Really dislike Powercon plugs but its seemingly especially for LED type stuff something like with CeeForm type plugs something Iím stuck with these days in being universal in plug type which ten years ago I would have laughed at about the concept of having to stock in bulk. Too much gear from around the world or designed for use anywhere, this especially with panel mount plugs necessitating a plug type in not giving the option.
Stuck with it. Task for today for my guys was 18x Powercon jumpers and 8x L6-20 to L6-15 adaptors. Figured it was an easy enough build even given one of my guys was sick, this was safe enough for the other guys to start the build in the afternoon in allowing for normal cable repairs for the morning. Later that day it turned out ďgee did I forget to mention they were due first thing in the morningĒ and I under estimated the amount of time it would take to build them by way of me not helping. Instead given I have guys for cable builds, I was working a total re-do of some Mole Ellipsoís. Love older and odd fixtures and glad to see them doing their first show in like eight years, but donít look forward to the eventual bench focus of them. I took the Powerconís home to do myself instead of having my non-salary guys have to stay late. It was than I remembered why it took them longer than I thought it should have to install the plugs and a few more questions and observations came up on them. Two guys would easily be enough to say whip out 50x stage pin cables in 4 hours.
I really dislike Powercon plugs as with other Euro type gear in having to not just stock more expensive plugs and tools to service them but convince other tech people to buy more tools so as not to strip our gear. Can barely convince people buy a base set of tools much less to replace a stripped Phillips or slotted tip to a screw driver (no you cannot just grind it down) in preventing stripped screws to gear, now they have to buy Euro tips also so as not to further strip out screws.
(Yea.. These Sems cone washer screws are great but they cost $0.09 each and you want how many hundred for just the steel zinc coated type??? Why do you need them and why do you need an over abundance worth of them - a concept in why we switched from Philips to Torx for another type of gear that often gets opened and stripped.)
Granted in this needing more tools Iím sort of old school and feel it my job to provide hand tools as a professional and already had such tips and others, still if.. Pooling of say 50 or more shop staff, one would be lucky to find half that even have a C-Wrench. ďA friendís dog came to my apartment and pissed in my tool bag...Ē This was two weeks ago and he still donít have a wrench or other tools he could call his own. Thinking in the morning Iíll ask him where his tools are and if he donít yet have them he should punch out and go home and clean his tools or go get them and use them anyway.. Got an hour and a half to clean them and get back to work or get a few un-paid days off time to clean his personal hand tools. Should be enough time to toss them into the dish washer as recommended and get back to work.
Needing as a tech person now all three sizes of Pozi-Drive bits or screw drivers so as not to strip out the gear they service on the other hand is especially the limited local options to get such tools a hardship. I provide them for resale at work but even than they are not cheap. Heck, up to like two years ago in someone noting Martin gear was Pozi-Drive we were stripping out Phillips screws left and right. Took probably a year before we got most tech people servicing the gear to switch to the other in this case #2 Pozi-Drive screw driver tip in servicing them. Doubt any field tech people realize the Powercon is a #1 Pozi-Drive and not Philips of what ever type they might guess between #1 and #2. Beyond that the Zap Technologies Big Light that uses in places a #3 Pozi-Drive also. #@% French... No, you not only have to have a base set of tools, you also need Robertson (as needed to borrow today) and Pozi-Drive tips and pay special attention to the screw you are attempting to do often when in the dark dependant on what country the gear was made or how many countries it was made for. Grounding bars... sure could do slotted or Phillips but both easily strip because the screw also has that square drive in it. Three type of tool screw heads easily strip out, strip your tool out and are not universal. Once was asked by Leviton repís my opinion on making universal type screws... told them frankly that.
So itís a #1 Pozi-Drive necessary to do the Neutrik PowerCon plug, thatís not a good thing in being field serviceable. Better than Philips? Nope - stipps out just as easily if not more so due to the increased angle of the head and lack of surface area closer to parallel to the axis of the driver. In other words, need to push harder onto the screw head to get it tight without stripping and thatís difficult enough with a Phillips screw much less Pozi-Drive. Love slotted screws if not Torx, hex, and at times Robertson not that they donít strip out or that if your angle of driver ainít correct they donít also strip, but with sufficient tension easy enough to keep, one can drive a screw. Still more tools to have to stock also than assuming everyone hates slotted screws and often the heads are not deep enough cut or the screw drivers driving them are the wrong size or without pressure sufficient stripped too easily also.
Anyway.. back to the Powercon, dislike the screws used on them. Also dislike the concept of their little U-clip wire gripping terminals that allow you to insert the wires into the terminal without need of a ferrule. Love not having to use ferrules on such a plug but there is two problems with that. First, at times from the factory, the screw terminal is not always unscrewed sufficiently and say for that small hole if the screw ainít unscrewed enough, your say 12ga. stranded wire wonít fit and instead in finally getting all strands of wire into the hole, once you push you get a lot of strands that get bent away from the hole. Hard enough to fit the wires into the hole much less have to stop, re-straiten and than un-screw the terminal a few more times in taking extra time. Takes extra time to get say a 12ga wire into the terminal properly. Than there is the re-use factor. Tighten that screw terminal tight and it has just cut thru that thin U-Clip that grips the wire. Once used or say if you forgot to pre-put on the strain relief nut, that plug is now useless again for a 12ga wire. The cut parts of the U-Clip now bent inwards and potentially cutting into other wires, much less no longer protecting the strands or wire in screw screwing into the strands of wire thru the hole, itís a one time use plug. This unless one considers tension of un-known torque by way of Pozi-drive that would be difficult to get correct, sufficient the screw wonít cut thru the U-Clip is also sufficient for amperage and setteling with expansion and contraction of un-known loading and isnít instead too loose.
While this plug is mostly used on LEDís and low in amperage, itís only a matter of time given one would have to go to the catalogue or website to figure out the voltage and amperage rating of the plug - it only says on it a part number brand and ďdo not openĒ, how long it would be before someone does connect say 20A worth of even LED loading with voltage drop added to it and such a terminal fails in being too tight, strands broken or too loose. Thus why I use 12ga for jumpers and tighten them - this granted I wouldnít attempt to do a SOOW in such a plug in that it wouldnít fit. One time use type plugís and ones most people in the field donít have proper tools to service? Thatís a good design, no wonder why they say ďdo not openĒ as if anyone in the field has proper lighting or has read such a thing in not opening five minutes before a show.
While I have not seen a huge amount of these cables come back bad from shows so far, the more we get the more I will see with problems of this I know. Screws also strip too easily in the terminal I find.
So in the cables I did tonight verses what was done today. My guys used the white strain relief fitting, I used the black one for larger wire. I tightened the strain relief all the way down, my guys in me not seeing how they even got it onto a 12/3 SJOOW cable and did not tighten far but it seemingly was sufficient if not overtight. Which in normal plugs giving a instruction sheet and guide for what strain relief to use were we to use? No instruction sheet provided here and up to opinion short of me setting a standard even Iím not sure of. What size cable is the black strain relief for and if on one might think 12/3 SJ or 14/3 SO the white strain relief also works is the proper strain relief to use?
I also noted on these black strain reliefs I scooped up from a work table by way of a mixture of ďAĒ verses ďBĒ types if they are not universal, that some strain reliefs fit properly and some did not by way of some plugs in casting having a proper fitting and others seemingly may have been a Bí strain relief in a Aí plug or could have been a wrong casting on the plug but they didnít fit properly. I did look at each strain relief very properly by way of the notches and did not see a difference yet on the reverse side of this there seemingly was a difference in how that strain relief fit. Same color and seem the same, either the casting of the plugs is not correct as I see at times with the thin little part of the left keyway for the strain relief at times missing or in general there is something on the reverse side of these keyways that on strain relief donít fit properly in getting that strain relief properly seated. Hard to tell and figure out but about 1/3 of my strain reliefs didnít seat properly onto the plug end and the strain relief did screw on, it clicked more than tightened and in a few I think stripped in the end due to the strain relief not seated properly.
If Aí verses Bí strain relief fittings, they with the plugs should also be different colors, if not than there is a certain quality control I saw on doing these plugs which is not there in the strain relief fitting properly in all cases.
Finally on almost any other type of plug if you need to move a fixture say 1' further away and your cable donít stretch, you can add a jumper to that cable by way of M/F and get the cable jumpered to the new location. Powerconís even if Aí/Bí as silly enough out of a question of why assuming 208v, they donít connect with each other. Nope.. Both female. So say in the future, someone going up to a grid now has to have a pocket full of male/male adaptors in their pouch or longer replacement cables dragged up with them so as to anticipate this need of say having to move a fixture and especially with panel mounts on them that need to have plugs 90 degrees to the fixture, that extra slack and lack of flexibility. Thatsí really stupid. Do they even make a male type of in-line plug in a question I donít want to know in having to provide even more cable still for this system.
My opinion, send the Powercon back to the sound industry or where ever they came from. Too bad my opinion on such crap plugs is worth nothing. The L6-20P to L6-15R adaptors we made today were totally understandable in having to make. Computer tracking system said we had more than in reality or what came back from shows than we did in at some point existing but not coming back from shows/lost. Simple enough as with the need for the Powerconís in needing to build what the computer said we had also. The L6-20P to L6-15R adaptors as with the reverse of them was a mistake on our part due some like 25 years ago us being stuck on the L5-15 plug per fixture as a system in as part of the optional norm for lighting gear as opposed to stage pin during the times. Was a real option for locking twist lock plug verses stage pin plug during this era of stage lighting and in most gear of the period the twist lock plug was winning out. L5-15 plug was our no doubt cheaper standard in most gear at 10A. even if most in this branch of lighting went to the L5-20 plug. The L6-15 plug our standard also from that period was also cheaper and who during that period would imagine say 2.5Kw lamps in a moving light? Shop eventually switched to stage pin for most 120v and convertable 120/208v uses and is being dragged kicking and screaming into CeeForm. (ďWe need our racks to be able to travel the world without modificationĒ... not considering either all 250v indicator light lamps at half intensity if 120v or indicator lamps much less Little Lights and other stuff that would tend to blow up without changeover between continents etc. including South America that changes from country to country. Instead often cheaper to rent a generator for all show power when touring or buy lots of various transformers for touring in general.) Should just convert entirely at least to L6-20 but adaptors are abound none the less and none the less cheaper in not only plugs and hundreds of cables but needing new rack panels and larger racks to house the larger L6-20 plugs in not being cost effective to switch at this point. Such an adaptor as with 208V to CeeForm or the reverse is sensible enough to stock. Powercons and even IECís to a lesser extent... drive me crazy. Powercon I find a useless plug that was never needed, IEC, while I donít undersand why anyone would power up a moving light or hazer with it at least its readily available. This for it given a constant need for Edison, no we need them to be stage pin, urr no we need them L6-15 plugged. Canít win especially when also needing CeeForm to IEC.
A recent show needed some 90 degree Powerconís given a tight placement of fixtures or something. Couldnít do it even in trying Spekon type 90 degree for compatibility for doing so. This as with the constant amount of CeeForm cables that come back from shows with their female covers ripped off or bent to useless. Powercon given itís a panel mount at the fixture is not flexible, CeeForm for some gear designed today donít work properly with the cover for the female plug, or was it that if the cover is on one cannot feed the fixture DMX. Something important in why these cables constantly come back without their at least rain resistant covers intact. As policy, the cable goes out properly or it donít go out and replacement CeeForm plugs much less even the special order covers for them are not cheap. A Brití tech person on a show for us once told me that the rain resistant covers for them at least in using such things as a norm are not something to worry about in having to replace - mostly they are in use without the covers this even without gear not well designed for use with them. Even been shown gear that should that cover be in place one could not use the fixture properly. Forget what gear that was.
Doing this expensive Euro and now sound crap connectors why?