Bottlehead Forum

Bottlehead Kits => Bottlehead Power Cord Kit => Topic started by: Doc B. on February 02, 2011, 11:05:55 AM

Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 02, 2011, 11:05:55 AM
We listened for about an hour today, comparing the new power cord to another prototype cord done with solid core rather than stranded wire, a sample of one of the power cords we previously sold, and one of the stock black molded cords we include with the kit. We put one new cord on our prototype preamp, and then put another into my Tube Repro on my Nagra, and then swapped back and forth between the new cord and the other cords on both pieces of gear while listening to the same track.

I expected to hear no difference and thus I have no explanation for this, but Shawn and I both thought the new power cord gave the music more bass clarity and depth, a sense of better image scale and depth, and less glare. Might be sort of a tone control effect, but it seems like there is more going on than just that. At any rate I can't figure out why it would make a diff, but the difference is audible. So now I find myself saying shoot, it worked. Now we have to make up about 20 of them for my system...

The cord came out pretty nice construction-wise. There are six wires that are done up into three twisted pairs that are then braided into a nice floppy braid. The braid gets techflex over it for style points. The AC plug is a nice clear hospital grade model and the IEC plug is a right angle model, for a clean looking connection to Bottlehead gear. We found a hunky heat shrink tube with a 4:1 shrink ratio so that we can sleeve over the necks of the plugs as well as the cable. It's adhesive lined and gets quite thick as it shrinks, which makes for what appears to be a super rugged and stiff strain relief at each end. I think one could actually grab the middle of the cable and yank the plug out of the wall without damage.

We should have the instructions written and the photos taken this afternoon, and I think Shawn has the beta kits almost completely prepped.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: vladimirwolfe on February 02, 2011, 12:14:31 PM
Sounds like it's going to be "worth the trouble". Let me know when I can call the Queen to order!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on February 02, 2011, 12:45:11 PM
Doc,

Congratulations to you on the improved power cords.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 02, 2011, 01:23:38 PM
You know that Shawn Phelps is our technician, right? Are you confusing him with Colin?
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Jim R. on February 04, 2011, 05:05:31 AM
Excellent!  Looking forward to receiving this.  Just curious, what's the gauge of each leg?

Thanks,

Jim
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 04, 2011, 06:08:34 AM
The reason this power cord came about was that we accidentally ordered several thousand feet of 20 gauge stranded wire instead of solid core wire for hookup wire in our kits. The mistake wasn't caught until after some wire had been cut from each spool, so we were stuck with it. PB suggested we try making a power cord with it. I realized that we would need to use a couple lengths of wire for each conductor in the cord or it would really only be good for very low current applications, so we came up with a cord using twisted pairs that are braided together. It makes for a very flexible cord.

So each leg uses two lengths of 20 gauge wire. Each time you double the cross sectional are of the wire the gauge number drops by three, so that is equivalent to about 17 gauge. We use the very conservative 700 circular mils per amp rule and rate it at about 3 amps, but you could probably be safe with up to about 10 amps, however we have not tested it at that load and therefore do not condone the idea. None of our gear draws more than about 1.5 amps at startup and less than that once the power supply is charged up.

We built a couple and I figured that would be that, they wouldn't make the system sound any different than stock. I simply had three big spools of wire that would end up sitting in the lab forever. But a most unexpected and puzzling thing happened. This cord actually makes our gear sound better than our stock cords. Rather than trying to come up with some far fetched theory like most cable manufacturers I will simply state that I find that it makes our gear sound better than the stock power cord and leave it at that.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on February 04, 2011, 06:23:57 AM
(https://forum.bottlehead.com/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi244.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fgg7%2FGrainger49%2FTipHat.gif&hash=21186470f6808de71fb302de0e6b065a)

I am particularly impressed and amused with the part about not coming up with some far fetched theory like cable manufactures.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Jim R. on February 04, 2011, 10:29:42 AM
Dan,

Yup, good idea giving up on the theories.  If it sounds better, it sounds better and I'll just leave it in the category of mysteries that we as humans are not yet capable of understanding.

Thanks for the info on the sizing.

-- Jim
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 04, 2011, 11:28:33 AM
OK folks, instructions are done. I've simply put up a web page, as there isn't anything very top secret about how to wire an AC plug.

http://www.bottlehead.com/et/adobespc/powercord/powercordassembly.htm (http://www.bottlehead.com/et/adobespc/powercord/powercordassembly.htm)
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: shelby1420 on February 04, 2011, 01:14:41 PM
OK folks, instructions are done. I've simply put up a web page, as there isn't anything very top secret about how to wire an AC plug.

http://www.bottlehead.com/et/adobespc/powercord/powercordassembly.htm (http://www.bottlehead.com/et/adobespc/powercord/powercordassembly.htm)

Very cool Doc, gonna try one of these beasts on one of my Paramounts and a regular plug on the other, very exciting!!!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 04, 2011, 01:27:55 PM
We've been tying up a lot of loose ends at the office this afternoon, so the cord kits will not be shipping until Monday.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on February 04, 2011, 01:47:14 PM
Not that you're likely to be able to do anything about this, but if you get a minute, check your link to the braiding video.  I have never been able to get it to play through the 3-wire braiding section; it always forwards to the next video on heat shrink.

Now, I hasten to add that this could be something at my end.  This involves a PC on the internet, after all.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 04, 2011, 02:06:00 PM
Works for me, plays through the braiding video to the end and then goes to the next video.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on February 04, 2011, 02:23:20 PM
Thanks for checking, Doc.  I'll try to figure out what is going on at this end, then.

One of the odd features is that it loaded in its entirety, and truncated at a slightly different point each time.

EDIT:  Yup, Ad Block Pro issues, again.  Something in the clip was apparently just enough like an "ad" to trigger it and tell it to go to the next video.  After it had played a little more than half the clip!

The real laffer, of course, is that I naturally have ABP disabled on your site.  So, I didn't even think to check whether it had re-enabled itself when I went to your link.

Very helpful indeed, when you get to see the whole thing!  Thanks again for checking it!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on February 04, 2011, 04:16:38 PM
When I read you had trouble with the video I tried the link.  The site loads then there is an add on that loads to play the video.  I have it, but don't know which one it is.  It plays for me.  Took a second look.  It is Adobe Flash Player 10.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on February 05, 2011, 07:15:13 AM
Thanks for taking the time to look into it, Grainger.

You know, at one time I actually tried to figure out why my computer did or did not do something.  That was more back in the DOS days.

Now, with all the permutations available with combinations of software and add-ons and little gremlins that run in the background, I feel happy when I can just get it to do what I want!

(BTW, the spell-patrol on this site apparently doesn't like the word "combinations" !)

And, they want us to put our music on these things...
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: bobster on February 05, 2011, 07:30:13 AM
We've been tying up a lot of loose ends at the office this afternoon, so the cord kits will not be shipping until Monday.

Doc,

How do you order a kit?  Can't seem to find that on the site.  Thanks.

Bob
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 05, 2011, 10:03:08 AM
Don't have an order page quite yet. The kits that are shipping are the beta kits we promised to the first few who ordered the new Stereomour. Hope to have the pricing sorted and an order page up early next week.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: shelby1420 on February 05, 2011, 01:28:37 PM
Don't have an order page quite yet. The kits that are shipping are the beta kits we promised to the first few who ordered the new Stereomour. Hope to have the pricing sorted and an order page up early next week.

Good to know, gonna need one for the Stereomour, Seduction and the other Paramount!!!!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: coca on February 09, 2011, 04:00:44 PM
Congrats Doc. I will try one. I have hade similar experinces with DIY braided recipes that I used a lot. I used heavier gauge wire though and there was copper shield used as weii. So it was more involved. It was a recipe I had gotten from the Glass audio mag.

Bernie,
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Geek on February 09, 2011, 08:56:21 PM
I am particularly impressed and amused with the part about not coming up with some far fetched theory like cable manufactures.

This is a major reason I highly respect Bottlehead products - no magic, no mysticism, no B.S., it just works.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: sl-15 on February 15, 2011, 07:55:05 PM
Doc,
The system you were testing the power cords in, is that connected straight to the wall outlet or does it go through some power conditioner first? I run my system without any power conditioner and am wondering if a cord upgrade can make a difference that way or if it only makes sense to use in conjunction with a conditioner.

Thanks,
Stefan
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on February 16, 2011, 05:21:51 AM
We have not tried the cord with a power conditioner. I don't know if one has an effect upon the other.
Title: Re: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on March 01, 2011, 04:19:13 PM
I have a question.  A number of us Bottleheads have shelves, book cases or racks that fit close to the wall.  I don't know of a manufacturer of substantial AC plugs where the plug is close to the wall.  I have seen some extension cords that have octagonal plugs with the cord exiting parallel to the wall at a 7:00 position.  This plug doesn't interfere with other plugs/cords and allows the furniture in front of it to be reasonably close to the wall.

Audio cables are almost always stiff.  The bulky AC plugs are also, often deep.  See the example below pulled from a manufacturer's site.  The plug pictured below and cord would not allow a case 5 inches in front of it due to the depth of the plug and the stiffness of the wire.

Why not a flat plug with the cord exiting at an angle and parallel to the wall?
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Jim R. on March 02, 2011, 04:02:57 AM
Grainger,

The Wattgate 320i male plugs have an optional 90 degree backshell that you can install in any of 8 or so orientations to the plug.  I have used these behind my rack where there is little room to work with, and they work very nicely.

-- Jim
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on March 02, 2011, 06:27:07 AM
Wattgate 330i for an AC plug perhaps? I'm chuckling, it costs damn near as much as our whole kit! Which reminds me - we've been moving so many of these cords (I think about 30 are shipping today or tomorrow) that I suspect we only have wire left for maybe 10 or 20 more. After that we will have to purchase more wire, and we won't be able to justify eating that wire cost to recover from a goof like we did on the initial run. What that means is the price will have to go up a few bucks on the next production run. Ordering a cord from tail end of this initial run might save you $5.
Title: Re: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on March 02, 2011, 07:14:09 AM
Ok, Wattgate immediately brought up the image of high dollar.  While I appreciate the reference, it is not likely I will invest in one.  But the point was that the high end, even the Bottlehead affordable and usable, power cords are a bad idea for behind furniture. 

Doc, I find it amusing that you need to repeat a purchase that initially was a mistake.  It is GREAT! 

Congratulations!
Title: I was skeptical...but these made a difference
Post by: DrewTube on March 03, 2011, 06:34:10 AM
I was seriously skeptical, but I took the plunge and ordered two of the power cord kits for my Eros and Extended Foreplay III.  I am running this all through a power conditioner (APC S15), but I must say that I hear a difference...it's subtle, but A/B comparison tells me the difference is real.  Bass is tighter, mids a bit more forward and better imaged (especially vocals), and more "air" on the high end (all relative to vinyl via the Eros then EFPII).  Again, I emphasize this is subtle, but I'm glad I dropped the dough...good value as far as upgrades go.

One quick question....I haven't put the heat shrinks on yet...I notice the connection of the cords to the plugs is purely physical...is there any advantage or disadvantage to trying to put a little solder in there?

Thanks all!


Andrew
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Doc B. on March 03, 2011, 07:05:49 AM
I would suggest leaving the connections as compression connections. I don't know that the plastic in the plugs will handle the heat, the connections aren't really designed as solder terminals, and the strain reliefs offered by the clamps and the sticky, rigid heat shrink should keep the cord from getting loose connections.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: johnsonad on March 12, 2011, 05:08:08 PM
Built two cords yesterday and they are burning in with my Paramounts now.  Very easy kit with great instructions. Thanks guys!
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Maxwell_E on March 23, 2011, 09:23:27 AM
Just curious, but will the second run of these kits come with the Red-White-Black like the original or will you guys move over to the standard AC colors?
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Maxwell_E on March 23, 2011, 09:33:44 AM
Also Grainger, I was snooping around and I found a Hubbell plug on Part-Connexion. Hospital grade Right angle for $29. It flips the wrong way though, pointing the wire straight up on a normal outlet.

http://www.partsconnexion.com/ac_hubbell.html
Title: Re: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on March 23, 2011, 10:25:10 AM
Max,

Hey, Thanks!  I can use one plug on top that has a 90 degree exit.  Now if I can figure out how to rotate the male portion of the plug 180 degrees I can use on on the top outlet and the bottom.  There is often a peg on the plug portion that fits into a notch in the casing.  I might be able to make a notch at 180 degrees or just 90 degrees.

You know it only makes sense but the big house suppliers I checked didn't have a thing like this.

I'll give it a try.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on March 23, 2011, 10:28:13 AM
Actually, I think that plug is probably correct.  I believe the "correct" way of installing the outlet is with the ground sockets to the top.  At least, that seems to be the way licensed electricians always install them.
 
I think the idea is, between having ground on top and the ground pin on the plug being longer than the others, you stand a better chance of engaging the ground before the power when plugging something in.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: HF9 on March 23, 2011, 10:43:57 AM
I think it's just in case the plug is pulled slightly out of the socket, if something conductive like a knife drops on it, you'd rather have it land on the safety ground rather than across the hot and neutral prongs.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on March 23, 2011, 11:01:06 AM
Sure, could very well be something just like that.  They always have a reason somewhere along the line.

Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Jim R. on March 23, 2011, 11:22:18 AM
Jim and HF9, yes, that is the preferred way to install an outlet, however I don't believe it is a code violation to do it the other way, and at least in our home, it seems most of them are installed with the ground lug down, except for the half-hot outlets, which are inverted so you know they are switched.

Kaiser also makes a right angle female IEC that will exit to thr right side of the bh amps -- has the ground lug furthest from the cable exit.  I prefer the orientation of the female iec plug that BH includes with the cable kit though.

-- Jim
Title: Re: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on March 23, 2011, 11:39:07 AM
JC and HF9,

I am working on the electrical wiring crew for Habitat For Humanity here.  There are no less than 4 licensed electricians on the crew.  All outlets are installed ground down.  Go figure!  

If you look at a PS Audio Power Port ($50 duplex outlet) Power Port Premier ($100 duplex outlet) or the Soloist ($200 in wall power conditioner) all the text is right side up when you have the ground on the bottom.

I am not sure there is a hard fast rule.  I know it isn't in the NEC as Jim points out.  

I guess I am just "used to" seeing an outlet look like a face.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on March 23, 2011, 12:08:18 PM
Yeah, guys, I certainly don't pretend to know the code on the matter, I'm only reporting what I see.

You must admit, though, that that hospital-grade plug might just be indicative of something.   Hospitals are more serious about the safety grounds on things than any place I know. 
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: STURMJ on March 23, 2011, 07:41:15 PM
As I understand it..... being a hospital worker that is... Hospital grade AC plugs are a bit beefier, making them less likely to become accidentally unplugged.  To us audio freaks that also means better contact in the AC outlet (more surface area, thicker contacts).
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: shelby1420 on March 30, 2011, 08:13:46 AM
Just ordered my next three power cord kits, now to wait.....................
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Maxwell_E on April 04, 2011, 10:58:27 AM
Hey Grainger. Kind of an afterthought, but I was just looking at those right-angle Hubbell hospital plugs and in their catalog it says that they are 8-position. So you could do 45 degree increments of anywhere you pleased. Knowing Hubbell's product quality, and compared to the purely audio brands, this plug seems like a good deal.
Title: Re: Re: Power cords
Post by: Grainger49 on April 04, 2011, 01:20:46 PM
I agree, Hubbel is an industry standard supplier for power connection devices.  Wherever I have worked the heavy duty connections and day to day AC plugs were all Hubbel.  The short extension cords from MCM will have to do me in the mean time.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: Maxwell_E on April 04, 2011, 01:35:48 PM
The lab I work in has almost entirely Hubbell and Amphenol connectors. My boss takes pride in what we use on the equipment.
Title: Re: Power cords
Post by: JC on April 04, 2011, 02:29:23 PM
Yes, Maxwell_E, when I run the shop we always use Hubbell dead-front plugs on everything.  I swear, you can run over them with a fork-lift and barely scuff them.

I only ever had trouble with one of their later, cheaper models, the clamps for the individual conductors would unscrew themselves over time.  Just got into the habit of replacing them with the dead-fronts straight away.