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Red Squirrel 05-15-2012 01:56 PM

My first time playing (literally) with mains power
Well, not counting the time I got zapped as a toddler, this was the first time I played with 120vac.

I found this little gem in my tool box the other day, I can't believe I still have it.

That is not just a paper clip shaped in a funny way, it is a light socket. :eek: I was like 10ish, maybe 12 at the time. I had been playing with batteries and stuff for a long time, and had the urge to try something more exciting. So I screwed in a christmas bulb into the rounded part, insert the end into the socket while holding the bulb as to not touch the metal, and then I'd use a wire to go from the end of the bulb to the other socket part and it would light up.

From there I kinda grew out of control until my parents were scared I'd start a fire.

I follow codes now. :laughing:

kevinp22 05-15-2012 03:16 PM

that reminds me of the first time i tried to "test" a gfci years ago before i understood how it works.

stick a wire in each receptacle slot and "run" the other wire ends through a bowl of salt water. gfci didnt trip, but breaker did. still not sure what i was trying to prove:jester:

i obsess about codes now

Red Squirrel 05-15-2012 03:18 PM

You're suppose to run the hot only in the salt water and put your hand in it while touching the faucet. :laughing:

kevinp22 05-15-2012 03:19 PM

knew i did something wrong! loud pop was pretty exciting though.

PS to others dont try either my or red squirrel's little tricks at home

Jay 78 05-15-2012 04:18 PM


Originally Posted by kevinp22 (Post 922023)
PS to others dont try either my or red squirrel's little tricks at home

Damn. :(

Red Squirrel 05-15-2012 04:22 PM


Originally Posted by kevinp22 (Post 922023)
knew i did something wrong! loud pop was pretty exciting though.

PS to others dont try either my or red squirrel's little tricks at home

Good point I should have said that in case someone thought I was serious.

Chances are it would work and the GFCI would do what it's designed to, but it's just not a safe way to test at all!

rrolleston 05-15-2012 04:54 PM

I always had to see how stuff worked as a kid. When I was about eight I got my own small tool set and it went bad after that took apart everything in the house I could get my hands on.

Caught hell for a lot of things mom went to use the phone it was in pieces. I can't even count how many times I took something apart.

Then about ten I started to actually fix some stuff and try to make different things with 120v to 12v transformers. Radio Shack became my favorite store. And I grew into doing more and more as I grew up.

My family was terrified the first time they caught me pluging in a transformer and playing with some switches lights and motors.

I remember doing it at my grandparents house on the dining room table. Was like check out this gadget then plugged it in and started to play around. They thought I was crazy. And after talking to my uncle about what I knew he finally agreed it was ok for me to do what I was doing.

M3 Pete 05-15-2012 05:32 PM

as long as we are all confessing ... this happened when I was about 7 or 8.

After opening an electric clock I was playing with the bare ends of its power cord that were disconnected somehow. I put the two ends into the clock, got an arc and a pop, and blew the breaker (thankfully!).


I never said a word. And I stopped playing with appliances.

I hope my own kids survive their ignorance.

Red Squirrel 05-15-2012 05:34 PM

Haha yep that's how I was as a kid. I had what I liked to call a "lab" was really just a play area,had christmas lights and all, and everything was powered by a switch board I had made using real switches and crunched up foil paper as wires. As a kid I could not just go to a store and buy whatever, so I was resourceful and went in the kitchen and grabbed pieces of foil. I had seen it done in "Honey I shrunk the kids" where they use foil to jumper two terminals in a radio and I'm like "holy crap I can use that for wires!".

This one time I wired something wrong and plugged it in, I got a crazy light show. Sparks, and the whole foil turned blue, it was awesome, so I did it again on purpose. :eek:

I think this may be how I got my red hair. :laughing:

kevinp22 05-15-2012 06:08 PM

Has anyone ever managed to avoid a 120v shock? Has anyone had one of 220v or higher?

Red Squirrel 05-15-2012 06:33 PM

Actually my first 120 shock was with that little thing I posted. My hand had slipped and I touched the metal. Weirdest feeling ever.

I was also curious to see what a short circuit with 120v looked like. Wow that scared the crap out of me the first time I did that. :laughing:

I've never felt a 240v shock though. I was talking with an electrician who did the electrical where I worked and I asked him if he ever got hit with 600v and he said "it makes you sit down". :laughing:

mpoulton 05-15-2012 06:41 PM


Originally Posted by kevinp22 (Post 922127)
Has anyone ever managed to avoid a 120v shock? Has anyone had one of 220v or higher?

I have only ever had one 120V shock, and it was last fall. I got careless and had a knuckle bump a bus bar in a panel. That's 30 years without a line voltage shock, despite working on electronics since I was a kid! I did have several significant run-ins with other voltage sources though, including some very hefty capacitors that could have been quite serious (but luckily weren't). I'm generally very careful.

kevinp22 05-15-2012 07:11 PM

well done mpoulton. ive been shocked maybe 5 times in 7 years. but ALL of these occurred when I was (1) rushing (2) partially distracted or (3)both:huh:

a7ecorsair 05-15-2012 07:17 PM

When I was a kid I had an Erector Set. In it was an electromagnet with two wires. I know now they were to be connected to a battery but I thought a duplex receptacle would work. One big puff of smoke. I don't remember getting shocked pushing the wires in but of course they were insulated with enamel coating:eek:

rrolleston 05-15-2012 09:13 PM

Worst was a 240v shock from a wet saw pump. Luckily it was all slippery and I barely had a grip and after what felt like forever but was not long it fell out of my hand and my whole arm hurt for a week.

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