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  • wooden chopstick vs plastic pencil

    Why does a preamp make hum noises when I probe with a wooden chopstick around grids/wires, but a plastic pencil driver of the same length/size does not? And yet I can chopstick probe HV with impunity?
    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

  • #2
    Was the chopstick ever used for anything? Wood is much more able to absorb things, also you are in a very humid environment?
    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    • #3
      I can't rule out what g1 said about wood. Salty foods, takes on the moisture content of relative humidity, etc. Ever notice that when a guitar amp, even a vintage one is cranked up you can just get your finger tip NEAR an early grid pin and BZZZZZZZZ! Plastic doesn't absorb moisture relative to humidity or minerals from finger sweat or food. And guitar amps are typically VERY high gain. That said...

      I use unused chopsticks all the time for poking. I've also used pencils and noticed that the graphite is INDEED conductive. So this seems to me like a matter of specifics. It hardly matters WHY the chopstick is conducting interference into your signal and the pencil isn't. Once the leads are arranged and the amp is in the chassis, is there a problem with stray noise being picked up? In other words, is this an amp problem? Without knowing all the specifics in minutia (like whether or not that chopstick experienced soy sauce ) it's just an exercise in speculation. If the plastic pencil works better, use the plastic pencil. In fact, take a tip and find some sort of plastic rod that doesn't even have a lead (graphite) in the middle of it. Place it in a spot on your bench and now it is THE tool that you'll use from now on.

      JM2C
      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

      "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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      • #4
        The chop sticks I use are at least a decade old. The "pencil" I refer to is just a descriptive, it is not a writing pencil. It is a long sturdy plastic tweaker, flat blade on one end, cone tip on the other. I would NEVER use an actual lead writing pencil, so let's get that straight. Sorry if that was not clear.

        The answer "to just use what works" does not answer the question why?
        It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
          I've also used pencils and noticed that the graphite is INDEED conductive
          Insert "ionized-hair smiley thing" here
          If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken. - Steve Conner
          If the thing works, stop fixing it. - Enzo
          We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
          MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey

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          • #6
            Originally posted by eschertron View Post
            Insert "ionized-hair smiley thing" here
            Hey! It was handy and I didn't see my chopstick close at hand, alright And I did know better than to touch any HV leads with it. I DO know that the graphite core is conductive. In fact when I fish during thunder storms (that happens in the PNW because salmon season is fall) I use fiberglass rods rather than graphite.
            "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

            "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

            "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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            • #7
              I use a melamine chopstick - they're pretty common in Chinese grocers. Also a tip is to sharpen the end with a pencil sharpener for extra-fine probing ability.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mick Bailey View Post
                I use a melamine chopstick - they're pretty common in Chinese grocers. Also a tip is to sharpen the end with a pencil sharpener for extra-fine probing ability.
                That's a great idea. I have some of those but I actually use them as chopsticks. I don't want to ruin them with bench work. I actually stole them from a nice restaurant I never thought to buy some at an Asian market. And now I don't have one around. It'll have to wait until I get to the real world (off island) sometime.
                "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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                • #9
                  Wood gives a more organic sound, plastic more sterile.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Randall View Post
                    The chop sticks I use are at least a decade old. The "pencil" I refer to is just a descriptive, it is not a writing pencil. It is a long sturdy plastic tweaker, flat blade on one end, cone tip on the other. I would NEVER use an actual lead writing pencil, so let's get that straight. Sorry if that was not clear.

                    The answer "to just use what works" does not answer the question why?
                    Any chance your tweaker is conductive??

                    nosaj
                    Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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                    • #11
                      Wood can be absorbent. This COULD cause it to SWELL, and that might be GREAT. Especially helpful when amplifying pipe organs.

                      I think I would order some takeout and get a fresh chopstick. I had some "nice" chopsticks once. I quickly found I had to wash the damned things.

                      You can conduct WITH chopsticks...

                      And a one, and a two, and a three...
                      Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nosaj View Post
                        Any chance your tweaker is conductive??
                        I'm not gonna find out the hard way, I'm awfully sensitive down there. That Persian fumble fingers guy on YouseTube may have a video out on it already. Let him zap his tweaker, at least he'll collect some good pay for it. OW OW OW OW OW - all the way to the bank!
                        Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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                        • #13
                          Plunk your magic twanger, froggy.

                          Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                          • #14
                            This isn't about shocking yer weenie, but it is why I don't yuse pencils to poke around in amps...

                            Leo, you asked for it...

                            https://youtu.be/5YBwDNfOaxU

                            Jusrin
                            "Wow it's red! That doesn't look like the standard Marshall red. It's more like hooker lipstick/clown nose/poodle pecker red." - Chuck H. -
                            "Of course that means playing **LOUD** , best but useless solution to modern sissy snowflake players." - J.M. Fahey -
                            "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

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                            • #15
                              As an aside, I loved his simile between pencil "lead" and "indians".

                              "The Europeans tried to fix it by getting rid of all the native people, but they failed." Oh yes he did
                              "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                              "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                              "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                              Comment

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