Chunky buttons, flashing lights

CRT control board sm2Yesterday was spent with the the senior M&E (mechanical and electrical) engineer for the Canal & River Trust, trying to get my head around the control systems, feedback loops, electrical and mechanical circuits that lie behind the seemingly natural flow of water through the canals. The Gloucester to Sharpness Canal, all 16 miles of it, doubles as a reservoir for North Bristol, so keeping the it full is vital not just to the boats. Juggling the various inflows (rivers, streams, etc.) and balancing these with the outflows (whenever the big lock at Sharpness is emptied) is a 24/7 job. The canals themselves are the visible circuit, the gravity-driven flow of water through locks part of their charm, but underneath this lies a parallel circuit of electrical systems that monitor, adjust, respond, balancing, predicting, preempting. I am looking to reveal this in some way, this parallel world. In the meantime, here are some chunky buttons and flashing lights for operating the massive lock gates that open onto the tidal Severn at Sharpness. Thanks Neil for yesterday’s tour and our discussion about drawing, technical and artistic, something I want to come back to.

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