Initrode to Earth



  • This story happened in the early 2000's, but could as well have happened today. I was sitting at my desk with my colleagues, a software company in the finance area, when we were about 15 people. Suddenly there were zaps and all computers and monitors went dead. In the next room there was a fire in the cabling cupboard which Nick was madly trying to extinguish with one of those grey powder fire extinguishers.

    It turns out that we had had a faulty CRT monitor which was feeding 480V into the earth wire. (This is double the normal 240V that we use in our land). It had been doing this for god knows how long, with Kevin (* name changed) happily using the monitor, oblivious to the problem. We were on level 1, and on ground floor some builders were installing a new bank branch. Everything was fine until the builders' electrician cut the earth connection linking our building to that big metal plate in the ground.

    So then we had to collectively work out who was footing the bill for the damaged equipment, maybe $20,000. Was it my company, because we were the owners of the faulty monitor? (The manufacturers of the monitor?) Or were the builders liable because their electrician had failed to check whether the earth cable was carrying current before he cut it? Or was it the owners of the building - because apparently the building was in violation of building standards which dictate that every floor is supposed to have its own separate earth wire going into the earth, precisely because of the potential for problems like this?

    In the end, it was our sister organisation who shared the office with us who footed the bill. They had suffered the most damage. They had not done anything wrong...but I guess it was a "force majeur" sort of thing, given the difficulties of actually establishing whose fault it was.

    Interesting factoid - this office was one of Atlassian's offices in the beginning of their meteoric rise.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @tcotco said in Initrode to Earth:

    could as well have happened today

    faulty CRT monitor

    That's one thing that's genuinely much less likely to happen now; CRTs are hugely less common than they were. Good riddance too.


  • BINNED

    @dkf said in Initrode to Earth:

    Good riddance too.

    I miss the degauss buttons! ☹


    Filed under: *TWONG!* wobble wobble wobble



  • @dkf said in Initrode to Earth:

    That's one thing that's genuinely much less likely to happen now; CRTs are hugely less common than they were. Good riddance too.

    That said, electronics which leaks electricity to earth line, or even misconnects neutral and earth, are not that rare to find. (Especially if your boss like to buy these from online stores because it's cheap, and does not think it's big deal that these products often are homemade and not passed any official safety certifications)

    P.S.: Do not ever try to touch earth wire of sockets with your naked hand before testing it with voltmeter. And no, shutting down that part of main switch does not mean it's safe to do so automatically.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @cheong said in Initrode to Earth:

    That said, electronics which leaks electricity to earth line, or even misconnects neutral and earth, are not that rare to find.

    A lot of monitors now use an external power block just like those used with laptops. Probably made in the same factory in vast numbers. That means that the monitor itself is all low-voltage stuff, and the easily-replaceable power block is the only thing that really needs proper earthing. Yes, it's not universal yet, but I expect that'll become the norm because it's both (comparatively) safe and cheap.



  • @Onyx
    NodeBB thinks my like is invalid ...

    0_1470042076612_upload-470eb5c8-6c4a-43df-af9d-c5ac9837c010


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Luhmann Just a short cootiesquall.



  • @dkf said in Initrode to Earth:

    Just a short cootiesquall.

    No I think someone needs to degauss the server ...

    0_1470042532669_upload-c3f60b75-4ec3-4068-92b5-742ad6b2714d



  • @dkf said in Initrode to Earth:

    A lot of monitors now use an external power block just like those used with laptops. [...]. Yes, it's not universal yet, but I expect that'll become the norm because it's both (comparatively) safe and cheap.

    Most of the more expensive ones still have integrated PSUs (and many consumers - including me - prefer the convenience of not having another brick). Having said that, even the integrated PSU is now mostly an OEM part (since the voltages are low & standardised). These are made by the same people who make the external bricks, just without the plastic overmould.


  • BINNED

    @esharp said in Initrode to Earth:

    not having another brick

    I'll trade in every non-brick using device I have for a chance to have all my bricks be of the kind that has a cable on both sides instead of being plugged directly into the wall/extension cord.


  • SockDev

    @Onyx said in Initrode to Earth:

    @esharp said in Initrode to Earth:

    not having another brick

    I'll trade in every non-brick using device I have for a chance to have all my bricks be of the kind that has a cable on both sides instead of being plugged directly into the wall/extension cord.

    if i have to have a prick of an external power supply it had fucking well better not be one of those wallwarts that plug directly into the power strop and block at least one other socket from being used.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @accalia said in Initrode to Earth:

    the power strop

    👍🏻 👍🏽 👍🏿


  • area_deu

    @accalia Do you Americans have power strips with 45° rotated sockets? Those are pretty cool.


  • BINNED

    @aliceif yeah, those help, somewhat. More often than not, though, you still have to unplug the damned thing because it covers the next one over just enough so the standard Schuko plug can't slide by it. And don't even try to put two of the box bastards next to each other, unless it's one of those "vertical" ones (most 220V-to-USB ones seem to be like that, fortunately) it's a no-go still.


  • SockDev

    @aliceif said in Initrode to Earth:

    Do you Americans have power strips with 45° rotated sockets?

    you can buy them, yes, but they are far from standard.

    more common are the 90 degree rotated ones so the wall warts stick out perpendicular to the power strip. that stops them from blocking all the rest of the outl;ets, but the wider wallwarts usually block the plugs on either side anyway.

    @aliceif said in Initrode to Earth:

    Those are pretty cool.

    yes, they are. they don't fix the problem though.



  • @cheong homemade monitors? never saw anything like this



  • @groo No. Homemade electronics. There are lots of online shops selling these made in Mainland China.



  • @cheong It is probably more common in China, as everything is made there anyway.

    It's unusual to find any homemade electronics around here. It's less expensive to buy the whole thing.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @groo said in Initrode to Earth:

    It's less expensive to buy the whole thing from China



  • Isn't there supposed to be a safety mechanism preventing earth leakage? Or are those only in private homes?


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