How is that for an attention grabber?!! There was no fire and everyone is safe. But the importance of a proper power supply can never be understated.
We were setting up for our seminar like usual and throughout the morning, there was a funny smell near one of the consoles. It is a little chilly here right now, so we thought the smell might be coming from the heaters, which had just kicked in. We finished most of our setup around 11:50am, but the overhead camera just didn't want to work. So we ended up troubleshooting for another hour and a half.
Right before we go to leave for lunch, Jose noticed that the weird smell was a lot stronger, and it was now starting to smell like something was burning. What does a good tech do when things don't feel right? They go looking for the problem. So like good tech's, we began hunting for the source. The smell seemed to be pretty strong around the teachers console. Jose jumped on some cases to smell the vents, I went low, behind the teachers console near the spider box. While on the ground, I look over at the spider box plug and notice it is not quite in the wall all the way and decided to plug it in completely. As soon as I touched the cable, SPARKS! Bright yellow sparks and a little smoke. Mike Eiseman touched the plug and man was it HOT! Looks like we found the source of that weird smell!!!
This picture was taken with the camera on my phone, but you get the idea. The plug for the rental spider box was old and probably should have been repaired long ago. It looked as though the the insulation had worn through on the two hot legs. They probably touched and started to overheat. Had we not stuck around to troubleshoot the camera, there is a good chance things would have been bad. Really bad.
So what's the lesson?
1) If something smells like it's burning, find the source! FAST!!!
2) Proper maintenance of your gear, especially anything power related, is the #1 key to a successful event.