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23 September, 2013

Some thoughts on EMC and safety, and the security of bank accounts

Personally, I could list a ton of stuff that would instil fear and loathing amongst the faintest of EMC hearts. Sitting in a jet airliner at the end of the runway readying for take-off and watching the cabin lights dim slightly in sync with the sweep of the main radar dish just a couple of hundred yards away. ESD events in the kitchen area of the airliner causing the phone in the cockpit at the other end of the plane to ring making the pilot pickup to answer. ESD events in the control tower of an airport causing the computer and other essential equipment to crash. Enough spurious radiation events to require laptops and cell phones to be turned off upon takeoff or landing.

Why am I and hundreds of others trusting out lives on something so ... sensitive? But we think nothing of dialling up the cell phone inside a car packed with digital controls for things like the brakes, the accelerator, gas control ... The automobile industry does its best to test for the severest of electrical events with lightning simulations. But what about internal to the car less than a meter away? And by the way, do they allow cell phones and laptops in that airport control tower? Do they have conductive floors and require people to wear ESD proof shoes? Define safety related issues? Does it necessarily have to do with physical safety? How about the spurious radiation from an ATM being decoded by someone nearby to gain access to your bank account to drain it?

(Posted by Doug McKean on, 2nd Jan 2002)

Originally published in "The First 500 Banana Skins", Nutwood UK Ltd 2007, Email for a copy, cost around £10 plus p&p.


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