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Thread: wooden chopstick vs plastic pencil

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    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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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?

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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Was the chopstick ever used for anything? Wood is much more able to absorb things, also you are in a very humid environment?

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    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

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

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

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    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    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?

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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Quote 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

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote 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.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    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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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote 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.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    Wood gives a more organic sound, plastic more sterile.

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote 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

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    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...

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  12. #12
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote 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!

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Plunk your magic twanger, froggy.


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    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

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    "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. -
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  15. #15
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    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

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    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
    Thanks for that Jusrin - I figured he would have some video on that sort of thing.

    Instead of making hand-held carbon arc lamps, I found out another hard way. Which I'm sure I mentioned some years ago. Let's review:

    Late 70's I worked for Fairchild Semiconductor, and became the "house expert" on ion implanters. Part of the machines at that time was a set of electrostatic plates, used to "steer" the ion beam in such a way to "paint" the surface of each silicon wafer target. There was an amp of a sort, that used half a dozen big vacuum tubes, each with a top cap & hi voltage wire leading to it, with a 6000V power supply. Probably would make a suitable amp to drive electrostatic speaker panels. Anyway, we had connection problems constantly with the tube sockets & top cap electrodes. The "solution" was to poke at them with whatever was at hand, usually a screwdriver with a 10,000V rated handle. One fine day I poked with a pencil, and landed on the floor about 25 feet away. "Don't do that again!" I thought to myself, a pencil makes for a dangerous probe, there's a rod of conductive carbon running down the center. Use a swizzle stick, chopstick, or some other definitely non conductive item. Yes the above is true, signed Leo "Lucky To Be Alive" Gnardo.

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    I don't remember hearing that one before... And I'm gonna start listing "Ion Implanter" as my "Occupation" on official gubmint forms.

    @ Chuck & Leo (& anyone else), I like the guy cuz he's more than just a dumbass as would be indicated by the compilations alone. It's also good to have international perspectives from folks who are not necessarily "politicized" or political, but that come from a different frame of reference. It's one reason I like having guys like Stan, Juan, bsco, G1, and a host of others whose names escape me right now. I make a point to keep some "international" YouTube channels on my subscribe list too. And I think an Iranian-Canadican who's the same age as me is okay...

    Justin

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    "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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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    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
    There goes my coffee!

    Got a real kick out of his gloves catching on fire (@ 3:06)

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    The cheaper Asian restaurants often have paper-wrapped pairs of chopsticks simply sitting in containers on tables or at the cutlery pickup. The two sticks are still joined at one end and you snap the two apart to use. These also often come with takeout. I always squirrel these away when they're not used. They make GREAT wooden probes.

    Other probes: go to your local home improvement store and get a 2-3 foot stick of wooden dowel in the smallest size they have. Cut into 10-12" lengths and whittle or sharpen to whatever point you like. In grocery stores packages of skewers for kebobs come in packages of ten to a hundred, although some of these are a bit thin.

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    Amazing!! Who would ever have guessed that someone who villified the evil rich people would begin happily accepting their millions in speaking fees!

    Oh, wait! That sounds familiar, somehow.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    As far as a plastic probe option... I've never done this, but what would be wrong with a plain 'ol Bic ink pen (cap on of course). Most of us surely have one at our benches (though maybe not the cap ).

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    As far as a plastic probe option... I've never done this, but what would be wrong with a plain 'ol Bic ink pen (cap on of course). Most of us surely have one at our benches (though maybe not the cap ).
    I've used sharpies as probes , made my signal tracer out of an empty sharpie.

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  22. #22
    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    As far as a plastic probe option... I've never done this, but what would be wrong with a plain 'ol Bic ink pen (cap on of course). Most of us surely have one at our benches (though maybe not the cap ).
    The kind with the long ink tube attached directly to the tip, I just pull the tip & ink tube out, remove the cap, and use.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    The kind with the long ink tube attached directly to the tip, I just pull the tip & ink tube out, remove the cap, and use.
    When I was a boy we use to tie a knot in the end of two feet of surgical tubing, roll the other end over the back of the pen blank and fill the whole thing with water by jamming the pointy end into one of those adjustable stream garden hose heads. Free water weenie for neighborhood water fights. We had the edge over the guys up the street for a couple of days until they could gather the right supplies

    I can't remember what I'm using for a probe right now because I haven't been at my bench for several months. Lemme go see...

    It's a skinny bamboo rod with the end tapered about like a pencil, but longer. I think it use to be a kitchen implement of some kind.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    The handle of an old toothbrush works fine. Taper as (if) required.
    No need to use a chop stick for "chopsticking".

    Or use a stripe of (uncladded) FR4.

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    Last edited by Helmholtz; 01-14-2020 at 10:59 PM.
    - Own Opinions Only -

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    It's a skinny bamboo rod with the end tapered about like a pencil, but longer. I think it use to be a kitchen implement of some kind.
    Sounds like you're describing a shish-kebab skewer. I expect that would be as useful as a chop stick. As mentioned, without having been subject to salty liquids that could make it conductive.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Sounds like you're describing a shish-kebab skewer. I expect that would be as useful as a chop stick. As mentioned, without having been subject to salty liquids that could make it conductive.
    This is just as fat as a pencil. My kebab skewers are much thinner. This stick was probably used to flip and turn ravioli or something. I think I remember it hanging from a peg years ago when it was longer and had a lanyard on the back end. I don't think bamboo is near as absorbent as most woods. So maybe it didn't get salty.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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 for 24 at wm, inscription might possibly say " use caution when using as electronics probe " kidding aside they are a good quality stick.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	chop.jpg 
Views:	12 
Size:	724.8 KB 
ID:	56643  

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    Last edited by shortcircuit; 01-14-2020 at 11:49 PM.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    This is just as fat as a pencil. My kebab skewers are much thinner. This stick was probably used to flip and turn ravioli or something. I think I remember it hanging from a peg years ago when it was longer and had a lanyard on the back end. I don't think bamboo is near as absorbent as most woods. So maybe it didn't get salty.
    OK, for ravioli-kebab then. A manly man's repast, no skinny sticks.

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  29. #29
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    OK, for ravioli-kebab then. A manly man's repast, no skinny sticks.
    No skinny sticks in my house

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "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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    Supporting Member loudthud's Avatar
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    What do they use to probe circuits in China ? A spork ?

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Sporks will fly...

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    Hadn't heard that word for a very long time - maybe 30 years or more! They advertised them on TV in the 70s over here. Pretentious types at cocktail parties eating with a Spork.

    Reminds me of Clamato.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Over here, plastic sporks are common in take-out food. You can use it for either utensil, and the restaurant only need to put one utensil in your purchase. TO be honest, I prefer one over chopsticks. I can use chopsticks no problem, but never saw a reason to not use my usual utensils just because I had Chinese food. But at Chinese places I DO snag the chopsticks, for shop use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    Reminds me of Clamato.
    Had to Google that one. I've (fortunately) never come across it. It sounds disgusting.

    Clamato /kləˈmętoʊ/ is a commercial drink made of reconstituted tomato juice concentrate and sugar, which is flavored with spices, dried clam broth and MSG.

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave H View Post
    Had to Google that one. I've (fortunately) never come across it. It sounds disgusting.

    Clamato /kləˈmętoʊ/ is a commercial drink made of reconstituted tomato juice concentrate and sugar, which is flavored with spices, dried clam broth and MSG.
    Oh, You're really missing out! EVERYBODY in the U.S. drinks it, every day!

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!
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