Posted by: kellermax | 14/08/2009

Party Summer

This summer is amazing.

It started with a 50th birthday Tanja and I were invited to. The following weekends braught another birthday, a stag night (I’m going to be a best man,  so I co-organized it), a wedding in Leipzig, another wedding in the Saarland, another wedding in Cologne (that’s later today), and a 30th birthday and a 60th birthday are still ahead.

Fortunately, there is only one event each weekend. Otherwise I wouldn’t have lasted to now…

When I’m not partying I am busy working on the lecture for the next winter term. Work is great fun, my two collegues I share my office with are really nice chaps and I like them a lot. It is challenging, though, trying to compress such different and difficult engineering topics as electrical and magnetical fields, gas discharges, circuit breakers, cables and overland lines, substations and the like, into a coherent and short lecture. Well, we’ll soon see whether  I was fit for the task 😉

So it’s a quite busy summer for me. But I like it – although, admittedly, I’m looking forward to autumn. And anyway, I don’t even remember how it felt NOT to be busy. That’s life, I suppose. And as if it wasn’t already busy enough, I entered the engineering faculty’s football tournament as a goalkeeper for the team of my institute. It was great fun to play football again, but I’v gotten old…all major muscles hurt…

Goalkeeper MaxThat’s me btw, trying to save a penalty.

Posted by: kellermax | 29/06/2009

Big Changes

The last weeks were busy like hell but it finally paid off: Today I went to university to pick up my certificate. I am now officially a post-graduate human being.


Last week Thursday was the day of my final final-exam. Which I passed. And afterwards I rushed from Aachen to Köln and played a first gig with my new Irish Folk Band in a pub.


From left to right: Florian (banjo), Me (guitar & voice), Andreas (voice) and Simon (fiddle). It was so much fun to play for an audience again. The last time I played a real gig with a band was in September 2003. I managed to squeeze a complete university education between that gig and this one!

I am too, very proud to announce that from Wednesday, 1st of July, I am employed by the IFHT (Institute for High Voltage Technology) at my university. I am very grateful for this job offer because it makes my transition from student to worker very short and smooth. Nothing to compare with others who spend painful weeks or even months looking for a job (especially in these times with an economic crisis going on!)

Well, everything’s fine with me. I’m happy. Really happy. Five and a half years of education finally concluded.

Posted by: kellermax | 17/05/2009

Waiting for wind – this time in Spain

The measurements and tests I mentioned in my last post always take place on-site. Which is logical, as it is rather tiresome to move wind-farms to testing labs.

Last week, I was on-site in Spain. Which was cool. My Spanish is extremely bad, barely sufficient to order food in a restaurant. But the Spanish colleagues speak English and were quite helpful translating. So it was cool.

I felt like I felt so many times before already: Having to do something I before thought would be really cool doing and then not feel cool at all. You know. Like it was before going to university. “It’ll be so cool to be a student” I thought, and then I was at university and it was, like, normal.

But that’s the way it goes, I suppose. Anyway, I’m rather happy with my job.

Posted by: kellermax | 04/05/2009

Waiting for wind

Last week I spent in northern Germany. There I was introduced into the process of testing how wind-farms interact with the grid – which will be my new part-time job.

I have been hired to perform these tests, which are required to prove that the wind-energy unit can, in case of a fault in the grid, supply the grid with what it needs, power-wise.

From next week onward I will be – when on site – in charge of operating the test-circuit, performing the tests and record and store the data.  I’ll be taking turns with two others, so there will be enough time to finish university, which (it sucks, big time) I STILL haven’t finished YET.

So this is going to be my first real-life engineering experience!!

Me in full gear and with a voltage probe for 10 to 30 kV

Me in full gear and with a voltage probe for 10 to 30 kV

And that’ s how I look like, on-site. I wear safety boots, too, of course. The unit in the background isn’t the one being tested.

Posted by: kellermax | 25/04/2009

Irish Folk Songs

Today I met two guys in a park in Cologne. One of them plays the banjo and the other plays the fiddle. I play the guitar and sing and now I am member of a small band dedicated to playing Irish traditional folk songs and some other Irish-influenced stuff. (From The Dubliners, Flogging Molly and The Pogues).

I first got to know them online because between all the bands doing “insert-whatever”core looking for musicians their offer for a folk-rock project stuck out.

Our first meeting went really well, we had agreed on a couple of songs to play and so we just met and played along and it worked out really nice. I didn’t have so much fun making music for a long, long time…so I hope this goes on for a while…

Posted by: kellermax | 10/03/2009


The last post was dedicated to my sheer happiness about having finished my thesis.

This one is for all the people who helped me along.

My supervisors at the IFHT, the institute for high voltage technology, who were always there to answer my questions.
My colleagues at the IFHT, for a nice working atmosphere, for the fun we shared and for the exchange of tips and talks about our theses.
Helmut, from the institute’s workshop for always providing me with the much-needed testing material just in time.
Bernd, (thesis-wise my predecessor) who developed a method for measuring arcs which I found impossible to improve.

Matthias, for helping me in an amazing way with MatLab and providing valuable data-processing knowledge.

Jens, for the clarifying talks about self-blast circuit breakers and undefined potentials.

Andreas, for helping me getting some LaTeX issues sorted out.

My brother, for helping with all the other PC issues I faced.

Last, but not least:

Tanja, for being a great help to me at all times, for putting up with my bad moods and for always encouraging me to go on.

Posted by: kellermax | 07/03/2009

submission accomplished

Yesterday I submitted my thesis.

After several busy weeks I still had to pull out an all-nighter to finally finish it. But that’s the way it goes,  I suppose.

Anyway, I’m approaching graduation. Two weeks of a school internship, two more papers, one more oral exam.

And then, finally. But today I’ll enjoy some well-deserved quiet hours on the couch. I don’t really know what to write. My head was filled with thesis, thesis and thesis and right now I don’t really know what it’s filled with. But it’s a nice feeling. 🙂

Posted by: kellermax | 18/02/2009


I am very busy these days, writing my thesis and all that. At the same time I have to learn quite some additional IT skills, e.g. how to use the amazing numerical mathmatical software MatLab or the “document markup language” LaTeX.

This is at the same time very very frightening and very rewarding. Frightening because the time I have to spend to understand and use software I never used before takes up quite some of my precious time. Rewarding because it was long ago that I truly learned something new and I started to be a bit bored.  Plus, there are not many things like the feel of having accomplished something.

Fingers crossed that I will accomplish a lot today. 😉

Posted by: kellermax | 30/01/2009

Lab work

As you already know, I am working on a thesis concerning self-blast circuit-breakers.

Hopefully, the lab-and-testing part of the thesis now lies behind me. I have acquired quite a lot of data and what I have to do now is to find out what this data can tell us about the processes in a self-blast circuit-breaker at current zero.

After the mobile phone disaster the rest of the testing went quite well.  The last part was a bit more strenuous because I changed the insulation gas from CO2 to SF6. SF6 is a gas with very good insulation properties but also a greenhouse gas (22000 times the global warming potential of CO2) and the chemical byproducts produced when it is exposed to arcs are somewhat unhealthy. Therefore it needs to be handled with care. For the climatic part there is a filter and a tank so the gas can be reused several times. For the health part, we use this:


Looks good, isn’t it?

It’s rather cool to work with dangerous stuff. Makes work more thrilling. And it kind of compensates for the uncoolness of a lab in the basement which nobody (except the people who need and use it) ever enters.

Posted by: kellermax | 14/01/2009

And my mobile phone went BOOOM

For my thesis I’m working in the lab in the Institute for High Voltage Engineering where I am researching on a self-blast circuit-breaker, trying to measure the voltage drop within the arc during switching.

A self-blast circuit-breaker needs a pressurized insulating gas to quench the arc. Therefore the CB that we use is installed in a vessel. From the vessel the air is evacuated and then it is filled with insulating gas – either SF6 or CO2. Because it is very dark in this vessel, I switched the light of my mobile on and put it inside the vessel, connected the breaker, checked the connections, checked again and then closed the vessel.

Well, the phone was still inside. I evacuated (10 mbar), put in the CO2 (4 bar) loaded the test circuit and gave the breaker some 5 kAmps (peak).

Measurement went well, data is safely stored, labmate comes in talking on his mobile, I think, hang on, where’ s my mobile? and the thruth dawns on me…I rush inside the lab (not forgetting to check for safety) open the vessel and … there it is, the light still on.

Good lord, I thank thee for salvaging the stupid ass’s mobile. And I never ever again want to feel like I felt in the moment I realized what I had done…

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