Did you know that if you stick a pencil into a power cable, you can start a fire?

Well, now you do.

My blackberry charger got bent. Rather than shell out the $8 for a new one, I decided I could fix it myself. I didn’t unplug it; instead, I just stuck a pencil into the bent end to straighten it.

Snap! goes the pencil lead.
Smoke! goes the charger.
There is a power surge in the USB port! goes the computer.
Yikes! goes the Campion.

So, kids, what have we learned?

$8 is a small price to pay to prevent forest fires. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, we have learned that if something is broke, don’t ask Campion to fix it.

There’s an old practical joke amongst electronic techs involving graphite pencils, variacs, and such, but I’m afraid that if I tell you how we pranked one another, I’ll get a slapdown.

Now you know that graphite is a conductor. Somewhat resistive (and actually the primary component in most resistors) but still conductive.

I remember making a variac in electronics school using pencil and paper. Very effective if unpractical.

Huh. So if I’d used a pen instead of a pencil, I might not be on my way to the office supply store to get a new charger cable?

The nib may be plastic instead of metal, but I believe that ink is conductive.

Yeah. Next time, use a paper clip like you’re supposed to. :smiley:
But disconnect the cable first.

I remember in high school physics, our prof taught us how to make an arc welder out of a pencil. He said we could use the info the escape from prison. All we needed was something that plugs in and a pencil, and you might be able to weld through the bars.