How do I find a broken wire?

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wrote:

I checked both ends using a pin to pierce the insulation.
Pulling the wire thorugh my bare hand is a very good idea.

That's a thought.

Right. That's what I'm NOT going to do.

It was worth having this thread. I'm sure this won't be the only extension cord I have trouble with.
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I typically energize and attach a light. Go along the cord and push sections together. As you said its usually near the ends. The tester trick should also work.
greg
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mm wrote:

A break in some random place means an olmost worn out cable.
Get a new one.
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wrote:

You mean "ohm"most...don't you?
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On 2/25/2011 3:01 PM, Sjouke Burry wrote:

Agreed. The orange cables should be considered consumable items. Unless the failure can be found by Mark I eyeball exam and easily repaired, time for a new one.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

Unless you did something like accidentally (or intentionally) pull the cord with your car, it is unlikely it is broken in the middle. If it were it would probably be noticeable.
My bet is one end or the other. Or an existing splice.
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wrote:

The ends I tested.

Well maybe an existing splice, but that would mean I didn't make all my prior splices perfectly. That's an unacceptable position. And I did solder them, and I recall no cold solder.
It's all rolled up now, but when I unroll it, because of all the advice I've gotten, I'll be able to go at it from every vantage point, including the middle. I have no doubt it will be working by early summer.
Thank you all.
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mm wrote:

Easy, cut it in half and put new ends on it, one will work the other won't, so cut the one that doesn't work in half and put new ends on it, and ............
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On 2/25/2011 3:54 AM, mm wrote:

A little pocket AM radio works well as a break finder. Tune it so it picks up the hum from a live line then run it up and down the cord. You may have to energize the wires separately to prevent interference. The AM radio will even pick up the RF harmonics from a tone generator like those used for tracing phone wires.
TDD
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On Fri, 25 Feb 2011 19:51:05 -0600, The Daring Dufas

These are very good ideas. Thanks. I wish I had time tomorrow to try all this stuff.

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wrote:

I heard that an AM pocket radio will work. I was not sure how. I found this:
Here's from the January 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics (Yes, they did have electricity back in 1954 :) )
Turn on a radio at a spot between stations (since this is from 1954, they would mean an AM radio). Then with the extension cord carrying current, roll it between your hands and push and pull the cord at points where it joins the plug and the socket as well as at any suspected trouble spot. If the radio sputters during the test, the spot being checked needs repair.
In other words, plug in the cord, attach a load such as a light bulb (probably a larger one that will draw enough current like a 100W incandescent) into it. With an AM radio turned on and tuned between stations, push, pull, wiggle, jerk, and tug on the cord. If it makes contact, you'll hear this on the radio. (Of course the light bulb may light too, but you'll likely hear the sound first on the radio).
Weblink: http://tinyurl.com/5selcum
ALSO
If you happen to have a pet alert transmitter, do this:
http://www.ehow.com/how_6148731_break-underground-wire.html
OR
You can build this:
http://www.circuit-lab.com/2010/05/invisible-broken-wire-detector.html
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wrote:

I heard that an AM pocket radio will work. I was not sure how. I found this:
Here's from the January 1954 issue of Popular Mechanics (Yes, they did have electricity back in 1954 :) )
Turn on a radio at a spot between stations (since this is from 1954, they would mean an AM radio). Then with the extension cord carrying current, roll it between your hands and push and pull the cord at points where it joins the plug and the socket as well as at any suspected trouble spot. If the radio sputters during the test, the spot being checked needs repair.
In other words, plug in the cord, attach a load such as a light bulb (probably a larger one that will draw enough current like a 100W incandescent) into it. With an AM radio turned on and tuned between stations, push, pull, wiggle, jerk, and tug on the cord. If it makes contact, you'll hear this on the radio. (Of course the light bulb may light too, but you'll likely hear the sound first on the radio).
Weblink: http://tinyurl.com/5selcum
ALSO
If you happen to have a pet alert transmitter, do this:
http://www.ehow.com/how_6148731_break-underground-wire.html
OR
You can build this:
http://www.circuit-lab.com/2010/05/invisible-broken-wire-detector.html
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mm wrote:

If you can stick a pin in at the end, why can't you stick a pin in the middle and do the same? Half-interval search should get you close in no time.

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I could but it it would take more than no time. In fact, it took too long just to do the ends. I have to try several times to hit the wire and each time is hard because the rubber or vinyl is tougher than it used to be a few years ago. But it was worth it since it was most likely at the end. I could use an awl instead of a pin, and that would go faster, but I don't want to make holes that big. (When I try multiple times, I can usually use the same outer hole.) I used to have a collection of corsage pins for jobs like this, with big handles, but they seem to have been used up, so I was reduced to using plain straight pins, and they don't work as fast either.
But either way, this is a trip of discovery. To find new ways to do things. To buy new tools (while still making a distinction betwwen 7 dollars and 45 plus S&H.), or by using the radio, and that's the advantage of this discussion, .

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mm wrote:

You mean "too long" compared to the time you spent on this thread? I'VE spent more time on this thread than it would have taken to do it with a pin.

want. The objective of the device is NOT to find the distance to the break of one open wire in a cable.
What you can do with stuff you have around the house is critically dependent on what stuff you have around the house.
Based on what I have around the house...

that it can't happen, but I've never seen a broken wire without some outward sign of abuse.
Next, I'd use the pin. Third choice would be a time domain reflectometer, but if you had one around the house, you'd probably not have asked the question.
Fourth, I'd measure the capacitance across the plug from each end.     ratio of distances to break should be approximately the ratio     of capacitances.
If I wanted a simple, zero cost, dead accurate (pun intended) method and I were stupid, I'd short one end and hook lotsa volts across the other end and flex the cable until it exploded at the break. If you use a stun-gun, you'll probably be able to hear the arc, but it won't be nearly as exciting as an explosion and fire...but having a couple a hundred thousand volts up near your ear could have exciting consequences and make a wet spot on the floor where you collapse.
The PIN is sensible.
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Don't prick your finger!
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I measure the capacitance of the cable using the C function of my VOM. Measure from each end. Add these two together to get the total capacitance of the cable. Smallest cap value will indicate the short side largest the longest. percent of total capacitance will correspond directly to to percent of total length of the cable.
Now you know everything you need to know to locate the break. Breaks immediately at either end (the usual case) will be very obvious.
Jimmie
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