Holy smoke, my Buttkicker amp caught on fire! - AVS Forum
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Old 05-26-2007, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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So it's a beautiful day, and I'm out in the back yard washing my motorcycle. I've got the music playing on the deck, which has a subwoofer built in underneath it that is powered by a BKA1000 (which is mounted in a cabinet in the kitchen). I start noticing some crackling sounds coming out of the speakers, so I go inside to see whats wrong. The kitchen is filled with smoke, and it's billowing out of the cabinet! I open up the cabinet, and I'm horrified to see flames coming out of the top of the amps grill! So I quickly try to disconnect it and yank it out of there before it catches anything else on fire, and actually bet a little burned because it's so hot. I have to find an oven mitt to grab it carry it outside.

The flames were coming from the transformer, but the bulk of the crusted nastiness on the top grill is above the area where the capacitors are, so I guess maybe one of them blew, and either caught the transformer on fire directly, or caps caused a short overheating the transformer. The scary thing to me is the insulation of the transformer seems to actually support fire - I wouldn't have expected that. After I set the amp down on the countertop outside on the deck, I had to blow the fire out. Several minutes later after checking out the cabinet to make sure all is safe in there, the amp outside still has smoke coming out of it, so I took a picture of it:



It's really odd, because it's not under a heavy load. The music wasn't up THAT loud, and the sub that it powers will bottom out above 250w or so. The sub has two 2 ohm drivers wired in series, so it operates under a 4ohm load, well within it's 2 ohm rating. Previously, the amp has never even gotten warm to the touch, so I guess it's just a component that went bad and shorted. I REALLY hope it didn't dump a lot of current through the sub and fry one of the drivers. There's about 16" of clearance between the ground and the underside of the deck, so dismounting that thing and getting it out of there to replace drivers would be a huge PITA. I've ohmed the leads going to the sub, and the resistance fluctuates wildly between about 3.8 ohms and 24 ohms. I'm hoping that's just because the sub is acting like a huge microphone, providing current from various ambient sounds, screwing up the reading. At least it doesn't show open, or shorted, so I guess that's a good sign.

If there's one silver lining in the whole thing, I'm a pretty lazy procrastinating kind of guy, and I haven't tested my smoke alarm in many many years. And I also installed a new alarm system last year, and connected the existing smoke alarm from the previous system up to the new one, and never did test that. The alarm did go off (though after I noticed the problem - it took a minute or two for the smoke to get to the detector in the hall). And the alarm company did call me, so I guess I can now consider that system tested.

So just a caution to those of you who may have these installed in racks or cabinets... don't make sure there is plenty of clearance to combustible materials! I've got another buttkicker amp powering two buttkickers in the den, wired as a 2 ohm load (still spec). And that amp does have a wooden shelf above it, with about 2.5" of clearance. So I'm a bit paranoid now.

I guess it's time to see if Guitammer's customer service is as good as they say it is. The magic smoke is all over my house, and even outside, so I'll never get it all back in there.

My dual Rythmik Servo sub project (actually quad now, need to update page)
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Old 05-26-2007, 04:45 PM
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Yep, people have no problem believing that an amp would smoke, but people don't believe it when you say your amp was literally on fire, but I've had one shoot flames, too. And it's f'n scary to think what might have happened had you not been around or not noticed it in time!

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Old 05-26-2007, 05:08 PM
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I took this picture later in the day at Darin's place after his other buttkickers went off. The firemen told me they couldn't save the house, but thanks to Darin's quick thinking, thank goodness he was able to save his sub!




Always check you smoke alarm!


Ian

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Old 05-26-2007, 08:04 PM
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All I can say is I am extremely glad I don't live anywhere near you, Sub in your deck, great neighbor you must be.

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Old 05-26-2007, 08:36 PM
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wow, thank goodness your ok, and all the best

super dirty , super clean , pow
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Old 05-26-2007, 09:13 PM
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Let us know what Guitammer's response is, I heard that there was a recall on these amps (I have two).
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Old 05-26-2007, 09:48 PM
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If you do a search on "Buttkicker" and "smoke" or "fire". You will see that this happened previously including to myself. In my case and possibly yours, it was the big filter caps that exploded. There was a rash of bad caps in the electronics industry from PCs to power supplies etc. In my case Guitammer's customer was service was very good. In other threads, people have similar positive experiences.

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Old 05-27-2007, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

And it's f'n scary to think what might have happened had you not been around or not noticed it in time!

Yup, not long after it happened, I left the house to meet some friends. Before I left, I looked at my dog sleeping in the den, and to the other (still working) Buttkicker amp in that room that powers the Buttkickers. I turned it off at the master switch. It doesn't need to be on unless watching movies anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McCall View Post

All I can say is I am extremely glad I don't live anywhere near you, Sub in your deck, great neighbor you must be.

Eh, save your judgement until you've heard how loud it is at the distance my neighbor is at a point in time when they're actually home. You've never heard of people having speakers on their deck? The sub doesn't make it louder, it just extends the frequency response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EC View Post

If you do a search on "Buttkicker" and "smoke" or "fire". You will see that this happened previously including to myself. In my case and possibly yours, it was the big filter caps that exploded. There was a rash of bad caps in the electronics industry from PCs to power supplies etc.

Hmmm, wonder if the other one should be replaced "pre-emptively"? They were purchased at the same time directly from Guitammer, so could quite possibly be the same batch.

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Old 05-27-2007, 12:37 PM
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I'm pulling the plug on my buttkicker amp, it's not worth the risk.
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Old 05-28-2007, 09:18 AM
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>Sub in your deck, great neighbor you must be. <<br />
Joined the forum, Yoda did!
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:34 AM
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My two original BK amps were from the same AVS powerbuy a few years ago. I had one die on me last year, just stopped working. Recently the other went out on me. It's right next to the couch running an LFE unit and during a heavy scene I heard some crackling and smelled that "electrical fire" smell so I pulled the plug. I didn't notice smoke (room's dark even with the lights on), but there must have been some. I plugged it back in the next day and it worked fine, which was strange. I wanted it replaced anyway, so Guitammer sent me a new one and I sent the old one back in that box (with their pre-paid label), same as the first time.

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Old 05-30-2007, 02:04 PM
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Thanks for this thread guys, it just saved me from a potential bad buy.

"Vintage" is good for wine, not for A/V equipment.

-Dan D.
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:52 PM
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The official word from Guitammer is that the recalled serial numbers are from A0005570 to A0005815.

Donoman - I wouldn't consider this a bad buy at all. I'm sure that the recalled batch is not on sale anymore.
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Old 05-30-2007, 04:03 PM
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Thanks for that garnisco! I'll have to check my serial #'s.
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darin View Post


Eh, save your judgement until you've heard how loud it is at the distance my neighbor is at a point in time when they're actually home. You've never heard of people having speakers on their deck? The sub doesn't make it louder, it just extends the frequency response.

Actually, yes it does make it louder (for the neighbors), a sub's noise extends a lot further than a mid or tweeter's. Haven't you ever noticed that bass waves are all you can hear at a distance? Its because the longer wavelengths deteriorate over much longer distances.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armystud0911 View Post

Actually, yes it does make it louder (for the neighbors), a sub's noise extends a lot further than a mid or tweeter's. Haven't you ever noticed that bass waves are all you can hear at a distance? Its because the longer wavelengths deteriorate over much longer distances.

Nope, that's not what I've noticed in practice. I've walked my property with the speakers on just to have an idea for what a "normal" level on my deck equates to as you get closer to my neighbors. And in fact, the bass starts to disappear as you get further away, while the higher frequencies are still detectable. Longer wavelengths may travel more efficiently with the same radiation pattern but that's not what we experience with the kinds of speakers we use. The midrange/treble tends to be much more directional, particularly when the speakers are mounted against a wall (my house). The size of the bass frequencies relative to all the surroundings, however, cause them to radiate in more of a half sphere. The different radiation patterns cause a disparity in how the energy is distributed. You'd be surprised by how fast the bass fades as you get away from the deck.

As I said, the sub will bottom with only 250w, so it's not like it's even capable of huge amounts of output. Take your sub out into the open and see how loud it can play when you get 50' away. And why don't I see similar judgement when people talk about IB systems? Where do you think the backwave goes?

Regardless, I don't even know why I'm justifying it here. They've been my neighbors for nearly 14 years, and they are the ones qualified to testify whether or not they can typically hear my system at their house, not someone who knows only of it's existence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garnisco3 View Post

The official word from Guitammer is that the recalled serial numbers are from A0005570 to A0005815

Hmmm, mine is much different (starts with A51). I finally got around to sending them an email earlier this evening, and I sent the s/n with it. We'll see what they have to say.

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Old 05-30-2007, 09:14 PM
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Weird.
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armystud0911 View Post

Actually, yes it does make it louder (for the neighbors), a sub's noise extends a lot further than a mid or tweeter's. Haven't you ever noticed that bass waves are all you can hear at a distance? Its because the longer wavelengths deteriorate over much longer distances.

Just thought I'd chime in about that.. Bass is more apparent at a farther distance than higher frequencies in my opinion. This is the experience I have had with my JBL SRX setup and other mobile setups I have for DJ'ing.

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Old 05-31-2007, 05:32 AM
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Why do these things always fly off on tangents, like Darin's friggin' neighbors (who can likely take care of themselves)? Do people just like to argue or try to prove a point?

Anyway, my serial number also started with A51. I'd make a bigger deal about both of mine going bad if they didn't make returns as painless and effortless as possible.

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Old 05-31-2007, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Just to follow up, I did get a prompt email reply to the message I sent last night. The serial# of mine is not one of the recalled units, so they do want to look at it. Just as Jack indicated, it was easy and painless... they're sending me out a new amp, and there's supposed to be a return shipping label in the box for me to send them back the bad one. So it appears their reputation for good customer service is well deserved. I'll be curious to hear if they have any revelations after looking at my amp.

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Old 05-31-2007, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EC View Post

If you do a search on "Buttkicker" and "smoke" or "fire". You will see that this happened previously including to myself. In my case and possibly yours, it was the big filter caps that exploded. There was a rash of bad caps in the electronics industry from PCs to power supplies etc. In my case Guitammer's customer was service was very good. In other threads, people have similar positive experiences.


You bet bad capacitors. These are 99.9999% made in the PRC caps,as I have yet to see one Japanese or USA made cap do the kamikaze trick.

These caps,inflate...leak and sometimes...pow they go. Cheap parts = problems.
I have experienced first hand these problems too,with computer power supplies.

They should replace the whole unit for the trouble caused.

Ask yourself mortal , do you have as much displacement as me ? The answer is no unless you have a Windmere fan sub.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:04 PM
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Old thread, but wondering if Guitammer cared / asked if it was driving subs vs. buttkickers.

Lot's of low rent stuff stacked up into a medium rent pile.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:15 PM
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You should have thrown a steak on it.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:49 AM
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buttkicker or assburner
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:31 AM
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I made the mistake of showing this thread to my Wife when it it first came out.

She has been nervous about the amp ever since.

Well, as fate would have it, mine did the same thing last night. Guess who was saying she was right all along? Right in the middle of a party. Even if they fix it for me (?), I will not be able to use it again.

I guess an ep 2500?

Lot's of low rent stuff stacked up into a medium rent pile.
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:45 AM
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Quote:


I guess an ep 2500?

Its a great low cost choice and you can mod the fan with a silent $10 fan.

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Old 07-05-2008, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darin View Post

Eh, save your judgement until you've heard how loud it is at the distance my neighbor is at a point in time when they're actually home. You've never heard of people having speakers on their deck? The sub doesn't make it louder, it just extends the frequency response.

LOL ... says the guy that's not the victim.
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:24 AM
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At least you won't have to buy another Barbeque Grill for some time, just lay the burgers on the amp and watch em' cook!

One shall stand... One Shall Fall... - Optimus Prime
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Old 07-05-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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What sort of music where you playing? I think a more accurate home cinema is needed. I use EQ on the LCRS and LFE.1 so I can see what the output frequency response is because you never know, someday a nasty peak will come along and clip the amplifiers to a critical melt down point.

Hope this is learning point to you now don't play the sub bass to show-off to the neighbours that you have a home theatre god damn it.

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You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn't get much higher
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn't get much higher
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
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Old 07-05-2008, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digital desire View Post

I made the mistake of showing this thread to my Wife when it it first came out.

She has been nervous about the amp ever since.

Well, as fate would have it, mine did the same thing last night. Guess who was saying she was right all along? Right in the middle of a party. Even if they fix it for me (?), I will not be able to use it again.

I guess an ep 2500?

Call Buttkicker...it is a recognized defect in a production run. They should/will replace the amp for free and send you a return label for the fried amp.

I made a call on Monday (a couple of months ago) and had the new amp by Friday.

Edit: I see others talked about this same series problem in some of the above posts.

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