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Bozo Engineering -- The "Power Brick"

Message #1 - Posted 2005/04/19 - Paul Russell

Matthew Russotto wrote:

Previously, Neill Massello wrote:

I'd like a UPS with a DC tap and a system of cables, T connectors, and plugs that would provide a backed-up 12V for my brick-loving peripherals

from a single daisy-chained cable.

Yes. Not just peripherals; anything which uses DC power including the computers and LCD monitors. A nice big 48V (nominal) bus, with efficient DC<->DC converters to feed everything.

Why 48V (nominal)? Because that's the top end of what's considered "low voltage", there's a lot of stuff (such as the aforementioned DC<->DC converters) already built for it because of its telco use, and it's high enough that you can put a reasonable amount of power through a reasonably-sized cable.

I'd prefer a 12 V (13.8 V) bus. Battery back up could then be as simple as a car battery. Many devices are designed to run from 12V anyway, and power bricks tend to be 6V, 9V or 12V.

Paul

Message #2 - Posted 2005/04/21 - K E

'd love to know who in the world was the father of the "power brick" and I
would love to condemn him/her to a lifetime of using the same. How many times
have you attempted to plug yet another of these monstrosities only to find
that it needs to cover three outlets in your power strip, or that if you plug
it into the one remaining plug it lands on the off/on switch. Is it really
too much to ask that power bricks come with a short cord between them and the
plug so that orientation is not a problem. I'd almost be willing to wager
that if the engineers responsible were required to use them that we'd likely
see some change for the better.

--
James L. Ryan -- Taliesinsoft

The inline lump is the better way to go, I don't know why more companies don't use that. It may not be as pretty with two cords coming out of it but it doesn't cover outlets.

Message #3 - Posted 2005/04/23 - Tim Smith

Previously, Neill Massello wrote:

I'd like a UPS with a DC tap and a system of cables, T connectors, and plugs that would provide a backed-up 12V for my brick-loving peripherals from a single daisy-chained cable.

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

--Tim Smith

Message #4 - Posted 2005/04/23 - Wes Groleau

Tim Smith wrote:

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

And how many houses have to be built that way before it dawns on someone that there's a market for a box that can plug into such?

Wes Groleau

I've noticed lately that the paranoid fear of computers becoming intelligent and taking over the world has almost entirely disappeared from the common culture. Near as I can tell, this coincides with the release of MS-DOS.
-- Larry DeLuca

Message #5 - Posted 2005/04/26 - Clark Martin

Previously, Tim Smith wrote:

Previously, Neill Massello wrote:

I'd like a UPS with a DC tap and a system of cables, T connectors, and plugs that would provide a backed-up 12V for my brick-loving peripherals from a single daisy-chained cable.

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

No, you don't want that. Computers tend to shut down (by design) when the logic supply drops below 4.5 or 4.75 V. And that is just what is going to happen if you distribute +5V through the house.

A 24 or 48V DC power bus would work with a simpler switcher at each piece of equipment.

There is also the little detail of plugging in a computer with the DC voltages connecting in random order. This could raise havoc with the computer. Hot plugging multiple voltages is asking for trouble.

Clark Martin
Redwood City, CA, USA Macintosh / Internet Consulting

"I'm a designated driver on the Information Super Highway"

Message #6 - Posted 2005/04/26 - Gnarlodious

Entity Tim Smith uttered this profundity:

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

Virtually impossible, by the time those low voltages got to their destination there wouldn't be anything left of them.

-- Gnarlie
If electricity comes from electrons, does that mean morality comes from morons?

Message #7 - Posted 2005/04/26 - Matthew Russotto

Previously, Tim Smith wrote:

Previously, Neill Massello wrote:

I'd like a UPS with a DC tap and a system of cables, T connectors, and plugs that would provide a backed-up 12V for my brick-loving peripherals from a single daisy-chained cable.

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

Your losses at 5V are going to be a problem, or you're going to need VERY thick wire.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, but certain accounting practices can result in a fully-depreciated one.

Message #8 - Posted 2005/04/27 - David C.

Paul Russell <prussell@sonic.net> writes:

I'd prefer a 12 V (13.8 V) bus. Battery back up could then be as simple as a car battery. Many devices are designed to run from 12V anyway, and power bricks tend to be 6V, 9V or 12V.

Only for simple devices. Computers often have power bricks with multiple outputs, often higher than 12v.

FWIW, the power brick on an Apple //c (which I happen to have handy) outputs 15v.

A 48v bus is much better. Not only is it higher than any device is likely to require, it's also a standard for industrial computer and telecom equipment.

As for making the UPS simpler, don't kid yourself. Even if the output is 12v DC, you still need to have filters and regulators. If you just attach your devices to a battery's terminals, the voltage will vary as the load and remaining charge vary.

-- David

Message #9 - Posted 2005/04/27 - David C.

Gnarlodious <gnarlodious@yahoo.com> writes:

That's similar to what I want, except build it into the house. The wall sockets, in addition to the usual 120 VAC plug, should also have +5V,-5V,+12V,-12V DC (basically the voltages that computer power supplies produce).

Virtually impossible, by the time those low voltages got to their destination there wouldn't be anything left of them.

Depends on where you generate them.

If you try to send low-voltage DC from the power plant, it won't get anywhere. Of course, neither will 120v AC - which is why transmission lines run at much higher voltages.

If you install a converter to produce the various DC voltages at the pole-mounted transformer (before the wire enters your home) or in your home's breaker box, you can make such a system work.

But it still doesn't solve all of the other real problems - including the fact that lots of consumer devices run at other voltages (I've personally seen devices that use 3, 4.5, 9, and 15v DC, and some modems that use 12v AC.) So you either run a huge number of different voltages, or you're back to power bricks again.

-- David

Message #10 - Posted 2005/04/27 - David C.

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

There is a solution, a couple in fact. The "Power Strip Liberator" is a short (around 6") extension cord made for this very purpose. Even better, the "Power Strip Liberator Plus" is a similar product, except that it provides an outlet where it plugs into the power strip, allowing you to have up to two devices powered by each outlet on the strip.

Or just get a plain 12" extension cord from your local hardware store. A lot cheaper than the ones advertised as "for computer use".

-- David

Message #11 - Posted 2005/04/27 - David C.

DaveC <me@privacy.net> writes:

Whether the "lump" is at the plug or further down the cable is a choice of the marketing mgr. or engineer. The choice to not put the power supply *inside* the equipment is all about costs. As others have said, if the power supply was included inside the product, you'd have to make a larger case to fit it, and a more expensive supply to handle world-wide voltages (120 and 240 volts), or have a different product for each voltage.

Inboard power supplies also create cooling issues for some devices. Removing the power supply's heat from a device can mean smaller or quieter fans. It can sometimes mean the complete elimination of fans.

Would you prefer a power brick on the floor or more fan noise in the room? Whatever your choice is, there are plenty of people who will disagree with it.

-- David

Message #12 - Posted 2005/04/27 - Michael Black

David C. (shamino@techie.com) writes:

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

There is a solution, a couple in fact. The "Power Strip Liberator" is a short (around 6") extension cord made for this very purpose. Even better, the "Power Strip Liberator Plus" is a similar product, except that it provides an outlet where it plugs into the power strip, allowing you to have up to two devices powered by each outlet on the strip.

Or just get a plain 12" extension cord from your local hardware store. A lot cheaper than the ones advertised as "for computer use".

-- David

What I've done is go to the hardware store and buy a 99 cent extension cord, and a plug. Then cut the extension cord a few inches away from the female end, and attach the plug to the wires. You get that short extension cord, which for this purpose is better than having a full length one lying there.

Michael

Message #13 - Posted 2005/04/27 - Wes Groleau

David C. wrote:

that use 12v AC.) So you either run a huge number of different voltages, or you're back to power bricks again.

Outlets with selector switches to choose your voltage.
Boost the economy replacing all the burnt out toys and peripherals. :-)

I once was in a stockroom, and gave out three or four replacements for defective vacuum tubes to the same guy. Kept coming back, "This one's bad too!"

Finally I asked him to show me how he determined they were all bad. He put one in the tube tester, set up all the knobs according to the book, and pressed the button. Good! Then he turned one knob one position, pressed it again. Bad!

"Why did you do that?"
"To check for borderline conditions."
"What is that knob for?"
(checks tester specs) "Filament voltage" "What is the voltage for the two settings you used?" (checks tester specs, looks stupid) "uh, 6.3 and 12.6"

Wes Groleau
----
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated
than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Message #14 - Posted 2005/05/03 - Lisa Horton

"David C." wrote:

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

There is a solution, a couple in fact. The "Power Strip Liberator" is a short (around 6") extension cord made for this very purpose. Even better, the "Power Strip Liberator Plus" is a similar product, except that it provides an outlet where it plugs into the power strip, allowing you to have up to two devices powered by each outlet on the strip.

Or just get a plain 12" extension cord from your local hardware store. A lot cheaper than the ones advertised as "for computer use".

I think a heavy duty grounded extension cord of any length from the local hardware store would probably cost more than the under $2 price of the liberators. And I'd rather have the shorter length under my desk.

Lisa

Message #15 - Posted 2005/05/03 - David C.

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

I think a heavy duty grounded extension cord of any length from the local hardware store would probably cost more than the under $2 price of the liberators.

Depends on where you shop.

And I'd rather have the shorter length under my desk.

I'd rather have a heavy-duty cord that can handle lots of abuse.

-- David

Message #16 - Posted 2005/05/03 - Michael Black

Lisa Horton (Lisa0205@lisahorton.net) writes:

"David C." wrote:

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

There is a solution, a couple in fact. The "Power Strip Liberator" is a short (around 6") extension cord made for this very purpose. Even better, the "Power Strip Liberator Plus" is a similar product, except that it provides an outlet where it plugs into the power strip, allowing you to have up to two devices powered by each outlet on the strip.

Or just get a plain 12" extension cord from your local hardware store. A lot cheaper than the ones advertised as "for computer use".

I think a heavy duty grounded extension cord of any length from the local hardware store would probably cost more than the under $2 price of the liberators. And I'd rather have the shorter length under my desk.

Lisa

Where are we going with this? We are talking about the bulkiness of AC adaptors and their inability to fit into outlets without blocking other outlets. MOst AC adaptors I've seen seen were not three-prong, and they are so limited in power that a "heavy duty" extension cord is not needed. Hence a 99cent extension cord should work fine for most applications, and as I pointed out one could get fancy and shorten the cord.

Michael

Message #17 - Posted 2005/05/03 - Lisa Horton

Michael Black wrote:

Lisa Horton (Lisa0205@lisahorton.net) writes:

"David C." wrote:

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

There is a solution, a couple in fact. The "Power Strip Liberator" is a short (around 6") extension cord made for this very purpose. Even better, the "Power Strip Liberator Plus" is a similar product, except that it provides an outlet where it plugs into the power strip, allowing you to have up to two devices powered by each outlet on the strip.

Or just get a plain 12" extension cord from your local hardware store. A lot cheaper than the ones advertised as "for computer use".

I think a heavy duty grounded extension cord of any length from the local hardware store would probably cost more than the under $2 price of the liberators. And I'd rather have the shorter length under my desk.

Lisa

Where are we going with this? We are talking about the bulkiness of AC adaptors and their inability to fit into outlets without blocking other outlets. MOst AC adaptors I've seen seen were not three-prong, and they are so limited in power that a "heavy duty" extension cord is not needed. Hence a 99cent extension cord should work fine for most applications, and as I pointed out one could get fancy and shorten the cord.

Ah, good point. I do have a few 3 prong bricks, but you're right that most bricks aren't 3 prong. I do have several bricks (not all computer related) that are 1 amp, but I don't know if that overloads a garden variety cheapo extension cord or not.

Now if they made 99 cent 6" extension cords, that would be nice :)

Lisa

Message #18 - Posted 2005/05/03 - Lisa Horton

"David C." wrote:

Lisa Horton <Lisa0205@lisahorton.net> writes:

I think a heavy duty grounded extension cord of any length from the local hardware store would probably cost more than the under $2 price of the liberators.

Depends on where you shop.

And I'd rather have the shorter length under my desk.

I'd rather have a heavy-duty cord that can handle lots of abuse.

Okay, I'd rather have a short AND heavy duty cord. Wait, I do, it's called a Power Strip Liberator :)

Seriously, they are heavy duty, convenient and cheap, I find them a satisfactory solution, even if many bricks don't need that much current carrying capacity or the grounded outlet.

Lisa

Message #19 - Posted 2005/05/04 - ward mcfarland

Lisa Horton wrote:

Ah, good point. I do have a few 3 prong bricks, but you're right that most bricks aren't 3 prong. I do have several bricks (not all computer related) that are 1 amp, but I don't know if that overloads a garden variety cheapo extension cord or not.

120 watts overload the cord? Maxing out on two 60 watt bulbs wouldn't be very useful, would it?

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