Silicon, Circuits, and the Digital Revolution

Courtesy of Touchstone/Home Improvement
  More Power!!!

This is a fictional scenario based on television characters. The first two scenes are from the pilot episode of Home Improvement, found at the Home Improvement Archives. Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor is preparing to modify the household dishwasher to give it more power. Scene 3 has been added to craft a SCEN103 problem.

Scene 1: Cut to the garage.
[Tim and Mark enter. Tim turns on the lights]
Tim: There. That is the fuse box.
[Tim opens the fuse box]
The electrical nerve center of our house.
Mark: Wow!

You're darn right, wow. But now we don't have to cut off all the electricity, just the section of the house we're working on. That would be the kitchen. Up there, er, kitchen... Ha-ha. Boy, I shouldn't have labelled those in pencil, should I? They're all faded and everything. Look. Well kitchen's K.
[Tim switches the fuse]
Yeah, that's the kitchen. There we go.
[Tim shuts the fuse box again]
Alright, Hank the Handyman. C'mon, let's go.

[They go back into the kitchen. Mark shuts the garage door behind him]
Scene 2: Cut to the kitchen.
[Tim and Mark go over to the dishwasher]
Tim: We've gotta take off that access panel.
[Tim takes it off]
[Tim looks inside]
Whoa! Look at all the wires in there!
[Tim takes out his wire snippers]
Mark: Do you know what all those wires do?

Yeah, of course. I wouldn't have taken it off if I didn't. Ground, we're looking for ground. Now red is all--, red... yellow, see, the sun is yellow, it heats the ground. That's how the name started.
[Tim snips the yellow wire. There is a bang and a spark. The snippers fly backwards. Tim jumps up, his arm numb. Tim goes to the garage]
Was that card right?
[Tim goes into the garage and screams. Mark goes over to the garage. Tim comes out again]
Ho. Shake it off.
[Tim starts shaking his arm and dancing around. Mark joins in]
Aw! Phew!

Mark: Are you alright, Dad?
Tim: [Trying to laugh]
[Tim winces]
I-I did that to teach you an important lesson.
Mark: What's that, Dad?
Tim: Well, when you work with electricity, it's a good idea to shut it all off. Now, follow me upstairs and I'll show you how to treat a severe electrical burn.

Scene 3: Later that day in the garage.
Mark has disassembled the family hairdryer and toaster. Earlier that morning his Dad was complaining about the 1875 watt hairdryer actually using substantially less power than advertised. Mark is planning to add the power needed so that Tim feels better following his unfortunate accident..


  1. How much of the toaster's heating element should Mark attempt to wire into the hairdryer? Or does he need more than one toaster?
  2. Sketch a circuit indicating how the toaster element should be connected in the hairdryer relative to its original heating element.

Courtesy of
Tim Allen Signature Tools
  Tim Allen Resources
  Tim Allen Signature Tools
  Home Improvement International Online Fan Club
  Home Improvement Archive

Courtesy of the
Toaster Museum Foundation
  Some Problem Resources
  Toasters: The Inside Story from the Toaster Museum Foundation
  From previous semesters of SCEN103:
      Ohm's Law and Electrical Power
      Parallel and Series Combinations of Resistors

SCEN103 Comments, suggestions, or requests to
Last updated March 8, 2000.
© George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 2000.