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A thread for discussing the science behind power cables and their potential influence on amplifiers

Discussion in 'audio' started by Whaleblue, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    I get the point about fog but a patent does not have to pierce the fog in that way.

    And the patent explains "Each of the first and second conductive strips may be rolled into a cylindrical shape, but they cannot be rolled together. This would create a type of capacitor and would undermine the proper operation of the apparatus." so a capacitor between L and N would seem to not be the way to get the "squeezed electrons" in whatever (mysterious) way the invention is meant to operate and indeed would impede the purported operation

    By eliminating ways the invention cannot work, assuming the drafting is accurate, I have some foggy but inexplicable ideas about how it might work. It seems to need some "dynamic" accumulation of electrons on one of the conductive strips (and presumably a deficit on the other conductive strip - hence the resistor) at just the right moment for these electrons to come to the rescue when the bridge rectifier starts to conduct. I cannot yet see a mechanism.
  2. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Yes, in practice "fog" seems to be de-rig in modern patents. Baloney Baffles Brains. :)

    However so far as I can see, it works on the basis of actually operating as a capacitor, despite their arguments to the contrary. Assuming, of course that it *does* work as they claim.

    My impression is that they assume a 'capacitor' means something like a pair of locally parallel plates, be they flat, rolled up, or stack-interleaved. But two randomly shaped and aligned conducting objects connected either side of a p.d. also acts as capacitor. One could be the shape and size of an elephant, the other of a duck. But if you connect them to a p.d. and waggle that, you will find that the arrangement has capacitance. i.e. it will store a charge proportional to the applied p.d. Changing the p.d. requires shifting the charges.

    Adding another connection at the other ends of the duck and elephant would mean some inductance/resistance on the 'other side' of the cap. Given we are quasi-static at LF the result is a capacitance shunted by an inductance and resistance in series. That's my first guess, anyway.

    Just a question of what the actual values may be. In seems inherent in the claim that it is a charge reservoir that it ends up having to be one. The relationship between charge storage and p.d. is the basis of capacitance and capacitors.

    I'll find the rough notes I made when reading and add them to the thread.
  3. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    OK, here are the notes: Provisional. More study needed... ( 8-] )

    pp2 [0018] Inductors do not "store" "reserve charge". I presume that was written by a lawyer, not an engineer or physicist!

    [0019] This apparently plays word-games with the term "capacitor". In order to insert or remove charge a current flow is required from one part to another. There will be an e-field between these parts and the device will have a capacitance.

    [0020] Apparently plays word games with "close proximity". Moving the conduction parts away from each other may reduce capacitance, but doesn't mean it is zero. Ditto for arrangements like edge-on. If one "strip" has excess electrons (-ve charge), where did they come from? If not from the other plate, why is it needed? If from the other plate that will have a corresponding lack (+ve charge) even if being held at zero potential unless they've been supplied anyway by its mains connection. This relates to the e-field between them, as in more common forms of capacitor.

    If the strips are far apart (and edge-on) the capacitance will be relatively low, so any storage of charge for a given p.d. will be much less that if you simply used a normal capacitor. i.e. a normal capacitor arrangement might do the job required more effectively. (But, of course, not be patentable.) It might also be less likely to act as a pickup antenna.

    If you make 'swiss rolls' of each plate and attach a connection between their 'ends' away from the mains connections there will be some inductance in the paths 'along' each plate to the other. Hence I'd expect a shunt inductance+resistance from the arrangement which seems to be described.

    To know more we'd need to examine the item and carry out the simple step of measuring the structure's impedance across the relevant range. It is small enough to act as a lumped element at mains frequencies and its harmonics. Over the range up to tens of kHz I'd hope this would be a simple measurement if the device can hold enough charge to make a real difference to mains
    ripple effects.

    [0022] I wonder if "requires further study" here is a synonym for "we don't really know what we are talking about".

    Has anyone measured the actual impedance of one of these interossitors?

    Overall, I'm happy to accept that the device 'works' in the sense that it can store and
    release some charge to help keep down the effects of ripple or RF garbage. But I
    suspect an appropiate shunt cap would do much the same job. I'll do some more
    puzzling, though. Would be good to measure one. That would help to resolve the
    puzzles when trying to make sense of the patent description.

    BTW This all seems to be about a lumped-element device, not their cable.
  4. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    I agree in that I read the patent and then could find nothing in his 'products' that matched the patent.

    That, in itself, is not unusual. Many patents do not actually look very much alike the products that the company makes. Often stuff is published and sometimes gets granted just to get information into public domain to STOP anyone else trying to patent the idea.

    The real deal is -
    a) does it get granted... this can be tortuous
    b) was there any opposition to the granting - challenge from others
    c) the most important - if it is granted, does it continue to remain in force with renewal fees paid every year (the fees get bigger as it gets older)
    d) additionally - does the patent get extended to other countries (this does get expensive and it has to be 'worth' it
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    One hypothesis for construction:
    • A live lead insulated from a surrounding "swiss roll" copper conductive strip electrically connected to the equipment end of the live lead and insulated overall
    • A neutral lead constructed as per the live lead.
    • A normal insulated earth lead (possibly).
    • These leads inside an insulating sheath with the live and neutral conductive strips connected at the mains end via the resistor, making a rather thick mains lead, with an IEC connector at the equipment end and a mains plug at the mains end.
    That would look like a Shunyata product, I think.

    Note that the "optimum" amount of copper in a conductive strip is 10 foot by 9 inches by 1 to 6 mm according to the patent (many kg). But it also says much a smaller CS works. A 1.5 metre mains cable as above with live and neutral leads surrounded by a swiss roll of 75 mm by 1 mm of copper strip would add 2 kg of copper to the weight of a standard mains lead. A heavy mains lead but not impossible, I think.
  6. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    Anyone can write and submit a patent. The product doesn't have to work as claimed to be granted, it just has to pass through the process without its function being disproved. There's loads of bullshit patents for meaningless products using invented science.
  7. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    Yup - most patents if you read from the beginning is a list of patents included with commentary on why they do NOT work, hence the author has toiled and toiled and invented the following that does work.... bla bla.

    I always read patents from the back first. The 'claims' are the only bit that are being requested to have protection. All the rest of the patent is some general guff and if you are lucky a pile of detail showing experiments that do work against reference ones that do not.
  8. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Yes. One key point perhaps is that you'd not get a patent for using a capacitor in this situation. But you can for a swiss-roll-a-tron. :)

    One of the minor quirks of my personal history was that I was offerred a job as a UK patent examiner. I accepted the job, but then turned it down when Armstrong offerred me a job and I preferred that. I can now only wonder just how mad I'd be by now if I had to read a flow of applications like some of the patents I've read since! 8-]

    The other point is the rise in the way patents disclose something which *doesn't* provide *all* the details needed to replicate precisely the 'invention' as actually built and used. That could be true here. The aim being to get the benefits of the patent whilst keeping key info secret for when the patent lapses or for places where it doesn't provide cover.

    "Claim all, tell nothing" being the aim to get as close to as possible whilst still getting a coconut. But in other cases it can be because the applicants have no real clue what aspect of what they are doing is the significant bit. Hard to tell with many patents.
  9. adamdea

    adamdea pfm Member

    Being honest, that's unlikely to be the issue with the Shunyata patent is it? I think they are safe from the risk of the market being flooded with competitors when the patent expires, and significant bit?
  10. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Not quite sure which part of what you quoted you're referring to.

    I doubt the market will be flooded with swiss-roll-a-trons once the patent lapses, unless perhaps they have gone on being popular with buyers. An engineer would tend to suggest a boring old capacitor or a filter. But a manufactuer or vendor may go for what sells. :)

    What I can't tell is if there is something about what Shunyata do which isn't clear from the patent. However there, my point is that if the patent doesn't describe this so someone "skilled in the relevant arts" can replicate it, then the patent proably doesn't protect it, either.

    Bottom line for me is: has anyone else ever simply measured the impedance of the device as a function of frequency and published the results? That would probably tell us more.
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    I think there is at least one fairly clear interpretation of how to construct a mains lead from the patent, consistent with both the claims and the preferred embodiment. I outlined that earlier (even though the mains lead would be very stiff and you might have to take advantage of the "foil" option for the conductive strips (as per the claims) to make a real product.

    However I still don't know how a swiss-roll-o-tron actually works. But it isn't the job of a patent to teach a reader to be skilled in the art.

    And some quick calculations suggests to me that the mains lead may not be the limiting factor in getting enough charge into a reservoir capacitor in a very power hungry (e.g. 100W class A) audio power amplifier, even if it uses a fairly ordinary but thick enough piece of mains cable.

    So also I currently cannot see what problem such a swiss-roll-o-tron would solve that a good quality mains lead would not.
  12. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Yes, the patent only needs to ensure someone can replicate (i.e. build their own version that behaves in the same way as) the invention. Doesn't ensure this is, in engineering terms, worth bothering with, though. :)

    The cables are, to me, a different issue. Having bucketloads of capacitance per metre would tend to drop the inductance per metre. No need for a swiss-roll-a-tron lumped device. But then possibly not patentable. Different issue, though, from my POV.

    One implication, though, is that if the reservoir cap is charged up more quickly, then you may have shorter more peaky current bursts. So any worry about voltage glitches causing problems might simply be replaced by risking having the current bursts induce problems. Fix one problem but perhaps leads (pun) to another. :)
  13. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    FWIW Here a Armstrong 700 series power amp takes a huge bite out of the mains cycle when switched on. Used to cause our old CRT TV to roll a frame. Still makes the lights around the house flicker. Product of the transformer having low resistance and a high current ability and some low ESR caps, I assume. But our mains supply may have higher than usual series resistance.
  14. adamdea

    adamdea pfm Member

    What if (shock horror) there is nothing to protect, no innovation, nothing at all and the purpose of the exercise was to look like Shunyata were doing something sciencey. Like graphs on cable websites.
  15. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    I have to accept that I'm not a telepath, so I can't be sure what is in their minds when they write their patents or publicity material. Given that this thread is meant to be about the 'science' (cod, or muddled, or whatever), that's what I can focus on and comment about.

    I doubt there is much advantage in the swiss-roll-a-tron over a boring old capacitor. But I've never seen one, let alone had a chance to measure one. The science in the patent looks questionably to me because it seems a case of claiming "walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but it is NOT a duck". However to know more I'd have to have or make one and measure its properties as a shunt device.

    Similarly, the patent says little about their cables, so that is a distinct issue.

    I'm happy to accept they believe what they write/say about their products. They might be wrong, or their understanding muddled. Yet be working in good faith and intent. But again, to know more...

    Maybe I can make a device of my own and test it. Although ideally, I'd need the 'real deal' to ensure any test results are appropriate, simply a similar item should give some clue.
    adamdea likes this.
  16. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

  17. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    Bill Whitlock, the President of Jensen Transformers, has long provided comprehensive well thought-out tutorials about signals and grounding. For example (a fairly short version) at http://www.bennettprescott.com/downloads/grounding_tutorial.pdf.

    The problem happens when you share a single wire for connecting signal ground, shield and safety ground. Mains ground current interacts with the resistance of the screen connection to insert mains interference directly into the signal. It's not difficult to show 30 dB or more reduction in signal to noise ratio.

    Good equipment/system design is not cavalier about interconnecting the different grounds.

    But if you have to share signal ground with safety ground on a cable shield, with an unbalanced coaxial RCA cable, then to mitigate the problems you must have a very low resistance screen. Nothing exotic, but reject any cable that has a metallised mylar screen plus drain wire. It has far too high a resistance. Instead get a coaxial RCA cable with a heavy low-resistance braided copper screen. Better is a pseudo-balanced RCA interconnect or better still a balanced interconnect.
  18. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

    Hi John,

    Yes I've read Bill's papers before...but they always turn into an ad for transformers :(

    I found ilimzn's explanation easier to understand and talies well with my own experiences.
  19. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    I've just installed one of these in my system, capable of removing 3-4volts of DC from the incoming mains, this makes a big difference in my system, though my ESL's are essentially driven by transformers. No snake oil just science.


    My DAC now sounds as good as my turntable sounded yesterday, I'm looking forward to the same improvement in my analogue replay.

    Cost ? the same as as a decent mains plug and IEC connector.
    My time was free though :).

    Science matters, foo is for those those who like to pay for sales patter.

    Think of DC on your mains as distortion. Which goes into your amplifier and is then amplified/multiplied.

    Fine if you like listening to AC/DC :eek:o_O:)
  20. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    No offence intended but I'm surprised at the :(. The Bill Whitlock grounding tutorials do go into transformers at the right point and I am not surprised given his position. But the role of transformers is not unduly emphasized and the papers are vastly informative. And the advantage about these tutorials is that you discover how to deal with the problem which a one-page post does not deal with.

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