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Thirty years ago, Owen Garriott pioneered amateur radio communication from Space on his historic STS-9 flight from the space shuttle Columbia. Launched on 28 November 1983, Garriott was part of the six man crew that performed 24-hours a day international science investigation on the STS-9 Spacelab-1 mission… (more)


Is graphene a new miracle material that will resolve stumbling blocks in electronics and the internet world? Two universities, continents apart, believe so… (more)

Lightning is a serious issue which is often under-estimated until faced with its disastrous consequences. Protection against this severe energy source requires professional equipment, professionally installed. Simply buying a few protector plugs or multi-plug extensions from the hardware store could well finish off whatever electrical and computer equipment is indoors, connected to the mains or not!… (more)

South Africa is not lagging behind when it comes to the world of high performance computing. The Cape Town-based Centre of High Performance Computing (CHPC) has an impressive track record, although mostly in the sphere of academia. When it comes to commercial applications there appears to be a lack of interest. Is that because the CHPC focusses more on research projects like its flagship project at the Centre for Space Research at the North-West University in Potchefstroom with Prof. Marius Potgieter? Or is there a lack of interest from industry? Perhaps red tape issues prevent industry from utilising the facilities?… (more)

Working with a constant change of ministers, one more dysfunctional than the other and a Department of Communications (DoC) that was leaderless yet had a direct say in the funding of ICASA, could not have been easy for Dr. Mncube. It is a well-known fact that the agency has been underfunded for a long time; a situation that now seems to have been recognised by government. But for a long time is was very difficult to appoint the right level of staff to fill all the vacancies or even keep staff with experience… (more)

2013 was indeed a stormy year for the telecommunications industry with possibly the highlight being the firing of the communications minister, Dina Pule, by President Zuma and the appointment of Yunus Carrim, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as her replacement. His appointment was not without criticism from some sectors in the industry: “Another minster with no experience in communication!” Politically well connected, Carrim holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours and a Masters in Sociology from the University of Warwick, UK and an International Diploma in Journalism from Darlington College of Technology UK. Critics soon changed their minds. He speaks the right language, but more importantly, he is walking the talk… (more)

“Taking cash out of copper transactions will cut down on copper theft”, said Evert Swanepoel, centre director of the Copper Development Association Africa in his conversation with features editor Hans van de Groenendaal. There is more to copper than it just being used to carry electricity or data signals. Copper is a useful antimicrobial to stem cross-infections in hospitals and in aqua culture fish farming, where artificial fibre nets are replaced with copper netting, to prevent fish diseases and to promote healthy growth – all-important aspects in the ever-increasing problem of feeding the world’s population… (more)

Obsolescence can be a nightmare for electronic component suppliers as well as for the electronics manufacturing and allied industries. Component suppliers want to maintain minimum stock levels, or hold no stock and import against firm orders. The electronics manufacturing industry has to honour guarantees and therefore needs to keep stock to support repairs for a period of time… (more)

Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, director of the the Joburg Centre for Sofware Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand believes in the value of an attractive and vibrant digital technolgy hub in Braamfontein to support skills development, job creation, entrepreneurship and the rejuvenation of Johanesburg’s inner city… (more)

When the internet protocol (IP) debuted in 1974, it became possible to transmit voice signals as data packets over standard networks for the first time. This had dramatic implications for both computer and voice communication… (more)

Amateur radio has not lost its ability to innovate and move with the times. Although digital modes have been around from the day Marconi first transmitted radio signals in Morse code (which is a digital mode), the first digital communications date back to the 1940s when radio amateurs worked out a technique of connecting mechanical teletype keyboards and printers to their radios, using frequency shift keying and audio frequency shift keying… (more)

We asked a number electronics experts to discuss the impact of embedded systems on bringing new products to market, and the effect on basic design capabilities. Our first question was: Does the use of embedded systems help companies to bring new products to market faster?… (more)

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is recognised as a potentially serious threat to the environment – predominantly in the gold, coal and platinum mining areas of Gauteng, NorthWest Province and Mpumalanga. There is no disagreement on this position but there are wide-ranging opinions on how to solve the problem… (more)

There is hardly an area of our life that does not benefit from some form of laser technology. These range from devices for laser lighting displays in entertainment to office equipment such as laser printers, DVD players, barcode scanners, surgical technology in hospitals to devices for cutting and welding industrial materials… (more)

I recently attended NI Week –held annually during the first week in August in Austin, Texas, the USA headquarters of National Instruments. Attended by some 4000 engineers and scientists, the buzz is about engineering and technology. He says we need to make engineering cool! Besides all the great developments and innovation that engineers are delivering today, there is a fundamental disconnect: “where will the engineers of the future come from?.” Students don’t think that engineering is cool, to use one of their expressions!… (more)


The 2013 Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) was held at Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, Western Cape from 1 – 4 September. A high note was struck at the start of SATNAC 2013 on 1 September with the welcoming address by Prof. Brian O’Connnell, vice-chancellor and rector of the University of the Western Cape. He told delegates that our future lies in connecting and understanding. “South Africa has a triple challenge, to build a democratic state, integrate itself into the competitive arena of international production and finance and reconstruct domestic social and economic relations to eradicate and redress the inequitable patterns of ownership, wealth and social and economic practices that were shaped by segregation and apartheid. A school is not just a tool for youth, but is a resource for the entire community it serves. A new breed of teacher/facilitator must be trained and recruited to do away with download-style pedagogy, and rather serve as curators of ideas and enablers of creativity and innovation.”… (more)

Since the Independent Communications Authority of South Afrcia awarded two 5 MHz frequencies to the South African Radio League (SARL), there has been a lot of activity on 5260 kHz showing some interesting propagation patterns around South Africa and with amateur stations in Israel and the UK and USA. The SARL is now taking the studies to the next level with the introduction of an automated beacon system… (more)

“It is in every country’s interest to have a long-term vision and objective. In South Africa we have the National Development Plan (NDP) and we as Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) are very supportive of the NDP and believe that is a very good objective for “South Africa Pty Ltd.” That is how Graham Pirie, until recently the CEO of CESA and now strategic advisor, started our conversation. “Having said that, the plan is ‘the what’… we think that the debate should be more about ‘the how’. How is the plan implemented? Unfortunately what we see is that the NDP vision 2030 has become a political football between various stakeholders in our society. We are unhappy with that… (more)

This panel discussion addresses the pros and cons of engineering and busines qualifications. Academics and representatives of business and professional organisations were in invited to give their views… (more)

“Reducing our carbon footprint” is heard in the corridors of power in many companies, but do people really understand what it means and how to walk the talk? Has it perhaps become more of a marketing ploy? If I could create a new entry in the dictionaries of the world, I would describe it as “optimising for efficiency” because achieving optimum operating efficiency will go a long way to reducing the carbon footprint!… (more)

Three South African radio amateurs were presented with the MTN Radio Amateur of the Year Awards on 4 July 2013 for innovation and excellence in their support of amateur radio in South Africa.
Deon Coetzee ZR1DE received the Garth Milne Technology award for the development of the space frame for the SA AMSAT CubeSat project… (more)

Better energy management – a must, not a luxury. Eric Léger was recently appointed as country president of Schneider Electric South Africa, a company with a German name but French parentage. Léger was previously country president of the company in Korea and Taiwan where he was responsible for business growth and before that he represented Schneider Electric in several other countries in similar positions… (more)

We invited a number of industry players to give their views on the quality of mobile telephone services in South Africa. We asked the questions and our panel of experts came up with some interesting insights… (more)

The Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2013 will be held at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, Western Cape from 1 – 4 September 2013. The theme of the conference is “Broadband – a catalyst for sustainable economic development and promoting digital inclusion”. The format will be similar to that of last year, with a mixture of high level panel discussions and technical presentations by international events experts on communications… (more)

Supporting the annual Eskom Science Expo for Young Scientists is more than spending a few thousand rand from the corporate social investment budget; it is an investment in the development of skills to support the future of South African enterprise… (more)

Much has been written about cloud and security in the cloud. According to to VMware’s Ian Jansen van Rensburg at the company’s recent conference of over 1000 delegates from all sectors of the IT industry: “Cloud is a journey, not an overnight solution”. The debate continues as to whether to be in the cloud or not… (more)

It can be difficult to comprehend just how fast test equipment is evolving to meet the new challenges in manufacturing and maintenance applications. It was just the other day that thermography was a basic system to check on looming problems in electrical switchboards and transformer installations –today it is used in the building industry and even to check on the health of racehorses… (more)

In this article Hans van de Groenendaal reviews the White Paper by Jorg Kaleita of Altium EMEA, “Verification of FPGA-based systems”. When designing electronic modules and systems, the individual components and complete board need to be verified at different stages of project development… (more)

The South African Radio League’s theme for the 2013/2014 year is “Amateur radio embraces digital”, focusing on how the digital revolution is impacting on amateur radio and how it has opened up new opportunities for experimentation and development, from weak signal reception using digital means to applications of smartphone apps, digital modulation techniques and other software applications such as software-defined radio… (more)

In an interview with EE Publishers features editor Hans van de Groenendaal, he attributed his company’s success not to its varied international market exposure, but to the fact that it is a “perpetual start-up company” always on the look-out for innovation and new markets to explore. Newly-appointed Schneider Electric South Africa country president Eric Léger held the same position for Korea and Taiwan respectively before coming to South Africa well-versed in the company’s operations and in doing business with diverse cultures… (more)

Supporting the annual Eskom Science Expo for Young Scientists is more than spending a few thousand rand from the corporate social investment budget; it is an investment in the development of skills to support the future of South African enterprise… (more)

South Africa has a long history in space related activities but until the formation of the South African Space Agency (SANSA) in 2010, these activities were fragmented with periods of high levels of activity followed by a slump in activity. Being a growing knowledge economy, South Africa cannot afford this fragmentation… (more)

In the early days of the development of radio communication all the efforts were on long wave and medium wavelengths but as Marconi and other early experimenters at the time realised the commercial opportunities they started making efforts to move other casual experimenters – the radio amateurs of the Marconi times to shorter wavelengths, which they considered were of no commercial interest… (more)

As electronics equipment extends its reach into more and more safety-critical applications, the potential cost of failures of these systems has increased dramatically. In light of this, we review a Microsemi White Paper on breakthrough capabilities for advanced security, high reliability and low power FPGA applications… (more)

Every alternate year, for the past 20 years the Process Expo has showcased the latest developments and products in the field of process control and automation technology. As said two years ago in EngineerIT, the stands are organised in such a way that visitors should get to see each and every stand. In addition, the Process Training Academy ran in conjunction with the show, offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about an array of topics in focussed one hour sessions… (more)

Large video displays have become commonplace both in control room and commercial applications. The development of the flat display screen has made all this possible. The requirements of control rooms and that of a commercial video display are identical – both require that the units operate on 24 x 7 x 365 basis and both require high definition, and true colour temperature and if multiple panels are used to make up a video wall, ease of calibration is another important consideration… (more)

The ability for companies to control and customise security features in cloud-based productivity services, such as email, calendars, content management, collaboration, and unified communications, is becoming an essential requirement for virtually every company. Hans van de Groenedaal reviews a Microsoft 365 White Paper that looks at these issues… (more)

In this virtual panel discussion we explore the state of the art and use of biometric technology such as fingerprint, iris control, face and voice recognition. We approached several experts in this field to discuss tBiometrics has the reputation of being something akin to black magic – like the sensor at ORT International airport that checks incoming passengers for flu-like symptoms. This technology is however finding increasing application in industry. The discussion is intended to demystify biometrics – the pros and cons of this technology… (more)

South Africa is committed to take off in space. We have a long history in space-related activities, but until the formation of the South African Space Agency (SANSA) these activities were fragmented with periods of high levels of activity followed by a slump in activity, followed by another flare up. I met Dr. Sandile Malinga over coffee at the Innovation Hub near Pretoria, where SANSA is located. “As a country with a growing knowledge economy we cannot afford fragmentation and although many activities were under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the various units had no common vision. That changed with the formation of SANSA,” he said… (more)

  • Simply more than a smart phone
  • Bluetooth illuminated keyboard – complements your tablet
  • Gaming your game? These nifty earphones are just what you need!
  • Not just an ordinary screen… (more)


Electronic conferencing could become the new buzzword – having gone through terminology such as teleconferencing, video-conferencing, voice-conferencing and telepresence. What they all have in common is that they claim to save time and money, reducing the need to travel and the latest buzz expression “reducing the carbon footprint”. While we cannot doubt these claims, the argument has moved forward and has now settled on interoperability, interconnect and collaboration… (more)

The software industry in South Africa plays a substantial role in the enterprise industry through software solutions for business. There are many processes that need to be followed to ensure that operations are smooth and that the necessary tasks are undertaken to achieve service delivery. CMMI is the acronym for capability maturity model integration. The Joburg Centre for software engineering (JCSE) defines CMMI as a process improvement model that is used to rate the maturity of organisations’ processes… (more)

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has, over the past few years, been labelled by industry commentators as an organisation that has neither the teeth nor the will to enforce its own regulations or to regulate spectrum effectively, to take South Africa on the broadband highway. This changed when ICASA recently swooped on Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) and its subsidiaries iBurst and Broadlink, and seized radio communications equipment from six of the company’s sites, leaving thousands of their customers without internet connection… (more)

Way back in 1958 H Kopp & Co, a local representative for foreign manufacturers was started by Albert’s father. Today it is one of the two largest component distribution companies in South Africa. Albert joined his father in 1972 after his national service; a year as an exchange student in Wisconsin, USA and after graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand in electrical engineering… (more)

We posed questions to a number of industry experts about electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), the branch of electrical sciences which studies the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy with reference to the unwanted effects i.e. electromagnetic interference (EMI) that such energy may induce… (more)

Broadband for all! 20-20 Vision! Government to focus on broadband! How many more times will Government make these statements? From President Zuma to just about every ministry we hear about the wonderful plans about broadband yet they remain empty words. The minister of communications, Dina Pule, is fighting for survival. Pule is the subject of investigations by both the Parliamentary Ethics Committee and the Public Protector. The latter is expected to present the findings of its investigations by the end of this month… (more)

The use of thermal imagers in the electrical industry is a common application for detection of bad connections, poor switching, looming transformer breakdown and many other electrical problems… (more)

Managing complex, dynamic bulk handling value chain operations to achieve exceptional results is often challenging, especially in businesses that have greater ownership of the various value chain components.In many instances the various business units that need to be synchronised and perform efficiently are disconnected from each other… (more)

When Steve Drehobi, V-P of Microchip jetted into Johannesburg I asked him about embedded microcontroller and semiconductor devices, and the impact that the world economy is having on the industry. I asked him about the company’s planning strategy and how it has helped them to keep coming out on top… (more)

Most of us are unaware that a very small aperture terminal (VSat) enables services such as purchasing petrol, obtaining scripts at pharmacies, ATM withdrawals and making purchases at a chain store in small towns. In this panel discussion we explore the technology and its challenges… (more)

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