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  1. #1

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    How dangerous is a blown Speedotron power pack?

    So, while buried by my studies, my university announced that their Speedotron powerpack had "arced" along the 1200w connectors and blown them out, as well as frying the cord attached to said connectors.

    Now, this powerpack is only barely known to me. I use monolights as I find them more to my liking. I do know it has a 400w, 800w and 1200w set of connectors and looks like it came from the mid 1970s.

    Here is my concern.

    In their ummm...."wisdom" the photo department has deemed, somehow, this powerpack to be "100% safe if you use the 400w and 800w plugs." So they are saying students should use the powerpack despite the fact that it is severely damaged. This REALLY worries me. I mean the thing partially MELTED. Now, worse of all, since there are big signs saying "NO SHOES ON PAPER", most students are in there barefoot.

    Barefoot + Electricity = A Visit From The Skinny Guy In Black Who Has That Old Timey Weedwacker.

    So I turn to APUG font of all knowledge....

    Is this rig safe? I'd be inclined to assume "NO!" because who knows WHAT has been damaged. And I KNOW that no factory guys have looked at this thing. It seems that such damage could mess up the whole thing, possibly creating an "imminent failure" situation.

    Any legit concern there?
    Official Photo.net Villain
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    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Well, I'd definitely have it looked at before plugging it in again. Even if it's just the result of arcing and not blown capacitors, you never know what kinds of shorts the arcing may have caused internally.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  3. #3
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    OK, this is just my opinion, but I wouldn't even plug it in, much less use it, until it's been fixed.
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  4. #4
    Thomas Wagner's Avatar
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    As one of those that has had to repair and maintain those things. (AV Specialist, local college) I offer the following.

    A lot of times there will be no problem with equipment that is partially disabled. But, it has to be disabled internally so that the switch position or plug will not work even if it is accidently used. Then appropriately labled! Any good AV Specialist can do that, but if they just say don't use that position it is not good enough. Lets face it budgets at universities and colleges do not allow for everything to be replaced. So, some "safe" corners have to be cut.

    And that brings up a chance to mention my favourite peeve during that part of my service. I would like to shout this from a rooftop... "if a piece of equipment has a grounded plug, it must not be tampered with" Cutting off the ground on any equipment caused it to be immediately removed from service till repaired. Equipment that is designed to be used in a grounded plug can be bloody dangerous if modified. If you must absolutely positively use it, use an adapter. That way the next person will not suffer from some fool's mis-use.

    And you can flame me on this one. During my years at the college we never had one single person hurt by defective equipment.

    Tom
    I was going to try pornography, but could not find any used pornographs

  5. #5
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Sounds like someone yanked a NOT "arc-proof" plug while the unit was charged. An "Old" Speedotron, with melted / fused ... anything. No. I wouldn't use it - not even on a bet!!!
    In fact, I'd run like hell is anyone within 5 meters was trying to use it!! There is a LOT of energy stored in those - any - Power Pack.
    Someone around there must have a dazed look, and probably, burned fingers.

    I love my DynaLites and their arc-proof connectors.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #6

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    This thing can & will knock your ass across the room! If you're lucky you'll still be alive. If they don't have it fixed they'd better have some mighty good insurance!

  7. #7

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    They are REFUSING to admit that there might be ANY problem. Which is baffling to me. They claim that the system is "100% safe", and that nobody can get hurt by it.

    Which is pretty damn odd considering the thing still smells like burnt plastic! This thing arced BIG TIME!
    Official Photo.net Villain
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    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]

  8. #8
    eric's Avatar
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    The reason that I am afraid of 'electric things is cause of the speedotrons. I've been blown by them twice while trying to plug something into it. I discharged it and the red light was off and I plug the darn thing in and booom! I went across the room. I'll have to go back to therapy now that you brought up some latent memories

  9. #9
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Kennedy
    They are REFUSING to admit that there might be ANY problem. Which is baffling to me. They claim that the system is "100% safe", and that nobody can get hurt by it.

    Which is pretty damn odd considering the thing still smells like burnt plastic! This thing arced BIG TIME!
    Hmmm... They insist it's safe? Good - have THEM turn it on!

    I'd stick with the monolights and use faster film if I had to, but I wouldn't go near a 30 year old Speedotron...
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  10. #10
    Thomas Wagner's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like they have a defective technical department too....

    One of the reasons I am no longer in the loop so to speak is that they deemed that technicians are no longer needed. I took early retirement. Plug and play is the answer. So,there is no one left that can actually fix anything. You are dealing with a hell of a lot of juice fully charged. And as eric says we assume that they discharge when the light is off. Unfortunately that light off means the unit can still be 75 -80 % of full charge. Your only way of knowing for sure that it does not hold a huge charge is turning it off immediately after manually flashing it. It takes a few seconds to recharge, and in that time you can be assured that it is safe. I am not sure about the speedotrons but some units can be manually flashed after they are turned off to completely discharge them. Either way, you should not have to put up with the line they are giving. If they cannot assure that they have disabled the high power section you can be sure they have not!

    If you do have to use it, keep one hand in your pocket while you plug and unplug the heads. That way your shock will not be lethal...
    I was going to try pornography, but could not find any used pornographs

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