In India and many other tropical countries the summer times are treacherous, and just imagine the situation if the conditions are accompanied by power cuts! That can be sheer punishment!
Power cuts in developing countries are mostly due to negligence and bad or wrong wiring implementations which results in cable faults in the form of shorts circuits or beaks.
Recently, one of the followers of this blog and my friend, Mr.Raj Mukherji, had to suffer similar situations, and he was interested to know regarding some electronic solutions which could be used for detecting such complex faults quickly, so that the residents don't have to suffer for long hours. Let's learn more about his query:
Hope you are doing well.
Following an incident which
happened yesterday made me contact you again with the hope of getting
some simple idea of a circuit/device from you which can revolutionize
the present methods of detecting underground power cable faults. Perhaps
it can also be used to predict any kind of faults that may occur in the
Well, let me explain the incident clearly:
Yesterday, I was on a leave
from my office and at about 1:30pm, suddenly there was a power cut in my
locality. It was around 40 degrees with a relative humidity around 85;
you can imagine our condition then. However, we came to know that the
"Electric Supply Authority" have suspected some kind of cable faults and
they are inspecting the same.
It is note worthy to mention
here that we had been experiencing sudden power fluctuations since early
May 2012. This was reported thrice at different times to the supplier
by me but they could not provide a permanent solution. Every time they
sent their men and did something outside and reported that the fault has
been fixed. However, the same issue re-occurred after few days. So,
finally the intermittent issue turned out to be a major problem
There was no power in my
locality between 1:30pm till 9:00pm. Then the power resumed (may be from
another phase on a temporary basis) just to let us sleep till about 4am
early this morning and the fans stopped again! So, finally at about
five o'clock in the morning I went out to the actual spot to see the
situation. I saw the workers were joining a segment of new cable about
10-12 meters long and about 2-3 meters deep which they finally
"detected" and found to be burnt. Ultimately, the normal supply resumed
at 8am and it relieved everyone.
So, the above incident gave me a clear impression of the following facts:
a. The supplier must be using some old method to pinpoint the fault which took them around 8-10 hrs
locate the exact electrical short circuit earlier which was causing the
supply voltage to fluctuate a lot at
Therefore, considering the
above I thought of contacting you with the idea of getting some kind of
simple and yet very effective solution which will help in:
1. Reducing the downtime of such kinds of cable faults
2. Predicting a probable cable fault in the near future
I was Googling a little bit
to find out if there are any such instruments/methods that are used in
other countries to track these kinds of faults quickly and came up with
It discusses quite
comprehensively about the pros and cons of the various methods used to
tackle an underground cable fault and out of the various methods
discussed, the "Time Domain Reflectometer" drew my attention.
However, who knows that the simple solution which you suggest becomes
"UNIQUE" and also becomes the standard for the next generation cable
The simplicity of your
published circuits made me think that probably you can come up with
something new and cheap and hence I decided to share my recent
experience with you.
Considering the potentiality
of this project (both from it's commercial value and usability) I would
request you to think over this and not to rush at some conclusion
immediately. You may also need to conduct a survey to find out the
methods used by the power suppliers in Mumbai or in Delhi etc in order
to design this project accordingly. We should also keep this in mind
that the required "detector/sensor" should be capable of detecting a
cable fault which lies may be 2-10 meters below the ground.
Wishing you all the success
for this project and also thanking you for spending your valuable time
in going through this e-mail. Waiting for an acknowledgement.