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AC Voltage Stick/Pen

 
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:55 AM   #1
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AC Voltage Stick/Pen


I had an aquaintence who is putting in underground distribution lines for the Navy show me a pen shaped tool he called a "Tick Meter" The tool would make a static to buzzing to tone based on how close to a live wire/outlet you place the tip. He said the cheep ones go for around $25 and adjustable ones like his that go up to some pretty serious volts go for little less than $100.
Then yesterday I was watching the phone repairman verify that Yep I had a bad DSL line and he had a Fluke version and you could hear the ring tone sent down the line from the dispatch center. As I recall the telephones work on around 28-30volts or so.
Neither one of these had a LED light in the buisness end that lights up when you are near voltage.

Today I tried doing some research online and also on ebay. All I can seem to find is cheeper ones on ebay and looking at the Fluke website I see they all seem to start at 90VAC and go to 1000VAC

Finaly the question. Anyone able to point me toward a model that is adjustable for low volts but still does at least 480vac and emits tone. I am willing to pay more if I think I am getting a better product. The ones on ebay just looked CHEEP.

Thanks Jim
PS wont be able to check this that often as I am haveing internet issues both at home and work! Punishment for living on an island where I can dive or fish every weekend I guess!
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:45 AM   #2
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


So I found these two links


http://ecmweb.com/mag/electric_know_capacitive_voltage/

http://www.contractortalk.com/f5/vol...-tester-72042/

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Old 06-22-2011, 07:16 AM   #3
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Jim look at Greenlee they offer a variety of different models and are reasonably priced.

I have a 12-1000VAC tester...the caveat is its intended for AC and not AC/DC

Last edited by Inner10; 06-22-2011 at 07:19 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:03 AM   #4
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Fluke and several others make models for line and low voltage. I have their model 1AC-A II, which is rated for 90 to 1000 VAC and their model 1LAC-A II, which is for 20 to 90 VAC. I use it for quick checks on 24V controls, but I’ve never actually tried it on telecom. The only thing is that the specs say it is rated for 45 to 405 Hz, so not sure if it would be able to detect the 20Hz, 90 VAC ring voltage.
I’ll have to try it next time I’m near a ringing land line.
You can distinguish the Fluke low voltage model from the line voltage one by the blunt, round tip. The line voltage model has a flat tip so you can insert it into receptacles.

EDIT: Surprisingly, I found that my Fluke 1LAC-A II will actually detect POTS AC ring voltage. The beeper and light will pulse on and off in unison with the AC voltage on a ringing line.

Last edited by DuMass; 07-12-2011 at 11:08 AM. Reason: add note
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:13 AM   #5
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Unless you have a lot of experience with these 'testers', you will find them very frustrating and inherently dangerous. Simply put, they will lie to you. They will indicate voltage when there is none, and will not light up or make a peep when there IS voltage present.

These instruments are FAR from accurate, and should NEVER be used to verify the lack of potential. NEVER.
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:05 PM   #6
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post
Jim look at Greenlee they offer a variety of different models and are reasonably priced.

I have a 12-1000VAC tester...the caveat is its intended for AC and not AC/DC
Inner10
Do you have model # on that one? It sounds like it would be better to buy this one than two flukes.

480Sparky
Thanks for the heads up. I am hopeing it can help me solve control problems on air compressors by indicating that a control power is at least available at some of the switches on the machine. I will still use the fluke before touching anything. Learned that lesson the shocking way.
The only reason I want the low voltage use with telephone capacity is I can go to the interior grade distribution box which is on the outside corner of the building and hopefully troubleshoot if its an indoor problem or supply side problem. If I can fix it myself I will vs waiting 2 days for the phone company to get to me.

Cheers, Jim
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:40 PM   #7
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Going off what Sparky said the ones now a days seem to be worthless. I had an old fluke that was great. It was alway spot on and perfect. I had to replace it and the new fluke detectors are crap! I don't think I've had problems with it not showing voltage but ALWAYS seems to show "false positives" I'd be willing to try others but always been a fluke user so hesitant to use another brand for electrical work.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:02 PM   #8
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikekow80 View Post
......... I don't think I've had problems with it not showing voltage.............
Wait till the battery dies.
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:52 PM   #9
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
Unless you have a lot of experience with these 'testers', you will find them very frustrating and inherently dangerous. Simply put, they will lie to you.
100% agreed. However, they don't lie all of the time, and if you do electrical work regularly, they can save a lot more time than they waste. I wouldn't be without one.

Someone posted a link a couple of years ago to an article that went into the theory of how they work. Well worth reading, if you can find it.
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:21 AM   #10
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Tinstaafl

I found that link while googleing and reposted it in my second post. It really is good education reading.

I stopped by HomoDepot on my way to pick up some freight today. I bought a tester and when I got back to the shop I tested it out. It was crap compared to the one the guy showed me last week. Then I read the package and saw it was not actually a Greenlee but some company packgaing their stuff to fool dupes like me into assumeing it was greenlee. I returned it on my second trip to the freight company!

So I am still on the hunt for a qood quality one. Thanks for the heads up on the newer flukes. That might explain why the one the phone company guy had looked different than any of the ones I saw online.

Looks like I will be purchaseing Greenlee online. I have been in two eletrical supply houses that sell greenlee and neither had a tester.

Cheers, Jim
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:50 AM   #11
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by maninthesea View Post
I found that link while googleing and reposted it in my second post.
Doh! I need to pay attention when I"m not paying attention.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:07 AM   #12
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Jim I have two gt-11s and a gt-15 which you can adjust the sensitivity down to 5 volts so it can be used for high and low-voltage. I rarely use the low voltage feature though so I can't tell you how effective it really is. Sadly I do most of my stuff in DC.

Quote:
These instruments are FAR from accurate, and should NEVER be used to verify the lack of potential. NEVER.
I've had a few people tell me this as well but I have yet to encounter a situation where it didn't work. I always check it on a known life circuit to make sure my batteries are good, then before I grab the wire I put on hand behind my back and put pinky to ground and thumb to live.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:46 AM   #13
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post

I've had a few people tell me this as well but I have yet to encounter a situation where it didn't work. I always check it on a known life circuit to make sure my batteries are good, then before I grab the wire I put on hand behind my back and put pinky to ground and thumb to live.
ditto
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:53 PM   #14
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


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Old 06-23-2011, 03:26 PM   #15
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


There are also times when you canít access the wiring in a box with a regular meter, like when the box is an unrecognizable rusted blob of crap hanging loose in a damp, 24-inch deep crawl space. Other than shutting down the entire building, sometimes these NC sticks are the only way to tell if the power is off. They can sometimes work wonders if you are competent enough to use them under the given circumstances.
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:55 AM   #16
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
Thats exactly what I found with the elcheepo from Home Depot I bought and returned yesterday. It was not indicating on some of the cords like the one my buddy brought in. I think its like most other things you get what you pay for and he had what I would call a proffesional quality one. He said it goes for around $70-100. I also think thats why Inner10 has not had problems with his- He has Greenlee's
I'm getting a greenlee. I just have to find time to search for one for sale online since I cant find one here.

Besides in that video it looked like he was doing as much as he could to make it not work. It appears he did not have the blade end against the cord and if you pay attention he was rubbing it on the neutral wire not the hot wire. So since the neutral should not have any voltage I guess it was working. I still saw a couple of red flashes that were politely ignored.

Last edited by maninthesea; 06-24-2011 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:53 AM   #17
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


Quote:
[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPpfmggmNWI[/YOUTUBE]
Sparky are you blind? Watch the video he runs the cone of the tester along the wire and it even lights up at 26 and 33. If he had run the tip across the wire it would light up like a Christmas tree. His tester just isn't very sensitive, notice how he has to fully sink it in the slot of the socket before it lights up?

If you are against them because they aren't sensitive enough get a GT-15 and adjust accordingly.

If you take a heavily insulated cord like a high grade Carol cable you have to have the tip right up against it and run it around the wire until you are closest to the hot.

I think the guy in the video calls them idiot sticks because he has no idea how to use it.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:40 AM   #18
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


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That is the old fluke I had that I loved. Bet if he ran it on the other side of the cord it would have lit up. Also looks like he was running the cord a bit high on the tester. If he knew the plug worked but the H&N were reversed would it still be lying to him just cause it didn't light up on the side he expected? Not arguing they don't lie, just think that is more operator error in that video. That is like checking the air pressure in one tire and assuming the other 3 are all the same.
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:55 PM   #19
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


I still like my tester. Use it often. I agree that they can lie though. I cut a wire which I was sure was dead right in front my my face and melted my side cutters and half blinded/deafened myself.
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:21 PM   #20
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Re: AC Voltage Stick/Pen


No, I'm not blind. I'm experienced. I'm just using it according to the instructions. They state I merely need to hold it next to a wire or cable and it will light up if there's power, or not light up if it's dead. This is exactly what 98% of the users of these things do, and what they can expect.

OK, so let's do THE EXACT OPPOSITE:





Now, let's see all you Doubting Thomases tell me I energized all those things.

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