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DIY Distro Box


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#1 Andrew Redd

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 03:58 PM

Im trying to find detailed instructions on how to build my own Distro Box with a list of materials needed to complete the job. Can anybody help?

Thanks,

Andrew Redd
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#2 Shawn Murphy

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 04:16 PM

Here's an interesting thread I just read that might help point you in the right direction, as it has a fair amount of discussion on distro boxes (not explicit diagrams though, and probably for legal reasons), but it might help you assess the 'build, buy, or rent' situation:

http://www.cinematog...topic=5842&st=0

http://www.dv.com/ne...view/morlan0505


~Shawn
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#3 Andrew Redd

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:44 PM

Are there any DP's or gaffers out there that have built their own Distro Boxes? I basically need a box that I can use on smaller budget location shoots where I can plug into a stove or dryer 240V plug so Im not limited to just the wall edison plugs.
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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 12:39 PM

I'm planning on building one as well.

Here's another thread with some worthwhile info (toward bottom of p 1 and onto p 2):
http://www.cinematog...showtopic=11517
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 12:50 PM

I know a few guys who have taken a breaker box panel bought at Home Depot and wired it for this use. If you don't know what you're doing then for heaven's sake don't do it. And understand as a home-brewwed non UL-listed electrical item, if there were ever a failure that resulted in an insurance claim (for property or personal damage) the claim could be denied because of the use of such a device.
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#6 Andrew Redd

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 01:17 PM

Mitch I understand and I appreciate the warning. I wouldn't build/use it if I had any doubt in it's construction. That's why I started this post to begin with so that I can hear expert advise and suggestions from all of you, my peers on the proper way to go about making one. Thanks again.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 01:22 PM

Hey Andy,

We can't tell you how to do this on the public forums. It is way too much liability. The moderator would have to nix the posts. However, if you'll use the email just below, I'll give you the low-down. Put "Distro" in the subject line so you don't get dumped with the spam.
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#8 WLphoto

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 02:32 PM

I get what you are trying to do. Tap into the 220 stove or dryer outlet and divide it into two 110 lines.

Another post voiced concern about overloading the shared neutral. That is incorrect. The two legs of the power are on different phases and the shared neutral will be fine if you keep the load balanced. When you build the distro, arrange your outlets in two banks, one for each 110 volt leg. When you plug in your lights, try to distribute the load more or less evenly between the two banks.

Bear in mind that the dryer circuit will be designed for 30 amps while the stove circuit is designed for 50 amps. You will have to remember these limits. "Today I am on a dryer circuit. I can only put 30 amps on each 'leg'." Maybe write it on the distro as a reminder for the less technically inclined?

One more idea: Since recent code changes have changed 220 appliances from 3 pin to 4 pin design, it might be hard to buy one pigtail for your distro that fits every house. Newer houses will have 4 pin plugs while older ones will have 3, etc. Stove 4 pin doesn't fit dryer 4 pin, etc. If you are comfortable working inside an electrical panel you could avoid buying extra pigtails by building your dispro with a plain cable (3 wire #6 gauge with ground = big enough for 50 amps) . You could open the panel, turn off the breaker for the stove, disconnect the wires for the stove from the breaker, and then wire your distro into the stove's breaker. (Of course you would connect all 4 wires. Two hots to the breaker, white and ground to the neutral bar.) Then you would turn on the breaker to power your distro. The obvious disadvantage is that panel work is intimidating and you have to remember to replace the original stove hot wires at the end of the day. One benefit is your distro circuits would be more reliably grounded than if you had just plugged into an old three prong 220 outlet. It would save moving the stove, too.

Final Caution: If all this sounds like Greek, please get help from somebody who understands household electricity.

W.C.
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#9 Andrew Redd

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 08:48 PM

Thank you for the advice. I think taking apart someone's stove or dryer in order to hard wire it to my distro box might cause some alarm in the location owner's sense of ease. While I agree that is a much more secure way to properly tie into the existing power, I think the odds of shooting at that location ever again might be slim to none unless the property owner fully understands the situation and procedure. The school of thought I was trained in is to always leave a location better than it looked before you arrived. Messing with someone's appliances might make them a little uncomfortable.
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#10 Tim Tyler

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 09:44 PM

I wouldn't build/use it if I had any doubt in it's construction.


If you were without doubt, you would not need to look for answers in this forum.

You really should NOT attempt to do this.

Hire an electrician. And tell the electrician he shouldn't try to shoot/gaff a movie without hiring you ;)
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#11 Steve Zimmerman

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 11:03 PM

I was also interested in the possiblility of using a 240v dryer plug to power a 2.5K HMI

Could I use this 3000 Watt Step Down Transformer (see link)? I have access to 60amp bates 3-prong to edison plug adapters (which I would plug into the trasformer), we usually use them to power 2K lights. Would this work for 2.5K?

http://cgi.ebay.com/...oQQcmdZViewItem

Edited by Steve Zimmerman, 04 February 2006 - 11:06 PM.

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#12 Keith Blankenship

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:30 PM

Like Mitch, I've taken a 200a breaker box and had a machine shop add wireways to each side and mounted the receptacles. It worked fine and never had any problems. One side (leg) for sound and the other for lights to eliminate any RFI from old/cheap dimmers. ;)

As to the 2.5k HMI, the answer really depends on the voltage and phase requirements of the fixture. If 2.5K @ 120v then you could you could actually run 1 from each "leg" (2 fixtures). Figuring 2800 watts (2500 + 300 for the ballast)/120 volts would be 23.333 amps. Given 240V, 3wire (2H/1N) 30amp dryer plug, you could run 2 fixtures - without the transformers. Depends on the fixture power requirements.

Instead of getting a transformer, you could always get a multi-tap ballast (if not already installed) and re-wire for whatever voltage you will be using.
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#13 WLphoto

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 06:36 PM

regarding the 220/110 converter on ebay
http://cgi.ebay.com/...oQQcmdZViewItem


This item has a pigtail to plug which would fit European style 220v outlets.

You would still need to replace the pigtail or create some adapters to go between this item and the US kitchen stove outlet, dry outlet, etc.
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