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My First Major Shock

My first major shock happened when I was about 12. I wanted to see what would happen to an electrolytic capacitor if I supplied it with AC. I wired up one of those old metal-cased electrolytics to a 600VAC transformer (both salvaged from a defunct radio), and plugged the transformer in.

I waited a bit, but nothing happened. Forgetting (or perhaps not realizing) that the metal case formed one terminal in common with the negative solder tab, I grabbed the case with my left hand, and being careful to hold it by the insulation, pulled off the wire wrapped around the positive solder tab. Unfortunately, when the wrap gave way, the bare part of the wire sprung back and landed in the palm of my right hand.

When I came to, I was flat on my back, holding the capacitor in my left hand. The transformer was on the floor, the weight of it having yanked the plug out of the wall socket. I was a LOT more careful after that, though I did not manage to avoid all high voltage shocks over the course of my various careers.

-O. Lego

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