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Jan 14 2007
By: RUSirius Uncharted Territory 1444 posts
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Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

384 replies 5383 views Edited Jan 14, 2007
Okay, since I've seen this question come up a lot, I figured I'd post an explaination on this one just as I did with the "which HDMI cable is best" issue.
 
If you've seen my other post, I'm a broadcast engineer with an EE (electrical engineering) degree.  So yes, I feel I'm qualified to answer this question.
 
So here's the scenario...
 
You've just got your PS3 home.  You unbox it, hook it all up, and turn it on.  You notice right away that something is wrong.  There are horizontal bars rolling through your picture.  They might be rolling fast, or almost at a stand still.  They may just be dark bands, they may have a hue of color to them, they may be small or big.  If you have your speakers hooked up via the stereo jacks, you might also have a buzzing noise in your speakers.  What's worse, is even when your not looking at the PS3, maybe your watching a DVD or TV, the problem might STILL be there.  You might also notice that running certain appliances might make the problem worse (i.e. the dryer, etc things with AC motors)
 
What you are experiencing is called a ground loop. 
 
Now if you want an explanation as to why this is happening, then read on.  If you just want to skip all that crap and get to what you have to do to fix it, then skip down to "Section 2"...
 
A ground loop is formed when a piece of equipment as more then two paths to ground.  The path between these points form a "loop" that actually works just like an antenna.  It picks up radiated signals and lead resistance converts them to a fluctuating voltage.  This adds to the fact that because there are two points of ground, there can be a potential difference between those points.  For example, if you have your TV and PS3 hooked up, the ground on the TV side may be +2 volts in reference to the earth ground, while the PS3 may be +5 volts in reference to earth ground.  This means there is +3 volts of potential between the PS3 and TV... So when you plug your video cable (wether it be composite, component, or HDMI) you get current flowing over the shields of the cable.
 
Now if you've read my explaination on HDMI cables, you probably know that this won't affect the digital signal and cause the problems your seeing.  Your right.  But in the digital realm it's not the effect this current has on the signal, but rather the effect on the internal electronics of the TV once it get's there. 
 
If your wondering why your DVD player, or other components don't have this problem, just take a look at their plugs.  Most manufactures of this type of equipment do NOT connect these devices to an electrical ground at the outlet.  They use a 2 prong plug and let the device "float" without a ground. 
 
The PS3 however uses a standard "HP Style" cord, which includes a ground connection.  Which is how we end up with two connections to ground.
 
Now I can here you now... "Nope! This isn't my problem cause my TV doesn't have a ground prong"...
 
Well, your right that it probably doesn't have a ground prong (most don't), but your wrong that it doesn't have a ground.  You know that coax cable that goes out to either your antenna or the cable company?  Either one of them will be grounded.  If it's an antenna it plugs into your TV and hence is another path to ground.  If it's the cable company it either plugs into your tv, or your cable box which in turn plugs into the TV and again is another path to ground.  So even though your TV may not be grounded directly, it does have a path to ground.
 
 
Section 2:
 
Okay, so you know what the problem is, how do you go about fixing it.  There are several solutions for that, but the bottom line is, you need to make sure your TV only has one path to ground, or that all grounds are at the exact same potential. 
 
1) You can unhook everything that has a path to ground (most likely just the cable or antenna connection(s)) whenever you want to use the PS3.  That's not very practical I know.
 
So the other option is to remove the path to ground the PS3 has, in other words, "float" it... This can be done several ways....
 
2) You can break the ground prong off the plug of the PS3.  If your concerned about keeping your cord in original condition you can get a spare computer cord and use that instead.
 
3) You can break the ground at an intermediate point.  In other words, get an old surge suppressor, extension cord, etc... Plug your PS3 into it, then break the ground prong off the other end and plug it in.
 
4) If you can isolate the problem to your cable connection (i.e. you unhook the coax and your problem goes away, then this could be resolved by using a surge supressor with a coax loop through.  Many of the ones designed for home theater use include these.  You'll need an extra jumper with F connectors (the normal coax connection for cable).  This will ground the cable to your household ground.  While this won't prevent the loop, it will drastically cut down on the potential differences.
 
5) You can also use an adaptor.  These are available at hardware stores, etc... Here is an example of one at RadioShaft.  You can break the small metal tap off of this and you'll have a nice adaptor you can use between your PS3 and the outlet to float it.
 
Now I can hear there screams out there already!  "That's not safe!!!"
 
There are two things to consider about that.  First, just like your DVD player or LOTS of other household electronics or appliances, it's not uncommon to have devices that float off the ground.  I'll go into more detail in a sec, but if you STILL feel unsafe, then consider this....
 
Your NOT really removing the ground from the PS3... REMEMBER that the whole reason you HAVE this problem is because your PS3 has MORE THEN ONE path to ground....  We are only eliminating ONE of those paths...
 
Okay, I've had a LOT of people in other posts make comments about how "safe" or "un-safe" this was to do... I've even seen some wild claims like "Ohh, the first time you get a surge it'll fry your PS3 etc..."  So in order to help people understand what EXACTLY the purpose of having a ground in the first place is, here's the details...
 
Your outlet's (at least newer ones) will have three "receivers" for the plug...  The top left is the "neutral", the top right is the "hot" and the bottom center is the "ground"...
 
Now here's some info for you...  The "neutral" and "ground" are the EXACT same thing... They are BOTH earth grounds... In fact, if you take the time to remove the panel from your breaker box you'll see a nice big strip in there where all the "neutrals" connect to... That big strip happens to also be DIRECTLY connected to the ground strip as well...
 
So why have three prongs if two are the same?  Here goes...
 
An alternating current needs something to "work against"... You can think of the current as "pushing and pulling" against a car...  If the car isn't there, your not pulling or pushing against anything and your not doing any work are you? 
 
AC current uses the EARTH GROUND to "push and pull" against... That's how it get's it's work done...
 
This is the purpose of the neutral wire... It gives the "hot" something to work against....
 
So what about the ground?  Why's it in there?
 
Well, simple.. First off... Take a look around your home. Notice that almost all the things that have three prongs have METAL cases?  Like your washer, dryer, refridgerator, etc....
 
Imagine this scenario...  Something goes horribly terribly wrong in your washer... Somehow the "hot" wire inside that feeds one of the motors falls off... It just happens to also make contact with the metal case of the washer... What happens???
 
NOTHING!!!!  That's right... Nothing at all (other then the washer doesn't work)... Why?  Because it still has nothing to "work against". But now you come in (wondering why the washer isn't working) and somehow manage to ground yourself while at the same time touching the metal case of the washer...
 
VIOLA!  Now the current has something to work against.... YOU!!!
 
THIS!  and THIS ALONE!!!  Is the reason some appliances (again mainly with metal cases) are grounded... Inside, that ground wire does NOTHING except to connect to the metal case itself... This way, if a hot wire falls off and contacts it, it has something to work against... and because there's little resistance, it trips the breaker.. .You know something is wrong, even if you reset it it does it again... And it's impossible for you to "get in the middle of it"...
 
The reason the PS3 has a ground prong is because it seems to have carried a lot of things over from it's "Personal Computer" cousin... Since most computers have metal cases, they also have a ground wire... Hence the PS3 got one as well... Why they didn't go the "AV Device" route, like your DVD player, etc.. I dunno... They should have, as it would have avoided a lot of these problems people have cropping up...
One last comment...  I've also see a lot of posts saying to get a UPS, or Surge supressor, etc. The only UPS that would solve this problem would be a very large industrial UPS.. These have big iron core transformers inside that create their OWN ground... Typical consumer UPS's do NOT do this, they just normal the ground through, so it will NOT solve the problem...  Surge supressors are the same, they normal the ground straight through as well... Hence, no problem solving...  You CAN buy some power conditioners that have isolated grounds... As long as it isolates the ground, then it should fix it... Otherwise, it's just as pointless as anything else...  The only fool proof method of fixing this is to eliminate the multiple paths to ground that exist.
 
Please note... I've seen a lot of posts on this board in reference to this where responsed have suggested getting a UPS to resolve the problem.  A UPS will NOT resolve this problem.  Since a UPS simply normals the ground through just like any other surge supressor or anything else, it will do nothing to solve this problem.
 
Last but not least, as with any of my posts, if you have any questions feel free to ask or PM me.



Message Edited by RUSirius on 01-14-2007 03:12 PM
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Splicer
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 8, 2006
I had this problem and solved it by plugging the PS3 into another outlet, on another wall.  I think it's on a different fuse or wiring -- no other combination of plugging in/unplugging things worked in that outlet, even all the way down to only plugging in the TV and PS3 directly into the wall.

Before attempting this risky surgery I'd recommend that people just try a different wall outlet first.
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First Son
Registered: 12/08/2006
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
I had this problem went and bought a 3 prong to 2 prong adapter at Radioshack and bam no more buzzing or lines.  Thanks for the great advice!
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Fender Bender
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
good advice, i was a little weary to read the post though because i though it was a PS3 bashing fest
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I Only Post Everything
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
very nice explanation should resolve alot peoples problems
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Sackboy
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
Yeah when i had my ps3 i had to get that adapter! thanks anyways
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Hekseville Citizen
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
Just plug your PS3 into a surge protector! The generally tend to isolate these grounding issues and allows additional protection.
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Uncharted Territory
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006


evergamer wrote:
Just plug your PS3 into a surge protector! The generally tend to isolate these grounding issues and allows additional protection.



Not so at all.  A surge supressor will do nothing to prevent or remedy a ground loop.  The ground in your surge suppressor gets connected straight through just like in a plain extension cord.  The only difference in a surge suppressor is that it has MOV's connected between the HOT and GROUND (and sometimes on NEUTRAL to GROUND as well)...
 
When the voltage on the line rises above whatever voltage the MOV's are rated for, they'll shunt that voltage to ground (often times destroying themselves in the process, but better them then your equipment).
 
But regardless, both BEFORE and AFTER a surge suppressor has "blown" the ground is connected straight through and untouched.
 
Now without being too much of an arse here, what was the point of your post?  If you read mine you should have known that I not only went to school to earn an electronics engineering degree, but also work as an engineer... I deal with electric / electronics every day of my life. 
 
You obviously have not experienced this problem yourself (since you think a surge suppressor would fix it), obviously have no training or expertise that makes you qualified to address this, and for that matter, do not even understand what is going on in that surge suppressor your so quick to recommend. 
 
So why post saying "Just do this"... when you have no knowledge to do so?
 
And I appoligize for jumping down your throat about this, but I get really tired of seeing all the posts like this on this board.  So many times I see people asking questions about things they don't understand, only to get told 20 different things by other people...
 
Not stating them as OPINIONS... but rather stating them as FACT, just as you did...  You chose not to say "Maybe" it would work, or "Wouldn't it work?", or even "I think" it would work... Rather you state it AS A FACT... "It will work"...
 
Anyway... Once again, for anyone experiencing this problem, while you should ALWAYS have your electronics equipment plugged into a surge supressor, it will not remedy this problem.  Further, because the surge suppressor does rely on the ground to work, make sure you don't use the surge suppressor itself as a way to break the loop (i.e. break the ground prong off the suppressor).... You can however plug another suppressor into your normal "working" suppressor and break the ground pin off that and only have the PS3 plugged into that one..
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Fender Bender
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006
hey man i wish this would fix the issue im having but it doesnt......   Ok on dvd movies only i get these Vertical up to down Lines in my picture they do no move they are completly still because ive paused it and noticed they stay.  Ive tryed the no ground to ps3 with a extra surge protect by tearing the ground off,  and my tv doesnt have any type of coax hooked up. it is very odd it only is shown on dvd movie and only on certain blackish screen.  The movie plays and u cant see the lines till the picture gets a certain shade of dark blue  or black.  Its not the TV or DVD movie. Because they work perfectly on my 360 using the same type of hookups and same TV.  It does this on composite and svideo so the only thing i can think of is that its the PS3 not decoding the movie currectly?
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Monster Hunter
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Re: Horizontal Bars, Buzzing Sound, etc? Look here...

Dec 9, 2006


Xenokai wrote:
hey man i wish this would fix the issue im having but it doesnt......   Ok on dvd movies only i get these Vertical up to down Lines in my picture they do no move they are completly still because ive paused it and noticed they stay.  Ive tryed the no ground to ps3 with a extra surge protect by tearing the ground off,  and my tv doesnt have any type of coax hooked up. it is very odd it only is shown on dvd movie and only on certain blackish screen.  The movie plays and u cant see the lines till the picture gets a certain shade of dark blue  or black.  Its not the TV or DVD movie. Because they work perfectly on my 360 using the same type of hookups and same TV.  It does this on composite and svideo so the only thing i can think of is that its the PS3 not decoding the movie currectly?



Dude I am getting the same thing what TV do you have? I have a 50" Samsung Plasma
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