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Author Topic: Venue Power Check  (Read 2916 times)

Loren Miller

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Venue Power Check
« on: April 11, 2018, 09:38:05 am »

Hey guys, I was at a new “venue” on Sat and asked where they wanted me to setup and was pointed to a scraggly orange extension cord by a wall. I felt uncomfortable but followed it back to a 20a outlet. I took out my receptacle tester and got 3 yellows on everything but it made me think: What is an effective way to test the power at a venue. And then what do you do about it?

My usual setup only needs 12a max, but as I start to get into bigger gigs?
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David Winners

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 10:07:30 am »

Hey guys, I was at a new “venue” on Sat and asked where they wanted me to setup and was pointed to a scraggly orange extension cord by a wall. I felt uncomfortable but followed it back to a 20a outlet. I took out my receptacle tester and got 3 yellows on everything but it made me think: What is an effective way to test the power at a venue. And then what do you do about it?

My usual setup only needs 12a max, but as I start to get into bigger gigs?

Here is some good reading provided by forum Moderator Mike Sokol.
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Loren Miller

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 11:45:08 am »

David, it was a good read and confirmed some steps I already take, I guess I'll throw my multimeter in my work bag instead of my emergency bag.

Let me drill down a little further into the realm of hypotheticals. Suppose I come across an outlet near FoH that I would like to use but has some wiring issues that might be an easy fix, like out of phase, are there any circumstances where you would fix it? I know the standard answer, liability and all, but were are talking hypothetical here??
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 12:03:37 pm »

David, it was a good read and confirmed some steps I already take, I guess I'll throw my multimeter in my work bag instead of my emergency bag.

Let me drill down a little further into the realm of hypotheticals. Suppose I come across an outlet near FoH that I would like to use but has some wiring issues that might be an easy fix, like out of phase, are there any circumstances where you would fix it? I know the standard answer, liability and all, but were are talking hypothetical here??

You touch it, you own it.  Don't touch it.  Chances are that either nobody has taken exception to the outlets before, or that they have they got the typical bar owner response of "everyone else uses it, and if you can't I'll hire a different band."  RUN LIKE HELL away from this shit hole mentality.

Tape an extension cord to your snake, find the one or two good outlets back stage and have your own power to FOH.  I've been doing this since 1983.  It's far easier than fooling around trying to find a good outlet near FOH.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 01:58:19 pm »

...Suppose I come across an outlet near FoH that I would like to use but has some wiring issues that might be an easy fix, like out of phase, are there any circumstances where you would fix it?...

No. Never.

Never touch someone else's wiring unless you are a licensed electrician, they've asked you to do the repair, and you are charging for that repair. YOUR wiring starts at the plug and goes downstream to your distro and your equipment. The receptacle and everything upstream is THEIR responsibility, not yours.

(Of course, you can meter their wiring, to identify a fault condition and alert them to a problem, but don't ever rewire it yourself.)

Your liability insurance will not be happy if there's a problem with the wiring you modified and someone points at you (even if it's not your fault).

If you don't have liability insurance, why not? If you don't have liability insurance, your future income, your house, your equipment, everything you own -- it all becomes your "insurance" policy. Are you willing to risk all of that?
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Loren Miller

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2018, 03:26:52 pm »

No. Never.

Never touch someone else's wiring unless you are a licensed electrician, they've asked you to do the repair, and you are charging for that repair. YOUR wiring starts at the plug and goes downstream to your distro and your equipment. The receptacle and everything upstream is THEIR responsibility, not yours.

(Of course, you can meter their wiring, to identify a fault condition and alert them to a problem, but don't ever rewire it yourself.)

Your liability insurance will not be happy if there's a problem with the wiring you modified and someone points at you (even if it's not your fault).

If you don't have liability insurance, why not? If you don't have liability insurance, your future income, your house, your equipment, everything you own -- it all becomes your "insurance" policy. Are you willing to risk all of that?

good point, I didn't take my insurance into question, they would not like that! Well looks like I'm in the market for another 100' of 12guage!
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 04:40:02 pm »

Tape an extension cord to your snake, find the one or two good outlets back stage and have your own power to FOH.  I've been doing this since 1983.  It's far easier than fooling around trying to find a good outlet near FOH.
I can't remember when I last plugged FOH into something other than at the stage.  Until I built my PMD I had enough fun chasing ground loops from one side of the stage to the other much less at the back of the room.
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frank kayser

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 04:42:54 pm »

good point, I didn't take my insurance into question, they would not like that! Well looks like I'm in the market for another 100' of 12guage!
Either that, or get some sort of digital mixer, place stage-side, and mix on a tablet.
frank
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Rob Spence

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 10:16:41 pm »

good point, I didn't take my insurance into question, they would not like that! Well looks like I'm in the market for another 100' of 12guage!

How much power do you need at FOH? 2 amps?
Maybe #14 would work fine. Do you really have FOH 100’ away in places with 1 dodgy outlet?



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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 10:35:26 pm »

How much power do you need at FOH? 2 amps?
Maybe #14 would work fine. Do you really have FOH 100’ away in places with 1 dodgy outlet?



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I think I still have the 14/3 FOH run I started with 35 years ago.

The AC feed should be as long as the snake, perhaps not taped all the way to the stage box, though.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Callan Browne

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 06:49:39 pm »

It can be fun at the bottom...
3 weeks ago this was my on stage power, about 6" down behind the stage

Yes one of the 3 wall plates is hanging by cables.

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Lyle Williams

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2018, 05:55:00 am »

... but the quality of the carpetting makes up for any shortfall in electrical safety?
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 11:58:29 am »

Well you are down under. ;)
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Craig Leerman

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2018, 02:58:29 am »


When I am in a venue I have never worked before, I make sure to leave a little time for power check.

First, I find out where the breaker box is

Then I break out a “Fox and Hound” type breaker finder unit. The “Fox” part plugs into an outlet, the “Hound” part is slid over the breakers in the box (no need to unscrew any covers) and will indicate which breaker that the outlet the Fox sender is connected to. I use a sperry CS61200 unit but Fluke, Greenlee and others all make breaker finders.

Next I label the outlets and breakers

I then check with the house staff and promoters and see if any outlets are needed for another use, like a video person, or coffee pot. If the house plugs a coffee pot into your circuit it will most likely trip the breaker during the show.

In cases where multiple outlets are on the same circuit as the ones I am using, I will put a piece of gaff tape over the outlet with Do Not Use written on the tape.  Make sure you remove the tape after the gig. I forgot to remove the tape covers in a casino ballroom once. I did another show there months later and my tape was still telling people to not use certain outlets.  Oops.

Here is an article I wrote a while back about power. Check out the stuff written by Mike Sokol as well.


www.prosoundweb.com/channels/live-sound/power_distribution/

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Wes Garland

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2018, 08:59:59 am »

Suppose I come across an outlet near FoH that I would like to use but has some wiring issues that might be an easy fix, like out of phase, are there any circumstances where you would fix it?

When I find a bad outlet on a gig, I put tape across it and write "BAD" with a Sharpie.  Then I don't say anything to anybody about it.

I have come back to venues years after doing this and seen my tape still in place.  I have also seen some venues get fixed.  Of course.....I have seen the tape simply removed, also.
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Mike Monte

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2018, 09:12:21 pm »

Tape an extension cord to your snake, find the one or two good outlets back stage and have your own power to FOH.  I've been doing this since 1983.  It's far easier than fooling around trying to find a good outlet near FOH.

I do the above (without taping the extension cord).  wall power to amprack, amprack (via extension cord) to FOH
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2018, 10:01:54 pm »

I do the above (without taping the extension cord).  wall power to amprack, amprack (via extension cord) to FOH

Yepper!  That became the way I ended up doing it because my snake stage box was close to the amp rack already.  One or 2 power cables to the wall and everything branched out from the amp rack area.

I ran back line power from there, too.  After having a keyboard player consistently using whatever "convenient" outlet was near the stage - that I wouldn't use for the PA - and the direct connection fun that ensued... (i.e. he ignored the tape and "bad" label kindly left there by our friend Wes G ;) )  It's just easier to run a stage power stringer than it is to find and fix the ground loops and/or other problems.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Stephen Kirby

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2018, 04:04:53 pm »

I do the above (without taping the extension cord).  wall power to amprack, amprack (via extension cord) to FOH
Same here.  150' of snake and SO12 (probably could have gone lighter) together are a bit unwieldy.

But yes, PMD to collect AC circuits and then back out to supply everything, including the run out to FOH.  If I'm lucky I can use my CS distro but more often it's the PMD.
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Mike Monte

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2018, 09:40:39 pm »


I ran back line power from there, too.  After having a keyboard player consistently using whatever "convenient" outlet was near the stage - that I wouldn't use for the PA - and the direct connection fun that ensued... (i.e. he ignored the tape and "bad" label kindly left there by our friend Wes G ;) )  It's just easier to run a stage power stringer than it is to find and fix the ground loops and/or other problems.

I also run two power stringers from the wall outlet "of my choice" or the rack distro for the stage; one across the back and one across the front....
It's a good idea to tape the unused outlets...
A case in point: One of last summer's gigs I was providing the rig for an outdoor (tented) multi-band show.

As it was getting towards dark, someone found an open plug (on one of my stringers) and plugged the "tent lights" in... It threw the breaker.....yup, I forgot to tape over one unused stringer outlet....  Rather than ask, a volunteer will "sniff around the stage" to see what's open....

On another note: Is it me or does everyone seem to want to charge their phones using stage power?
It seems that everyone's "sniffing power" to charge their phones these days...
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Chris Hindle

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Re: Venue Power Check
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2018, 12:13:13 am »

I also run two power stringers from the wall outlet "of my choice" or the rack distro for the stage; one across the back and one across the front....
It's a good idea to tape the unused outlets...
A case in point: One of last summer's gigs I was providing the rig for an outdoor (tented) multi-band show.

As it was getting towards dark, someone found an open plug (on one of my stringers) and plugged the "tent lights" in... It threw the breaker.....yup, I forgot to tape over one unused stringer outlet....  Rather than ask, a volunteer will "sniff around the stage" to see what's open....

On another note: Is it me or does everyone seem to want to charge their phones using stage power?
It seems that everyone's "sniffing power" to charge their phones these days...

Use Powercons for Production Power.
Sure, you have to build adapters to plug in the back line, but it avoids unintended hookups. No adapter, no 'lecky.
works for me.....
Chris.
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Ya, Whatever. Just throw a '57 on it, and get off my stage.
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