Audiophile Electrocution

On one of the company-sponsored discussion boards I read (for my brand of speakers), the head of the company is always warning us about power and how dangerous it is and how careful we must be. And we all read a lot of stern warnings about not opening up amps, about household wiring, licensed electricians and what not. I don't want to make light of this of this. But I am curious; do you know of any audiophiles who have been hurt or killed while tinkering with their systems? Have you been zapped?
Even pro electricians get zapped.
I got too many times:
from TV-sets, amps, home appliances...
110V isn't a biggie for a short duration depending on the power capabilities of the source...
as a child I certainly did stick things into the electrical outlets and enjoyed the tingle.
I have watched idiots stick screwdrivers into the outlets and cross them with a third... Amazingly, they all only burned halfway through before the circuit blew (industrial building, not a home circuit)
In FL some dude working on a building was carrying some metal rods and touched a 50,000 volt or so powerline. All that was left was some charred bones and the melted soles of his shoes.
Electricity can be dangerous, but the danger is overblown in our lawsuit friendly world, to protect the idiots out there.
Just stay out of the inside of your tube color tv while it is turned on...
Since most people are not stupid, most problems occurr when people think there is no risk. Improper grounding. Thinking things have been disocnected or a component that stores energy even after it has been turned off or is disconnected. Most accidents can be avoided by taking simple precautions. There is nothing sadder than an accidental death that could have been prevented.

Any Radio Shack carries a voltage tester that allows you to test for voltage before you touch. Try to avoid cheater plugs. ALSO REMEMBER THAT ELECTRICITY CAN ARC. MEANING IT CAN LEAP ACROSS AIR IF YOU GET TOO CLOSE.
If your fingers are dry and you brush lightly on a 110 volt wire you will only get a little tingle. Old time electricians checked for hot wires with their fingers, and I do the same, but for me only as a verification after I have cut the power. You can kill yourself with 110 volts if you grab firmly on the hot wire with one hand and the ground with the other hand. This puts the current through your chest. An old time safety tip is to keep one hand in your pocket while groping wires with the other one.

Tube circuits, and TV CRTs especially run with very high DC voltages. High voltage can stop your heart even if no serious physical damage is done to tissues. (In the Electric chair, a high voltage pulse is used to knock the criminal out, and then followed with high current to destroy tissue).

Heathkit once sold a Geiger counter kit. There were warnings about the danger of the high voltage in it, but a friend of mine didn't take it seriously because the only power came from four D cell batteries. He almost killed himself.
Here is one that not many people know of. Just because the breaker is off doesn't mean you can't get zapped. If the neutral is shared with another circut and that circut is on and being used, you can get a jolt from the white wire (neutral). Many homes share (& it is legal)a common neutral wire. Turn off the main & you will be safe. At least from this type of nuking.
I grabbed the power supply of my Cary preamp thinking my buddy had unplugged it from the wall. I wrapped my index finger over the detachable connection cord and nearly swallowed my tounge. 8 perfect pin burnmarks was a good reminder to slow down and not get excited about A B different audio gear.
years back i was drinking (heavily) with some friends when one of them noticed a cattle prod that i had sitting in a coat rack by the door,after i took it away from him he started saying that it wouldnt hurt a real man because it only ran on 9 d cell batteries,then he dared me to shock him with it because he could take it like a man.

after his second blast of crap about how he could take it i let him have it right in the chest with a 2 second burst,the shock knocked him out on his feet,he did a spin like a balarina,then on his way to the floor he busted his head wide open on the corner of the kitchen table,we all laughed :) except him :(

the moral of the story is that if your a moron dont f!*$ with electricity.

I remember as a little kid, pouring BBs into my lamp socket and turning on the switch. Great show!
I also learned how to change fuses that day.
I got an ass whoopin' once for trying to play a pizza on my Dad's console record player.
Gunbei, my compliments to your dad. PS did anyone mention to pull the plug on your electronics before messing with them
While still just a lad, I had an incredible fascination for anything electrical, and used to take things apart just to see what was inside. After unsuccesfully trying to get a radio to play, I decided to cut off the cord and use it for another purpose. The steel scissors I used exploded with a bang, and shattered across the table. Besides scaring me to death, I never felt a thing.
A buddy of mine was electrocuted- but lived- working on an old radio when we were around 12. Of course, this was the same guy that put a 12 gauge shotgun shell in a vise and hit the firing pin with a hammer..this in an enclosed cinderblock garage with 4 of us in there.

That trick was only done once.
05-31-06: Bigjoe
years back i was drinking (heavily) with some friends when one of them noticed a cattle prod that i had sitting in a coat rack by the door...
We keep our cattle prod on a tea cozy next to Aunt Jebbie's photograph (she loved the hooch, too). Same difference.

What are you, nutz!? :)
tvad asks,are you nuts? my decesion making ability back then wasnt the greatest but i had fun.
electrocuted- but lived

Dan, he might have been electrocuted, or he might have been shocked and lived, but he didn't do both.

electrocution = electrical + execution. By definition it is always fatal.

I suggest staying away from this guy.
my decesion making ability back then wasnt the greatest but i had fun.
Bigjoe (Threads | Answers)
We have all suffered from that syndrome.

"my decesion making ability back then wasn't the greatest but i had fun."
It ususually invoves a woman. Not electricity.
"electrocution = electrical + execution. By definition it is always fatal."

Not if they don't wet the sponge.
I once leaned on my bench supply and put the palm of my hand across the 450V B+ rectifier diodes and grounded chassis.

It left a mark.
I once leaned on my bench supply and put the palm of my hand across the 450V B+ rectifier diodes and grounded chassis
Ouch! That makes two of us. I got hit in the air (ark).
I got hit with about 500v once, not a good time, it instantly burned my skin to the point it was a dead dry powder where the contact was made. I jumped, or rather it threw me a few feet back, the hair on my arms was standing straight up and I just plain didn't feel like myself for a few days. Muscles were sore, my head felt funny, and the actual spot where it touched hurt a lot.

What happened was a tube amp blew a tube and in the process popped a fuse as well. The fuse was hidden inside the amp, so of course I unplugged it and took the bottom plate off the amp. I see the burned fuse and like an IDIOT test one side of the fuse, no juice. What I failed to think about was which way the circuit ran, I tested down stream, there was still power left in the caps upstream - I won't make that mistake again. So I have my arm resting on the chassis(ground) and put my hand in there to pull the tiny little fuse and that's when I got it, but I did get the fuse out so all was not lost. But I was too shakey for the rest of the day to put the new fuse back in place, that had to wait a day.

Now I am much more aware of testing and draining power with resistors before I do anything dumb. The 500v's was a guess the manufacturer came up with when I told them the story.
Any long-term effects, tireguy? Run faster? More virile? Able to predict the future? See through doors?
His real name is Edgar Cayce Jr.
No real long term effects, I just felt weird for a number of days. A month or so later it was all a distant memory.

As a youth I was curious if an electric fence was on that I saw on the side of the road, so I grabbed it with my hand.... it was on. I've zapped myself more then a few times installing outlets and light switch dimmers and all of those pale in comparison to the amp zap.
I had a good zap checking the ignition wires on my '77 Firebird while the car was running. That 50,000 volt HEI ignition sure hits hard, and so did my head on the inside of the open car hood.

"I had a good zap checking the ignition wires on my '77 Firebird while the car was running. That 50,000 volt HEI ignition sure hits hard, and so did my head on the inside of the open car hood."

Ah the memories that brings back!
so now we finally know what happened to Gunbei!
Long term effects?

When I was 13 I belonged to an Explorer Post, an adjunct of the Boy Scouts. Our sponsor was a local company that built closed-circuit television systems, and after hours we could go into their shop and use their machine tools, equipment, test benchs, etc. to build our own gear, fix stuff, whatever we wanted.

I brought in an old tube radio to see if I could get it working. Took off the cover, everything looked intact. Plugged it in, nothing lights up. I was going to unplug it to take the tubes out for testing when I grabbed the metal chassis to move it closer first. Unbeknownest to me, the power cord had frayed and the hot side was shorted to the chassis while the return was broken off completely. As I grabbed the case I simultaneously put my hand on the metal workbench, grounded well as it should be. The jolt stiffened my entire body, catapulting me about 10 ft straight back off the shop stool. After everyone came running and picked me up, I was okay except for a bruised tailbone and a burn on my hand, just like Tireguy. I didn't think much of the incident.

But after a couple days I started to feel warm all the time, not feverish, just warm like summer and I don't need a coat. Problem was, this was February in northern Indiana. We went to the doctor and told them what had happened, but they found nothing wrong. From that point on my metabolism ran way higher than it had, so I was warm winter and summer, high energy, never gained weight.

Now fast forward 35 years; I'll be 47 soon. Just this year I slowed way down, no energy, gained weight. I went to the doctor and they found my thyroid is running at only about 10%. The doctor speculates that after all those years of running in high gear, my thyroid just burned itself out. I started Synthroid a few weeks ago and I'm feeling better already.

And having never lost my fascination, I'm back to a tube preamp...


Much of this is because people are stupid and lawyers are asked how to protect companies. The one I love is on rotary lawn mowers, or at least mine, there is notice to not pick up the mover with your finger underneath while it is running. Apparently some guy decided it would be great to trim his hedges with a lawn mover and cut off all of his fingers.

My father used to repair electronics, this entailed checking out the set while it was on. I can remember several times when he ended up on the floor. Usually, however, the voltages were not too high. Big old output tubes with 1600 volts on them were probably not survivable.
Amazing story, armstrod. So you think the shock changed your metabolism? It sounds like it was for the better except for having worn out your thyroid too soon.

Hmmm...I'd love to have more energy and could stand to lose a few pounds. Think I'll try a little DIY on my tube amp.

Yes, I'm quite sure the shock changed my metabolism. Up until that point it seemed quite normal; after the shock, definitely revved up, and stayed that way for years.

My doctor said he studied cases in med school where people where people had the same thing happen from a blow to the head. Rather than sticking your hand in your amp, maybe you should just take up listening to headbanger music!
I wonder whether the shock damaged your thyroid and thereby exposed previously sequestered thyroid antigens to your immune system, and triggering Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroiditis, or some other subtype of autoimmune thyroiditis. Hashimoto's classically has a hyperthyroid phase during which the gland is being destroyed and releasing excess thyroid hormone from the destroyed follicles. Then there's a euthyroid phase when the amount of hormone released roughly equals normal values because many of the follicles have been destroyed. Finally there's a hypothyroid phase where most of the gland has been destroyed by the immune response. I don't know whether that's what happened iin your case, but it seems possible.

That's sounds pretty much like the description my doctor gave me. I'm definitely in the hypothyroid phase now. Thank goodness thyroid hormone replacement drugs are common now and relatively cheap.

Too bad my original shock was AC - if it was DC I could have just reversed polarity and cured myself.


"Too bad my original shock was AC - if it was DC I could have just reversed polarity and cured myself.


VERY hilarious and clever: Thanks for a good snicker! (I won't even get into power conditioners and AC regenerators, etc.)
I once went to look at a work van for purchase from a private owner.....the guy I spoke with told me he was selling it for a woman friend whose husband had had a TV repair shop.....he had been demonstrating to a new assistant some of the fine points of TV repair, and reportedly his last words were, "Whatever you do, don't ever touch this here....."
Like someone said, the danger most of us are likely to encounter in our residential voltages of 120v occurs when the current crosses the heart....causes an interruption of the normal beating (fibrillation, ya know) and can't do the job like its supposed to; and the proper rhythm has to be restored pretty quick if you're gonna live.....
I've been an electrical contractor for a couple of decades and I just make it a practice not to touch the copper if I'm working something live....and always use insulated tools....and always. be. careful.
Back in the late 70s my Buddy had his 68 Dodge Charger and the battery was dead so we hooked up a battery Charger to the battery in the Car but left the battery still hooked up to the car. Well my Buddy had to get something in the car. I should say there was a big puddle of water on the drivers side of the car and as my friend went to grab the door handle well standing in the puddle. I swear he was levitating about a foot off the ground and I could hear him saying something like PUUULLL THHHE PLUUUG, PUUULL TTHHE PPPLUUG!!! The 68 Dodge Charger definitely live up to it's name that day.