At its Web site ( Seaside Computing offers the latest release of its Refrigeration Basics training CD-ROM, with a new feature. After an introduction to the HVACR trade and its main technical concepts, the user can troubleshoot 100 interactive boards with virtual volt/ohm/amp meters, high- and low-side pressure gauges, and a digital thermometer to try and solve faults.

The product is unique for several reasons, according to Steve Kennedy, Seaside Computing's owner and e-book designer. “Most books providing refrigeration and air conditioning training are written by engineers and educational consultants,” said Kennedy. “As such, they tend to end up being at least a couple of inches thick and try to cover every conceivable topic in an in-depth manner.

“This presents a huge barrage of information which beginners find difficult to assimilate. It's the old “can't see the forest for the trees” syndrome. Refrigeration Basics on the other hand is written and produced by a refrigeration mechanic. It uses interactive graphics to lead the participant through important concepts in a visual way.”

Kennedy added that “once an important concept is established, the e-book moves on to other important concepts rather than getting into greater and greater depth. Usually text accompanies graphics and animations, which are updated by the user clicking on buttons as the text proceeds. The result is a smoothly integrated presentation where the appropriate images are always in view of the text and are updated at the appropriate time by the participant.”

According to Kennedy, refrigeration is a “process.” Troubleshooting requires knowledge of specific parameters such as superheat, subcooling, head pressure, suction pressure, discharge temperature, and amperage draw. After learning how these factors are related to system operation, the student is given the opportunity to try troubleshooting in a safe environment, the virtual world. This reinforces newly learned concepts and demonstrates how the troubleshooting process works.

“The participant may select any test instrument and take readings in any order, just like the real world,” Kennedy said. “The net effect is an immediate sense of control and a grasp of the refrigeration process and what is involved when working in the HVACR field. Although the word basic is in the title, this training CD-ROM is much more than that. It takes the participant through things as complex as capacity control, once again by utilizing user updated graphics of things like cylinder unloading, suction cutoff, etc.”

The features of Version II (standard) and Version III (professional) Refrigeration Basics include:

  • Interactive graphics;

  • Animated graphics;

  • Full screen graphics;

  • Actively linked text;

  • Actively linked review questions;

  • PT chart refrigerant database;

  • Interactive refrigerant side diagnostics;

  • Interactive electrical troubleshooting; and

  • Exam marks itself.

    “Once one has been introduced to the overall picture in a way that makes understanding easy it becomes infinitely easier to comprehend those thick text books that rightfully so go into the minutia,” added Kennedy. “The HVACR field is vast. Specialized and in-depth knowledge in particular areas will always be required in varying degrees by different people. Learning those specifics becomes infinitely easier once one has a grasp of the overall picture.”

    For more information, e-mail Kennedy at

    Publication date: 04/14/2003