Edwin D. Reilly, a long serving Board Member of the Edison Tech Center, passed away on August 1st at the age of 87. While growing up in Troy, he often visited the General Electric Plant in Schenectady where his father was employed. It provided him with the opportunity to meet many pioneering scientists and engineers.
Ed was the 1950 class valedictorian at Troy’s Catholic Central High School. He continued as an ROTC member and graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After starting his career at the General Electric R&D Center, he was called to active duty. He spent two years in Washington with the National Security Agency. It introduced him with the potential for computers. He returned to Schenectady to pioneer computing for nine years at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, while completing a PhD at Rensselaer. He joined the University at Albany in 1965 to establish the Computer Center and Chair the Computer Science Department. He co-edited “The Encyclopedia of Computer Science” and wrote text books.
Upon graduation from RPI, Ed had wed Jean, his childhood sweet heart. They would raise six children. Meanwhile he was elected the Niskayuna Town Supervisor. He served from 1970 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1997. He oversaw the design and construction of the Niskayuna Town Hall. It has been posthumously renamed in his honor.
Ed was a frequent contributor to the Schenectady Daily Gazette with topics ranging from history, politics, industry, sports and science. Along with serving on the Board of the Edison Tech Center, Ed was President of the Schenectady County Historical Society. He served as a Trustee of the Schenectady County Library and was a leader within his church.
Edwin D. Reilly was truly a remarkable person and citizen. He was admired and will be missed by many.
It’s time for the annual Edison Tech Center Pi Day Quiz. Submit your answers by private message on Facebook.
1) An electric quartz crystal clock circuit is
designed. Will the clock maintain the correct
time better if it is a 24 hour clock or a 12 hour
2) The water supply to the Edison Tech Center
starts as a three inch diameter pipe, which is
then connected to a two and one half inch
diameter pipe, which is then connected to a one
inch diameter pipe. Given a constant water
pressure outside the building and ignoring
water friction, what is the speed of the water
inside the different pipes?
3) The Edison Tech Center milling machine
surface can be moved by turning a four inch
diameter handle. One rotation of the handle
moves the machine surface 60/1000 of an inch.
4) An automobile tire decreases in diameter due
to friction on the road. What percentage
odometer error does a 2 mm decrease in
diameter cause on a 381 mm diameter tire?
5) Water friction decreases as pipe diameter
increases. How much water friction is there in
the one inch diameter pipe compared to the
three inch diameter water pipe?
6) An alcohol stove is made out of a cat food can
with a circumference of 20.32 cm. 5 mm holes
are made around the circumference of the can,
spaced 15 mm apart, center to center. How
many holes can be put in the can?
7) A shower has a constant water pressure
supplied. What is the difference in output for a
showerhead with 1 mm holes versus 2 mm
8) Let us model the Mohawk River as a pipe.
When ice builds up on the river, it decreases
the diameter of the pipe. If there is a constant
supply of water in the river, and the ice blocks
half of the diameter of the river, how much does
that change the flow of the river?
The Edison Tech Center has over 200 videos available free to students via YouTube. This year at the Edison Tech Center we have put out excerpts of larger videos on YouTube. Here are the new videos:
Frank Wicks talking about oil, batteries, renewables and electric cars. His discussion with Ernie Tetrault reflects many talking points of the time at around 2008. Some things have changed but many points remain the same.
Here is an interview with Harold Gauper talking about design of electronics at the beginning of the electronic age. They had to deal with radio interference for the first time.
Rudy Dehn talking about radar history from 1937 until 1955. He shows us the L128 klystron tube developed by General Electric:
Theater organs in the early 20th century came at a fascinating crossroads of technology when electricity was combined with centuries old pneumatic technology. The result was the last great mechanized orchestras before vacuum tubes, high quality sound recording and electronics replaced actual instruments. “Goldie” in Proctors is a grand example of a working large theater organ. Retired GE engineers Carl and Frank Hackert have put in untold hours keeping Goldie working. Choosing engineering for your career has not just the potential to lead to a satisfying career, but also the potential to allow you to do amazing things with your hobbies and passions, assisting non-profits in everything from organs to, building schools for the poor, to sailboat restoration. A lifetime of experience in materials, electronics and systems thinking is a great asset to any non-profit. In this case #Schenectady engineers have been active with the American Theater Organ Society and local efforts to keep a monument to history alive.
1) Building a wooden window frame, is it stronger to use a circular or an L-shaped bracket over the corner joint?
2) What is the minimum number of nails or screws needed to attach the bracket from Question #1 so that the frame is limited in how it can distort along two axes (X and Y axis)?
3) Does a spherical ice cube last less time, more time, or the same amount of time as a cubic ice cube?
4) Does a cubic ice cube cool the liquid it is submerged in faster, slower, or the same speed as a spherical ice cube?
5) An electrical circuit can be built to reduce frequencies higher than a ‘cutoff frequency’. What is a formula showing the relationship between the capacitance of the circuit and the ‘cutoff frequency’?
6) An electrical cable is coiled for shipment and when installed still has a 2.5 cm diameter spiral to it. How does that change the total length of the cable?
The Edison Tech Center is suspending weekly public hours this fall and part of the winter as we change our displays and update our heating system. We still are open to the public on Thursdays 5:30-7:30pm for the Electric City Bike Rescue.
Last month our resident photog captured moments at the Electric City Bike Rescue. This operation services the public every Thursday at the Edison Tech Center. See our Contact Us page for updated hours.
Every year many tonnes of steel are wasted as it is thrown into landfills across the country. Much of the population has no knowledge of how to fix even minor problems on their bikes, so when they encounter a problem they just throw it away and buy a new one. Not only is this a waste of our planet’s resources, but it is also a shame considering many less fortunate people in our community could use the older bike. The Electric City Bike Rescue helps people understand mechanical basics through applied effort on their bikes. Here are some photos.
This fall the Edison Tech Center closed its displays in order to change them out. After a number of years we felt it was a good time to freshen up our public area. The Electric City Bike Rescue program continues each Thursday all throughout the winter.
Behind the scenes help – We are looking for people with a strong interest in technology and engineering who would like to help build the new displays and use their technical or trades background in this effort.
Bicycle Rescue Volunteers – If you would like to help on Thursdays please contact us and let us know you’d like to help with this program.
Submission of engineering papers and curriculum – If you’d like to publish your papers on our website or blog please contact us. We are looking for non-political, non-religious engineering papers which can look at history or current technological events. Many of our online resources have been enriched by experts in the area who added sections to our pages.
This week Seagate Technology re-released one of our videos to its subscriber base on YouTube. In 2014 as part of the Iron in our Electrical World series we covered magnetic hard disk drives as one of the many ways in which iron is used in electrical engineering.
Engineer Joanne Larson did an excellent job of walking the viewer through the parts and basics of how a HDD works. Here are some photos and some basics covered.
While you may visualize a hard disk as silver-colored disk spinning with an arm reading it similar to a record player, it actually is an array of disks with many read and write heads on BOTH sides of the disk. This is done to maximize the read and write speed and the quantity of data which can be stored on the disk. Above you’ll see the arm separated from the assembly. The read and write heads are positioned near the tip of the arms. The idea of the array of disks goes back to the first HDD made in 1956.
Why is it called a “hard disk”?
Today we use HDDs and solid state storage for computers. The disks are rigid and a fixture in a computer. But at one time we had “floppy” disk drives (FDD). Both floppy and hard disks coexisted occupying different uses for many years. The idea of the floppy disk came from magnetic video/audio tape and the hard disk drive. As you will see from our webpage on Magnetic Recording audio/video data is recorded in a medium filled with tiny soft iron pieces, the iron bits would align themselves according to how the write head (a magnet) aligned them. You will see the head also called a “transducer”. This alignment of magnetic “directions” can be read later on and converted into an analogue signal. IBM developed the 8″ floppy disk called the Memory Disk (80KB storage) in 1971.
Early engineers at IBM figured out how to use “reel to reel” magnetic tape (1951) to store binary data which had sections useful for given tasks that could be read later on by rushing through the tape to read from particular sections of the metallic tape. The problem with this is having to rewind/fast forward through tape. Transfer rates for the early tape started at 7200 characters per second. In comparison the common compact cassette tape used for music by the consumer had a transfer rate of 2000 bits per second.
A flat “disk” of the similar magnetic data could be read faster by allowing sections to be read by their address or position on the disk. IBM developed the hard disk in 1956. The disk was an array of 50 24″ disks which could hold 5 million digits of storage.
The need for higher density of data storage lead to advancement in magnetic storage technology. The hard disk evolved as an aluminum disk (aluminum is light-weight and allows for high-speed rotation without warping) with a magnetic coating on the outside. Many alloys have been explored to attempt to create the highest density possible while keeping the storage stable over a relatively long time. The job of engineers is very tough in HDD design as work must be done on a microscopic level and one must work with many fields of engineering.
Materials engineers, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers all must work together to create a product that is better than any other before it. Each year the frontier of what can be done is advanced. All this work occurs on its own plane separate from the common media buzz. While marketing for Apple and other companies love to simplify advancements and declare that “optical data storage is dead” or that magnetic storage is the past, this is simply noise and not engineering. Throughout history engineers have surprised everyone by taking older technologies and breaking through a barrier that had stopped people in the past, this can result in a leap beyond the current popular method. Sony, Seagate and others are continuing to make advancements in storage density that help create new uses for magnetic storage.
Now see the video below where Mrs. Larson explains the hard drive:
The Iron in our Electrical World Program is a collaboration of the Minerals Education Coalition and the Edison Tech Center. In the program we highlight the importance of materials engineering, the role of iron in our society and how this material is used in technology design all around us.