SoloreceptacleOn page 112 of MAKE Volume 05 (“How to Build a Power Tap”), we ran an illustration that could cause some confusion as well as a tripped circuit breaker. The illustration does not match the instructions (which are correct). The illustration shows a dual plug receptacle, which, when wired improperly, can cause a short circuit. If you attach the wires from the extension cord to the screws on the same side of the receptacle, it will create a short circuit. Don’t do that. Instead, follow the instructions and attach a wire to “each side of the electrical outlet.”


It’s better to use a single plug receptacle, not a dual-plug receptacle, because there aren’t as many terminal screws, making it less likely that you’ll make a mistake with the wiring. If you use a single plug receptacle, steer clear of the green ground screw, and follow the wiring instructions provided by the receptacle manufacturer, you should be in good shape.

Please refer to the illustration shown here when making the power tap.

(Note: do not plug anything into the receptacle that requires more than about 200 watts.)

Thanks to Paul L. Howard for being the first to point this out. We’re sending him a copy of our book, Makers : All Kinds of People Making Amazing Things In Their Backyard, Basement or Garage.

12 thoughts on “HOW TO – Build a Power Tap: updated…

  1. I think that’s just the normal hard disk enclosure, except the rails that normally mount to the hard disk have been removed. A big cdrom would normally fit that space, but when you have a hard drive you typically use the rails… or in this case, you use elastic strap. :)

  2. The Drives appear to be early (40gb ?) Seagate Barracudas. These had a blue foam bit between the drive and the PCB, and then a plate over the PCB.

    I don’t believe they have been modified in any way. They are just normal drives.

  3. bachterman/sean,

    Thanks for the catch! This wasn’t stolen, only a cool article I intended to link to but borked the link. It happens sometimes.

  4. “Looks a lot like you stole the idea to me.”
    Now I stole your comment too! Muahahahaha.

    Seriously guys, follow the link at the bottom of the article. It’ll take you to the source, which has a lot of useful information beyond the excerpt I quoted.

    I take author attribution seriously and I always include a link to the source for anything that’s posted here. That’s why I post it – it’s something interesting that I want you all to go look at. Simple as that.

    Occasionally, due to a typo or a random goof-up, a mistake is made. Soon after, someone informs me. Then, I fix it. I think this has happened about 3 times in the last year, which is about a 0.8% failure rate.

    It sucks, but I’m human.

    Let’s get back to hacking.


  5. Do NOT use this to silence your computer, unless you’re willing to loose your hard drives really soon.

    As the drives are not attached to anything “solid” they start to vibrate causing the drives heads to touch the platters, scratching the surface.

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