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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok, I am a wrench guy who loves tools. I made my living with tools and teaching other people how to do the same. So, if there is a slick tool out there that helps, I WANT IT! (ask my wife!)

Two recent additions to my formidable collection got used today while working on the Wee installing some heated grips. (That's another story...) These are Harbor Freight tools, mind you. Snap-On and others make "Professional Models" of each...for much more money. If I were still working in a shop and used these a lot I would pop for the better ones. But, for my home shop these are just perfect.

1) 20 Amp Automotive Circuit Tester (#67725).

20 Amp Automotive Fuse Circuit Tester

This is the Cat's A$$ for checking current draw on circuits. You just pull out the fuse in that circuit, plug said fuse into the side of the tester, plug the tester into the socket you just pulled the fuse from and turn it on. You will get the reading of the circuit's amp draw. Used this on my new heated grips to see how much power they actually took and how they were cycling with the heat controller. Slick! Well worth the price. I got it on sale or with 20% off or something. Around $10. Some may like their DVOM for this task but having worked in the field for many years I appreciate the fact this thing plugs in like a fuse and doesn't harm the socket. Also, if you should blow the fuse, big deal. It takes standard automotive fuses that are cheap and easy to get.

2) Digital Battery Tester (#66892) <$69 on sale or find one of those 20% off things>

Digital Automotive Battery Analyzer

You have batteries. In your car, your truck, and you bikes. They wear and go bad over time. You hate it when they die and leave you stranded. BUT, that doesn't have to happen. With the proper tests you can know well in advance when that battery should be replaced. Now, some failures are impossible to predict, things like an internal connector break, but these are fortunately rare. Most problems can be caught well in advance...IF...you have the proper test equipment.

This type of tester has been out for some years now. When I was a technical guy back at GM in the late '90's we were requiring dealers to use these to verify bad batteries. In fact, you would not get paid for a warranty claim if you did not verify battery condition with a similar type tester. They are the standard modern battery test, and for good reason.

This type of tester can alert you well in advance of a typical failure. You can read all the technical stuff on this elsewhere (pages and pages) but the simple explanation is that it electronically runs several internal tests that tells you how well the battery is actually working. It will tell you the CCA of the battery and tell you what percent of the battery plate area is still viable. From this the manual explains when to "pass" and when to "fail" the battery.

It works. I had a rare starting issue on my Wee. Once or twice it failed to crank over properly. I didn't know if it was a fluke or if their was a real problem with the starter, battery, or switches. A 30 second test with this tool showed the battery was 60% gone and should be replaced.

Fast, easy, accurate. I love it! Since we have two cars, two bikes, a riding mower, two kids with cars, not to mention other family members and friends who come to "Mr. Fix-It" for answers I picked one of these up. It makes my life easier not having to guess when something is going to fail next. Plus, it saves me money as I know what really is good and what is not.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I think I posted this in the wrong forum!
Sorry!
 

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Both of those products are intriguing, specialy the amp meter. It says for ATC fuse slots. Can't really tell for sure if it also works for the mini slots too. If so, I want one since my fluke is only rated for 10 amps. Otherwise, the only ATC slot the strom has is the main 30 amp, right? This thing is only rated for 20.

As for the fancy load tester, that seems to be all it is. It calculates all those values based on a load test. The simple $25 analog type will tell you the same thing without going into detail. I'm less impressed with it. The geeky types will appreciate it more than I.
 

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If so, I want one since my fluke is only rated for 10 amps.
Amp clamp accessories are available for Fluke meters that will boost the capability of the meter, but I've never needed one. I have no idea how much they cost. The only place I imagine they'd be useful is for industrial capacity AC circuits and I don't go there.

I've been an electronic tech since the 60's, US Navy trained, and I hardly ever troubleshoot using anything other than voltage checks. I don't see the point. Voltage drop almost always tells you everything you need to know. That, and visual checks.
 

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DC clamp on ammeters are available for $30 & up. These also measure AC amperage and AC & DC voltage. The fuse replacement ammeter would be very handy where the wiring is in a bundle and not accessible if it covers both size fuses.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The plug in Amp meter works on the smaller fuses as are currently installed in your Strom and most automobiles. It is darn handy as it tells me load going through the circuit. For example, I can watch what my heated clothing is pulling. Sorry, can't do that with a volt meter and its much easier to do it with this than with a DVOM. For $10 its a steal!

The battery tester is FAR more than a load meter. I don't care to write a three page synopsis on how it checks the battery, that can be found with a little search on the net. I have a load tester....had it since the 1970's. Anyone who understands how batteries work, wear, and fail know that the old load testers our grandpa's used didn't give the whole story. The new testers go FAR beyond that. I just tested my Xterra battery today. It passes a standard load test with flying colors. However, with a more involved test I can see that my 640 CCA battery is presently working at 480 CCA. While it passes the old fashion load test it is actually working at only about 75-80% efficiency. Not terrible for a three year old battery that sits a lot, but a sign that the battery is wearing out and I will keep an eye on it over the winter.

New battery testers operation by measuring AC conductance. This tells us the condition of the battery plates:

"An AC voltage is applied to the battery terminals that floats as a ripple on top of the battery's DC voltage and charges and discharges the battery alternatively. AC conductance provides accurate readings, provided the battery is fully charged, has rested or has been briefly discharged prior to taking the reading. AC conductance is non-invasive, quick and the test instruments are relatively inexpensive. "

OH, I still have a "classic" load tester too.

As for using volt meters to test electrical circuits: Very useful tool. I know a little bit about this. Amp meters are important too depending on what tests we are running. Truth is we need both. Voltage drops in a circuit are critical but they will vary with the load. So, we need to know the amperage flowing to evaluate the meaning of the voltage drops. They go hand-in-hands.

Oh, what do I know about DC electric? A little....sort of. I spent 45 years in the automotive technical field. I was a technical trainer with Toyota (Boston Region), Chrysler (Cincinnati Region) and GM (Cincinnati Region). I worked with the engineers who designed the vehicles in creating and delivering technical training on new vehicle systems. My area of expertise was electrical and electronics. My last assignment before I left GM (they were closing their training centers) was to develop the Integrated Electronic Control training for GM. This was a comprehensive class dealing with how all the electrical and computer control systems in the automobile worked together and how to diagnose problems in the systems. My other area of specialization was electronic engine controls ( I started on EFI in 1971 or '72 (forget...) with the Bosche systems and went on from there.) and heating/AC. Don't have those on bikes however. I also did drive line, engines, vibration analysis, etc. We covered a lot of ground.

So, the systems we have on motorcycles seem, well...pretty straight forward and not overly complex. I like them, especially my new Triumph which is very OBD-2 and allows me to use a real OBD-2 scanner through a J-1962 connector under the seat. With the interface I have I can do two way communications and do a lot of function and actuater tests and even get into the ABS system to cycle it and do brake bleeding, etc. I am hoping the new Suzuki's go the same route as this would make life easier for all of us.

So, I enjoy working with the electrics on the bike. I am very comfortable with it as I am armed with a real factory manual, high quality tools, and forty-five years of experience. Besides that, we all have this Forum and great people like Grey Wolf to help with their vast product knowledge.

Great site...great people....lots of knowledge and experience here. We all win. It was what I learned at this site back in 2005 that pointed me to buying my Wee.
 

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For us Aussies and Kiwis, a similar item to the Automotive Fuse Circuit Tester is available from Jaycar Electronics albeit an 80A unit with a peak hold feature - cat. no. QP2257 Regrettably at A$59 it's nowhere as cheap as the Harbor Freight item. Why didn't I see one of these when I was in a Harbor Freight store and buying stuff last August. :(

Automotive Blade Fuse Current Meter - Jaycar Electronics
 

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Thanks for the infl. They seem to be a really usefull tool. I could really use the batt tester.
 

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As for using volt meters to test electrical circuits: Very useful tool. I know a little bit about this. Amp meters are important too depending on what tests we are running. Truth is we need both. Voltage drops in a circuit are critical but they will vary with the load. So, we need to know the amperage flowing to evaluate the meaning of the voltage drops. They go hand-in-hands.
Hey, they're cool devices if they tell you what you want to know. Lord knows I love gadgets.

Battery checking does require load testing, but I can't think of anything else on a bike that would need a current check. I tend to look at current checking as a design tool because the only place I ever do it is on the test bench (or working with batteries). You use it for heated gear, but you still need to monitor the battery voltage while you're using heated gear to make sure it keeps charging.

For troubleshooting, you need to break the circuit and put the ammeter in series. Because of that, I find measuring current to be more complicated than straight voltage checks in troubleshooting 99 percent of the problems you're likely to encounter on a bike. It's a lot easier to go through a circuit checking voltages on either side of a connector, a switch, or a splice. It's quick and tells you what you want to know. 12 volts on one side and 8 volts on the other -- you've found the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey, they're cool devices if they tell you what you want to know. Lord knows I love gadgets.

Battery checking does require load testing, but I can't think of anything else on a bike that would need a current check. I tend to look at current checking as a design tool because the only place I ever do it is on the test bench (or working with batteries). You use it for heated gear, but you still need to monitor the battery voltage while you're using heated gear to make sure it keeps charging.

For troubleshooting, you need to break the circuit and put the ammeter in series. Because of that, I find measuring current to be more complicated than straight voltage checks in troubleshooting 99 percent of the problems you're likely to encounter on a bike. It's a lot easier to go through a circuit checking voltages on either side of a connector, a switch, or a splice. It's quick and tells you what you want to know. 12 volts on one side and 8 volts on the other -- you've found the problem.
Breaking the circuit is no big deal with this tool. You remove the fuse and it plugs in where the fuse was...that is what I like about it. Quick and easy, plug it in and push the button.

The volt meter is the single most used testing tool in electrical circuits. However there are times when its not enough or its readings can be enhanced with a amp meter. It really depends on the circuit and the problem. An example would a circuit with a coil or heating element. The circuit wiring may be fine so the volt meter will only shows a drop at the load. That voltage drop will be basically the same regardless of amp flow. (Voltage drop equal voltage rise) So, in that case the volt meter hits its limit in what it can tell you. An ohm meter can tell you resistance, but only when the device is isolated and out of the circuit, not when its powered up and warmed up. Of course this may not be the most common problem one sees, granted.

Checking battery voltage is a great test too, but again it has its limits. When an amp meter we can go in and find the loads and get a better picture of what items are using the power under running conditions. That is, to some, the big advantage of the amp meter, it gives you real time reading on items under operational conditions.

Electric diagnosis is an area where people can have different approaches. Over the many years I trained master (and lesser) technicians I had the opportunity to study their approaches to problems. It was interesting to see how they arrived at their conclusions. While I was teaching them I was learning from them. I was lucky, I got to work with some of the best technicians in the country. We shared knowledge and techniques and both sides benefited.

So, to me problem solving is as much a hobby as it is a job. I would much rather trouble shoot a difficult problem on a vehicle than waste time watching a foot ball game or sit around BS'ing and drinking beer. (But there is a time and place for that too. :) So, I enjoy my test gear and love using it. For the rest of you, do it your way if works for you. In my professional career I was one of the guys they went to when no one else could fix it. Me and my fellow tech support guys got to see it all.....and we got our share of headaches along the way, but learned a great deal from it.

I like diagnostic tools....they are fun.
 
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