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My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment

Kent Jarvis (W7DUD) on March 7, 2004
View comments about this article!

It was the snowy winter of 1957. November, I think.

I had saved my high school lunch money for a year, and had just received a superb package of goodies, from Burstein Appebee Company in Kansas City MO. I was going to build a Power Supply, for a future Amateur power amplifier that I was going to build, from a QST magazine article.

I unpacked my new treasures, they included; 1 High voltage transformer 800V - 0 -800V at 250MA, 2 866A Mercury vapor rectifiers, 1 filter choke, a proper bleeder resistor, and several high voltage filter capacitors.

Over the next couple of days, I purchased chassis, tube sockets, terminal strips etc, from my favorite Electronic supply shops, grabbed my trusty Thor electric drill, and built the power supply. I had to build the supply in my bedroom, which was primarily my "workshop" with a place to sleep. It was a nice room, really. Paneled and carpeted, but I had given it the 15 year old kid electronics experimenter atmosphere. My mother sort of tolerated this, in the spirit of learning, self-education, and keeping me busy. She was like that. I remember the dark winter night Mom drove me across town, in a blinding Snow Storm, to a High School Shop Teacher, so I could pass off my Radio and Electronics Merit badge.

Anyway, after I built the Power Supply, with some fear, and trembling hands, I flipped the 866A filament voltage on. In about 2 minutes, the mercury, that had coated the inside of the glass 866A rectifier tubes, had disappeared, leaving clear glass envelopes. The orange filament glow was visible just below the tube plates, in the tops of the tubes.

Trembling, and wanting to plug my ears, in case a filter capacitor exploded, I flipped the Plate switch on, and quickly ducked below the table. No noise, no smoke.

Standing up again, I saw the blue glow of ionized mercury vapor. The Power Supply seemed to be working. The bleeder resistor was getting just a bit warm, and there was a faint hum.

I was very excited to measure the Power Supply output voltage. I grabbed my EICO model 232P Vacuum Tube Voltmeter, and clipped the meter ground lead to the Power Supply chassis. Since the voltmeter was plugged in farther away, the EICO probe would not quite reach to the Power Supply output terminal (a 2 terminal Cinch-Jones barrier strip). With the voltmeter probe in my right hand, I reached over and grabbed the Power Supply chassis, moved it closer to the probe, and touched the well-insulated voltmeter probe, to the Power Supply high voltage terminal.

Time instantly seemed to stand still. I saw the 2 mercury rectifiers light up brighter; my arms were hurting bad, I was shaking, and desperately wanted to move, but my muscles would not let me move. I could feel the current. I then must have blacked out.

I awoke in a strange place. When I could think more clearly, I discovered that I was on the floor, on the far side of my bed, between the bed and the wall (a small space). My chest, back, and hands hurt, and I was having considerable trouble breathing. I managed to get up, and went into the bathroom to observe the damage. I was breathing better now, but my arms were still asleep. I noted, with relief, that I appeared pretty much OK.

Much returned to normal, over the next few days, but I had a large blister on the palms of both hands, for a couple of weeks, and I had upper back pain continuously for several years. I still experience upper back pain. One doctor told me that the back muscles had contracted, and yanked on my spine hard.

Post Thrill Analysis: The EICO 232 Vacuum Voltmeter probe had a setscrew, to keep the coax cable, from backing out of the probe body. In tightening the setscrew, every so often, I had driven the setscrew in through the outer insulation, through the shield braid, through the coax insulation, and it was in contact with the center (high voltage) coax conductor. My left hand was on the power supply negative (the chassis), and my right hand was on the power supply positive output voltage (through the probe cable set screw). Boy did I ever learn a few things about working around high current, and high voltage!

I do not know if EICO changed the set-screw set-up on the probe, but just be aware, that If you are going to use your classic EICO 232 (a great vacuum tube voltmeter), make sure the set screw is only seated on the probe cable outer insulation, or you too could end up on the floor.

Did I ever tell Mom what happened, while she was at work that fateful day? NO. That would probably have been the end of my brief Electronics building era. If she is somehow now watching me relate this incident, her blue-green eyes would be flashing with the familiar scary sparks, as she prepares to chastise me for never telling her that almost "whacked" myself, back in the winter of 1957.

The Power Supply took it all in stride, and seemed to have no regrets. After the above incident, It was sitting there glowing, and waiting for a much more meaningful load, than me.

My family keeps telling me that "that shock" is why I am like I am. I don't know what that means, and I don't think I want to know Hi Hi.


Member Comments:
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My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KG4RUL on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My 'Shocking Moment" came at the hands of an Electric Fence Charger.

I was working in the Engineering Lab of a Farm Supply Cooperative on the development of new charger designs. I had constructed a new voltage divider to use while observing output waveforms with an Oscilloscope.

I wanted to check the voltage divider out before I installed it in the insulated case I had made for it so, I just laid it on the wooden bench top. I needed to adjust the AC input voltage so I leaned forward to reach the knob of the Variac.

Some time later, I realized that I was sitting on the floor with my back against the wall opposite the workbench. After my head cleared, I figured out that I had contacted the high voltage (70KV) end of the divider with my belly and completed the circuit with my right arm to the Variac case.

I also had a neat little puckered hole right above my navel as a souvenir.

Dennis / KG4RUL
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

That is very interesting. As I recall, the electric fence chargers had a time delay, that gave a few seconds between "Zaps", and then kept repeating. I fooled around a bit with an electric fence charger, that I purchased at Sears, and got suitably "shocked". However, the shock I have described, from this power supply, was clearly "World Class", to me.

My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N8BOA on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Should we realy be bragging about this??

I was in 7th grade and my Xmiter was a Heathkit DX-35 I held a novice ticket WN8NUG and for the first half we were required to be XTAL controled but the FCC gave there blesing for the novices to use VFOs and I was quick to get a heathkit VF-1 for the XMITER and everythig was good. However once in a while I would here a snap with a large amount of plate current. One day I wanted to get to the bottom of the snapping and reached for the VFO plug and POW. Out goes the lights my lights I came to with a blody nose and knew exatly wat was wrong the plate supply wire for the VFO was frayed and touching the metel can for the 8 pin plug. A quick solder job and a lot more respect and all was good.
P. Sean Coady
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K2WH on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My most shocking was when, just like you, I was building a HV supply for an amp. The transformer was a big SOB, 1kva at 2300 volts. The power supply was on for some time and for some unknown reason (stupidity), I wanted to check if the transformer was getting warm under load.

Well this transformer was of the open winding type and only had paper insulation over the HV windings. I reached in to place my finger tips on the paper and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor just like you. Fortunately, I did not have my other hand on the chassis. I did however have my elbow there. Anyway, my right arm would not work, and it hurt like hell. I have always described the feeling as being whacked in the arm with a baseball bat (full swing). I realized immediately what happened and checked to see if I was still breathing. I took a deep breath and decided to just stay on the carpet and rest.

After some time, I got up and noticed that I had a tiny burned hole in the tip of my finger and a tiny burned hole in my elbow. Oh, BTW, did I mention I'm and electrical engineer typically working with voltages upto 250,000 volts! This is a perfect example of how a trained individual, knowing the dangers of high voltage can forget for an instant (safety) and kill himself.

I realized that if I had had my other hand on this chassis, my ham career and my life would have probably been cut very short. Electrical safety is so important. Think before doing anything with HV equipment. Pull the plug and short it out.

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

It is a small world. My first rig was a DX-35, and a Heathkit VFO. Those plugs can be the source of a good "thrill". I am glad that you are still "vertical" now...

Thanks for the comment!

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Amen, my friend.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KG8JF on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
We are the same age and I also had some "shocking experiences. Do you ever get ribbed about your call sign?

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

This is my original Call. It is somewhat like being given a crazy name at birth, when you are too small to fight back. At that time, there were no vanity call signs, so you just had to grin and deal with it. There were a few other calls, that had vulgar implications. At least I didn't get one of those.

Yes, I got ribbed all the time, when I was a teen-ager, but I got the call back, for old times sake a few years ago.

I guess I felt better, in a QSO with my late friend Morley. I explained that I was not at all surprised that my original call was still available. Morley replied. "Its a keeper, It sends so good in CW".
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Was at the hands of an old R388 with apparently a leaky bypass cap or something or other. Anyway, the chassis was hot with about 90 volts, as I would later find out.

I had my hand on the chassis and went to grab the PL259 to connect the antenna. Now the shield screw is at ground, as well all know. That 90+ volts followed the well known deadly path right across my chest. It hurt like hell, I yelled the "F" word, and my girlfriend at the time came running. I was able to let go, but my hands did shake for 3 days. This was about 1985 I believe.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

That was a respectable jolt (we used to call it "getting juiced").

My first receiver was a National SW-54. I still have it, and it is working pretty good.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W8JI on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My worse shock was with a choke-input supply.

In the early 70's I had a 7200 volt RMS 5kVa pole pig that I wanted to run my 4-1000A tubes with. In order to get the HV down to 6000 volts, I wanted to use a choke input supply. Using power company surplus parts, including a large ~10mFd 20kV capacitor, I built the supply.

I followed all the guidelines in the W6SAI handbook, and flipped the switch on. With a loud bang and flash from the tubes in the RF deck, it opened the 30 amp 240V fuses.

Disconnecting the tubes it fired up, but some things hissed or sizzled a bit!

I connected the HV probe of a Simpson meter through a 25kV insulated wire to the HV output, kept the wire tucked a few feet away from me, and stood on a rubber mat. With one hand in my pocket, I flipped the switch on.

The 25kV lead blew in two and came snaking out of the cabinet and attached itself to my wrist. It fried on my wrist with fire coming off the ends of my fingers until the 30 amp fuses blew.

The weirdest thing is how I reacted. I wound up watching the clock second hand, trying to recall exactly how long my brain would work after my heart stopped. After the second hand went around a couple times, I thought "Hmmm, I didn't die!".

I wound up with a charred hole on my fingers and wrist. The hole was about the size of a quarter in my wrist, and my fingers still have the shape of the toggle switch on them.

I later learned that if conditions are just right a resonant choke can boost the HV to several times what you might expect. However much voltage I had, it was enough to arc 4-1000A's over internally and to blow through a good new-condition 25kV test lead.

I wrote Orr about warning people, but I never heard anything back and never learned if the Handbook was changed.

Since then, I have been perfectly normal but the rest of the world sure isn't!

The important point is I worked on a HV rated rubber mat, and worked with one hand. I also didn't touch anything except a well-grounded panel.

73 Tom
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N9CYS on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This story subject should be "Survivor"!

I have a L4-B that needs some PS work, but I keep thinking about the PS that bit me. I guess that's why that project is unfinished.

In high school, I worked in a small factory that manufactured musical instrument tuners. Every month or so, we would come in on a Saturday and build several dozen of the main chassis of the tuners, including the PS. I was powering them up that day and got a little careless that morning when I had a finger in the chassis (moving a wire) and brushed the other forearm across the other corner of the box. Suddenly, I was on arse, several feet from the bench, courtesy of 325V (I don't remember the current, but I can attest to it).

After I got my senses back, my boss gave me a nutdriver to operate in chassis assembly, and told my replacement to be more careful than me!

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA5N on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The old adage "keep one hand in your pocket" should be harkened to. Even that didn't prevent two scars on my right hand and arm.
Allen KA5N
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KD6NXI on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have been nailed many times but only once seriously. For some reason tube type gear has bypass capacitors from the ac line to the chassis. Some sort of filtering I assume. Well I was fixing an old heathkit broadcast receiver and touched ground with one hand and the chassis with the other which was hot because of a leaky(or shorted) bypass cap. So I basically got 110 across me. Made me throw hte screwdriver I was holding out of my hand and thereafter for about 2 hours my right arm hurt. I do not care to repeat the experience and from then on I have a habit of removing bypass capacitors because I have found even if they are brand new ones they still pass current(I don't know how they couldn't really, it is AC after all) and it's enough to give you a nasty little bite. The solution to this is to ground everything VERY well and to go really whole hog, run all your gear through an isolation transformer. A big one...
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KT0DD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have been told a true story of an American who moved to Central America, who used to talk to several of my friends here in WY. They said he paused a QSO to check something in his VERY large amp (5-7KW range)and the person he was talking to said "Be sure to unplug it". He remarked "Why, it'll only take a minute." He became a SK over that very incident.

Whenever someone we know says they are about to work on something, someone always jokingly says " Don't
unplug it, It'll only take a minute", Just as a reminder of what happened to that poor fellow, and what can happen to anyone who doesn't practice safety!

My worst shock was from stepping in a puddle of water with a poorly spliced 440V line running through the puddle on an old drilling rig 20 years ago. Thank God for safety inspectors after the big drilling boom of the 80's. I must not have gotten the full charge, as I'm still here. 73.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N0MXJ on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Even if you have taken all the precautions and have all the protection in the world, sometimes it'll get you. Now I am a HV switchgear technician, and well trained in working around energized HV power systems up to 230KV. Several years ago I was working in an old municipal power plant in Iowa, testing their generators. The generator leads came up behind an old open switchgear panel. You could walk behind the front of this panel. The generator leads came up inside the panel to the generator disconect breaker mounted on the front panel. From the top of the breaker the leads went through a set of air blade switches mounted on the back of the front panel. the energized main bus ran overhead the length of the switchgear panel. We decided to test generator, cables, and breaker, then if the test showed any problems, we would isolate the generator and test items individually. There was 3 foot wide walkway behind the front of the panel, and in back of this walkway was a set of potential transformers for the metering. The leads that fed them came down the back wall of the gear, through a set of air blades, to the transformers. Now I was in a full set of gear, hot glove, arm protectors, hard hat, and full insulated vest. I got back behind the panel, with a short switch stick, trying to open the generator air break blades. These blades probably hadn't been opened for 40 years or more and they were stuck. I was banging the switch stick and putting some muscle into it, when the switch stick fell out of the air break blade, and my arm swung back and hit the air break for the metering transformers behind me. I hit the back switches with my elbow, and a somewhat sharp edge of the switch puctured my arm protector. It threw me forward against the generator breaker(breaker was dead, generator wasn't running) and all I could see was white. There must have been quite a flash, and I laid there on the walkway wondering if I was still alive. When they got me out of the gear, I had a hole burned into the side of my elbow about the size of a quarter. And another one out the bottom of my right foot. I still have the scars on my elbow and foot and it's been at least 15 years. I own my own hot gloves and use them regularly when working on energized amateur gear. More amateurs should own a pair. They are not all that expensive (<$100) and just might save your life. That switchgear incident was only 2400VAC, but if will kill you just as dead as the wrong kind of 120V jolt will. Since that incident, I've been very careful. There's an old saying, "There are old electricians, and there are bold electricians, but there are no old, bold electricians." Think, and think again folks, before you handle HV DC or AC.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Your story is one that I am very familiar with. I was an Area Power Distribution Engineer. I felt right at home, in my "Grubbies", down in a muddy trench, with a line crew. My era was a first. Engineers actually left the office, and assisted line crews, in switching, breaker settings, regulator settings etc. I have nothing but the highest respect for the guys, like you, that take the real risks, on any Power System. Without you guys, Engineering did not get implemented. However, the crew always wanted me there, to watch, and explain, if my idea blew up!!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
With respect to me previous post. Many of the younger crew members, did not trust Engineers. If something blew up, the usual response was something like; "Ok everybody, come over here, and let the Engineer explain why the ###ing regulators blew the ### up, when we did exactly what he told us to do".

Quite a learning experience. Tends to make you do a lot of thinking before giving a switching procedure to a line crew. As luck would have it, things worked most of the time, and we stayed friends (sort of) Hi Hi
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AC5E on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Different line of electrical work - but about 30 years ago I decided to count the arc burns. I quit at 30 scars, the ones I can see with my clothes on, and decided I needed to be in a lower voltage line of work. But the worst I was ever hurt came from a piece of consumer electronics JUNK! Which will take a bit of explaining.

We had a 22 year old nephew of the boss who wasn't the sharpest knife in the box. The boss found out I was teaching high school kids to read in my spare time and naturally, besides my regular work I got detailed to teach Buddy to read. Typical HS graduate, you understand.

So I use Buddy to hand me tools and keep his nose in a reader when I'm doing something else. This went on for a while, when the secretary brings in a Philco transformerless TV and asks pretty please won't I look at it in my spare time. I had spent plenty of time looking at that micro mini'd eyeful so I figured fair's fair and she's the boss' favorite anyhow.

I take the back off and was peering inside the thing when Buddy decides he wants to spell his own name. So I explain how to sound out words - and Buddy says "Well, I guess you would spell Edward O-d-d-f-a-r-t-"

I looked up in surprise - stuck my hand just a little to the left - and the voltage doubler got me! The next thing I know I'm under a work bench a dozen feet away, wondering which world I'm in. Those are the scars, right there!

A few minutes after that I strongly suggested Mr. Buddy go to welding school - because whatever happened I was not about to try to teach the boy to read. Or use him for a tool clerk!

73 Pete Allen AC5E
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7FLE on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
In the 70's While living in Southern Peru, I Built a home made Amp with a 3-1000z final. The night I finished it, I hit it with 100 watts from a Swan 350 after I brought the plate up slowly with a variact. When I hit the tune button,
There was a flash and the room went silent. The noise woke my wife up in the other end of the house. The Ozone was so strong, It felt light a lightning hit. After I quit shaking I went out side to have a smoke and ponder my future.
I noticed that it was raining which was a rarity in my location.. I figured out later 10,500 FT Elevation,Rain, and High voltage 4000 volt do not mix. High voltage arced thru variact, diode board and switches.
Read later in Amp manuals most not rated for that kind of altitude..

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by CBER1289 on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One time I was hooking up a radio to a 35amp power supply that was turned on and some how I grabbed both termanals and zap.The next thing I know I'm laying on my floor.Boy my arms were numb for a few hours after that.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Had a special on Modern Marvels last week, on the History Channel about power line workers. It said that the mortality rate for early linemen was 50%.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KC8VWM on March 7, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

True Story;

My most shocking moment I am about to tell you is very real. I am telling this story about my experience so it will serve as a VERY valuable lesson to those that have ever considered putting up antennas. I am now approaching my 40th birthday.

It occurred when I conducted an antenna raising party back in April of 1979 in my backyard. I was approaching my 16th birthday at that time.

We were attempting to put up a 45 foot mast and aluminum vertical HF antenna in my back yard. We didn't really calculate things well at the time, but the entire thing ended up to be well over 65 feet long.

One guy (Alan) was up on the roof pulling up a guy wire. Another, (Neil) was on the ground at the base of the mast to direct it into the hole in the ground when it was in position to stand upright. My job was to push the mast and antenna up by walking it toward the house from the ground. Alan, was on the roof and was responsible to pull up on the guy line as it was pushed upward into the air. We thought we had all bases covered and the antenna should go up with little difficulty.

I walked about 3/4 of the mast up when then antenna came into contact with a 44,000 volt power line behind my house. The power line existed over a railroad track behind the fence of the yard. The antenna didn't go beyond the fence line so we thought this wasn't going to be a problem.

That is, until it started going upward in the air and the mast was moved backward to line it up into the hole in the ground.

I recall a white flash and remember waking up on the ground. I couldn't move any muscles. I felt completely drained and weak from the experience. It was as though I was pushed and struck by the power of a large Jumbo Jet.

There was a very loud roaring sound (like a jet) and I remember everything turning into a big white flash all around me (trees, house, ground - everything around me turned into a bright white color.) Everything was as white, and as bright as looking directly in the sun. I fell and collapsed to the ground. I recall everything moving in slow motion as I was falling to the ground. It was like the experience from the electrocution took a long time.

A neighbor who saw what happened leaped over the fence to my aid and tried to help me up off the ground. But, I was like a flail mannequin and couldn't hold my own weight on my legs. In fact I felt completely limp - I remember trying a simple task like moving my arm. It was of no use, it was like attempting to lift the weight of a car.

The guy on the roof (Alan) suddenly jumped off a 15 foot roof to the ground in an automatic response to the shock. He starting running around the backyard saying, "I have to get this dirt off me and take a shower - I have to go home." Obviously, he was in a state of shock and was rambling incoherently.

Neil was unaffected, except for the fact he could not believe what was happening around him. He seemed to freeze and did not do anything at all.

The power traveled up the guy wire Alan was holding. The skin on his arm was blackened,(similar to black soot marks on a shorted electronic circuit-board) Some of his hair on his head was burned and had this black soot on it. Charred flakes floated in the air from his hair and there was a "burned hair" smell around him.

We could hear the Ambulance sirens coming closer. The paramedics arrived and we all went to the hospital on stretchers. I was hooked up to a heart monitor. I remember the ER doctor telling me that the monitor was on me because my heart probably skipped a few beats from the electrocution.

I was admitted to the hospital for observation and minor burns to my hands and right foot, I was then later released in 3 days. Alan stayed for 7 days for treatments to burns on his hands where he held the guy line.

My shoes had an exit hole that melted right through the bottom of my running shoes where the electricity passed through to the ground. I had a small burn on the ball of my foot. It had completely healed about 4 months later.

Apparently the fire department had to respond to our house. This was after I had already been taken to the hospital by ambulance.

When I was released the front of the house (opposite side of the house) near the top peak was missing some aluminum siding and it was bent outward away from the house. The firefighters had to use axes to remove some of the siding to extinguish a smoldering fire from the electricity traveling through the aluminum siding. In fact I noticed small "arcs" that appeared at the joints on the aluminum siding all around the home.

I suspect that when the electricity traveled along the aluminum siding it had not where to exit at the front of the house, then it started a fire.

The antenna was completed melted in half. The sections of the mast pipe appeared like it was welded together. The coax cable was twisted and melted like it was in a fire.

I later found out that the 44,000 volt power line came directly from a sub station down the street. There was a boy who lost both arms from that same substation 3 years earlier when he jumped the fence to get a Frisbee caught in an insulator.

Apparently, he got a jolt from the plastic Frisbee when he touched it. He thought he was going to fall and lose his footing. So he reacted by grabbing on the live power lines to stop himself from falling.
He lost both arms and he now has prosthetic arms now.

All I can say is that I came very close to that happening to me. Some people think I am totally nuts for staying in the hobby after that experience. This was a very costly lesson that happened back in April of 1979.

Fellow Amateurs - NEVER, NEVER, NEVER put up an antenna in proximity of a power line. Don't EVER let the THOUGHT EVEN ENTER YOUR MIND that you can find ways to avoid touching it - Don't even try.


Charles - KC8VWM
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One morning, I was helping a line crew set up a new single-phase 12,470 volt line regulator. The lineman, that was about to close the cut-out, and energize the regulator, looked on top, to make sure there were no clearance problems. He then ducked below the top of the regulator, and closed the cut-out. There was a blinding flash, above the regulator, and molten copper dripped down on the lineman's clothes. He was literally "smoking". If his head had been a bit higher, he would have been in serious trouble. When he got down, I said "You could have got your head blown off". He replied; "Yes, but I didn't, so lets go to lunch". That was some kind of guy.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA1WLA on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
A few years ago this newbie N1H?? went to a fleamarket and bought a Drake amplifier.
Took it home and lucky for him he set it up on a third shelf above his operating table.
Turned it on and keyed his "base radio" nothing happened, he reached to the back of the amplifier to push in all the connectors and woke up on the floor a few minutes later.
I said lucky for him because he was standing on his knees on the table and had to let the HV wire go as he fell on the floor.
Next day he showed up in my shack with blisters in his hand and told me his story.
He asked me to check his amplifier for safety (I have build a number of 8877 amps).
The guy who sold the amplifier had connected a piece of 6 inches solid, bare, wire on the Millen HV connector.
Whatever the reason for installing this wire he felt any A-hole who buys an amplifier if he doesn't know what is going on he ought to be killed.
When I asked what do you think this wire is for he had no idea.
As for myself, I was shocked with 33KV TV HV twice (not the same day)
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

God bless you, and the others. You are still with us
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Dern Charles...this really explains a lot of things.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I know some of these experiences are not at all humerous. Perhaps I titled this article wrong. However, If someone is just starting to work on anything involving high voltage, this thread could very well help save a life. Some things are a bit humerous after a few years, and others are very sad.

This probably should be required reading, for anyone who may need to work on things like Vacuum tube amplifiers etc.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N0MXJ on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
After 25 years in the Electrical Power Industry, I've got lots of stories that have made me kind of gun-shy around substations, but that one I detailed is the closest I've come to meeting my maker early. Too bad all of my HF equipment is in storage right now, we could all get together somwhere and swap horror stories. HI HI
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W5HTW on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
AMAZING! It was 1957 for me, too, and I, too, ended up between the bed and the wall, as you say, a small space. However the thump as I fell across the bed and hit the wall did alert my Mother, who came into the room and did not see me immediately.

I had an Eldico TR75TV transmitter, a CW rig. But I had a clamp tube modulator, that had a spring loaded clip to slide between the contacts of the J38 key, which keyed the cathode of the 807 final (I think it was an 807.) I also had an Astatic JT-30 microphone - metal case! Not a good combination, and it was not on a stand, but would be hand held. I was going to be on 75 meter AM, yes I was.

Didn't make it. Plugged in the modulator, flipped the plate switch on and I think I picked up the microphone. I was thrown across the bed and onto the floor. When I sat up, Mom was in the room, and the microphone was swinging on its cord by the desk. I hurt all over but I was breathing OK. I got up and used a book to press the plate, and then the filament, switches off. I pulled the plug on the rig. I never tried AM with that rig again.

A few months earlier, I, like you, had found at the local surplus store, three ARC5 transmitters, one for parts, and two for the air. One covered 80 meters and one covered 40 meters. I also found a large (14 by 14 by 4) chassis, some transformers, switches, etc. It was my intent to build a power supply for these Command sets, and I was going to have it keep the filaments on, on both rigs, but switch operating voltages, so I could change bands relatively easily. All that worked, and I designed it fairly well for a 17 year old, working exactly as you did, on the floor of my second story bedroom.

It came time to test the supply. I would, like you, measure the voltages with a surplus military "PSM6" or something meter my father had. A nice VTVM. I inverted the supply, which was really very heavy. Then I plugged it in. All was well. It used 5R4 rectifiers, but the big transformers and chokes kept them from hitting the floor while it was inverted. I hooked up the meter and let it warm up. It was time.

The supply worked beautifully. The smoke on the end of my finger and the small hole it drilled into my right index fingertip proved that. I measured the right thing, but I accidently let my finger brush across the pin on the bottom of the filter choke. After unplugging the supply (this was before the Eldico incident, and I told no-one) I connected the meter with alligator clips and then plugged it all back in and read 700 volts on the high voltage. Interesting. But the concept worked, and the supply spent nearly a year powering those two Command sets. And I never got into it again.

But let me point out how good safety precautions are not always enough. Working with 10KW HF transmitters (Collins 208U10) with an experienced engineer, we had one go down. No high voltage. It did not trip the breaker (they ran on 440 VAC 3-phase.) We shut it off and substituted another one for the frequency. The transmitters were in a row, and in front of them was a concrete "ditch" which carried primary AC wiring and control wires. On top of the ditch was a rather massive rubber mat, in front of each transmitter, placed there "just in case."

After about three days we had time to get to the defective transmitter. I was in the control room with another operator, and the chief engineer went out to work on the transmitter. The primary was locked off, no antenna was connected, and the rubber mat was in place. He opened the lower door and began grounding things out. No arcs. All was well.

There was a flash, and we saw him thrown backward, then slump to the floor. My coworker (also senior to me) dashed out of the control room, yelling at me to call the fire department, which I did. The chief was unconscious. I had to go about a quarter mile across our antenna field to unlock the gate. I waited for the FD and when the ambulance arrived, I followed them back to the building. Our chief was conscious and sitting up, but it was clear he did not feel too well! They took him to the hospital. He did ok, and in three more days was back on the job, though a bit shaky.

He had done it right. He used the built-in grounding bar and touched all the power supply hot points, in case of an opened bleeder. He also had grounded out the plate of the final ceramic tube (a 4CX10000A) and the drivers. He touched the top pin of the massive filter capacitor next to the bleeder. No arcs.

What he did not know was the filter choke had opened. The input capacitor was sitting there, connected to nothing at all, with 7800 VDC on it (though some may have drained off in three days.) And he touched it. The charge went into the palm of his hand, through his body, and out the knee, through the rubber mat, and to the steel plate. He also had a minor scar on his stomach, where his elbow had been touching. His hand and knee were burned, but not as badly as one would imagine.

Lesson? If there is a point with electrical contact possible, it has to be grounded out. He missed one, without thinking.

I open the top of my desktop amplifier to blow it out, or to change the settings, and I keep in mind there is 2800 VDC in there. And it can be on anything I touch. I watch the meter decay to zero and then I wait one full minute afterward. Then I use a grounding clip. So far I have not drawn an arc.

A good percentage of today's hams have never worked around voltages higher than 13 or 14 VDC. Someone asked if it makes sense to scare them with comments about high voltages. Yes it does. Some of these hams will buy amplifiers, and with no HV experience, they need to be told of the dangers. That is one of the primary purposes of Elmers - not just to teach how, but to teach how NOT, and why NOT. And that safety with HV should be as natural as breathing. Or one might not BE breathing.

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W5HTW on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
PS. No, not all electric fence chargers work by firing a charge and then waiting several seconds. Some are continuous. I have one. It provides one hell of a jolt, in an arc that will travel more than one inch from the output side to the ground side, although there are lesser arcs from the fence wire to the ground (dirt) itself, due to varying conductivity. I have no idea what the voltage is. Tried one time when I first got it to measure it with a DVM. Goodbye DVM. And I got a decent jolt out of that process. I can take a screwdriver and draw a steady one-inch arc from the "hot" pin on the unit to the "ground" pin. And raise all kinds of rucus with radio and TV.

However, except in very unusual conditions, fence chargers are not lethal. They are absolutely no fun!

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KC8VWM on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!


Thank you.

God bless you for giving me this opportunity to share my story with fellow Amateurs who share in the same interests as I do.

I am not proud of what happened to me on that day. We were nothing but stupid kids at the time. But it is my hope that my article in this message thread might one day serve to save someones life. For that I must say thank you.

Please accept my warmest regards for you and your family my friend.

A big 73 My Fellow Amateur.

Charles - KC8VWM
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

That is a very important point. The open choke, in a PI power supply filter, will not allow the filter capacitor, on the input of the choke, to discharge, by way of the normal methods (bleeder, or manual discharge on the filter output capacitor). Usually, an open choke would be evident, by no B+ high voltage, or no operation. Kind of spooky, that the choke had opened un-noticed.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AB0KD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My worst hit came when setting the idle plate current on an SR-500. I had the VTVM floating at the plate voltage to measure the drop across a 10 ohm resistor in the power supply. I keyed the microphone (10 DA on a G stand) when I realized that I had forgotten to switch the VTVM to the correct DC range. When I touched the knobs on the VTVM I ended up around 4 feet away on the bed. Apparently, the plate supply (850 V @ 0.5 A) dropped through me from my left hand on the VTVM to my right hand on the G stand. I now use an insulated meter and have it set to the correct range before hand when making this type of measurement or adjustment.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KC8VWM on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Dern Charles...this really explains a lot of things."

lol, yes it does...

Say, could this be a feature on "Famous Electrical Dudes?

P.S. - Don't make my picture look as bad as the guys you have featured in the past.


A Rule for Life, from KZ1X  
by KZ1X on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Never touch a wire that you can't see both ends of.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KU4UV on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think most of you guys have me beat, but here is my story of my first "connection" to the power gods. I remember when I was about 4 or 5 years old I was at my grandparent's farm in southern Kentucky with my family. It was during the spring or summer, just the time when it is warm outside and there are plenting of lightning bugs outside. I was out catching lightning bugs with my older brother and my twin brother. Our grandparent's farm, like most farms, had an electric fence surronding it. For whatever reason, I didn't hear the electric fence crackling and I reached out to grab a lightning bug. Not only did I get 110 Volts through me, but since the fence was barb wire, I also cut my hand pretty good too. Like I said, most of the stories have mine beat, but I am 29 years old and still remember that night. Be careful gang!


Mike KU4UV
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N9AVY on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The worst jolt I ever got happened working at summer job for Motorola. Was doing hi-pot test on TV chassis which was basically running 900 dc volts across chassis. It was a hot, muggy summer night and I accidently forgot to take my sweaty hand off chassis while throwing toggle switch for test. I remember seeing ammeter going up, but remember little else.

A few years later while working in field service I was hurying at quitting time to solder broken wire on to switch. Not having 3 hands, had solder gun in one and needle-nose pliers in other; so I stuck solder in my mouth. It would have worked okay if I had disconnected the 110 volts. Ouch ! Never be in a hurry.

Jerry, N9AVY
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Another of my other "most shocking moments", was delivered, in very respectable fashion, by a Television picture tube, around 1965.

A Television picture tube has a conductive coating around most of the picture tube "bell". This coating, along with the glass and internal elements, forms a pretty good sized capacitor. This capacitor becomes charged to the picture tube anode voltage potential. As I remember, about 20,000 volts.

I was working as a bench techincian, in a Radio TV service shop. I had to replace a 27 inch color picture tube in an RCA TV receiver.

I pulled off the picture tube socket, un-plugged the anode lead, and lifted out the picture tube. As I lifted the tube up and out of the cabinet, I felt as if I had been hit, by baseball bats, in both arms. I dropped the picture tube. It fell face down, onto my right foot, and then to the floor, bruising my foot for about a month. These things are very heavy. Fortunatly, the picture tube did not break, or the implosion would have provided a more spectacular ending.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
TV picture tubes? Why do they call that layer the aquadag? Never understood why.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Huh... I think I wondered about that a long time ago. Superb question. The obvious reference to water, in that name, is genuinly mystifying. Only thing I can think of, is the metallic coating may have been applied in a water solution, and then allowed to dry.

Someone else please help us on this one!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
From Internet search:

Aquadag coating was a colliodal mixture of water, adhesive and powdered graphite. You do not need any current carrying capacity on a Picture Tube bell coating. It is basically an electrostatic shield, so the coating works well.

Information states that Aquadag was patented by Acheson Colloids Corporation, many years ago.

They also produced the same Colloid, using Alcohol instead of water. Not suprisingly, it was Alcoholdag.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W5HTW on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
We DID have notice the HV had failed. The transmitter had failed three days earlier due to lack of HV

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K5PU on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
A silent moment for those that had a 'most shocking moment' and are no longer here to post their experience.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Yes, I see that now. That is very interesting. The only way to help prevent danger, is "DO NOT ASSUME THAT THE POWER SUPPLY FILTER CHOKE IS OK". Discharge capacitors on both sides of the filter choke! Preferably across the capacitor leads, and then repeat to ground. I usually leave test leads clipped across all filter caps (caps shorted), while working on the device.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I used to routinly discharge Picture Tubes, by carefully pushing a grounded (to the picture tube bell, and chassis), screwdriver under the anode cap dust cover, until I heard a loud pop. The Picture tubes still "bit" me.

After many years, to reflect, I believe the aquadag coating has enough resistance, to make the discharge time constant much longer than one discharge. When I discharged, as above, with the screwdriver, the voltage due to the discharge current, simply got dropped across the aquadag coating resistance, and stopped the discharge, with only a partial discharge.

If one is going to handle a Picture Tube, leave the discharge lead connected, for at lease 10 or 15 minutes, before handling the Picture Tube.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Let us not forget, that the average person can have a 'Most Electrically Shocking Moment' Also. In my occupation, I checked quite a few homes, where people were getting exceptionally exciting showers. In some cases, there was as much as 40 volts between the shower head, and the floor drain. This was usually due to faulty house wiring, or old and faulty conductors between the transformer and the house.

My favorite case, was in Wyoming, where the Milk cows were being "shocked" by the milking machine. The current tightned up the cows udders, and no milk was available. I measured 70 volts between the milking machine, and the concrete floor. The Cows were repeatedly brought in, each day, for their daily "shock treatment". They started refusing to come in to be milked. When I was there, the lady Cows kept giving me looks that could kill. I suspect they were saying "Go ahead, try that on me one more time, and I am going to take you out, and make my day"!!
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KF6HCD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Mine was:

22 months old;
bobby pin;
wall socket...

120 VAC is brutal on a toddler. Third degree burn on hand.
My first real solid memory...

After that I followed my younger sister around and watched her like a hawk for the next 15 years.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WV8WC on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Speaking of early shockings..

From the story, I was 18 months old and had managed to unplug my mom's ceramic Christmas tree from the extension cord and pulled the extension cord into the playpen with me, where I proceeded to bite down on it. The resulting shock burned the corner of my mouth badly.

Although I was too young to remember that event, I DO remember very vividly the plastic surgery to rebuild that corner of my mouth two years later. Not a fun experience.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Yes, 120 volt outlets can be very dangerous to todlers.

I spent considerable time teaching my 2 and 4 year old boys, not to stick things in electric outlets, using a bobby pin. I guess you have to be careful with that though. My 4 year old, then found a bobby pin, and told my 2 year old to stick each side of the bobby pin in the 2 outlet holes, presumably to see what would really happen, but not to him! Result; one burned hand, but bobby pin took all the current, and popped the circuit breaker.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K4CMD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I had a Galaxy V Mark III 500-watt HF transceiver when I was in my early 20s ... one night I had the hinged cover swung up while the radio was on, admiring all the pretty orange tubes ... reached over to grab who-knows what, and my right arm rested on top of the finals cage -- which, for the sake of making the rig smaller, had two one-inch holes cut in the top of it to allow the plate caps on the pair of 6LB6's (I think) to protrude through. My arm let both plate caps short through to the cage.


Burning flesh -- it's NOT a good thing.

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA2ROC on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
During one Summer in the 1960's, I had a part-time job at a small electronics company between College class semesters. I worked in a screen room, using scopes, signal generators, etc, to test hand held military emergency walkie talkies. My HP scope just got back from "calibration" upstairs and they were nice enough to plug it in and put it back on my bench.

I noticed it was not exactly where I wanted it to be, so I grabbed one of the front handles with one hand and the handle on a signal generator with the other for a little leverage. Boy, did I get leverage!

I was in the grips of 110 AC and couldn't let go until I literally flung the scope (lighter than the generator) across the screen room, breaking the CRT.

My boss came in and I explained what happened. We opened up the scope and found that "Calibration" had pinched one of the power cord wires to the chassis.

I still had a job, I was alive, and we got a new "calibration" guy the next day.

Dick Pettit WA2ROC
Associate Editor, R/C REPORT Magazine
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AC7NA on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My worst, but not the only time I got zapped, was during my duty as a submarine Electrician's Mate:

I was working on a partially energized alarm panel in the engine room, replacing an alarm relay. I stripped a live wire w/ my rattled some fillings and I almost bit my tongue off.

We had a saying: There are old Electricians, and there are bold electricians....there are no old and bold electricians.

Brian AC7NA
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KF4VGX on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well I should not tell this one . But My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment was an accident in a sense ( Grin ) . My Grand Pa had a few mules he kept in a electrical fence.
We kids would play baseball in that field.
Never the less it may not have been the best place to play ( Snicker ) you had to look where you were running . Back in those days the nearest latrine was about a mile away. Just so happen on this particular day I got the urge to , well you know . My first lesson in electronics was self taught. Water will carry electricity Just for the record me and Willy are just fine ( Grin )
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA1WLA on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I forgot to say.
RULE #1 when you work with High Voltages, KEEP ONE HAND IN YOUR POCKET.
Nothing Quite as Shocking....  
by AB2OL on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
In my teenage years, I experimented with trying to turn a 110 camera with flash into a "stun gun" The process wasn't that difficult, but at the age of 13, I didn't know about capacitor time constants. A very loud "WHACK" or "SNAP" sound ensued as I shorted the leads to that capacitor with my fingers. No permanent damage, but permanent memories. And so began my fascination with electronics...... and for capacitors the size of Coke cans!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W3UTD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My most memorable one was not Ham Radio related, but Aquarium related. I reached into the tank to do something or other, and left the lamp hood on the tank, with the light turned on (what an idiot!).

Somehow, I knocked the hood into the tank with the inevitable result. I was stuck there, full house current running through me, one arm in the tank, shaking violently. Somehow, I managed to fall back, taking the tank with me.

Fortunately, the fall unplugged the hood light from the wall. Other than the loss of the tank, and 20 gallons of water damage, I was OK.

(All the fish survived as well!)
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N7NRA on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Two instances:

When I was about 10 (guessing, I really don't remember), I got into some of my older brother's stuff. One of the items was an electric motor of some sort. Not realizing that some motors run on low voltage DC, rather than house current, I proceeded to plug the wires into a wall socket. The resulting arcing left a black mark on a white colored socket plate that, amazingly, my parents never asked about, and left a ball of melted copper at the end of the motor lead wire. No damage to me at that time. Just scared the bejeebers out of me.

The second one wasn't quite as pleasant. Now, all you folks who think battery-powered appliances are safe, pay close attention...

When I was in college, I got interested in photography. As a poor college student, I did what most of us do while we're learning. I bought cheap equipment. I had one of the early, amateur-grade electronic flash attachments that ran on four AA batteries. As most of you probably know, these devices have a flash tube, some circuitry and a large capacitor that discahrges through the flash tube to provide the light. The circuitry is used to convert the battery-supply six volts into about 300 volts to charge the capacitor. There is (or was at that time) a chopper circuit to make AC from the batteries and a step-up transformer to boost the voltage. If you put an electronic flash near your ear as the capacitor charges, you can hear the chopper circuit whine. I forget how many uF the capacitor was, but I can assure you it was far more than was required to get one's attention! All the above was learned AFTER I got my lesson in capacitor discharge time constants.

When the flash became erratic in its operation, I, the untrained tech, decided to open it up and find out what was wrong. How dangerous could it be? It ran on batteries, right? Well, I can tell you that when I got across that capacitor with both hands, my vision momentarily went black and my body hurt for a while. Flash capacitors are designed to discharge very quickly, so whatever charge was in that one went through me like lightning.

Lessons learned: 1.) Flash capacitor = High voltage, high capacitance, short discahrge time constant through the human body. 2.) Given the proper additional circuitry, four AA batteries CAN hurt you!

Beware of danger in unexpected places!!



My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AE0BR on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Memories…. I bought a Collins 32V1 in the early 80’s when I got my Novice ticket from my Elmer in Cicero, IL. (Stan Hails). Great rig for CW, but heavy!! Anyway, Stan had changed the rectifiers from tube to solid state. Basically a bunch of diodes on a Plexiglas plate retrofitted into the old tube sockets. This modification worked very well, and gave me no issues during the time I owned the transmitter, except one Sunday afternoon.

The rectifier MOD had a piece of steel that was placed over it to keep young prying Novice fingers from probing the inner workings of this historic radio! I did as I was told, and never touched or adjusted the inside of the rig with power applied! That was until that memorable Sunday when I notes the metal screen was sitting a-jar off the modified rectifiers. I was always careful to put it back in place when servicing, but it must have moved the previous day when I rearranged my shack.

The rig was powered on and I was working CW on 40. Something deep inside me possessed my hand to lift the top cover of the rig. Oh, how I enjoyed looking at those glowing tubes!

The cover was open, and I was admiring the radio I had worked so hard to possess, when I say the rectifier cover was out of place. This could not be! The Obsessive Compulsive part of my brain went to work without ever stopping to listen to the logical, safe, smart side.

With my right hand still holding up the hinged lid, my left hand was drawn toward the rectifier cover. As the instant my hand made contact, I remember a loud “crack” and the feeling of the hand of God lifting me off the floor and propelling me 30 feet across the basement.

There I lay, paralyzed for 30 minutes. I am not sure till this day if I stayed in that corner of the basement for so long due to the temporary paralysis or sheer fear that I was dead! After the 30 minutes had passed, I gained my composure, stumbled to my feet, and turned off the circuit breaker.

The following weekend, I sold the 32V1 at a Hamfest and discovered’ the wonders of QRP!

I have since ventured back into higher power rigs, but am a bit wiser when it comes to power-on adjustments…..


Bill (AE0BR)
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KG6AMW on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I learned my lesson at age 8. I stuck my finger into an open socket in the fuse box. When I woke up I was on the opposite side of the closet with the tip of my finger discolored. Funny, right after that I became very interested in radios. Something in the electricty?
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
When I was 5 or 6, I used to watch the electrician, checking to see if sockets were energized, with his thumb! A couple of days later, I tried it, and found out that my skin was probably much more conductive than the electricians' skin. It was a good "shot", my thumb and hand wouldn't work right for about 3 days. I felt the actual "shock" up to about my elbow.

Don't try using body parts as voltmeters. Serious bodily injury, or death can occur...
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KB0GU on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Built a 3-1000Z power supply out of a BC610 H.V. supply. Had it all wired and working well and was about to reach inside with Simpson High Voltage probe to measure the voltage when BAM! A guy working with me threw an aluminum trash can lid on floor behind me. I chased him out of the shop and down the sidewalk. I have been hit by HV too, glad we all lived to tell the story.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N2TMC on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I hate getting shocked and I hate getting burned so I'm in a hobby that can give you both. My worst zap was while running a network line in a drop ceiling and sticking my hand into a 440 volt junction box without a cover. That knocked me off the ladder. I also got a really good one discharging a crt from an Apple computer with a faulty discharge tool.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K4VHO on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Looking back I (we) can laugh at some of our "moments". I've had a couple in and around different times of my life....but I recall one that really hurt.

22 years ago I was a young Marine Corporal, a Aircraft Electrician on the A-6E Intruder. This particular night I was trouble shooting a tail "anti-smack" light. As us tron chasers were prone to do, I put a "DO NOT APPLY ELECTRICAL POWER" sign on the aircraft. Up and aft I went. Getting into
the task, I was about to probe test one of the power connectors (120V 3 Phase 60Hz) and POW!

Only problem here was the hit I took caused my arms and legs to contract. This led to the second
problem, being ten feet in the air at the horizontal stabilizer!

Next thing I remember is looking up at the hanger ceiling and someone saying lets get him on the
stretcher. (Mandatory EKG at the hospital). Man, my biceps and thighs hurt for a while!

The knucklehead that turned on power actually had to remove the sign mentioned above, lift the ground
refuel panel cover, plug in external power and hit the button before zapping my happy butt!!


My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W2RBA on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My most memorable shocking moments were:

1) when I learned what it sounds like when a filter cap in the hv power supply of my Lafayette KT-390 ("Starflite") transmitter (a DX-60 clone) blew. Not only was the sound deafening, since I hadn't put the bottom back on the TX, the whole thing lifted up about an inch or so when it blew.

2) when my final's parasitic oscillation suppressing thingamabob burned us (well, the resistor did) and I had a fairly complete short to ground. That wasn't bad enough, but the final cage abounded with fire. I put out the fire with a handy, nearby can of soda...and

3) when, as a first year student at college and an assistant to the Technical Director of the college 10 watt FM radio station, I was tuning up the old tube-laden transmitter and somehow (really don't remeber how) managed to get a 600 volt shock (the scar of which fondly reminds me of those halcyon days!).

None of these were deadly, really, but I'm into QRP now as a result!


Joe, W2RBA
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I have had an extreme example of that done to me at Field Day about 10 years ago.

Anyway, a friend's TS-450 Kenwood sidetone was not loud enough for my liking. After asking permission to crack it open, I got out my trusty tuning screwdriver and began to turn that little screw.

Well, anyway, the two cohorts crept up behind me. One dropped a VERY heavy book. The instant it struck concrete, the other one activated the flash on a 35mm camera.

Fortunately, I maintained sphincter control and was not forced to change my clothes.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I have an SW-54 that is in my daughter's room. I have another R388 that doesn't have leaky bypass caps like the one that rattled my fillings, and a Transoceanic B600 that I'm recapping currently.

Although the SW-54 is actually not a very good receiver, it does look cute.

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Speaking of exploding filter capacitors.

About 2 years ago, I was putting the finishing touches on an Audio amplifier, with 2 - 6SN7 preamp/driver tubes, and 1 - 300B triode output tube. The 300B is rated at a plate voltage of about 450V.

I was working on the amplifier, on the Kitchen table, and the family was watching Andy & Barney, on the TV, about 30 feet away.

I fired up the amplifier, and measured the plate voltage. It was 555 volts. Well, the filter capacitors were rated at 450 volts. I mentally calculated a dropping resistor, and installed it just before the power supply filter input capacitor.

Being a bit nervous, about the the capacitors being over voltaged, I did my usual thing, and flipped the amp on, from under the table. All seemed OK.

Next, using one hand, I clipped the voltmeter ground lead to the chassis, and started to put the voltmeter probe on the filter capacitor positive terminal. All #### broke loose. There was a deafening loud pop. I jumped, and the fingers of my right hand contacted the 120 volt terminal strip, and I got a remarkably invigorating shock. I jumped back, pushing my chair against the wall, and watched absolutely fascinated, as I was covered from head to waist with soft, fluffy white paper, and sparkling bits of aluminum foil. The family thought it was hillarious. I had mis-read the dropping resistor colors, it was about 10 times too small.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WH6V on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
In my career with AT&T, at one time I was a building mechanic in the Eastern Region HQ building in Oakton, VA. We did everything from working on 600 ton chillers to maintaining UPS systems for the data center. I was fixing a broken light switch on a 277 volt lighting circuit. I had turned off the power, and verified it was off with a voltmeter. There were several switches in this box, and the one next to the one I was replacing was still hot. The wires were really stiff, and I used a screwdriver to sort of "lever" the switch out. I touched the hot screw on the adjacent switch with the tip of the screwdriver. BOOM! Next thing I remember was being 15 feet across the room. The 1/4" shaft of the screwdriver burnt right in half before the circuit breaker tripped. I waa a "newbie" in this job and didn't know that there was such a thing as a 277 volt lighting circuit. My intro to 3-phase power!

In that same job, we were having problems with a PDU (power distribution unit) in the data center. Some engineers came in and asked me to verify the size of the conductors. I took the rear panel off, and pulled one of the raised floor panels to get a closer look. I was on my knees when I leaned down with a flashlight to read the imprinted markings on the cable. I just happened to look up when I saw that my head had come within an inch of three 480V bus bars. That would have been the end of me - instant Virginia Power lobotomy! There but for the grace of God!

One of my favorite movies is "Down Periscope" with Kelsey Grahmer. The submarine's Electricians Mate is always geting zapped. Kelsey Grahmer's character (the captain) says "That boy's absorbed a lot of voltage!"

Be careful out there!

Wayne Huffman
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

To use a phrase from my son. "That was a pretty cool incident". Not, of course making reference to temperatures generated in electrical faults...

A while back, I heard that an electrician, in a dark, tight space, was putting the steel cover back over a 277/480 volt panel, and put the corner of the thick steel panel right into the incomming 277/480 bus. Lots of molton steel, copper and aluminum. And, serious injuries.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA5N on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
First ZAP occurred at about age 8. I was at the neighborhood filling station (manned gas station unknown today) and was watching one of the guys checking spark plugs on a benchtop tester. He finished and there it was unguarded. I had seen him press a button and so I tried but didn't have enough strength to depress the button so I grabbed the part that looked like a handle and mashed on the button with my thumb. Whap! It felt like the bones in my arm had banged together. I had inserted my hand into the spark plug test socket. After a moment I tested my legs and ran all the way home. My arm ached the rest of the day and I told NO ONE. Almost as much fun as the time I aired up my brand new Christmas football at the same filling station and wound up with two halves of a football. Nothing good ever happened at that station.
Allen KA5N
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

That is definitely a bad news filling station.

You're right, If you are Ok, Telling people, at the time you did it, that you "juiced" yourself, is not a good thing.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K6QD on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Both Charles-KC8VWM and Tom-W8JI bring back this memory. Charles first - It was Spring of 1960 when I was K6SVQ and 16 years old. I was by myself on a Sunday putting up a new long boom 15 meter yagi. I had assembled 25' of scaffolding I had borrowed from one my my dad's construction sights to enable access to the center antenna of what was at that time referred to a Christmas tree (stacked 10, 15 and 20 meter yagis). The crank-up tower was collapsed, but the scaffolding was needed to reach the outer elements. My parents yard was bounded on two sides by power lines; 4800 at the top with 230V in the middle. In the process of installing one of the elements I wasn't watching where the tip was going and it hit one of the 4800V wires. The only recollection of that instant was that I couldn't let go. I had been sitting on my knees and fortunately, even though I was knocked out, I didn't fall off the 4'X 8' wooden platform comprised of 2X12's. I remember awakening in a daze and quickly realized that my white tee-shirt was all bloody on the left side just above my waist as was my left hand. The current path evidently ran through the element, through my left hand, down my left side and from my waste to the steel scaffold. It is amazing the path didn't go through my heart . If it had I wouldn't be writing this e-mail. Anyway, I climbed down the scaffold, washed and bandaged the wounds and climbed back up to finish the job because the scaffold had to be returned for Monday morning work. Ill effects - none other than scar tissue on both wounds that still exist today. Note - Would you believe that one set of guy wires for the 70' crank-up used a DWP power pole as an anchor with no problem from L.A. DWP!! Now for Tom - A few years later, maybe '62, I built a 2x 4-1000 grid driven P.A.and also used a reverse connected pole pig xfmr. The transformer was used with a choke input filter followed by two parallel 12 uF oil filled caps. While it took me many hours to get the parasitics out of the RF section and some serious help from a broadcast engineer from the local AM station (the KMPC 50KW xmtr site was 1 mile away) to get the efficiency up on 10 meters, the amp was working and I was happy. Well one day, I had applied filament voltage and then turned on the plate switch (the finals were biased off) and BANG! There was smoke and burning (no flames)and a dent in the side of the rack where the power supply was. The 230V fuses and the primary breakers both went OFF. This bang actually scared me more than the shock I had received 2 years earlier. What I was later to learn was that one of the filter caps had shorted; simple problem but big result. However, unlike JI's result, no personal damage and only a filter cap to replace. Bottom line, each of us who has shared these incidents are more careful today and are surely lucky to be alive. 73!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I am glad you are still with us, my friend.

I often wonder why some of us old timers are stil around to tell these scary incidents...

Thanks for sharing that with us!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W6OJ on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Built a wooden lamp in 8th grade shop in Tyler, TX. When I wired the lamp I simply wound the two sides of the 110 AC cord and connected the mess to one side of the lamp socket. Buttoned it up and took it to the shop teacher who complimented me on the woodwork and asked if I had it wired correctly. "Sure", I replied, and screwed in a new bulb.

Plugged it in, turned the switch and brought down all power to the entire shop wing of the school? And WOW was my brain shocked and embarrassed!!!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K3GM on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
....that would have to be many years ago when,as an eleven year old, my kite got wrapped around the neighborhood's 2.4kV lines, and I pulled on the 50 lb. test dacron line just a little too hard. ***WOW!*** ...and I've been fascinated with sparks ever since.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I wonder if they put that idiot who plugged in power to your plane before a Captain's Mast?

My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA2LDS on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Like most young hams any electrical problem or interference was instantly attributed to me. My father burst into my shack (room) naked, covered in soap shouting "What the #### are you doing in here". (or something like that) He had experienced a mild shock while taking a shower. We later traced the 40VAC to a ground wire he had added to the washer when my mom had complained of a shock. We later fixed the problem. I am glad that 21 years later we can still get a good laugh from that incident.

I too remember sticking a metal object into the outlet as a toddler. Only did it once.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KB2FCV on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Other than a few jolts of telephone voltage, I personally have yet to suffer a 'Shocking' Moment. I always use the one hand in the pocket rule as taught by the person that got me started in ham radio, Joe K2JAO. His shocking moment is a bit more remarkable than mine. I remember him telling me that years back he was working on an amplifier at home. His cat happened to walk across a shelf above the amp and it knocked a screw driver in. Joe happened to have a screw driver in his hand at the time. The next thing he knew he was thrown back and the screw driver he was using went through a metal door! He was knocked out from the impact, but was ok. Always gotta watch your situation and what's going on around you when working on something..
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I am glad you mentioned the Cat. One time I was sticking voltmeter probes into a live outlet, to measure the voltage, and just about had contact. My Cat grabbed my glasses, with both paws, and flipped them on to the floor. He then proceeded to flip my glasses around, to see if they would run away. Luckally, no shorts that time!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KA4KOE on March 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"and the feeling of the hand of God lifting me off the floor and propelling me 30 feet across the basement."

This is great descriptive prose. You need to write something for Eham.


RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K4VHO on March 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
nah....but he did get tired of cleaning the head twice a day for a while!!!
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K6MTT on March 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I'm amazed at the amount of "flying across the room" that one sees here. I, too, took the flying leap. As a teen in the 70's I had the requisite respect for high voltage, but not the practical knowledge of one hand behind my back. A partially charged 330v capacitor that I was shorting out with a screwdriver, and a finger on the screwdriver sent me from one side of the room to another. It was curious to be doing one thing at one moment, and the next thing I knew, I was across the room wondering how I got there. I don't see any of these as bragging really, they are all warnings to others who might read these things. And, experience teaches some very strong lessons. Today, I am comfortable about working with electricity, but I have the healthy respect that it deserves and a thought process that keeps me on the safe side of it!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Dave, for stressing caution. Many of these incidents could have been much worse, except for a bit of good luck.
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WB2NVY on March 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Southwest Oswego NY circa 1965, I was operating AM with my Knight T-150A one cold winter with a 120v electric heater at my feet and a well grounded mike stand in my left hand. (You can see this coming, right?) I reached down with my right hand to move the heater closer to my feet and in the time it takes for a 60 cycle sinusoid to rise from zero to peak voltage I discovered there was a short to the steel handle of the heater. Both fists clenched on the handles of these 2 objects and I jumped up from my chair launching it across the shack, screaming, flailing my right arm up and down trying to let go of the heater. I backed away from the rig and broke the mike cable, ending the torment. Shaken, I gathered up the chair & sat in it, switched the rig to CW and continued my QSO cross-mode. The guy I was talking to said all he heard for about 5 seconds was a loud hum, then nothing till he heard the CW.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K4JSR on March 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have been messing with electrical stuff since the
early 1950's. I have so many scars from HV and RF burns that I cannot remember the stories that go with all of them. (Lucky for all of us!)
But one of the most recent, and now funny, shock stories in my life did not happen to me but to a friend of mine that I used to jog with.
It was 5:00 AM in June, 2001, We were in training
to run in the Peachtree Road Race July 4th, in Atlanta. We were running down one of the many country roads in Barrow County, Georgia, when my friend announced that he needed to make a "pit stop".
He walked off of the roadway several feet and was
taking care of his business when I heard him scream
and fall to the ground in convulsions. It was still
dark outside and the only light was from the moon.
Fortunately, my friend quickly recovered. We stayed
put there for a few more minutes to let him regain
his strength to get back home, still a mile away.
As the sun rise was beginning we both spotted what
had happened. He was, shall I say, improving ground
conductivity near an electric fence and aimed a
little too high! Like I told my friend then, I was
happy for two things; 1) He was OK. 2)It happened to
him and not me! I will not give his ham call because he knows where I live! :-)
73 Cal K4JSR
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N2OPJ on March 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Sort of reminds me of the days I tested defibrillators discharging them from 5 Joules up to 400 Joules I would stand back hold the paddles dowm with my palms and hit the switches simultaniously till one joker stood in back of me and hit my sidea and yelled zzzzzit I jumped about 5 foot backwards was ready to kill someone!!!
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AG4QV on March 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I didn't get shocked by this one but I learned a lesson. Back in the 50's, we got our first TV. The picture tube had a metal skin that had a high voltage. Those were the days when trouble-shooting consisted of making a "cheater" cord to defeat the interlock and therefore allowing the operation of the TV with the back panel removed. Then each vacuum tube was tapped with a pencil or screw driver while watching the picture. For those who are too young, taping a bad vacuum tube often caused the picture to change. This was normally a sign that the tapped tube was bad.

We had the local repairmen trying to find what was wrong with our set and he was performing the time-honored tapping procedure. Of course he was crouched-down behind the TV and reaching in to tap. He accidentally raise his hand a little and it came into contact with the metal skin around the picture tube.

Instantly he snapped his legs straight and he flew back and up. He hit the wall almost at the ceiling. It was so hard that it must have been right at a stud because otherwise the wall board would have caved in.

Fortunately, he was not seriously injured except for his pride.

He had his other hand in his pocket. Had he been touching the metal chassis he might have been killed but it shows that having one hand in your pocket is no guarantee when dealing with high-voltage.

de Robert, AG4QV

RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by NJ1K on March 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You all brought back some memories of my hard earned education in working with electricity...

Now I recall an instance where I was training one of the apprentices that worked for me... We were out on a service call one night working on a walk-in freezer... It was fed by 230 volt 3 phase and it was not running... I took out my volt meter and opened the cover to the disconnect... This particular apprentice hadn't had any formal training in electricity up to this point so I thought it might be a good opportunity to teach him something he wouldn't forget... Instead of using the meter to check the voltage, I took a screwdriver and stuck the end of it into the disconnect box being careful not to touch anything hot... I started shaking my head left and right with tongue hanging out and waving my other arm violently in the air (just to scare this newbie)... My intent with this trick was to teach him never to stick anything into a panel without first checking to make sure it's not hot...

Well, this kid went off the deep end.. I thought he was going to have a heart atack... It left such an impression on him that he quit the job the very next day and never pursued a technical career.. That was 20 years ago... I think he is now a chef in a restaurant...

I never did that again....
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AB0TA on March 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Just this week I have been drywalling for a new shack in the basement. I built a 5 gallon shop vac "bong" to filter the sanding dust through water before it reaches the shop vac. It works great . The sanding pad holder comes with a hose attachment and slits cut in the surface under the sanding pad . Unfortunately nobody warns you about grounding the hoses. Apparently the sanding dust moving through the plastic hoses can build up a heck of a charge ! It nearly knocked me across the room .

I wrapped bare wire around all the hoses and grounded it to the shack ground wire. No more zappy zappy !
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA2JJH on March 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
When I was 3-4 years old. I used to see my grandfather
put his tongue accross a 9 volt battary to see if it was good. PAPA turned me on to shortwave radio. He had an old tube grundig shortwave radio. It had a Green mini-CRT tuning meter. it looked like a green eye

I wanted to be a human battery tester just like PA-PA
My grandfather(PA-PA) cought me trying to do it. He took away the 9 volt battary. Gave me a lecture that If I did the tongue battary trick, I would lose my hair! PA-pA was almost bald.

PAPA even rigged the 9 volt battary trick. He licked the nine volt. Faked having a heart attact. He had some hair concealled in his hand. See this, he beamed at me with a fake sad look. PAPA used to do vuadville .
He was a good improv. actor.

Even with the fake heart attack and hair lose routine, I did the tongue voltmeter anyway!

OOOUUCHHHH! ^((&^%^***^^%. PAPA knew what I did.

He gave me a big bullsh-- story! He had a ton of them!

PAPA said that if coninue to test 9V batts, NATHANS franks would taste like sawdust to me.

PAPA said the Yankee's will lose tonights game!(they were on a losing streak)
We watched the game that night. Every
bad break the YANKS got, PAPA would say...You see what you did!
The YANKS won that game!

PAPA left a 22 volt battery from a tube portable radio on his kitchen table. 2 days later... OUCH!!!! PAPA said, my tongue might fall out! I was finally shocked!!!!

I would say it is a 3 way tie. The 22V batt. A helium neon laser power supply at the age of 17, 2000V@5milliamps. The plate of a 3-500Z in a linear.
Good thing the bleeder resistors DID bleed!

Lets be safe! 73 de mike
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KD4FOV on March 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have not been shocked, but have seen a Simpson 260 voltmeter explode while an attempt was made to measure our amp voltages. The person who exploded this meter was attempting to measure the filament but got confused and placed the meter between the anode and ground. He survived. The amp operates on 440.1 and has 92,000 volts DC on it's anode. Total output from the amp is 2.5MW!! Big amp indeed.
73 de KD4FOV
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by KC2MDO on March 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well, this isn't nearly as harrowing as most of the reports, but maybe it will make a point and save someone an accident.

A couple of friends and I entered what a local radio station called a "Flugerhagen" contest. Basically there is no such thing, and you were supposed to use your imagination and build something. Our entry had a glass tubewith air pumped into it and orange lights shining into the bottom to simulate boiling water. We had a small motor with an eccentric weight to shake everything. AND, we had a jacobs ladder. We were obviously going for the mad scientist theme! ;-)

Being safety concious guys, we had a safety switch on the access door. I didn't like the looks of the bare terminals sticking out the sides of the 15kv neon sign transformer. So, I got some plastic tubing, and electrical tape, opened up the access door and started taping. Did I have the switch wired wrong? Did I mount it but not connect it? Uh, no, the switch worked fine. When I bumped it with my arm it turned on the juice just like it was supposed to! Luckily neon sign transformers are current limited, and so they're relatively safe. They can still kill you, but it's not quite as likely as if they didn't have the current limiting. That really stung, but I had no ill effects, just a kind of sunburn effect where I touched the terminal.

So, two lessons:
1) Don't rely on a safety switch. If it's a possibly lethal voltage / current switch it off, and unplug it.

2) I probably didn't own enough electrical tape to insulate that terminal!

By the way, a few years later, I was working inside a NEMA box with a series of relays in it the spade crimp on terminals on the wires were not insulated, but it was all 12v inside that box. Well guess again rookie, there was 12v in there for some control electronics, but the relays were all 110v.

73 to all and stay safe
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on March 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
These are all good examples, my friends...
My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by N4ST on March 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
It was ~1970 and I was building a 2-tube 40M CW transmitter. I had decided to modify the design by making the plate coil a plug-in so that it could work on 80M as well. When I first fired-up the transmitter into a light-bulb dummy-load it tuned up nicely on 40M and I was very pleased. I reached over to unplug the plate coil with my right hand, holding the alunimum chassis down with my left hand and felt the kick of 400VDC since the coil was at plate voltage and I had wound bare wire on the coil form. It was a very brief experience, fortunately resulting in only a broken back on the wicker chair I was sitting in at the time. Keeping one hand "in your pocket" is definitely good advice!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by AK4P on March 21, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I had a Yaesu FT-101E just a few years ago, and the power cord had the neutral side tied to chassis ground. The power plug was not polarized, so if you weren't careful, the hot side would be connected to the chassis. You would get a nasty tingle whenever you were on a bare floor and grabbed the mike. I measured about 90V between the chassis and ground. There's still a lot of them out there, so BE CAREFUL!
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by K6DZY on April 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Perhaps I'm a ghost, but if not, I should be. Like you, I was young, about 12 yrs, and I prowled the alleys in our neighborhood looking for electrical discards in people's trash boxes. In back of the town's only movie house I picked up many's the carbon stubs from the projector arc light. Behind a radio repair shop I found a power transformer from one of the first a-c powered radios, plus filter chokes that were about the same size and weight. Treasures!

In my childish mind an association occurred: Draw an arc from two of the carbon stubs. I added a 110-V power cord (house-power was not 120-V as today) and pluged it in. A satisfying hum came from the not too tightly compressed laminations. With a pair of pliers in each hand I grasped two carbon rods and brought them near the transformer secondary, and touched the rods to the two terminals.

I woke up sometime later on by back some six feet from the workbench, pliers still grasped firmly in each hand, carbon rods crushed. I uttered, "You stupid ass!" then, and many times over the years since, and it still applies even as I write this account some 70 years later. I knew better even at that young age, but just didn't think. No permanent damage to my physique, just my ego -- but a later measurement after I had obtained an a-c voltmeter confirmed my suspicions -- the secondary of that transformer was rated at 250 volts RMS. My IQ at the time must have been in the neighborhood of not over 50.

(I have wondered over the years whether or not I might have been blasted into "the next world," and whether this is it. Pinching myself is futile as a means of answering that question beyond doubt.) 73!

My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by VE4MM on April 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I also have had the pleasure? of an electrocution.

In 1990 I had built a Heathkit SB1000 amplifier.

It was short a piece of thick unsheathed wire to connect to the tube so I used a thinner wire.

Then I fired up the amp and with the safety switch depressed with my left finger and touched the wire with my right finger to see if it was hot.

Within a nanosecond I could not feel my hands.

The current flowed thru my right finger thru my heart and down my left arm while exiting thru my left hand.

A left finger was "sliced" open from the chassis and a right looked like a bullet was fired at it.

I couldn't feel my hands for a few hours.

I recovered....and have pictures of my damage to my hands.

I have a new respect for electricity. That was 14 years ago.

I just lost my mind for a few seconds.

I sold the amp the same year!


Mike, VE4MM
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on April 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

That was a high quality 'Shocking Moment". Thank you for relating it to us.

The sensation of not being able to feel your hands, is familiar. When I received my 'Shocking Moment', my hands and arms were numb. In addition, it seemed to affect my breathing, for a few minutes.

It is good to see us still here!

Kent W7DUD
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by WA0FDV on May 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
TV sets, electric fences (as kids we made a game of touching electric fences), all sort of electrical contrivance, been there done that with shocks, BUT:

My most memorable electrically shocking moment occurred in the middle of the night about the middle of 1963. I had built a TR switch from the '62 Handbook into a coffee can. If I remember, the circuit used a 12AU7. To power the tube, instead of building a power supply, I was going to use the AUX socket on the back of my Knight Kit T-60 Xmtr where there was a source of approx 400 to 500 volts. In order to do this of course I had to provide a suitable plate dropping resistor. It was either too easy or too slow to my thinking to use the tube manual (which I had) to calculate the value of this resistor so I was using the "cut and try" procedure. I had my T-60 turned around backwards (presumably to better facilitate jamming the wires into the AUX socket I guess) and would reach over the top and turn the function switch to OFF, quick solder a resistor in place, turn the function switch back on and measure the voltage on the plate with my Eico VOM. The function switch on the T-60 of course had more than one ON position, e.g. CW,AM,TUNE, and it may have been the late hour, murphy's law, the law of percentages, or possibly a full moon, but on about the third time I reached over the transmitter to kill the power I instead turned the switch the wrong way to one of the other power positions and then proceeded to reach in to remove the previously tested resistor. This action resulted in the Coffee can hitting the ceiling and me hitting the bed, which fortunately was not far behind me. My parents down the hall were awakened by the resulting "noise" (at least my mother) who called: "is everything ok down there?" I vaguely remember answering that every thing was cool and since it was bedtime anyway I decided to cut my losses and modulate the pillow. I guess a saving grace is that we are capable of learning, these moments of "excitement" becoming fewer and farther between through the years.
RE: My Most Electrically 'Shocking' Moment  
by W7DUD on May 5, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Thank you for relating that superb example.

When I received my "Shocking Moment", my Mother was not home. Us younger guys usually were fortunate to have a bed close by to land on, or bounce off of, on the way down to the floor. I woke up, and saw Tonto staring at me from the wallpaper. When I noticed he was pointing out my location, to the Lone Ranger, a few feet to the left, I decided to get up quickly. The Lone Ranger had just cleared his holster, with his Six-Shooter. That seemed like a bad omen, in my still fuzzy mind.

Kent W7DUD
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