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Author: Steve Litt
To: dng
Old-Topics: Re: [DNG] Is it dead yet?
Subject: [DNG] WAY OFFTOPIC: Idiot electricians: was: Is it dead yet?
onefang said on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:13:38 +1000

>Oops, sorry, replied directly to spiralofhope instead of the list.
>On 2021-10-26 22:35:57, spiralofhope wrote:
>> On Tue, 26 Oct 2021 23:15:15 -0400
>> Hendrik Boom via Dng <dng@???> wrote:


>> Apparently a jackass flipping breakers off and on quickly had
>> stressed it out.
>I've had that sort of arsehole in the past to.

True story, from more than a decade before Linus made Linux...

1979. I was a consumer audio repair guy at Pacific Stereo in Chicago. I
was paid commission on every amp, receiver, turntable, tapedeck, etc
that I repaired. No repairs, no pay.

Pacific Stereo provided their repairpeople (we were called "techs") with
high quality service benches with every conceivable tool we'd ever need:
Oscilloscopes, signal generators, high input impedance voltmeters,
distortion analyzers, variable voltage transformers (variacs) and lots

Unknown to us techs, unknown because we weren't told, some electricians
were doing work on the building's electrical system. These guys were
wild and woolly cowboys: No need to tell everybody to shut off their
stuff or shut the breakers off. They were tough. They worked live.
They disconnected a neutral wire.

For the 10% of you who are "pure code, no hardware" types of people,
most homes, stores and apartment buildings work on a 2 phase system: 120
volts on each phase, with half the building on one side and half the
building on the other. Each outlet has a connection to a "neutral"
header wire, guaranteed to be at 0 volts, to make sure that each phase
is 120 volts, no more, no less.

If that neutral disappears, the two phases become one series circuit,
meaning that the phase with the higher resistance gets more voltage
than 120, and the side with less resistance gets less than 120. How
much more or less depends on the difference between the phase

I was on the higher resistance phase. All of a sudden, our fluorescent
lights blazed like the sun. There was a ominous hum coming from just
about everything. Then the popping started, as the capacitors in our
test equipment began exploding. We unplugged everything as fast as we
could, but the damage was done. Thousands of 1979 dollars worth of test
equipment had blown caps or worse, as the ensuing shorts or opens took
fuses, transformers or semiconductors with them.

We never got even a "sorry" from the electricians. They walked out with
union scale pay (more than our most productive techs made) for the time
they were on premises. Must be nice.

I spent the next day and a half repairing all my bench's test
equipment. At no pay, because I wasn't repairing consumer audio. And
I'd never had a moment's training on fixing test equipment, and as I
remember we didn't have service manuals for that test equipment. We
just did what we had to do to be able to get back to work again. A day
and a half with no pay, and customers screaming "why are you so slow to
fix my stereo?"

It's the kind of grudge you can keep for 42 years. My fantasy is to
meet those guys and make them give me that day's pay, plus interest.
Those guys were making about $20.00/hr in 1979, so that's about $160.00
in 1979 dollars, or $1241.60 today assuming my ability to safely make
5% on my money, which was true for many of those years, including the
insane runups of 1983-2000, and 2009-present.

Pay up, guys, wherever you are.


Steve Litt
Spring 2021 featured book: Troubleshooting Techniques of the Successful
Technologist http://www.troubleshooters.com/techniques