The Last of the Dodgy Dizzys
Take a look at any public event…
Within the last couple of years there has been an inundation of rules and regulations banning everything from standing on milk crates – without regulation milk crate harness – to borrowing the kitchen kettle cord to make up for that missing power lead. Any kind of (even slightly) public event invites a swarm of safety inspectors, often spouting contradicting instructions about why “you can’t put that microphone cable up that tree.” Add to this situation the burden of insurance – the price of the premium can even change as you are putting up the mixer shade tent – and you can see why there are a lot less public events these days.
Even the events that can afford the extra expense are cutting the production budgets to pay for the increasing insurance and armies of safety officials. It’s all about who’s going to pay if something goes wrong and the legal action starts. Hence, we have changing standards, testing, tagging, safety certificates, licences, courses, first aid procedures, safety officers, qualified specialists and all kinds of ‘approved’ equipment.
Hiding deep under the pile of ‘tagged’ leads safety harnesses and fluoro vests there is one item of equipment that is the last remnant of the home made lighting/PA era now being replaced by ‘rider spec’s’ and branded product. Enter… the Dodgy Dizzy. – Or, “my sparkie, brother-in-law knocked this up last weekend for a slab.”
This can be anything from a bunch of 240-volt tails hanging out of a three-phase plug to a correctly wired, but elderly, breaker board with any number of ins and outs made up from any number of domestic accessories. Some aged and worn varieties have been known to have intermittent ‘floating’ neutrals on the power input, with the result of dumping 400 volts across one or more phases. This only needs to happen to you once to invite paranoia and high blood pressure at the moment of power-up at any festival miles from spare parts or non-standard fuses.
This is a rear view of a combination dizzy/voltage regulator at a Chinese trade show
Dodgy dizzies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This one is belongs in the Dizzy museum!
Over the last few years there has been alternatives to the homemade power distribution, but commercially available power distribution tends to be expensive for a box with a three-phase plug and a few breakers. Most of the available models can be the price of a dimmer rack just for a very basic, Aussie-legal three-phase power split.
Now that there are so many ultra high power amplifiers available, modern amp racks almost always need their own power distribution with three-phase input if they are running more than two amplifiers, and any sound guy will tell you how much better the PA sounds when supplied with ‘clean power’. The same goes for lowering the noise floor.
One new brand on the market aiming to address such power issues, at a reasonable price, is the Power Wise. Power Wise has released a compact range of power distribution products designed for the Australian audio and lighting industry – with an emphasis on mobile and touring applications – with the first model in the series being the rack mount designed PD620.
This compact commercial-standard 12-output unit is ideally suited for either in-rack installation to power banks of amplifiers, or sleeve-mounted as a 32-amp three-phase power distribution unit for three circuits of RCD protected 240-volt power. Circuits are activated by fast-acting ten-amp MCB breakers across each phase, and output protection is a master/RCD (residual current device) power switch. Twelve single-phase Australian GPO outputs make it ideal for lighting and audio applications and the unit comes complete with 5-Pin 32-amp connecter wired ready for use.
The PowerWise PD620 From the Front
Best of all, the Power Wise PD620 is priced at a level well under the price your electrician brother-in-law can build one. This product group will be one to watch as there will be more handy power control and protection devices that will “serve and protect” from malicious power and hopefully, malicious legal actions resulting from accidents caused by the old dodgy dizzy.
The PowerWise PD620 From the Back