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Old 19th Jun 2019, 6:19 pm   #1
Chris55000
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Default BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

Hi!

I've just got my new copy of the Signalling Record Society's Quarterly Journal, and an article in this specifies that:-

"Lettering on Signal Identification Plates shall conform to BS 3693 Specification, 100 mm high"

. . now before anyone rants at me "what's Railway Signal plates got to do with this Forum?!", I shall add that BS 3693 is the Specification For Analogue Meter Scale Markings and Dials on Equipment, and a great many UK Manufacturers of T & M Equipment used BS 3693 lettering on their meter scale-plates, and this lettering is often engraved on control knobs as well.

(I have an AF Oscillator whose frequency control knob is engraved with it, and the Bradley 192 Oscilloscope Calibrator has it's meter engraved with it as well!)

Has anyone got a copy of the relavent BS 3693 pages they can scan the letter-forms from for me please?

BS 3693 lettering is very similar in style to 1940s-1960s Wireless World drawing lettering in appearance, but a bit wider and more square-ish in proportion.

I did try contacting Network Rail about it but they said they couldn't help, even tho' they use it all on their signal plates and signal-box track diagrams!

Chris Williams
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 6:48 pm   #2
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

As a part-time BSI employee, I would suggest that anyone posting scans of BSI documents might be sat upon with some degree of weight.
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 7:21 pm   #3
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

You may find a reference library that keeps BSI specs for inspection, but they are only allowed to supply copies under special circumstances. The library at the Marconi Research Centre where I used to work had them on CD-ROM. They could only be inspected on a dedicated terminal with a hi-res A3 monochrome screen to allow two pages to be viewed side by side. Hard copies could only be supplied for things like legal proceedings, and were printed on special paper pre-printed at top and bottom of each page in red with a warning that they were to be destroyed when no longer required for the particular purpose for which they had been created.

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Old 19th Jun 2019, 7:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

So why on earth is the establishment so protective and secretive about these specs?

Mike
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 7:53 pm   #5
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

I think it is because they get their income from sales of specs.
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 8:26 pm   #6
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

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I think it is because they get their income from sales of specs.
Precisely.
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 9:29 pm   #7
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

I've always thought there's something profoundly wrong with the idea that an official body like BSI can set standards, and then refuse to tell anyone what they are unless they are paid for doing so. Same with the electrical wiring regulations - you are legally bound by them, but can't get to see them without paying exorbitantly for them. Close to highway robbery...

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Old 19th Jun 2019, 10:24 pm   #8
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

But you can see them, free, at some reference libraries (I'm sure Exeter County Library has a set of BS standards).

You just can't take them away or make copies.

(I agree with the spirit of your post, but the money to research and set the standards has to come from somewhere).
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 10:43 pm   #9
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

If they didn't charge quite so much, and reissue them quite so often, in some cases ...

It's not just the Standards; it's the Codes of Practice and Guidance Notes that go with them.

BSI 2018 Revenue: 511.9m +8% Underlying Operating Profit: 61.8m +4% (their website)
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Old 19th Jun 2019, 11:00 pm   #10
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

"the money to research and set the standards has to come from somewhere"

Quite, and as the officially recognised "UK national standards body" (see its website) that money should come from government. OK, that money will then come from our taxes as so much other money does, but that's just part of the cost of being a well-governed society. I think the other one I mentioned - the similar situation with electrical installation regulations is a particular disgrace. After all, these are enforceable and do have harsh legal implications, and they relate directly to public safety rather than to trivial voluntary choices about typefaces. And you have to cross their palms with silver (quite a lot of silver) to find out what the law is that you're required to obey. Makes me think of a third-world dictatorship.

Mike

Last edited by Boulevardier; 19th Jun 2019 at 11:16 pm.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 7:31 am   #11
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

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as the officially recognised "UK national standards body" (see its website) that money should come from government.
Hmm, presumably then we should all have been able to get Ordinance Survey maps for nothing when they were still part of MoD?

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Old 20th Jun 2019, 7:49 am   #12
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

This has annoyed me for a long time.
All other laws and stautes are freely available on the government website, yet as Mike says regulatons that have the power of laws and are legally enforced like laws you have to pay for.
It is said "ignorance of the law is no excuse" - but knowlege of the law should not be charged.

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Old 20th Jun 2019, 10:26 am   #13
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

This is a very complex issue with a number of strands and some considerable conflicts.

The principle of standards is a good one and BSI and ints predecessors have done a great deal to set the quality. At one time prices seem to have been more accessible but now they have become prohibitive to a degree which makes them largely inaccessible to the general public and even municipal libraries. This is exacerbated by the very poor value for money, especially of some of the shorter standards. There can be as little as 3 or 4 pages of technical content in a 16 pages document consisiting of front and rear covers, committee lists and list of related standards. Allowing for definitions and lists of symbols, the actual useful information may be only a few lines.

Take as an example BS1746:1987 Specifications for Domestic Pressure Cookers which might reasonably be of interest to a householder. In 1999 the 8 page standard cost 14.00 to non-members. (1.75 per page, allow 3.50 per page for today's prices) It has been replaced by BS EN 12778:2002, a harmonised standard which means that it now covers most of the pressure cookers likely to be on sale in the UK. It's now 30 pages long but costs 176.00 to non-members. (5.86 pe rpage). As much of it's content is harmonised between different countries, any basic research has alrady been done and if harmonisation is only needed once, the cost could be amortised over many years.

However, if for some reason you would like a copy of an obsolete standard, you will be charged the full price of the corresponding current version.

This prohibitive pricing policy must surely negate one of the founding principles of BSI, to disseminate and encourage the use of standards.

The point has already been made about UK statute law quoting British Standards which is little short of beurocratic hypocrisy. Access to the law is free, but .....

It would be difficult for one state to issue harmonised standards at a much lower price, or without charge, as it would affect all the other issuing states. Who would buy a British Standard at the current price if essentially the same standard was free in Ireland, for example?

The independence of BSI from Government is an important principle, but my belief is that Standards should be paid for by a Grant-in-Aid from Government funds and be freely available on-line. Let the member states for harmonised standards sort it out between themselves.

As an aside, and without comment on the content or philosophy, BS7671, The Wiring Regulations is good value for money at an typical price of around 80 for 560 pages! (0.14 per page).

PMM
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 11:04 am   #14
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

OS maps are completely different, the price charged is mostly the seller, ie shop, income. And a decent shop has hundreds of OS maps, most of which are never sold all year.

Germany has this sussed, just look how many DIN standards you use. Keep the standards and you get the rent from others using them. Bit like the distributors bought by German companies and then only selling German tools, Wiha, Werra etc.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 11:46 am   #15
Chris55000
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

Hi!

I managed to get (from India of all places after many hours searching!) a copy of iS 3602/1966 which is freely downloadable and is their equivalent of BS 3963/1964 with exactly the same text and figure illustrations plus drawing details of the figures, so I'm looking for the letters now, if that's possible!

http://www.questin.org/sites/default...602.1966_0.pdf

Chris Williams

PS!

The search wasn't helped by the B.S.I. having reused the number BS 3963 again for Specifications relating to Concrete Mixers either!
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 11:58 am   #16
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

@ pmmunro - "The independence of BSI from Government is an important principle, but my belief is that Standards should be paid for by a Grant-in-Aid from Government funds and be freely available on-line." (my emphasis)

I totally agree, particularly when it comes to quasi-statutory stuff like the Wiring Regulations.

I suspect the "establishment" is trying to sneakily push out the boundaries of what they can get away with. Perhaps there are grounds for a Judicial Review here - on the grounds that citizens are being deprived of knowledge of the regulations by which they are legally bound. I suspect that the ECJ might take a stand on this as well.

Mike

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Old 20th Jun 2019, 6:12 pm   #17
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

Quote:
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I managed to get (from India of all places after many hours searching!) a copy of iS 3602/1966 ... so I'm looking for the letters now, if that's possible!
The Indian Standard says

7.5.3 It has not been considered necessary to design a special type of lettering. The type should be sans serif, in conformity with the numerals. A type similar to the printers' type Gill Sans is recommended.
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Old 20th Jun 2019, 7:08 pm   #18
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

It is interesting that the very use of the typefont amounts to copying the characters contained within the BS document.... the very process which seems to be forbidden!

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Old 20th Jun 2019, 8:04 pm   #19
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

Legal and copyright issues aside, I do wonder sometimes how many people are adversely affected even to the point of injury or worse due to the lack of access to various standards. Even when working in a large government funded organisation our department seldom had access to important relevant documentation because funding cuts precluded buying.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 11:15 am   #20
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Default Re: BS3693 Lettering Style on Meter Scales, Etc?

If you take a quasi-government organisation and then tell it to stand on its own two feet then this is the sort of thing which happens. An accountant, or someone who thinks like an accountant, will have been told that he has to make 100k from sales of some standard. He can sell 100 copies at 1k each, or he can sell 10000 copies at 10 each. The former is less work so that is what he does. Nobody told him that he also has a responsibility for disseminating standards as widely as possible, and his former responsibility of being a good citizen and making the UK a better place has been removed.

I saw something similar happen when the electricity supply industry was privatised. My boss went to a management meeting and came back and told us "We are no longer in the business of making electricity; now we are in the business of making money". The resultant game playing seemed to take the government by surprise.

Internally, each department and section was told that it was now a 'profit centre' so we would all be leaner and fitter. The result was that if I asked a colleague in another section or department for some advice he would want a cost code to charge it against, or refuse to speak to me for more than a few minutes. Our bosses were astonished, and encouraged us all to play nicely together even though the structure they had set up forbad this.
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