The return of Mr. Sparky

A partially fried power strip

Power strip

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am most definitely not an electrician. Take a close look at the picture on the right. This is a normal power strip. Sorry, this was a normal power strip. If you look closely, you’ll notice what looks like a black line running along it, with occasional ruptures and what look like silver beads coming out of it. There’s a story behind that line…

So I’m finally finishing up the computer room in the mountains, and the last problem to deal with is the computer room UPS’s. They’ve been there for years and need to be replaced. The crazy thing is that it’s cheaper to buy several small UPS’s (one for every two computers) than a couple of large UPS’s. So we get a ten small UPS’s and put them on top of every other computer in the room. I then grab the plugs from the three sections of the computer room.

Now, at this point I should clarify that I did not design the computer room, and it wasn’t my choice to have the power leads for all three sections come out in one place. However, I am the idiot who chooses to plug the three leads into a single power strip. A single thin-cabled power strip. Specifically the single thin-cabled power strip pictured above. I then plug the power strip into the wall. I turn to my wife (who is helping, that’s love for you) and say, “Ok, turn on a few of the computers.” All of the monitors (most of which are CRTs) are already on. As the first computer starts booting, it happens…

*BZRT*
*fizzle* *fizzle*

Before my eyes, the power strip starts smoking! I immediately reach in to pull it out of the wall. A spark shoots out right next to my hand, and then an open flame that distinctly resembles a flame-thrower. I change my mind and pull my hand back.

By this point smoke is pouring out the whole length of the power strip’s cable. And I’m praying that it burns itself out before shorting out the school’s (and possibly the village’s) electricity supply. Finally, the fizzling dies away and I reach in and pull out the strip. The entire wire has been burned through, and there are ruptures every foot or so, with beaded metal that used to be the wire.

So, I go and grab two more power strips. One thick one for the UPS’s and one thinner one for the monitors. I plug them into the wall, and…we have power! And no sparks. And no fizzles.

So, the school’s computer room is now finished. Twenty-two computers, eleven Core 2 Duo’s with 15″ widescreen LCDs and eleven mishmash Celerons with CRTs that look like they were stolen from the ark. But all of them are running Fedora 13 with gnome-shell, and all in all, the room looks good. And now I’m back to my normal job which doesn’t include messing around with electricity (at least, beyond the point of plugging my laptop in).

I am not an electrician. I most definitely do not wish to be an electrician.

A corner of the computer room with two new computers and two old computers

Corner of the computer room

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4 thoughts on “The return of Mr. Sparky

  1. Bender

    Wouldn’t it be best to put the tower’s below the desk ? That way you could have more room to work with the mouse 🙂

    Reply
    1. jdieter Post author

      Yeah, probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea. The CRTs are going to be put on blocks so they can be pushed back to make room for the keyboard and mouse, but more space wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      Reply

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