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Author Topic: Camlock Colors  (Read 10097 times)

Mike Sokol

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Camlock Colors
« on: September 08, 2016, 11:16:12 am »

I'm building a new camlock distro and found one of my rental tails with Orange tape on it. Of course, Orange is supposed to be a Wild-Leg Delta connection, but what do I know... So I looked up "official" colors of camlocks and here's what I found. While the US colors are exactly what I expected (Green/White/Black/Red/Blue), the UK colors are completely different. And the UK used to use Black for Neutral, and now it's Blue for Neutral, just like in their IEC cables. Good golly, that could be a real disaster cross connecting camlocks between US and UK gear. But I don't think the UK uses camlocks much, so maybe it's a non-issue.

Any other weirdness I should be on the lookout for?
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 11:18:32 am by Mike Sokol »
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 01:34:15 pm »

Good golly, that could be a real disaster cross connecting camlocks between US and UK gear.

Yet another reason to meter the terminals before plugging in!
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2016, 01:47:24 pm »

Yet another reason to meter the terminals before plugging in!

I just talked to one of my US buddies who has toured in the UK, and he agrees that it's a bit confusing connecting into UK power with his US distro. He meters everything. He also has the original UK power distro from the band AC-DC here in the states, so a lot of his gear uses C-Form connectors with the blue being neutral. And of course in the US blue is hot. And sometimes in the UK black is neutral. But in 12-volt automotive wiring black is chassis ground/negative. But in all AC power the ground is Green. Except in the UK where ground is Green with a Yellow stripe.

TOO MANY COLORS!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!!
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2016, 04:25:17 pm »

Green with a yellow stripe provides an additional margin of safety for somebody who is red-green colorblind.  (In wire schemes that don't use red.)
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Kevin McDonough

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2016, 05:15:05 pm »

hey

Yeah in the past here in the UK green has always been our earth connection (or stripy green/yellow), but in the past we had the black and red colours for all of our wiring. Very old house wiring will still have this buried in all the walls.

As we became more connected with Europe and standards were applied across the whole area, we adopted Blue for Neutral and Brown for live quite some time ago into common household scale wiring, and it also made it's way into higher power things like industrial system and our show distros.


However you're correct in that we use camlock less commonly.  As we have our double voltage (compared to the US) 240v system, we only have to pull half the current to get the same overall power, and so our wiring is generally a little lighter weight (I'm sure most people, certainly anyone who's toured over here, knows this) for the same power delivery as yours.

Rather than each conductor needing to be so big it gets an individual plug/socket as in camlock, ours are all small enough that they can be packed into a single multipin connector, known as cee-form.  They're blue if they're just single phase, and red if they're 3 phase, but all three or five pins are in the one connector.

(you'll often see yellow ones too for building sites and industrial work, which work on a "110v system" which is actually centre tapped 2x 55v, considered safer in that environment where damage or outside/wet conditions are more common).

They come in standard sizes of 16, 32, 63 and 125 amps. They have a male and female end, and whether a cable connector or an outlet panel, the power delivery end (female) has a little lid that closes over when not in use as well as recessed pins that are almost impossible to accidentally touch without actually sticking something inside.

Being at 240v, most often a 63 three phase is all that's needed for even a fairly substantial sound system, which will be fed into a distro and split as needed (usually 32a single and triple phases for amp racks, 16a singles for stage power and processing racks etc, and right at the end of the line down to our traditional 13a sockets for stage power for musicians and individual devices etc). Only a big arena or stadium system would need a 125a 3 phase (or one each side of stage to reduce wiring).

Lighting rigs, being a little more power hungry, can have camlocks on show a little more commonly, but even again this is often just done with 125a 3 phase connections.

Various 16a single phase Ceeform connectors:



and a 32a three phase cable (though hard to tell, connectors are about 1.5x the size of the 16a ones, cant be cross connected to another amperage accidentally)




« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 05:18:50 pm by Kevin McDonough »
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2016, 06:38:10 pm »

I see these Ceeform connectors used in hotels a lot.  The connectors are kind of expensive over here and I think that keeps folks from using their distros and having to rent the hotels stuff.   >:(
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alex.cerutti

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2016, 06:41:20 pm »

Hi All, please correct me if I am incorrect but, To add to what Kevin wrote, as far as I am aware the colours of Cee forms relate to highest possible voltage, ie 110v = yellow, 240v = Blue, 415v = Red. So with 3 phase 5 pin Cee Forms if its rated at 415v between live 1 & 2 it would be Red, but if its 208 between live 1 & 2 (or 2 & 3, 1 & 3...) it would be blue.

In the UK / Europe we almost excessively use Powerlocks instead of Cams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerlock). I believe camlocks are now no longer legal to use? I have started seeing a lot more powerlock sets being provided in the states.

When I am touring around the world with UK / European power distro's I label my cam locks to (usually 63a 3 phase Cee form) with UK colour coding and labeled Earth, Neutral, live 1 etc... As the US has one colour code, Canada has another & don't get me started on south / central America.

The power request for the last European arena tour I did was,
Sound = 1 x 125a 3 phase Cee form, 1 x 63a 3 phase Cee form
lighting = 4 x 400a powerlocks, 1 x 125a 3 phase Cee form
Rigging = 1 x 125a 3 phase Cee form


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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2016, 07:31:35 pm »

When I am touring around the world with UK / European power distro's I label my cam locks to (usually 63a 3 phase Cee form) with UK colour coding and labeled Earth, Neutral, live 1 etc... As the US has one colour code, Canada has another & don't get me started on south / central America.

The nice thing about standards is there are so many to choose from!  ;D
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2016, 10:39:27 pm »

It gets really fun dealing with industrial power-especially when we import from Europe.  They are consistent in that blue = neutral or common, black is a hot or power --at least in cordsets.

Here 24 volt systems typically use blue= +24 VDC, white w/blue stripe as common or negative-but when you get a cordset for a 24 VDC prox, the cordset is blue=common or ground and black is hot-so you connect the blue wire to the white with blue stripe and the black wire to the blue.....but then there is a reason I keep a cheat sheet handy!
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Steve Swaffer

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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2016, 02:34:16 am »

Green with a yellow stripe provides an additional margin of safety for somebody who is red-green colorblind.  (In wire schemes that don't use red.)

I have encountered many dirty Camlocks with red and green colors that I absolutely can not tell apart.  The newer stuff, particularly when it's new, no problem.

I have gotten many strange reactions from stage hands when I ask which is red and which is green.  After I explain it it makes sense (what, I shouldn't ask ?!?).

As always, meter it more than once.
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Re: Camlock Colors
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2016, 02:34:16 am »


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