…and I am still here to post this thread.

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,535
Some side chatter in another thread got me thinking about the things I did as a kid (mostly in single digit and low double digit years) that could easily have made this post impossible.

One that springs to mind is scavenging a 2000V supply from a CRO and “experimenting” with it. I drove a stake into the ground, and with the other lead I would touch steel wool lying there which would burn. Amother was a lot of random poking around (learning) inside hollow state equipment.

I also learned about TV flyback transformers ”the hard way”.

There was other stuff, and plenty that was much more likely to cause mechanical than electrical damage to burgeoning me.

What sort of shenanigans did you manage to survive?
 

Dave Lowther

Joined Sep 8, 2016
138
What sort of shenanigans did you manage to survive?
Similar age range to you:
- Those one use magnesium flash bulbs. I figured if a battery could make them go off and be bright, then 240V AC from the UK mains would make them very bright. I was just twisting stripped bare wires to the bulb and poking the other ends of the wires into the mains wall socket (5A, before we moved to 13A with covers on the live / neutral opened by the longer earth pin)
- Making 'banger' [1] guns by hammering flat one end of a 1/2 inch copper pipe, dropping a lit banger down the tube, followed by a marble. [1] Not sure if that translates to US, it's a type of firework.
- Building a tube rectifying circuit with 240V AC input to charge random capacitors I scavanged from old equipment. Just so as I could short out the capacitors to see how big the spark was.
- Running 240V AC to a light in our den in an attic using TV coax cable.
- Making hacksaw blades glow by using them to short out a car battery a friend's father had been charging in his shed.
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
11,960
In my early teens I managed to connect a 300mA (240V) heater chain in a TV between my hands. Happily I realised my legs still worked so I moved away until the wires pulled out of my hands. The only damage was some burns to my fingers.
 

Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
988
If we think about the "if's" and "but's" I should have been dead long ago... The petty stupid mistakes both electrical and mechanical.. I should not have made it to 30...
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
12,744
I've had a couple of zaps off 240VC, but my worst was ~350VDC between two hands, finding myself thrown across the room with no memory of it happening.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
4,773
My closest call was non-electrical. Thought it would be fun to play on a railroad bridge. Wasn’t even looking for incoming trains. Was with several other kids , but I was the oldest and the leader who should have known better.

Then we heard the train blast its horn. Conductor managed to slow the train enough to allow us escape in time.

Could have easily been dead and brought three others with me. Still haunts me.

Bob
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
25,931
I was into building rockets as a kid. We made gun powder from basic ingredients.
I thought I could make a more powerful rocket by filling a 35mm photography film can with gun powder.
I guess I made the hole in the can too small. Fortunately for me and my cousin, we took cover behind a concrete post after lighting the fuse!
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,535
I was into building rockets as a kid. We made gun powder from basic ingredients.
I thought I could make a more powerful rocket by filling a 35mm photography film can with gun powder.
I guess I made the hole in the can too small. Fortunately for me and my cousin, we took cover behind a concrete post after lighting the fuse!
I and friends did many... chemistry experiments... with "energetics". We often used CO₂ cylinders, usually fueled by KMnO₄ + S. The results were very dramatic. There were also times when containers had no outlet. We did use some safety practices, but thinking back, it was startlingly hazardous.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,017
One of the closest bad moves I got to was when re-wiring our old house, grabbing a pair of wires to pull, one hand in each and had forgot to pull the 230V fuse first, (UK)
The other was retrieving failed magnesium flares from a US air field used as a bomb practice site.
As teens, we would pile them on a fire and light the whole village up.
I once lit a tin full of magnesium powder that came from sawing them open. Burnt the whole skin off one palm! o_O
 
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djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,258
A friend got the key to the chemical closet in junior high school. We were having fun making explosives, when a magnesium and aluminum flare overpowered the exhaust system.

Boy, were we in trouble.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,311
I got a Jetex-100 rechargeable rocket motor one Christmas. I mounted it on a small wooden toy tractor and tried it out. It ran for about a minute, with the tractor airborne and bouncing off of the furniture, It filled the whole house with blue smoke. A few days after that, I acquired an old TV set and discovered the hard way how long the aquadag coating on the CRT could hold the 25KV charge.
I learned an awful lot by experience. I consider myself lucky to still be alive from some of them.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,578
The trick consisted of very big size bolts and their respective nuts with the interstice (thread) carefully filled with a mix of ammonium nitrate and sulfur (duly acquired in the pharmacy located in front of my house, just across the street). Thrown upwards, when hitting the ground, the explosion was quite a thrilling experience.

Once, my eldest brother got the idea to extend the concept by covering with a thick layer of that mix a square of 25 x 25 cm duly covered with a tile. To contribute to the expected effect, it was located in the access of a very small garage (one car) next to our home.

To detonate the thing we went to the roof and dropped from there a big and heavy piece of wood on the tile.

The incredible explosion (plus smoke, lot of it) was much more than expected and we vanished for refuge at home.
 

Delta Prime

Joined Nov 15, 2019
1,326
At the age of 17 I was hired by a company who fixed industrial variable frequency drives & shipped me off to Michigan for training. 100% humidity never experienced such a thing in my entire life. Training took place in a warehouse the only climate control was humongous fans that did nothing. Everyone full of sweat and towels around her neck to wipe our hands off before we touch test leads. Sitting next to the engineer showing me the ropes of the DC break comprising capacitor banks as big as my head.
He had crossed DC, stop talking & could see his sweat vaporized from his body & smelled burnt hair. I stood up for my chair & screamed "HELP"! & threw my shoulder into his torso.
I remember waking up to the awful smelling salts felt like they shoved it up my nose. Me and my clothes were bone dry. Paramedics busted out the defibrillators and we're working on my Superior. Later found out he was a proud father of 10 children!
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,632
At the age of 17 I was hired by a company who fixed industrial variable frequency drives & shipped me off to Michigan for training. 100% humidity never experienced such a thing in my entire life. Training took place in a warehouse the only climate control was humongous fans that did nothing. Everyone full of sweat and towels around her neck to wipe our hands off before we touch test leads. Sitting next to the engineer showing me the ropes of the DC break comprising capacitor banks as big as my head.
He had crossed DC, stop talking & could see his sweat vaporized from his body & smelled burnt hair. I stood up for my chair & screamed "HELP"! & threw my shoulder into his torso.
I remember waking up to the awful smelling salts felt like they shoved it up my nose. Me and my clothes were bone dry. Paramedics busted out the defibrillators and we're working on my Superior. Later found out he was a proud father of 10 children!
I bet that you earned his perpetual and unconditional gratitude after that ...
 

Rod888

Joined Feb 14, 2022
20
in my teen years i was doing a tube transmitter final stage plate neutralization , the adjustment cap was connected directly to the 1kV plate supply and as i was watching the wattmeter doing the adjustment my hand slipped of the screwdriver handle onto the metal shaft of the screwdriver sitting at b+ potential. next thing i remember was lying flat on my back looking at the ceiling with the end of my finger charred and smoldering where a large chunk of it was blown out and cauterized. the only thing that saved my bacon was my forearm was resting on the chassis so the current path was just form my finger to mid forearm and not through my heart. Learned a valuable lesson in hv that day...
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,472
in my teen years i was doing a tube transmitter final stage plate neutralization , the adjustment cap was connected directly to the 1kV plate supply and as i was watching the wattmeter doing the adjustment my hand slipped of the screwdriver handle onto the metal shaft of the screwdriver sitting at b+ potential. next thing i remember was lying flat on my back looking at the ceiling with the end of my finger charred and smoldering where a large chunk of it was blown out and cauterized. the only thing that saved my bacon was my forearm was resting on the chassis so the current path was just form my finger to mid forearm and not through my heart. Learned a valuable lesson in hv that day...
I watched a guy do that once on a high power HF transmitter during a PM. The arc path was much the same yours but the damage much worse. The doc's onboard ship saved his arm but it wasn't 100%.
 

Delta Prime

Joined Nov 15, 2019
1,326
I bet that you earned his perpetual and unconditional gratitude after that ...
Well it was bittersweet.He's actually the one who fired me. After the incident they found out I lied on my application about my age.I told them I was 20 years old. He probably got tipped off , working so close together he probably smelled the "soda pop" on my breath. But seriously.The entire family sends me Christmas day cards to this day. :)
 

Rod888

Joined Feb 14, 2022
20
@Delta Prime
i can sympathize with you, greatest respect for drive techs.
i for a brief period in time worked repairing vfd's, brakes etc, at the same time as yaskawa had issues on their boards with some traces being too close on their 480vac drives being deployed in 600vac systems and just randomly vaporizing, usually when you were probing around. Not good for the nerves. Working in that shop was the most nervous time in my life, eventually an igbt exploding in my face like a little grenade was enough for me to call it quits
 
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