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What's that flashing red light?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    EDIT - See post #11 for today's question...

    Is this a house wiring problem? Is the electrical outlet not grounded? If that's not it, then what is it? And what do I do about it?

    I have an older Trace Elliot AH250 amp that I really like. It's only down fall is that it seems to be "picky" about it’s power. When I plug it in to certain wall outlets, a red LED flashes and I get a repeating "click" sound through the speakers. I'm not sure exactly what the LED really indicates (I've looked every where for info - if you have a manual please PM me!) …anyway, I think it's labeled "ECI" or something like that? (sorry, I'd have to check that to be sure) I do know that this light is not part of normal operations, and only comes on when the amp doesn't like the wall outlet it's plugged into. This has only happened twice, both time in basements of old houses.

    I need to get a handle on what is really going on here, as it kind of plays into my next question - what to do about it? I have used other amps that seemed to work fine in the outlets this one has trouble with. My guitar player has his giant Mesa triple rectifier plugged into power that my Trace doesn't like. Is the issue with the amp? Are some amps more "picky" about their power?

    My band wants to start playing out soon. I took this amp to use in the jam space for the first time last night, and had the problem I described above. I took care of it by finding an extension cord and plugging into an outlet that worked right. My guitar player asked "What are you going to do when it happens on a gig?" I told him that was a good question, and I'd sort out some sort of answer.. So..

    What should I carry on a gig in case this happens? A lot of extension cords? A different amp head as a back up, hopefully one that works normally on outlets that the Trace "doesn't like". Does my amp need some sort of service?

    Sorry for the long read. Any info is greatly appreciated.
  2. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    Get a good multimeter. Fluke or Craftsman.

    Set i to Voltage AC, and start examining your outlets. Write down a list of what the actual voltage reads at, and whether the amp functions in that outlet.

    Some electronics gear can function well out of the standard 110-120VAC range. Some are finicky. It sounds like that amp could have a brown-out protection circuit, that won't let it come on if it has too little voltage. Which is very nice, but also shows the flaws in lots of buildings.

    That's why we all have power conditioners with voltage readouts in our gear. Also, my brother has that little outlet tester that has two yellow lights and a red light, to tell you if it's got out-of-phase power, no ground, reversed hot-ground, missing common, all those conditions. It's invaluable. It's $6. It should be part of your gigging gear always.

    Aside from that, an instruction manual is your next step to tell you what that light means.
  3. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    So, you think it's a voltage issue and not a ground issue?

    Would a power conditioner be a cure of that is in fact the problem?

    I think that the amp does work when it's in a "bad" outlet - it just flashes red warning light and makes a constant "click, click, click..." sound (with no input signal) ...honestly, I haven't tried playing it when it does this - I've always just switched to an outlet that doesn't have the issue...

    Anybody else have any ideas?
  4. wingnut


    Apr 18, 2007
    Las Vegas Nv.
    Use a power bar with a surge protector. Sounds like the power supply is not constant, common in old homes. When the power drops, the amp is starving, when the power surges to compensate for the drop, the amp is being overloaded.
  5. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Anybody else?

    I'm still having a hard time believing that it's fluctuating voltage, and not a bad ground.

    If it was fluctuating voltage, wouldn't it be the same all throughout the house?

    When my issue crops up, it is usually just with only one particular outlet. I can move to a different one in the same room and all is great.

    The mysterious red light doesn't really flash randomly, it blips at a steady rhythm (or maybe it stays lit solid - jeez, I'm tired today and have to check.)

    The speakers do a steady "click, click, click..."

    fluctuating voltage, or bad ground?

    Sorry this thread is so wordy already, if your not clear on anything I'm saying, ask and I'll try to explain better.

    The bottom line is - this was to be my gigging amp and I need to know if it's up to the challenge.
  6. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Unless there's someone out there who by chance knows exactly what the problem is from personal experince all else is idle speculation. Get an owners manual and find out what that LED is for.
  7. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    There is no owner's manuals. This is the old T.E. from the early to mid 80's - I've talked with TBer's who are Trace Elliot experts, I've scoured the web every way I can think of, a manual just doesn't exist. That's not going to happen. I wish I could get an owners manual.

    I guess I'll have to see if I can get my dad or my brother to come up to my place with tools and test an outlet that gives me trouble, and tell me what is wrong with that outlet. (they're both electricians, but both live over 100 miles away and almost never come up this way) maybe they could talk me through it on the phone, but I don't have the tools.
  8. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Get an outlet tester and see what it says about your ground. They're like $5 at Radio Shack or Home Depot.
  9. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    It would help to know exactly what it is labeled. If it said, for instance, GFI or GFCI it would be obvious that improperly wired outlets are the cause.
  10. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Thanks guys. I plan to stop in to the hardware store tonight and hopefully pick up a multi meter, or at least a simple circuit tester.

    Then I'll go by the jam space and check out the outlets that don't work for my amp. I can check out the LED on the amp at that time and see how it is labeled.

    I'll post back with my findings as I'm trying to determine if I'll have trouble at gigs and if my guitar players gear is safe on these circuits.
  11. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Okay, I checked the outlet and here's the deal:

    The outlet that gives my amp trouble has the hot and the neutral wires switched.

    Why do other amps not have trouble in this outlet?

    Are these other amps in danger when being used on this outlet?

    What are the chances of running into this situation on a gig?

    What would I do if I have this problem on a gig?

    (my buddy thinks I could probably use a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter and be fine - think that would work? Would it be safe?)
  12. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I don't know the answers to all your questions, but the chances of outlets being wired wrong at various venues are excellent. ;)
  13. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA

    You would be fine...until the electrical system you were plugged into encountered a fault current situation. Then all bets are off.

    Edit: Unless you of course connected the ground terminal, which I've never known anybody to actually do when using those things.
  14. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006

    That's more dangerous than anything else. Do NOT use those adapters.

    What's happening, is your amp's getting out-of-phase power or, more likely, half-phase power. This migh be something a person with some experience in home electrical work could fix, but is still a dangerous fix to rewire that outlet. If your brother or father are electricians, let them redo the practice space.

    Aside from that, start bringing a long extension cord. Use that outlet tester before you plug your rig in anywhere.
  15. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006

    Perhaps those other amps have larger/stronger capacitors to buffer the juice more, giving the amp enough power? I'm trying to remember my past experiences with this stuff... crap...

    Your amp isn't the only one that has this kind of problem. Another band playing with us had terrible terrible 60hz hum in their guitarist's rig when on his clean channel setting. We plugged his rig elsewhere, fixed it. Brother checked that outlet later with his tester, sure enough hot and neutral were switched, just like your situation.
  16. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    They do not have the protection circuit that it's now obvious that the Trace does.
    They aren't, you are.
    Too high. Take your tester with you and be safe.

    Ask Keith Relf (Yardbirds).
  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    I say it's a ground issue and it's very dangerous to operate an amp on a non grounded power source. I'd be very careful about this. I have a Peavey TNT130 that goes pretty screwy when it's plugged into a non grounded power source. The sound cuts in and out!

    *edit. Just read the above post.
  18. tracingelliot


    Mar 27, 2008
    The ECI LED is common on older trace elliot amps.

    ECI stands for 'Earth Continuity Indication'. So if its flashing it suggests there is some problem with the earth continuity?!

    tracingelliot x
  19. if the problem is the phase and neutral wires being crossed couldnt you make a home brew adaptor to uncross them?
  20. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    +1 to everything-especially brining your outlet tester to gigs, and using it. I've come across many bad one's that way. Bring an extension cord too, because it always seems to be where the outlet closest to your gear is the bad one.

    As for Keith Relf-you'll have to google his name-you'll find out why when you do :eek:

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