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Post details: I Love the Smell of Ozone in the Morning!

I Love the Smell of Ozone in the Morning!

Posted by: The Mad Scientist

Here it is, 5:30AM in the morning, and I have just pulled an all-nighter. What could I have possibly been doing all night you ask? Soldering elctronics and listening to this week's Off The Hook and Off The Wall 2600 Hacker radio talk shows in WinAMP! In yesterday's Foxee Project Blog entry I mentioned that I had purchased an Exact Electronics Type 240 Function Generator from a scientist who worked at Fermilab, and that the function generator needed a little bit of soldering work to get it into workable condition. The problem with the function generator was that it had no wall plug on the end of its electrical cord, and that I had to solder a new one on. That would have been as easy as matching wire colors and soldering the like wires between the plug and the function generator together if the wires on the cheap three-prong power cord that I bought from American Science and Surplus used the standard wire color-coding scheme for alternating current wires, but the cord didn't so I had to look the information up online. I have never really worked much with household 120V alternating current before, so I wanted to make really sure that I had my wiring right, that I had no bear wires showing at my splice point between the two cords, and that I wasn't going to screw up by crossing some wires and as a result blow up my fancy piece of equipment.

After some searching online I found a website that told me what I needed to know. Alternating electrical current is a completely different animal when compared to direct electrical current, and because of that I found out that the wiring colors of each of the leads is of an AC power cord is different from its DC counterpart. Instead of the wires being red and black for positive and ground, AC plugs have a black lead that is the "hot" lead, a white lead that is a neutral lead, and a green lead that goes to ground. To find out which lead was which on my non-color coded plug I checked the resistance of each lead to each prong in the plug with a multimeter until the reading given by the multimeter read near zero. A near zero reading indicated that I had closed a circuit, and that I had found the lead that matched the prong that I was testing.

After soldering the power cord together and insulating it with electrical tape, I decided to hold my breath and plug the function generator into the wall power outlet, hoping that the vacuum tube-filled device wouldn't explode, catch on fire, or smoke due to some technical error on my part! Instead, the power light on the unit turned on, and all of the vacuum tubes inside the function generator began to glow and get very warm. While I haven't been able to test the function generator with an oscilloscope yet to see if it is really working since I lack the hook-up wires to do so, I will take the glowing tubes and the heat as a positive sign that it is, and that I soldered the power cord on correctly. Pretty soon I will be looking into getting some probes and hook-up wires to use with my new function generator and oscilloscopes, and then reading some tutorials on the operating my new instruments so that I can use them effectively to troubleshoot my electronic circuitry!

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