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Amazed the power held out.

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by sandman357, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. We had an outdoor gig at a fall festival for a huge subdivision. They have a big common area that we set up in that also had moon bounces, inflatable slides etc.. So we get there and start setting up and there is no power. I ask where we plug in, and one of the organizers says the generator. I say what generator? They forgot to rent a generator for us.

    We end up connecting a few extension cords together and connect the board, my 410 and one powered main to a generator that was also inflating the moon bounce 200 feet away. Then connected a bunch more extension cords together and ran them across the field, across the street to the closest house about 400 feet away. That line powered the other main and the two amps/pedals for our guitarists.

    It was funny seeing a bunch of neighbors going to their homes and coming back with every type of extension cord imaginable hoping we would be able to plug in and play. Even with cars running over the cord going across the street, the power held out all afternoon.
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    You're damn lucky your gear didn't fry..... You really tempted fate with dirty generator power and choked electrical from the long extension cord runs.
  3. Thanks. I knew enough to be uneasy with the situation, but dumb enough to go with it anyway. Luck was on my side yesterday. Now I am trying to educate myself to be better prepared next time. Which is why I posted here instead of the Gig Stories section. I spent last evening and this morning reading up on portable generators, dirty power, ground loops, "illegal extension cords" etc.

    So I know the power strips I was hoping would add some protection are like "the protection you get from a crash helmet when your parachute fails". A power conditioner is better, but not the one and only solution. That is as far as I have gotten. With that in mind, what is your opinion on the Furman M-8X power conditioner? http://www.furmansound.com/product.php?div=01&id=M-8x

    Would something like this work for the whole band, just the PA and my Bass amp, just the PA or none of the above? And would that have offered me any protection in the situation I was in yesterday?
  4. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    That's just a deluxe power bar.

    In those case you need a voltage regulator for the sensible stuff. (FX , computers , processing racks, video, etc...)

    The power amps should have the protection to shut off when things get dirty.

    Or get a voltage regulator with lots of output for the power amps too.

    Check in "AC Voltage regulator" in the left column of the link you provided.
  5. After researching this all morning I think I am more confused than when I started. The power conditioner/voltage regulator info out there is similar to the mixing of speaker sizes debate:meh: Everyone is saying something different.

    So I have two Alto TS112A speakers for my PA. I also have a third one I use as a monitor for my singer. They have Over-excursion, Thermal, and Driver protection built in. Total price for all three, about $700. I run them through an Alto Professional ZMX122FX 8-Channel 2-Bus Mixer. Cost $80 (factory reconditioned). So my total PA cost me under $800 and the speakers have built in protection. I am thinking I don’t need to spend $600 on a Furman P-1800 PF R to protect it.

    My bass head is a Peavey Tour 700 Bass Amplifier. It has DDT™ speaker protection, Short Circuit protection, Thermal protection circuit, Cooling fan failure protection circuit, Current limit protection circuit, and a DC output protection circuit.

    I have no clue what my guitarists have and what protection they have. As far as my equipment goes, when in a situation like I was in yesterday, what if anything do I need to protect my equipment? Now I am thinking the worst that could have happened yesterday is that the equipment could have shut down, but nothing should have fried. Am I wrong?
  6. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Power conditioners, and/or AC regulators are not going to do much more than your gear already does.
    The amps, if they need regulation, will have regulated power supplies. They have built in power filtering, and MOV surge protection.

    Many amps run fine on ranges of voltage.

    Rent or get your own generator, or big Battery Power inverters.
  7. will33


    May 22, 2006
    With respect to the crazy long extension cord runs.....

    If it was really 200 ft. and 400ft., the last thing I'd worry about was the gear. You guys are so far away from a grounding rod anywhere your bodies could've easily became the path of lesser resistance to ground if anything happened to go wrong.

    That's a long way of saying you were in real danger of electrocution.

    Don't do that again.
  8. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    I played a gig a in an outdoor beer garden (basically a giant canopy tent) at the Nebraska State Fair back on Aug 31. The idiots let the generator run out of fuel mid-song in the 3rd set. :rollno: Once they got it back up I think the power was screwy - the Furman in our PA rack tripped power for the PA two more times. My BG250 combo and the guitarists amp kept working though.
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Ok....let's think about this for a minute.

    So, say something goes wrong and the juice starts looking for ground. Which is the easier path?

    Through 400 feet of wire that was almost certainly 14 guage at least somewhere along the way, being that it was a bunch of random people's extension cords strung together?

    Or through a nice set of bass strings and 6 feet of human flesh?

    I don't know what the exact safety standard is, it would vary with the situation but I'd be pretty damn nervous long before some 400 feet. And that's just from stage to house, not through the house and into ground.

    400 feet is one extension cord longer than an entire football field including both endzones. Was it really that far?
  10. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    More likely that it's 16Ga. To keep the same amp rating with any extension cord, for ever 100 feet you add, you go up a size.

    ex. 14Ga 100' cord is rated for 15 amps. If I extend it over 100' I need to go to a 12Ga cord(s) to keep the 15 amp rating. 300' I would need 10Ga. Keeps the voltage drop and overheating in check. Do not follow this rule, and you will melt a cord, probably fry something sensitive, or worse cause a fire. #1 cause of home fires.

    My Long service cord for mains are 200' 6ga-4wire. I tie into either 2 120v outlets on separate breakers, or tie into the panel directly on a 240v breaker. Even then I don't run more than 20amps per leg. There is not one cord in the shop less than 14 ga. Most are 12Ga. I also have a 1000' roll of 6-5 SO cord (for 3 ph A, B, C, N, G) I have yet to need it as my 6-4 SJ cord has always fit the bill.

    As far as grounding goes, distance isn't an issue, improper bonding at panel, or no ground, (or federal pacific panel boxes lol) will cause issues not feeding the breaker enough amperage to trip it, that current is traveling somewhere else...
  11. will33


    May 22, 2006
    The guy described that some of their gear was powered by a bunch of neighbors connecting together whatever extension cords they could come up with to somebody's house 400 feet away. No doubt things got hot and power sagged. My bigger concern is having the grounding rod that far away. The path to ground being through all that thin wire or through the body.

    He also said some was powered off a generator 200 feet away. I wonder if they drove a grounding rod for the generator or if this was also some hack job...neighbors generator grounded through their house?

    Lots of opportunities for a very bad ending here.
  12. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    Only generators that are permanently installed without a remote panel, require it's own ground rod and bonded. ( that rule changes also when you get about 20,000watts , I think) Remember on a 20 amp breaker it take 20.1 amps less than 250ms to trip it. Even a 22 ga wire could pass that. The neutral and ground are tied together internally in all generators, like your panel box at home. The only time you don't bond them together is if there's another disconnect upstream of the panel, then the neutral and ground get bonded there.

    But on that note, You should always check to see that the outlet is properly grounded... Either with an outlet tester, or a ohm meter. With the ohm meter check between neutral and ground on ac first to make sure the hot and neutral aren't backwards. Then set to ohms and test. Should read 0Ω's
  13. will33


    May 22, 2006
    That helps explain things. Hopefully breakers do their job and save the day.

    Still, if I walked into a situation like that, I would probably refuse to play and tell them why. Most people don't like the idea of other people ending up in the hospital or worse due to halfassed, rigged up electrical stuff on their property.

    As an aside....I don't have much experience with generators other than using them in the Army many years ago. I don't remember what sort of power was in use, but driving a grounding rod was the first thing you did. They used a few of these things to power the IPF ( Intelligence Processing Facility ), which was basically 4 or 5 tractor/trailer rigs all parked in a row with sides that slid out (like modern day RV's), connected together and made what amounts to a mobile office complex with a bank of sattelite dishes and other types of antennaes outside that intercepted communications.
  14. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Never mind.
  15. Point well taken. Won't ever happen again.

    The generator had GFI receptacles so no grounding rod in the ground. That powered my bass, one powered main, and a passive board.

    The other run to the house was closer to 350 feet. It had 2 100' cords and three 50' cords. This was to the "stage", plus the cords and power strips connecting everything. These powered 2 guitar amps and the other main. It was plugged into the house itself.

    Hindsight being 2020, we should have known better. We are all old, so young and dumb is not even an excuse. Just dumb.

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