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Author Topic: Wiring Documentation  (Read 3373 times)

Mike Sokol

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Wiring Documentation
« on: September 03, 2014, 08:36:34 am »

Over on CSC there's a discussion about how churches should document their A-V-L system wiring. As far as power goes, something as simple as figuring out which circuit breaker(s) is powering which outlet(s) often forces us into the barbaric process of flipping off breakers one at a time with a light plugged into the outlet of interest. Of course, you really can't do this during an active event because invariably you end up shutting off something important in your quest for wiring knowledge. Most of the time when I visit a church to do a production training class I have to ask "Chuck" or "Eddie" or "Sam" which panel and breakers powers the console or amps. Seems crazy, but often the only wiring "documentation" is the memory of the custodian who's been around for 30 years and remembers when they built the facility. And when he goes, then what?

So what do you guys see and/or recommend for facility wiring documentation? How can it be kept up to date and who's responsible for the updates? Where are the documents stored and are they accessible during a show or service? Are they in digital or paper format, or maybe both? I was at one church recently that was putting all A-V-L signal documentation on an iPad, but I don't remember seeing anything about which service panel powered the stage, FOH and amp racks.   

And as a tangent, do any of you document your own rack wiring? If so, how?
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2014, 10:51:31 am »

Over on CSC there's a discussion about how churches should document their A-V-L system wiring. As far as power goes, something as simple as figuring out which circuit breaker(s) is powering which outlet(s) often forces us into the barbaric process of flipping off breakers one at a time with a light plugged into the outlet of interest. Of course, you really can't do this during an active event because invariably you end up shutting off something important in your quest for wiring knowledge. Most of the time when I visit a church to do a production training class I have to ask "Chuck" or "Eddie" or "Sam" which panel and breakers powers the console or amps. Seems crazy, but often the only wiring "documentation" is the memory of the custodian who's been around for 30 years and remembers when they built the facility. And when he goes, then what?

So what do you guys see and/or recommend for facility wiring documentation? How can it be kept up to date and who's responsible for the updates? Where are the documents stored and are they accessible during a show or service? Are they in digital or paper format, or maybe both? I was at one church recently that was putting all A-V-L signal documentation on an iPad, but I don't remember seeing anything about which service panel powered the stage, FOH and amp racks.   

And as a tangent, do any of you document your own rack wiring? If so, how?

Well, when it comes to knowing what breaker powers what outlet.... a day spent with a label maker and putting labels on outlets is probably time well spent. Just like what you see at (some newer) schools and office buildings (and occasionally hotels and event venues, at least the smarter ones) -- the outlet displays circuit #s and (if applicable) panel ID that it's being fed from. I have to admit I really enjoy when it's super easy to find enough separate circuits to plug into.

So, I would suggest that churches do at least that.

-Ray
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2014, 12:18:52 pm »

Well, when it comes to knowing what breaker powers what outlet.... a day spent with a label maker and putting labels on outlets is probably time well spent. Just like what you see at (some newer) schools and office buildings (and occasionally hotels and event venues, at least the smarter ones) -- the outlet displays circuit #s and (if applicable) panel ID that it's being fed from. I have to admit I really enjoy when it's super easy to find enough separate circuits to plug into.

So, I would suggest that churches do at least that.

-Ray

That makes more sense than cryptic, fading, and usually changed codes and notes in the panel itself. Going to suggest that one for here at school.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2014, 12:46:10 pm »

Well, when it comes to knowing what breaker powers what outlet.... a day spent with a label maker and putting labels on outlets is probably time well spent.

I did exactly that when I put in a sub-panel for my studio last year. My wife was teasing me a bit because I was doing such nice looking P-Touch labels in the breaker panel. But now I know exactly which breaker is powering which outlets in the studio. Sure beats just flipping switches and watching lights.

But while that great once you're on-site, what about when you need documentation as to the number of outlets on a stage that are connected to separate breakers so you can advance a show.  I would love to see some sort of general flow chart showing how many duplex outlets are on each wall and how they're fed by the breakers. Not something as complicated as building blue prints, but with enough info for planning. I still remember one club from 40 years ago where the owner told me he had plenty of power on stage for my band since they had outlets on the back wall every few feet. However, they were all fed by a single 20-amp circuit breaker which I found out with the first big bass note.

So what's the simplest/best way to document this that can be emailed and printed out?
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Hayden J. Nebus

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2014, 01:13:49 pm »

Over on CSC there's a discussion about how churches should document their A-V-L system wiring. As far as power goes, something as simple as figuring out which circuit breaker(s) is powering which outlet(s) often forces us into the barbaric process of flipping off breakers one at a time with a light plugged into the outlet of interest. Of course, you really can't do this during an active event because invariably you end up shutting off something important in your quest for wiring knowledge. Most of the time when I visit a church to do a production training class I have to ask "Chuck" or "Eddie" or "Sam" which panel and breakers powers the console or amps. Seems crazy, but often the only wiring "documentation" is the memory of the custodian who's been around for 30 years and remembers when they built the facility. And when he goes, then what?

So what do you guys see and/or recommend for facility wiring documentation? How can it be kept up to date and who's responsible for the updates? Where are the documents stored and are they accessible during a show or service? Are they in digital or paper format, or maybe both? I was at one church recently that was putting all A-V-L signal documentation on an iPad, but I don't remember seeing anything about which service panel powered the stage, FOH and amp racks.   

And as a tangent, do any of you document your own rack wiring? If so, how?

I'd expect as-built drawings from the GC/GEC and the AV integrator, on both plotter paper and digital, as well as properly labeled panels to begin with! I'm also a huge fan of p-touch labeled outlets!  Whenever a significant change is made to building systems, the drawings should be updated. While I haven't priced it out, I imagine an hour of a draftsman's time is not cost prohibitive.

I have 3 paper sets of as-built drawings at my current house gig. 1 set is in the building engineer's office, one set is in my office, and a 1/2 scale plotter set is in the rack room. It's easier for me personally to flip through some sheets than it is to open the file for the drawing index sheet, and then find the appropriate drawing file in the directory, not to mention load times for DWGs (or very busy PDFs). The digital drawings are hosted on a remote server as well as locally on the FOH command-and-control computer, and redundant backups are in cold storage.

When we opened this building, we had a copy of the systems line drawings plotted and laminated to hang in my office. I mark them up with dry erase marker as needed, scan and send to my CAD guy.  There have been no electrical modifications and 2 minor signal level modifications we've made since '09. Those changes are documented, just not on the paper as-builts. They were very small in scope and only affected one small auxiliary subsystem. 

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Ray Aberle

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2014, 01:52:26 pm »

So what's the simplest/best way to document this that can be emailed and printed out?

Keep it simple. One page (or two) word or (better) PDF file. I'd be OK with:

PANEL LOCATION: (describe where it is from stage/venue, not just 'on the wall, dummy.' Ha.)

SL wall: 2x20A circuits (4 duplex outlets total) fed from breakers 16 and 18. 1xL14-30 fed from breakers 12, 14.
SR wall: 3x20A circuits (6 duplex outlets total) fed from breakers 15  17 and 19. 1xL14-30 fed from breakers 11, 13.
US wall: 2x20A circuits (4 duplex outlets total) fed from breakers 20 and 21. 1xNEMA 14-50 Range Plug, fed from breakers 8, 10.

Back Stage: 1xNEMA 14-50 Range Plug fed from breakers 7, 9.

[note: number comma number indicates 2-pole breaker used.]

Indicate any other house power available, disconnects for cams, etc. Single or 3 phase power available (although I will probably guess that based on the types of outlets mentioned; if you don't mention any L21-30s then I am going to plan for the worse that 1 is only available.).

Last Revised Date. Contact Information for house power needs.

This would then be easily emailed to anyone advancing a show, plus can be posted on the venue/church website as part of their tech specs.

-Ray
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Greg Amidon

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2014, 01:59:55 pm »

Over on CSC there's a discussion about how churches should document their A-V-L system wiring. As far as power goes, something as simple as figuring out which circuit breaker(s) is powering which outlet(s) often forces us into the barbaric process of flipping off breakers one at a time with a light plugged into the outlet of interest. Of course, you really can't do this during an active event because invariably you end up shutting off something important in your quest for wiring knowledge. Most of the time when I visit a church to do a production training class I have to ask "Chuck" or "Eddie" or "Sam" which panel and breakers powers the console or amps. Seems crazy, but often the only wiring "documentation" is the memory of the custodian who's been around for 30 years and remembers when they built the facility. And when he goes, then what?

So what do you guys see and/or recommend for facility wiring documentation? How can it be kept up to date and who's responsible for the updates? Where are the documents stored and are they accessible during a show or service? Are they in digital or paper format, or maybe both? I was at one church recently that was putting all A-V-L signal documentation on an iPad, but I don't remember seeing anything about which service panel powered the stage, FOH and amp racks.   

And as a tangent, do any of you document your own rack wiring? If so, how?

This isn't really an answer to the documentation question, but I have used a circuit tracer in the past to identifier breakers. I haven't used it much, so i can't vouch for the pitfalls of this approach, but when I did use it, it seemed to work okay. Something like this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Digital-Circuit-Breaker-Finder-ET300/202330830

If nothing else, might be a useful tool in the toolbag when going to a new location.

Greg
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2014, 03:27:21 pm »

This isn't really an answer to the documentation question, but I have used a circuit tracer in the past to identifier breakers. I haven't used it much, so i can't vouch for the pitfalls of this approach, but when I did use it, it seemed to work okay. Something like this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Digital-Circuit-Breaker-Finder-ET300/202330830

If nothing else, might be a useful tool in the toolbag when going to a new location.

Greg

Very true, and they can work pretty well. However, when I'm loading in a show I really don't want to spend time tracing out the breakers. If I know in advance there will be insufficient stage power, then it's up to me to bring the full distro. However, if it's clearly marked that there's a 100-amp sub panel with a bunch of 20-amp breakers feeding a dozen duplex on the various walls, then I can plan accordingly. And when I do live shows I ALWAYS bring along audio isolation transformers. I have a few WW ISO-2 boxes in the console dog house for quick hookups, a really nice WW ISO-8 rack mount in my main drive rack for driving the returns that feed active floor wedges, and a bunch of Ebtech Hum-Eliminators for fixing on-the-spot hum problems. It would be really nice if they documented outlets that are connected to a technical ground panel. I've been on stages that are a mix of outlets with technical grounds and building safety grounds, and you can contaminate the entire technical ground system by cross-connecting your sound system between the technical ground and safety ground. Knowing exactly what I'm plugging into would put my mind at ease since the one thing most of my customers don't like is HUM. Oh yes, FEEDBACK is another bad thing.  ::) 
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Mike Sokol
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Greg Amidon

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2014, 04:39:05 pm »

Very true, and they can work pretty well. However, when I'm loading in a show I really don't want to spend time tracing out the breakers. If I know in advance there will be insufficient stage power, then it's up to me to bring the full distro. However, if it's clearly marked that there's a 100-amp sub panel with a bunch of 20-amp breakers feeding a dozen duplex on the various walls, then I can plan accordingly. And when I do live shows I ALWAYS bring along audio isolation transformers. I have a few WW ISO-2 boxes in the console dog house for quick hookups, a really nice WW ISO-8 rack mount in my main drive rack for driving the returns that feed active floor wedges, and a bunch of Ebtech Hum-Eliminators for fixing on-the-spot hum problems. It would be really nice if they documented outlets that are connected to a technical ground panel. I've been on stages that are a mix of outlets with technical grounds and building safety grounds, and you can contaminate the entire technical ground system by cross-connecting your sound system between the technical ground and safety ground. Knowing exactly what I'm plugging into would put my mind at ease since the one thing most of my customers don't like is HUM. Oh yes, FEEDBACK is another bad thing.  ::)

Yeah, I agree, doing the tracing should not be part of the job. I brought it up as a band-aid solution if you aren't sure of the situation and need to trace without resorting to lights. This could go somewhat quickly with a helper and a radio.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Wiring Documentation
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2014, 05:01:54 pm »

Yeah, I agree, doing the tracing should not be part of the job. I brought it up as a band-aid solution if you aren't sure of the situation and need to trace without resorting to lights. This could go somewhat quickly with a helper and a radio.

Greg, I agree 100% with your suggesting and wasn't trying to belittle it a bit. What you suggest is really a good way to get it done if you're the one who has to do it. I just get a little cranky when I have to do this at the beginning of a gig when there's lots of other things to do that really are my job.

This is mostly about respecting the various technical groups that interface for a very short time to get a gig done. If everyone knows what they're doing and can supply needed information to the other parties involved, then you're already halfway there to a smooth gig and an early Miller Time. I love working with tech crews who know what they need and can communicate it to the other crews. If I've already got copper run between the stage and the console position, and the lighting guy needs a spare XLR line for his comm, then all he has to do is ask early in the game and I'll mark the connectors for him and his crew. Why run another snake when I've already got one in place? But if nobody asks in the beginning and assumes I'll be providing not only the twisted-pairs for the comm but also generator power, etc... then I'm cranky and not happy with the other crews.

I actually had one facility guy assume I was bringing the tables, chairs and coffee urns for the seminar I was presenting in his church. Hey, what did they that "Hosting" a seminar meant?  >:(
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