Playing in Germany, voltage converter recommendations?

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themechanic
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Playing in Germany, voltage converter recommendations?

Post by themechanic » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:57 pm

Hi, we're traveling to Germany next week to perform and it just occurred to me that we will need a voltage converter(s) (all our stuff is for US). I have a Allen Heath mixer, three controllers (2 of which are USB powered), two laptops, sound card, external pci device and a micro mixer.

So the number of things to be plugged in are 7, I have no idea how much power each of these devices draws.

Does anyone have any experience/knowledge with voltage converters? If so, could you recommend one that I guess will step down current to US level? Also I'm looking at the travel converters but would that be adequate for the number of devices that are powered? I know nothing of electricity.... If you have any advice, thank you so much in advance ~ cheers, Ed

8O
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Post by 8O » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:03 pm

Check your stuff and see how many of them will already run off 240V e.g. my laptop power supply accepts 100-240V, most laptops will be fine. If you're lucky all your stuff will accept both voltages...
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COSM
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Post by COSM » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:15 pm

If you have heavy duty gear that goes straight into the mains without any black box, check to see if there is a 110/240 switch somewhere near the power. Two pieces of my gear can accept either or by flipping the way the fuse box goes in (but this is special to my gear, not standard).

Sorry I can't be too much help otherwise, power isn't my forte.
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kenporter
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Post by kenporter » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:14 pm

Hey, pm me, I can help you out. My band did a Euro tour last year and not only will you have to worry about the voltage but even if your laptop has a universal power supply, your US plug will not fit. On top of that if you use a US power strip make sure it doesn't have a surge protector since it may drip due to the higher voltage in Germany. anyway, pm me and I can help you out where and what to get.

Ken

longjohns
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Post by longjohns » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:15 am

my little suggestion is to get a slim (even plug-style?) adapter.

I had bought sort of a wall-wart looking adapter, only to find that most of the outlets I encountered in Berlin were recessed into the wall, so the adapter would not work.

dootdoot
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Post by dootdoot » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:43 am

I've played in Germany several times and I pack a few things:

Plug Adapters - I found one type that has the female US plug recessed, and the 2-prong german plug on the males side. I bought six of them and took a dremel and chopped off the collar on the female side so I could use wallwarts with it. Most wallwart devices are 240V/50Hz compatible. Check the fine print on the wallwart. Have a few more than you think you will need.

Two voltage converters - Even if all you can find are "travel" converters, find one with the highest rating available and buy a pair of them. At the festival I played in 2006 their 120V generator went down and we had to run two pedalboard/mfx setups off of one travel adapter. It held up, but I wish I had brought two of them.

Plan B - have a backup plan. Pretend that you have to play McGuyver and find a way to get enough of your rig running to not have to cancel the set. What are the pieces of gear that are the *least* 240v friendly? Do you have options? Can you get one of the heavy duty DC supplies?

http://www.guitareffectspedals.com/powersupplies.html

or a BBE Supa-Charger, etc...

Lastly, contact the venue and see if they have any kind of 120V system. Even if they say yes, plan to run off of 240/50. See above for why.

mikemc
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Post by mikemc » Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:53 pm

Something interesting related to this topic. A colleague mentioned that a relative had problems with a CD player he had purchased in the US, using it with an adapter in Switzerland (240/50)-- the motor wasn't spinning fast enough, so none of the CDRs he had were playing.

Curious about this, looked some things up and found that the 50Hz current will cause electric (induction) motors not designed to handle multiple frequency voltages to spin more slowly, because the magnetic 'pulse' that switches the phase of the current is what causes the magnetic field to whirl around the stator the way it needs to does so more slowly. To address this problem, an adapter that alters voltage and frequency is needed.

But not sure how many things one might typically need to use would be so affected.

RhinoInRio
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Post by RhinoInRio » Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:53 pm

Make sure not only that the voltage is correct, but the Herz has to be converted too (50/60)!!!

kenporter
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Post by kenporter » Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:43 pm

RhinoInRio wrote:Make sure not only that the voltage is correct, but the Herz has to be converted too (50/60)!!!
This is not true! Most instruments are fine with either 50Hz or 60Hz, unless he's using a TV or something on stage. ;)

Ken

joeyfivecents
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Post by joeyfivecents » Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:54 pm

okay so I need to jump in here too. I'm going to Germany on a company trip (I work for Meinl USA) in December and want to bring my MacBook Pro. Do I need to buy an adaptor for my power supply?
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themechanic
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Hey thanks everyone

Post by themechanic » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:17 am

I've had my head buried in our set and just checked in, thanks to everyone for the posts! I really appreciate it, it does turn out that most of my gear is compatible for overseas, I did buy a converter though for the things I am not sure about. I will take plug adapters, however I'm not sure about some transformers, they have no rating on them other than something that reads like this:

INPUT: 120v ac 60hz 4.4w
OUTPUT: 12v dc
CURRENT: DC 200mA MAX

Does anyone know if this will explode or melt? Oh and by the way to the other Macbook owner, my Macbook Pro appears to be overseas compatible, it says so on the transformer, 100-240v. Anyhow, anything that I'm unsure of is going on the "converted" chain. Thanks again, Ed

jonathanm
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Post by jonathanm » Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:50 pm

Personally I would be wary of using the step down converters in a situation like this, here's why...

wattage, or VA are more or less the same thing (volts x amps)

So if your device needs 200 milliamps at 12v then thats 12*0.2 = 2.4 watts

But the process of stepping down the voltage is quite inefficient. so in your example above, you can see that the transformer needs 4.4 watts at 120v to end up with 2.4 watts at the 12v side.

So if you're using one of these converters to step down from 240v to 110v then you're maybe drawing up to 9 or 10 watts at 240v to end up with 2.4 watts at 12v. the excess wattage will end up as heat, and likely noise too. even if this noise is not really audible (ie just noise on the power line) it might get picked up by unbalanced audio cables.

What i would be happier with would be to buy 240v versions of the transformers you need. In Germany you can go to Conrad www.conrad.de - they're like radio shack or maplins.

Then, you just need to check for each device - voltage needed, amps needed, and also polarity. (ie is the pin positive or negative)

All this info is normally on the back of the device next to the power connector, or in the manual.

If you have say, 3 devices that all need 12v 200ma, then you can use a single 240v-12v transformer to power all 3, if it can supply over 600ma. In fact if I was doing this I would get 800ma or more. Then you need to buy one with a daisy chain style cable. (or make one)

Hope this helps,

Jonathan

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Post by Oliver Chesler » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:13 pm

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rikhyray
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Post by rikhyray » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:09 pm

If you fly in/out Frankfurt can just pickup/borrow mine- will power all your gear, it is professional not tourist model.

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Post by SubFunk » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:22 pm

joeyfivecents wrote:okay so I need to jump in here too. I'm going to Germany on a company trip (I work for Meinl USA) in December and want to bring my MacBook Pro. Do I need to buy an adaptor for my power supply?
check the printing on the powersupply, the european macbooks -mbp coming with a 100-240volt / 50-60hertz international, so you just need a plug adapter for the right pins.
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