The Symphony of Relay Testing’s Past

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By: Keith Armstrong

I was thinking the other day as I packaged up the tightly built Doble 6150 for shipment that the old days were something I should reminisce about for a while. As I was taking off the front cover to ensure the correct serial number device was being shipped, I noticed that all you see on the faceplate is simply connection points and one very lonely on and off switch. No real buttons to push, no quarter moon shaped reset arms to tap, no real manly current or voltage dials to twist, and I became sad. Not sad for myself, I have not tested a relay in ten years and probably won’t for another ten, but for those technicians who are tasked with testing relays in this day and time.

Some of you will relate to this post as you are the older ones. Sorry for that, it just happens to be true. Maybe we should say those with real experience. That sounds better than old. Either way we are the ones who had the joy, fun, excitement and real pleasure of creating a symphony when we tested relays. I mean real music. Think back to those days of testing 25 Westinghouse CO-1 relays in one hour with an SR-51 test set.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 5.04.19 PMClick, pop, tap-reset the dial, crank and repeat. Click, pop, tap-reset the dial, crank and repeat. Throw your relay testing buddy next to you with his own table, style and speed and you just increased the tempo and output to a whole new level. Bring in the big gun with your third “senior” technician on the Doble Jodis and you had pure music and magic for that day.

Now contrast that to today. I don’t actually know this but I can guess, the three guys are sitting at their tables and all you can hear are the fans of the three 6150s running to keep the units from overheating with the occasional tap of the return key on their laptop that is running the test program. No real, “Click, pop, tap-reset the dial, crank and repeat.” No symphony and I am sad.

Where’s the music? I’m just an experienced guy, code for old, realizing that nothing has changed at all except for the equipment. You still have three very experienced technicians using the state of art equipment available to them at the time to test what happens to be some of the most important devices for the power system. Relays, when properly maintained and calibrated, help to keep motors from blowing up, help to prevent blackouts and minimize damage to auxiliary equipment when systems fail.

I guess the technicians of today just create their own symphony with music from iTunes on their iPhone and still enjoy the same jokes and stories we used to tell while the symphony of the SR-51, Sr-76 and Jodis made music for us… And I’m no longer sad!

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