Corresponding To Electric Ambivalence

With the panel switch in the on position (within the electrical panel in the basement), and the wiring laced up to the outlet, everything seemed to be in place. And even though the Brother’s power cord was only utilizing three out of the four wires – there was still power coming through to the machine. Except it would very quickly cause a short in the Brother’s power switch, this caused a little bit of smoke, but was otherwise an achievement. If you tried to immediately restart the machine it wouldn’t flinch at all, but if you let it sit for a few minutes so the switch could cool off, then it would turn on again – only to short out and smoke again. All in all when the switch was hit – you could hear the motor hum. Although strangely enough the motor on the Brother DB2-B791-015 is a servo motor and supposedly all servo motors run silently until the electric clutch mechanism is engaged to power the motor/and belt.

One thing that was obvious, was that there was one wire from the Brother’s power cord not being utilized (the white). What had not come to light was the fact that there were only three wires from the electrical panel coming through the outlet(?). After scouring many hardware stores and other retail establishments, it became clear that there was no such thing as a 2-pole – 4-wire male outlet (please interject if otherwise). This of course was a frustrating turn of events. After looking at the 4 wires and trying to figure out where they would go for many many hours, the solution only grew more and more abstract. Until the solution came. Obviously there needed to be a fourth wire running from the el electrical panel, this could ensure a 4-wire-to-4-wire connection regardless of poles, or volts, or whatever else. The fourth wire would be a neautral, so about 30 feet of neautral, or ground wire was purchased and pushed through the conduit. This wire was grounded in the electrical box. In every electrical box you will see a 7″ long aluminum piece of bar-stock that has entry points for ground wires, all of which can be used at any time, the other end of this component has a lead that runs into some kind of super-ground in the floor or outside somewhere (maybe the worlds largest piece of rubber?). With the fourth wire installed there was no longer a place to attach it into the existing store bought female outlet (that the electrician installed). And because there was no male 2-pole/4-wire socket it was clear that the machine had to be “hard” wired* into the electrical box. So the outlet and the socket were thrown out and all eight wires were strung up – red to red – green to green – white to white – and black to black. No discrimination here.

Somehow during this time a new question was brought to light. The issue of how many phases the motor was. Remembering that there was a note on the motor placard which claimed the number of phases as three, it seemed fuzzy why that was not recalled. At some point it was called to attention and a from there it was smooth sailing, kind of. The Brother DB2-B791-015’s Mitsubishi motor was in fact a three phase motor. And of course – of course – of course – 3phase power is not common. most homes, or small business buildings are only 1phase. Whereas 3phase is something used in large buildings, and high industry centers. The problem was the phases, not the poles, or the amps, or even the 220 volt outlet. Phases began to control the Brothers life in a way never imagined.

*An example of something that it hard wired, would be a ceiling fan taking place of an existing light fixture. When you install a ceiling fan you have to open up what is called the “J” Box (the “J” stands for Junction) which is under (in this case above) the existing light fixture you already have. The “J” Box is mounted in the ceiling and does two things. It first provides a place for the wires to live within so that any loose connections – if they throw a spark – keep that current away from insulation or building materials which may be flammable. Second, the “J” Box provides a standard place for screwing fasteners into to hang the light fixture or ceiling fan from. The “J” Box is sunk into the physical hole in the ceiling from above so it acts as an inverted anchor. Back to taking that appart, once you have the wires in front of you coming out of the “J” Box, you have to wind them together with the corresponding wires from the ceiling fan unit. This is what hard wiring is – making a permanent connection between wires – rather than an outlet which is similar to wiring something because it can harness that electrical current, but is not permanent. Of course when you hard wire something, be sure that the electrical switch on the panel withing the electrical box is in the OFF position.


When the Electrician came it was certainly a learning experience. One thing was for sure, and that was the fact that there was no need for an electrician. Only the most un-handy people should call to have an outlet installed. Essentially there was conduit* run along the ceiling in the basement of the building, in order to give the wire an osha approved route to the new 220 volt outlet that would reside about 25 linear feet away from the circuit box. Laying out the conduit was an easy task, sometimes a bend needed to made in the conduit, or a clip needed to be screwed into the ceiling – but overall it is a very simple and extremely basic task, imagine routing a water hose around a few corners and nailing it to your ceiling. After he routed the conduit, then the three wires were pulled through, this again is only a matter of pushing the (very rigid) wires through the newly secured conduit route. There were three wires to begin with, a positive (red), a negative(black), and a neutral(green). These wires – once pushed through were then fastened (hard-wired?) into the circuitry of the units electrical panel, which consisted of making sure the switch was in the OFF position, and then putting the red to one of the contacts, the black to the other contact and the green to the grounding area, which is a separate area that looks like an aluminum strip with many holes drilled into it – opposite the actual black panel of switches. Again, this was what was thought to be the dangerous part that would decide fate, but as long as you make sure your switch is in the OFF position there is nothing to worry about.

So the wiring is in place in the electrical panel, the conduit is up, the three wires are through the conduit and coming up to the new outlet. While the circuit switch is still in the OFF position complete the outlets wiring, which is surprisingly self-explanatory. However where it gets confusing is that the wire (cable, it’s a very large set of wires – four of them) coming off and out of the actual motor had four wires.

[Apparently there are many different configurations of outlets – male and female. Obviously most all of them (all of them really) consist of a positive wire and a negative wire (red and black commonly), and from there, possibly a ground, and maybe a neutral. So you could have a 2-wire plug (pos & neg only), a 3-wire plug (pos + neg & ground), or a 4 wire plug (pos + neg + ground & neutral). Also, the ground and neutral are seemingly the same thing, or at least serve a similar purpose.]

The Brother DB2-B791-015 has (had) a 4-wire (2-pole) connection for the outlet wiring. Therefore it had a red, black, green, and white wire underneath it’s sheath. The red equals positive, the black equals negative, the green equals ground, and the white equals neutral. This was simple in theory except for the fact that a 4-wire male plug was almost inexistent. No hardware store or larger home improvement center had such a thing. Online there were supposed 4-wire male outlets, but they were not of the 2-pole type. Introducing the next question, apparently the poles are part of the 2, 3, 4, wiring question. So while it was possible to find a 4-wire – 3-pole male outlet plug, there was no such thing as a 4-wire – 2-pole male outlet plug. From this experience it is assumed that the 4-wire – 2-pole male outlet plug is an outdated, or outmoded system. This may be due to the difference between 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and whether or not 220 volt outlets were the common thing when this particular motor was considered the most latest of servo motor technology. All of this of course is a complete mystery and any questions are usually three part questions. The answers to these questions are few and far between.

*Conduit – According to code, conduit can be galvanized steel pipe or plastic pipe. Metal conduit comes in three types: rigid (often preferred for outdoor use), intermediate, and electrical metal tubing (EMT) – a newer type popular for house wiring. Standard conduit diameters are 1/2 3/4″ 1″ and 1-1/4″. There are fittings to join conduit for straight runs and at 45-degree angles. The material is bent with a tool called a hickey. This excerpt was taken from,

(Komic) Relief

In an effort to provide some relief of the presser foot mishap, perhaps it is a good time to recap the original Brother DB2-B791-015 dilemma, which spurred the weblog in the first place. What prompted this all in the first place is/was the motor. The Brother was purchased with a Mitsubishi Limi-StopZ servo motor, that after many tribulations had to be replaced. You can see it here in all it’s glory. To really flush the story out, it is necessary to begin at the first obstacle of the Mitsubishi motor, the fact that it is a 220 volt appliance. The placard on the motor clearly says this and it was no surprise at the time of the purchase, however it was a misleading issue.

After having the Brother in the house for a few weeks, and pouring over information on how to install a 220 volt outlet, it was decided that hiring an electrician was the safest thing to do. The first reason was obvious, no one wanted to be electrocuted in the process of wiring it. As could be seen, the job would be a matter of first figuring out where in the living quarters the Brother would reside. Clearly this was a big question because of where the electrical box was in relation to it, and how much conduit would need to be routed in order to supply power to it. Fortunately the living quarters are directly over the basement where the electrical box is located, this would save the routing from interfering with any other people in the building. The closet that housed the furnace was a likely spot to drill through the floor and provide a place to have the outlet, which is why in this picture the Brother is on a different wall than in some of the early posts, it had to be close to this closet for access to the conduit coming in from the basement so it would not be aesthetically obtrusive anywhere else. Plus the wall space was free. So after relocating the machine (with the casters this is a simple task), the electrician came in to complete the wiring.