Working with 220V devices

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One Simple Rule

As a general rule you are NOT allowed to use any MDD facilities to work on projects involving 220V AC power. This is the kind of electricity that you get from a standard wall socket, unlike the 5V or 3.3V used by Arduino-like electronics, which is mostly harmless, the 220V of AC current from a wall socket can be the source of extremely painful experiences and even death. Death by electrocution is terrible and we prefer it when our students stay alive.

Mr. ElectroBOOM is a professional and shouldn't be imitated. Most other humans would simply die, but all of this could happen to you if you work with 220VAC without proper safety measures.


There's probably an alternative running on 12V for pretty much anything you imagine you might need in 220V instead. Boats, camper vans running on solar and cars all run on 12V batteries, so you can find all kinds of things running on 12VDC, powerful batteries, water filters, water pumps, lights, relays, microwaves, electric stoves, tea pots, and a long etc. So if you think that your project needs a water pump consider getting a used one for a car running on 12VDC, instead of an aquarium pump meant for home use that runs on 220VAC.


In stagecraft, at places like theatres, festivals, clubs, etc, where tons of equipment requires 220VAC, the safest and most common way of working with these devices is using DMX dimmers. A dimmer allows you to switch on and off as well as dim devices running on 220VAC. It's the kind of thing that is used in theatre lights. Dimmers are normally safe to use, fire-resistant, some are even water-splash resistant to work in outdoor festivals.

If you find yourself involved in a project that requires switching heavy-duty electrical devices on and off, a DMX dimmer is the way to go. It's clean, safe, works on any standard wall socket and doesn't involve peeling cables.

You should be able to find a DMX dimmer and a USB to DMX converter in the lab's equipment cabinet, ask the lab manager.

Getting started with the DMX dimmer