Is your "Watkins Copicat" safe to use?

Safety advice, originality or good sense.

This page is purely to advise you of the possible dangers of continuing to us an old Copicat fitted with a two core power lead.  As a private owner or collector you are under no obligation to change it or to stop using it.  For use in a public place it must comply with electrical safety regulations, therefore should be upgraded.  As a repairer I am duty bound to return anything I service or repair in a safe condition which in the case of a Copicat would be to fit an earth bonded power lead.  I will refuse to repair any machine should the owner not agree to this extra work being done.  If requested, I am happy to return the original lead which you can refit at your own risk should you be stupid enough to want to do so.  Things have moved on because people have been killed by dodgy electrical devices. 

You wouldn't still use your Grandmother's 1940's electric fire plugged into a light socket, would you ?   Or would you?????????

H.S.E. Requirement for the U. K.

A health & safety requirement to bring your Copicat up to the current electrical regulations, ensuring it will pass a P.A.T test (portable appliance test) required by law for use of electrical equipment in public places. Including pubs, dance halls, clubs etc. Your old 2 core mains lead is not safe for continued use. I have a legal obligation to replace the 2 core mains lead on any Copicat sent to me for service or repair, even if for domestic use only. I have a set charge of £32.50 inc. labour, materials, and a small mod to eliminate hum which might occur from fitting an earth lead. This should be taken in to account if a unit is sent to me for repair. If you do not agree with this requirement, I will not repair the Copicat. Should you or a member of your family be killed or injured as a result of continued use with a 2 core lead, it would be my head on the block.

A small price to pay for the safety of yourself, your friends and your family.

USA and other parts of the world operating at 110 - 120 volts, the electrical regulations may well be different, you would need to consult a qualified electrical engineer for other countries.

Just to explain, Copicats were made during the dark ages, with a 2 core mains lead to avoid hum from what is commonly known as a ground loop. I won't go into great detail about ground loop hum, but basically it is an induced hum that may occur when an amplifier is used in conjunction with another amplifier or piece of electrical equipment such as a Copicat, that is connected to the same power supply. The chassis of both, are connected together via the screen of the signal lead from Cat to amp, the two chassis have an earth wire which goes to the 3 core mains lead and finally to the wall socket, thus forming a loop or ring. In a fault situation, should either chassis become live, the earth lead will conduct the live potential to ground instantly blowing the plug fuse or throwing a trip switch. You survive to tell the tale.

Under ideal conditions, the earth wires would be at a zero volts potential.  The problem is, that under normal conditions there can be a very small residual current flowing through the earth wires between the amps and wall sockets, the earth wires carry this out of harms way. But because they are carrying a very small current the earth wires are not at zero volts along their entire length, only at the plug's earth pin end. Wires carrying current create a magnetic field around them, our circle of wire has become an induction loop. If we break the loop the hum goes away. Hence a 2 core lead was fitted to all Copicat's. The theory being that the Copicat will earth its self via the screen of the signal lead from Copicat to amp.  Fine, if the signal lead, jack plug and amplifier input socket, mains lead and 3 pin plug are all properly connected and are all in good sound condition. Far too many if's to be safe.

What if the Copicat developed a serious fault? It is relying entirely on all the factors in the previous sentence being one hundred percent perfect. But, the screen of the signal lead is not designed to carry the current of a full blown short circuit and may well light up like an electric fire. The chassis, face plate and all exposed metal work of the Copicat would become live at mains potential, as would you, your guitar, microphone or anything else that might be plugged in to it.

Further more there is nothing whatever to stop you from turning on the Copicat without it being plugged in to an earthed amplifier. It could even be used with a mini battery operated practice amp or even headphones, all without an earth.

Though I have never heard of anyone actually having been electrocuted by a faulty Copicat, the accident IS there waiting to happen, don't let it happen to you, get that mains lead replaced right now.

Should you experience hum after the fitting of a 3 core mains lead, don't disconnect the Copicat earth lead or you will be back where you started. You will need a small signal lead isolating transformer, a bit like a DI box available at  £18 from Orchid Electronics  Click Products, then click Transformer Isolator.

All three core lead conversions fitted by Amp-Fix, now include a circuit ground lift modification, which in most cases fully eliminates the hum problem, whilst meeting all safety requirements.

Modern equipment with a 2 core mains lead and bearing the DOUBLE INSULATED symbol, of a square within a square is perfectly safe, and complies with current electrical safety regulations.

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