SHOCKING REVELATION!

MarkInLA May 23, 2012

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Get This ! ! Last night I placed my cheek (face cheek, that is ) on rails to gaze along to see if track was straight. I immediately felt a tiny shock. At first I thought it might be my beard stubble. So I grabbed a loose piece of flex track and touched it to my cheek. Of course there was no tingling..I have my NCE Power Cab power-supply plugged into a power strip which has an on and off switch which lights a red pilot-light when turned on ..Using strip helps save wear and tear of NCE plastic throttle plug..Anyway strip was turned off..Now I unplug power supply and plugged it directly into the wall socket and unplugged throttle so as to have it in 'off ' state..I touched rail again with cheek and sure enough, no shock.!! If I hadn't made this check of track straightness this way, I'd never have discovered this odd phenomenon !! Power strip is faulty !! A simple on-off, 5 socket power strip !..I then plugged NCE back into strip and its pilot light lit up very very dimmly ( in OFF position !). I now have strip out of area and will probably toss it out as I no longer have reciept..
    I say all this so that all who read this can make the same test..My Spectrum Ten Wheeler has been sitting on rails for about 6 months all day and night with a constant small current running through her, and maybe through throttle..My only other digital loco, a Mogul I had for 2 days, is on its way back to Bachmann with a drive-train problem. I am going to try and find a new power strip made in USA..But I doubt this animal exists any more...WOW ! How do you manufacture a simple power strip which leaks current ! ?? On top of that screw-hanger holes in the back are at wrong end forcing you to hang it with its chord running upward instead of toward floor !! Non of this cheap, crummy electrical stuff would have happened in 1952 !! What , with RCA, Zenith, and the rest all made in America then ! ! In no way am I bad mouthing any one group of people. I am citing the cheap labor used and quality of materials in so many devices now, out-sourced due to corporate greed......A brand new power strip !! I'm not at home writing this. I'll post brand name tomorrow. Check out your strip soon as possible using your cheek to rails...This is my sworn testimony under penalty of perjury... Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2012
  2. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would say that you and Murphy have a close relationship.
     
  3. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

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    Nothing is fail safe, nothing lasts forever, whether it is made in the USA or elsewhere. I use a power strip also and it has an on/off switch. But I also have it plugged into a recepticle that is controlled by a wall switch, so when I leave the room and turn off the lights, the layout is completly dead. Sometimes my cats get up on the layout and I often see them shaking their paws when they are standing on rails that are powered. It doesn't scare them away though.
     
  4. nanotheater

    nanotheater New Member

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    Not so shocking revelation

    A meter is essential for monitoring electronics. If you aren't using one, you have only yourself to blame. If you are so pro American made- why did you buy the cheap Chinese power strip in the first place?
    by the way - Harbor Freight has free (Chinese made) meters this month.
     
  5. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

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    Pick up a multimeter from Harbor Freight for bout $4.00. I have had three of them for some years or get an American made 12 volt auto light bulb for testing. Makes a good temporary load.
    A LED with a 1 k resistor makes a good power indicator. An added diode protects the LED when the DCC signal reverses polarity every cycle. That might be more than you understand about DCC. No idea your level of experience.
    I remember old timer auto mecahnics in the early 1950's using 6 volt lamps for testing and then 12 volt light bulbs when all the systems changed to 12 volt batteries.

    Rich
     
  6. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

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  7. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Now I know you fellas only play with half a real voltage on your mains :) but if you are slightly suspicious of the integrity of any of your mains equipment then using your face or a wet finger to test it is Darwin Awards material. Get a meter!

    Mark - before you toss that strip out have a really good look at anything printed on it that suggests any minimum or particular kind of load should be used, like "incandescent lights only". Just a thought I have.
     
  8. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Hey all ,thanks for advice and all ,but.....get this now !! I re-performed same test 1 AM this morning and NOTHING happened ! I put cheek on same rails after plugging same power strip back in same wall outlet and plugging NCE power supply back into same strip socket ..I turned strip on, Power Cab throttle lit up. I again put my cheek on rails ( now powered ) and still NOTHING happened ; no shock tingle ..Ten Wheeler was idling.. I even put my tongue on live rails and felt nothing but cold rails...I guess I owe all of you an apology for sounding an alarm before making certain of my findings...I do kid you not, what I stated in first post truly did occurr..Maybe it was some kind of odd wiring/grounding problem in my old building.Or maybe static-electricity related (though I have no carpets in Apt.).I tried every which way to get a shock this time and just couldn't..I turned power strip off for the night and made one final cheek test and absolutely nothing !!! I am truly sorry to the forum for the false alarm...The power strip is a Belkin with the UL sticker on it...I guess Belkin is A-OK ..(save for the wrong ended screw-hanger holes)..Anyone still willing to talk to me ; why does pilot light come on very dimly in off position when I plug something into its sockets, then goes off ? Again, I am sorry, but still stumped over the shock occurance (or is it Oh-currents ?) .......Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012
  9. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

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    Old building

    You say, old building. There might be a intermittent ground somewhere. I would also make sure you are plugged into a GFI breaker protected outlet.
    In my cellar, all the outlets are GFI protected.
    I also have what looks like a three prong plug device that plugs into the protected outlet. I turn the little knob on it and the breaker trips at at the required 5 MA.
    When I moved into a previously lived in house, I checked all the outlets around the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and installed GFI breakers in the cellar for the wall outlets.

    Rich
     
  10. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Yes, my building was built in 1963...All outlets do have the 3 holes..But, if this tells you anything, when I'm watching TV ( indoor antenna/digital to analog converter box to old analog TV) picture will pixilate/break up/drop out most times I turn on or off a lamp or ceiling light...I've always been suspicious of the wiring in building..But maybe everyone who has this TV set up experiences this...Fortunately our DCC locos don't cause this as they have RF chokes in decoders to surpress this interference......
     
  11. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

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    Just because you have receptacles that have a Positive, Neutral and Ground on it does not mean it is wired properly.
    You need to have a tester. It plugs in to the receptacle and LED's light up if it is correct or not.
    It is a really handy tool to have.
    There is no other way to know with out a tester of some sort. No matter what TV signal you get or what light you turn off or on.
    If problems the wiring is not correct.
    Way to many variables.
     
  12. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark

    "I even put my tongue on live rails and felt nothing but cold rails"

    Tell me you really didn't do that.

    I think you mentioned cats above. Is it possible a: one of THEM licked something causing a problem? b: One of them is stepping on a somewhat loose connection? c: are your wires secure under the table or do you have spaghetti down there which might very well be disturbed by cats?

    I run DC but have had intermittent drops in voltage on one block. It was driving me crazy. All connections were tight (or so I thought) until I reinspected underneath and found a soldering point that was loose. Dog sometimes travels there and probably jiggled it every once in a while. Sometimes the stranded wire was touching and sometimes only about an eighth of them were. I resoldered the joint and now the dog bounds around with alacrity.
     
  13. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    How would you " think you (I) mentioned 'cats' above " ? If you'll re-read the initial thread-starter or my follow-ups you will see I never mentioned cats...There are no pets mentioned in this thread..I put my tongue and my cheek on rails. Smart or not, I did, and nothing happened..This entire discussion has to do with a mysterious tiny shock from rails with power turned off ! I will now continue report in next post below this...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2012
  14. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Continuing on ,today...Get a load of this !!: I apologized for believing I'd made a grave error by blaming power strip maker for an inferior product and that small tingling shock I'd felt in my cheek had ceased...Today I went over to rails and again rested my cheek on rails and...SHOCK WAS BACK !! I even was able to disconnect NCE power supply from power strip ( with cheek still on rails) and ,as I did , shock stopped..plugged it back in and tiny shock returned...I phoned my local DWP and they told me it sounds like an EMF problem ( electro-magnetic field )...and that I could report it on-line to a tech..I just tried that a few minutes ago , before writing what you are now reading , but it took me in circles not being able to find a ' report problem ' space to enter it...I just don't get it..how can current be going through a power strip in OFF position ? My friend thinks it's a ground problem involving that 3rd prong on strip-plug into wall socket..Any others out there who savvy all this, your input wil be greatly appreciated. Thanks again to those who already have....... Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2012
  15. markwr

    markwr TrainBoard Member

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    Lexon mentioned an outlet tester in a previous post. I suggest you get one and check the wall outlets in the house. It sounds to me like the line and neutral connections may be reversed. Most power strips only switch the line leg of the circuit on and off. The neutral stays connected. If the line and neutral legs are switched someplace in the house wiring turning the power strip off is opening the leg of the circuit with the neutral connection and there is still a connection to the hot leg of the circuit, which means there is still 120 volts present. This condition can be very dangerous especially if you have any older devices with a metal housing that has the neutral leg connected to the housing. Older drills that weren't "double insulated" used to be made this way.

    The outlet tester is very easy to use. It looks like a three prong plug with three lights on it. You stick the tester in the outlet and two of the lights should come on. The tester has the correct two lights marked. If the wrong two lights are on something is reversed. Check all the outlets in the house. If you find any are reversed get an electrician to fix the problem. The problem is not all that difficult to repair but if you need us to explain this to you, you should get an electrician.
     
  16. kmcsjr

    kmcsjr TrainBoard Member

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    So... 3 things!
    1) - Completely off topic. nanotheater, you've been a member for 4 years and this inspires your first post! WELCOME! I hope you will now participate more. Also, I hope you will buy a TB car, if they are made.

    2) Mark - Don't lick the rails!

    3) Naaahhh, 3s been beat to death. You have to check the outlet wiring before you rule out the power strip.

    4) Don't lick the wall outlet!
     
  17. UPBigBoy

    UPBigBoy E-Mail Bounces

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    Try this and follow the instructions to a TEE, remove the cover plate from the wall switch and look inside, how many wires do you see and what color are they - you should see at least one white wire, one black wire and one straight copper wire ( no insulation on this wire ). Do not put anything inside the box to move any wires to see what the colors are. What and how many wires do you see?
     
  18. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Firstly, markwr and UPBigBoy (above) thanks immensly for your input and directions..I will do both these soon..Marty, I am a member for 5 years and 1 month (not 4)and have many numerous threads, posts, replys since near day 1. I go all way back to long discussions with Watash, a grand fellow many in Tboard knew and loved, who passed away quite a while ago. Wow, did he know railroading !!
    Finally, I have had same power-strip in same outlet, with NCE power supply plugged into strip since last night. I have gotten no shock since !! I just don't know..Perhaps it's all been a bad dream I had..Maybe it is just my beard stubble..yet sometimes it seems to have that teensy current-sensation and other times cold and dead as a door nail..!! Fellas, everyones' suggestions are well taken..Don't exert yourselves any longer over me..I'll get it straightened out one way or another.. Let's let it go at this juncture. I'll post final decisions and findings at a later date when it's all been corrected..
    Hopefully I'll get my Mogul from Bachmann soon (had prob with prior) and perform my very first consist Op using 2 locos to get a train up a couple grades. Actually, as they being 2 steamers, I'd really enjoy having another engineer run his engine seperately as a pusher, like the realroaders did ..But I'll need a Pro-Cab first and another warm body...
    Many Thanks...Mark..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2012
  19. mfm_37

    mfm_37 TrainBoard Member

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    Could have been the capacitors in the booster hadn't drained when you felt that first shock with your cheek.

    I'm wondering how leakage at the power strip could get through to the track. Double insulated power supply? Booster with no connection to house ground? Just saying...

    Martin Myers
     
  20. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Hey guys ! I did what a couple of you suggested and bought an outlet tester with the 3 lights..I plugged it into all the sockets in my apartment and guess what ? !! All were correct EXCEPT 3 in living room where I plug in the power strip and NCE power supply !! That plug and 2 others lit up red and amber on tester !! I now have a long heavy duty 3 prong extention chord running from a correct outlet over to throttle area until I get bad outlets rewired !! Thank you ,thank you, thank you all for getting me to make this simple, low cost inspection..I really didn't believe it'd pan out for me this easy...I'm shocked ! ( not really ! ) ..Done deal. Over and out ... Mark
     

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