About Us

Alistair Campbell

Founder: The 12Volt Blog

I’m originally from Cape Town and after first visiting Australia in 1998 I eventually migrated to Australia permanently in 2006.

My career started as a site engineer looking after the installation of railway signalling and telecom systems. Some of that equipment was in very remote parts of the country and therefore powered by solar and wind, so my journey with renewable power systems started when solar was in its early stages. This also involved batteries and inverters that were used for backup power.

I then ran my own business for several years, in the field of Industrial Electronics, before joining a university in Cape Town teaching electrical engineering. It’s funny how you only learn something properly when you have to teach it to others. Also, the students were placed in industry for a year while studying, so they had a whole heap of real-world questions to fire off at any given moment. Applying all those classroom theories to real-world problems was very rewarding, but it keeps you on your toes!

In Australia I taught Systems Engineering and related subjects, with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as well. I still do some teaching but nowadays it’s mostly part-time and online. Oh, and in-between I worked in retail selling 12Volt stuff which presented daily examples of the practicalities and realities of 12Volt systems.

So that’s me – Hi!


Vision, Mission & Values

The textbooks say that every enterprise should have a statement of their Vision, Mission and Values. So in keeping with the less serious spirit of a blog, here is my take on that for The 12Volt Blog.


To be a trusted source of useful information about 12 Volt Systems.


In a general sense, one of the main aims in my life as an engineer was crystallised when inviting a guest lecture from Vernon, an engineering colleague at Cape Town City Council. The final-year subject was Engineering Management and this prepared students for the real world of work.

Vernon began by asking the students what they thought their main purpose was as a budding engineer about to be sent out into the big wide world. The usual answers were forthcoming, as one would hope – to help build a better future for the country, to be the best engineer possible, to help right the gender imbalance in engineering, etc. He commended them for their thoughtfulness and endeavour, and then told them that his main purpose, as an engineer, was basically to unfuck the world. This of course got the undivided attention of all, including myself as the subject lecturer.

The reasoning behind this rather bold statement is actually quite simple, but highlights a vital fact about engineering that is often overlooked, particularly by engineers. That is that engineering is actually not easy stuff – not everyone has the patience or interest to break their heads trying to understand the many facets that make up any engineering system.

A senior manager at an Australian defence company once put it this way: “we so often say of engineering systems ‘it’s not rocket science you know’ but in reality it is!” His point was that this engineering stuff is based on some really tricky fundamentals, from science, physics, mathematics, etc – and it’s not at all difficult to get it wrong – so in fact, yes, it is rocket science! And because it’s not easy, those who are trained in engineering and understand this stuff, have a duty-of-care to present it in a clear and straightforward way, so that it’s properly understood.

So this technical complexity means that it’s fairly easy to get engineering stuff wrong, and as might therefore be expected, people get it wrong all the time – including engineering people. This means that there is an awful lot in this world that needs to be untangled, particularly when it comes to engineering stuff.

So that’s basically my mission with this blog – to help unfuck the world – with a special focus here on all that is 12Volt in this world.


•  Be Nice – this is simple, but central to The 12Volt Blog

•  Fact over Opinion – it’s about the science and applying it soundly (=engineering!)

•  Help to untangle things – chase the problem not the symptoms, and then fix it