Sunday, January 23, 2011

Accelerometers - Part 1

I was asked in an email about the use of cheap mems accelerometers to monitor buildings.  As everybody knows, I don't do any thinking privately, but rather, I always spill my guts on the blog.

For inspiration, I draw on this neato article on using mems for earthquake monitoring.  I was involved with accelerometers from the beginning of my career, and it has always been generally disastrous.

In the early days of the old company we had lots of money to waste, and I was fascinated by seismic monitoring, and particularly borehole accelerometers.  I had written extensively about soil amplifications, and knew they were orders of magnitude beyond the standard assumptions.  Thus, our nuclear plants were being penalized by being situated on rock.  Since I knew this was a billion dollar baby, why not do some monitoring?  In the old company I knew it was as much trouble to get a million dollars as to get a new pencil, so I went for it.

My first installation was in the old Oshawa transformer building.  This was an abandoned building that was so saturated in pcb's that they didn't know what to do with it (I wonder what they did do with it?).  I loved it!  It was like a spooky movie set!  My basic idea was to put in a borehole accelerometer, and one on the surface.  When an earthquake came, I would measure the difference.  Such are the dreams of men!

-to be continued.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the next instalment. I think it is going to lead to the conclusion that having a nice poured concrete basement is much better than those slab on grade foundations south of the border!

Harold Asmis said...

Oh Puleeze! That is so yesterday!