Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Codemonkey, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    On Wednesday (3 days) we're off to do a small gig, for some Christmas lights switch-on. Nothing fancy, but I dunno many details.
    But it's outdoors, and in Scotland that inevitably means it'll be wet.

    Searching this forum for "Rain" returns very little, so...

    In Scotland we all have jackets with hoods, the performers will be fine...
    How bad is it to run equipment outdoors in the rain?

    My instinct tells me it's an instant possibility of shock and fire, but am I overreacting?

    Weather forecast says "showers" (and a temperature of 40-50F, if that makes any of you feel cold).
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    It can be catastrophic for the equipment to get wet and downright dangerous for any performers that might touch anything that is electrically charged and questionably earth-grounded. (not that you would cobble together a dodgy system) Water will arc and spark anything electrical and ruin speakers whether they're plugged in or not. Moisture is not a friend of speaker cones or horn diaphragms.

    You absolutely cannot let the equipment get wet.

    Kill people - destroy equipment, need any other reasons?

    That's what tents and tarpaulins are for, keeping your kit dry - even if you cover it completely you can EQ a reasonable amount of highs back into it that the tarps would block.

    Do you have Ground Fault Interrupters for your power?
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    OK, so if it rains pack up. I thought as much, but then wondered how bad it would really be.

    I don't have any tarps, tents or even a large umbrella.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the system was dodgy: I wouldn't know better than to do a whole load of things.

    The power is going to be coming from an extension cable running out of someone's house, so Ground Fault Interrupters (if I knew what they were) are unlikely.
    [sings] Weee're off to search the internet, the wonderful internet of Oz...
    Edit: aha. Learn something new every day.
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    You can add GFCI protection to a three wire extension cord for very little money. Here is a link, this one cuts off the end of the extension cord but I have made them with short wires and plugs instead so they can be added to any extension cord. The only thing is you must test the outlet and the extension cord once it is plugged in before you can trust the GFCI unit you make.
    Heres the GFCI

    Here is a typical tester
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Any electrical appliance in a wet location is a recipe for electrocution. PERIOD or as you might say FULL STOP

    A GFI will not necessarily prevent a shock, but should in theory should trip before it becomes a lethal shock. If you add a GFI to an extension cord, you still have to be aware of the fact that even though the GFI has tripped and might be preventing voltage from passing through - there will still be live line voltage feeding the GFI (even in a tripped state). So don't be lulled into a false sense of security handling the GFI. It still doesn't eliminate the hazards of high voltage extension cords in and around standing water.

    Outdoors is a place where those "frugal" wireless mics you just bought might come in handy.
    At least it removes your performers from direct contact with any electrical device.

    Hard to believe out of the whole congregation nobody owns a little pop-up canopy or a tarp or 3.

    If you have absolutely no protection and it rains, cover everything and unplug all electrical mains. Pack it up - quickly.

    Those of us who have occasion to provide PA for outdoor shows are prepared to ride out gale force winds and sideways rain. Then if the weather breaks - the show can go on. But it takes a lot of preparation.
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I was not suggesting that a GFCI at the end of an extension cord makes it safe to use electrical equipment in the rain or wet locations, it does provide a slightly safer environs when working with electrical equipment outdoors. You must remember you are standing on the GROUND which is where electricity wants to flow to. Small rental tents are not that expensive a lot cheaper than someone get zapped by current.
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I know you weren't. I just didn't want CM to misunderstand.
  8. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    Pop up tent with 4 walls, tarps, and bungee cords are god sends.

    But yeah, covering and unplugging is always a plus haha.
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Great info folks... thanks a bunch.

    Truth be told I'm not convinced the crowd is going to be big enough to merit a megaphone never mind a full PA. But since this probably won't be the last outdoor gig we do, knowledge'll come in handy.

    Would a multimeter be sufficient as a plug tester?
    Not that I'm thinking of building a GFI tomorrow morning, but while we're on the subject...

    dvdhawk; whenever I got that multimeter of mine, you PM'd me asking if I'd tested it on the mains yet.
    Well I still haven't! I'd quite happily do it just now but if setting the house on fire is a possibility, I'll leave it be.

    Is it as simple as putting the test leads into the live and neutral and switching the socket on? Or do I need to hook something up and measure the voltage in parallel with it?
    Or did I miss that crucial physics class where they give you the health and safety rules?

    And to the original topic...
    I could probably source some tarps/covers if desperately needed. I might even be operating this kit out of a car boot (trunk).

    If the rain is reasonably vertical, I could tape an umbrella to a mic stand, and use that as cover... only now I have visions of a strong gust of wind coming, and said mic stand doing a Mary Poppins impression.
  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'll PM again when I have time on the meter question.

    If someone else wants to take a shot, go right ahead.

    Which meter did you end up buying from Maplin? Auto-ranging? Detachable leads?
  11. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    I've got a couple long extension cords I use when needed, I think maybe I'll do that GFI mod to it. Plus it will give me an extra plug just in case.
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Code: I'd buy a boot full of tarps and tape. Don't open any of it. If Stormy Weather doesn't get played then take it all back for a refund. Charge a bottle of 12 year old for every tarp you have to open.
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Well, the event has now been and gone. Guess what? It didn't rain. Wasn't windy. It was moderately warm, too. About 100 or so people showed up and we ended up standing pretty near a house so power was within 20m and only across one person's drive.

    We took nothing.

    Consequently, the band settled into a corner and played what was essentially ambient music.

    When it came to announcing, the local politician that was "hosting" had to "yell". Against a crowd of about 100 all talking amongst themselves, I'm sure you can imagine this was very effective. I was standing 10 feet behind her and struggling to hear.

    [insert rant about the communication and planning behind the event]

    Also, I appreciate the suggestion about tarps.
    JackAttack; my dad actually works in the place where they bottle Famous Grouse, Macallan, etc. so whisky is nothing special.

    dvdhawk; the meter has detachable leads, has a 10A unfused input as well as a general purpose input. Supposedly it does 1000V, but which input should I use? (I don't have it on me so I can't check the model number. MS8232 or something)
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Nothing Special! (sputter cough choke) :shock:

    Are ye daft!? It's nae th' water ay life fur naethin'! An' if it's naethin' 'en hae yer dad send me a cask ay th' Macallan!!! 18 years auld please!

  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Eny savings ye mak'll be affset by the coast o shippin it.
    (I hate writing in Scots, I never know where the accent comes from).

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