Electrokinetica The Electro-mechanical Museum

Electrical Laboratory - introduction

Research lab

In the picture above, the object at the far right is a model of a turbine generator casing undergoing stress analysis at AEI in the 1960s. This kind of specialised work goes on wherever machinery is under development, not least in electrical engineering. No laboratory can work effectively without measuring equipment that is stable and accurate, so for many years electrical measuring instruments were individually and meticulously hand-crafted, often by individual instrument-makers, using fine materials and methods. Retrospectively, we have come to know this as the 'wooden box era' because most instruments were housed in beautiful wooden cases. With increasing mechanisation of manufacture and a requirement for more complex and lower-cost instruments, a measure of mass production technique crept in. By this time, we had entered the 'grey panel era' of instruments, with many types being built into sturdy metal cases suitable for the factory and the laboratory alike. These days most instruments are electronic, often based on digital circuitry and built using ordinary production-line methods equally applicable to consumer products. Although they can now be built to higher accuracy at lower cost than than their handmade predecessors, modern instruments cannot quite match the glamour of those made in the first half of the 20th century.


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