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Hi all. I live in Spain, where lack of earthing and other circuit protection for musicians is a real issue (as I am sure it is elsewhere too), especially when playing live when little attention has been paid to such necessities, and where the lack of earthing causes mayhem with the sound, leaving the guitars and mikes dangerously exposed to any electrical faults which might arise.
On a recent visit to South America this came to a head for me after a disastrous live gig where I was almost electrocuted, and where the live sound was terrible due to lack of earthing, and I decided to seek help in designing a system for musicians to prevent injury or death. 

So after some time spent researching on various online forums, I designed a prototype which I was using during my stay in South America, but I never managed to get beyond that point for lack of materials, and I have the same problem here in Spain. The other problem is that I had to use the materials available to me, which were more suitable to the US systems than the European ones, but that is a minor issue as the circuit breakers are probably the same anyway. However the quality and finish of the materials is questionable. 

So what I could do is describe and photograph what I have put together, in the hope that someone will be able to help me find a way to house it all in a compact professional looking container. Please be aware however that it is in a very crude form at present, although it does what it was intended to do - if water enters any of the wiring one circuit breaker cuts the current, and if there is a short, another circuit breaker kicks in. It is basically the same system currently used in buildings for circuit protection, but adapted for portable applications. 
Then I have a makeshift earth which connects to the earth lug of the plug adaptor, and this is connected to a metal pipe or tap, or whatever can be found of that nature which runs to ground to provide an earth for the system. This was not always possible, but certainly when it did work it reduced the 50 cycle hum which played havoc with the sound of the audio system and reduced the tingling in the guitar strings enough to be able to play. 

Originally, I intended  incorporating this isolating system into a typical guitarist's floor pedal board, but that did not work out because this system is more than a little unwieldy, although I am still up for that idea. I have never tried to do an instructable, but I think that this is vitally important to musicians, and could certainly save lives, and so far I have seen nothing of this nature on the site and feel that it is crucial that someone provides this information.
So......anyone interested? I am basically seeking those of you who are more technically skilled than myself, and with more ideas of how to actually fabricate the sytem. It is really pretty basic - what is important is that it should be light, portable and easy to set up quickly. The wires are a problem, because they need to be sufficiently thick to carry the necessary current rating for the equipment connected to the circuit - basically all the band equipment, or at least a guitar rig. 

Thanks for your time.



7 years ago

Why not just get a used isolation transformer from ebay?
It will definately weigh more and probably cost more but you get all the other advantages for free like being able to play in the rain holding onto a live or grounded pipe standing in water with no 60 Hz hum,


7 years ago

OK, I apologize once again for the delay. Here are some photos of what I have so far, minus the earth wire, which I don't have here right now:

The first image shows the prototype all connected as it stands now - very simple, I am sure you will agree....

The second image and third both show the actual circuit breakers wired into the circuit as explained previously, and the final image shows a little adaptor plug which I purchased in Bolivia that allows an alternative earth connection via the circular lug that extends behind the live and neutral lugs. Aside from this, the blue wires are earth (ground) wires hard-wired into the rest of the circuit if there is ground on the mains connection

As can be seen, this is not particularly large, what makes things unwieldy is the extension plugs and the thick wires required for this sort of supply. 
You can probably also see the beige plastic casing into which the circuit breakers are mounted - this is what I would like to upgrade, because there is nothing actually holding this together - not even screws, and this is probably the cheapest grade plastic available, but all I could find in Bolivia :). 
I believe the actual circuit breakers are of a reasonably high standard, but I want to upgrade pretty much everything else, then mount the whole shebang in a custom casing, which is where you guys come in, hopefully - I look forward to your feedback and recommendations - bearing in mind that I am in Spain, not the USA, so things are pretty limited here, and as this stuff is pretty heavy, the shipping from stateside would be prohibitive for me....

The Skinnerz

7 years ago

So you've built an adapter that goes between a mains supply and a guitar which allows connection to earth and provides fault protection. Sounds like a very good idea, and could be developed into a saleable product. More details on what you have so far, and more specific problems will help people with this.

Good luck with the project, it looks like it could be very successful.

truthseeker57The Skinnerz

Reply 7 years ago

Thank you Skinnerz and Kiteman for your positive support for this idea.
It is so simple that I am surprised that none of the myriad companies involved in pro audio for live musicians have not addressed these issues and made them an addition to existing equipment available.
I am currently unable to work due to health problems, so any degree of commercial success would be a welcome bonus.
But that said, I was quite willing to share my design with everyone during my visit to Bolivia, but unfortunately most of the musicians just laughed in my face, even when I produced the figures for mortalities among musicians in Argentina alone due to electrocution.
Yet they were very happy to plug all their equipment into my setup!!!! Just not willing to shell out the paultry outlay necessary for the components - I would have been willing to put it together for them, but such is the attitude I encountered there. Pure laziness and lack of respect for those who they were exposing to danger, including in one case the congregation and worship group of an evangelical church, where obviously there was no earth for any of the installations.
They were just not bothered, which is unfortunately the problem with most musicians I know. Until one day something goes wrong with their setup and they learn the hard way like I had to.
What I will do is photograph and list the components and the present stage of development, but what I need help with is suggestions as to how to house the components in the most compact format for easy use, plus a significant upgrade for the actual extension sockets which would be better finished and more presentable, whilst also hopefully taking up less space, plus any useful additions anyone could come up with.

I am very reluctant to post this as an instructable in its present form, despite having seen many such attempts on this site and others which are obviously not worth presenting at that stage, and which thus attract negative reactions and comments from other contributors - understandably so, I feel. I would very much like this to get to the stage of being useful to people, but I would also prefer that it did not get into the hands of a commercial enterprise who would wind up not even acknowledging my idea or efforts - my altruism has its limits - i.e. when I lose out, while someone else profits from my efforts ;).
I will get onto getting the photos posted as soon as I can and listing the components. Please bear with me....