

The following figure shows a diagram of the software that will be used in this module. Texas Instruments has written some drivers for the McBSP that get data from the AIC23 and write data to the AIC23. The input data is put into an input stream (input buffer) and the output data is read from an output stream (output buffer). The signal processing software simply needs to get a buffer from the input stream, process the data, then put the resulting buffer in the output stream.
The project is set up using DSP/BIOS, a real time operating systems developed by TI. This module does not explain how to use DSP/BIOS but it will explain what objects are used in this project. The main objects are an input stream, inStream, an output stream, outStream, and a task, TSK_processing, which uses the function processing().