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  • Test Leads

     chanlui updated 3 weeks, 3 days ago 6 Members · 27 Posts
  • fixbear

    Member
    January 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Test leads

    Over the years i’ve found that there are a lot of test lead sets out there. What  type of insulation.  What type of wire.  What type of probe.  90 degree or straight. Removable probe,  Clamp on probe. Wire piercing. $7 to $180. Blunt to sharp and thin.  Retractable covers.  So many it becomes befuddling to the user.  I started with cheap vinyl blunt probes that didn’t’ come off  the wires. They were stiff and difficult to get reliable readings. The wires were a coarse stranded copper and the banana plugs weak. I was blaming the meter for the errors back then. It wasn’t till I got very frustrated with a difficult job that I broke down and bought another new meter. I was working with a power company employee and he showed me his Fluke 87A. It can be dropped for the top of a power pole and survive.  Something I don’t recommend.  It was twice the price of the best meter I ever bought, but I bit the bullet and saved to buy one.  It changed my life in trouble shooting. But the main thing different was the leads. I’ve bought 3 sets of replacements since buying that meter. The bare industrial set today is $80. Comes with red and black straight guarded probes and red and black straight clamp probes as well as red and black cables with one straight and one 90 end. Fine silver coated wires and silicone insulation.  They are very supple and easy to get around in a cabinet. The straight probes are very sharp and have a about 30 degree angle from the point.. Thin enough to get into the back of a connector. Or even onto the pins of a flat wire connector.  And the best thing is the sure grip leads don’t take a set or knot up.  Fluke makes hundreds of test leads for different applications but the TN220 is the one I like.  I originally bough the TLK387 electronic set because I was doing board work, But it’s a bit much for this field.

    I’ve laid out what I like, but what have you experienced and like.  I have a mix mash of 14 meters, but always comes down to the test leads.  Did not know that when I started.

  • techtownmayor

    Administrator
    January 23, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Incredible timing – I just ordered myself the TLK289 “industrial master” lead kit and was amazed that they now sell 15 different test lead kits. 

    Someone in Everett clearly knows that people love their leads, or that they don’t take good care of them and lose pieces all the time (like me)… I’m hoping that the rollup pouch means I’ll take better care of them. 

  • ectofix

    Member
    January 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    All I can offer is that I really LIKED (note the past tense) a pricey set of Fluke  test leads I once purchased – which were very sharp.  They accommodated alligator clips and various other tips that came with the set.

    Unfortunately I lost the tips somewhere along the way.  I’ve always been rough with my tools to, so the leads finally gave out as well.

    To be honest, though, I generally only bought new test leads out of necessity when old ones failed…and I’d end up stopping by somewhere on the way to my next job to buy replacements.

    FWIW: I always had a spare meter in my service van…AND test leads to go with it.  But I’m guilty of borrowing tools from myself and not returning them to me.  LOL!

    From my own flippant, hasty and somewhat rough (bull-in-a-china-closet) nature, the one tool that I most OFTEN had to replace was also my most used tool – a 6 in 1 screwdriver.

    The 2nd tool I most often had to replace was…YES – my set of meter test leads. 

    So, I don’t know HOW many sets I’ve bought over the years.  I was r-a-r-e-l-y allowed a choice to suit my preferences when constrained by the limited selection a Lowe’s or HD’s happened to stock while I traveled from job C to job D on a given day when I was experiencing “test leads envy”.

    • techtownmayor

      Administrator
      January 23, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      It never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find Fluke and other brands in retail stores. Our local Fry’s electronics used to have the whole line, but they look like they might not be around much longer…

      • ectofix

        Member
        January 23, 2020 at 6:55 pm

        Fluke really is professional grade – therefore deeming their products too pricey for the DIY shoppers at the big box/hardware/electronics stores. 

        If they can’t sell them, then there’s no reason to stock them.

        My go-to has been the Fluke 116…because it’s in an acceptable price range while having all the features I need.

        Although a Fluke 87 would have my desired features and MORE, I could never justify the price. 

        I don’t buy my own tools anymore for work since my in-house employer provides them.  SO, Klein stuff (<$100) is perfectly suitable for around the house.

        I’m not an avid hobbyist or electronics geek (<grin>), so that’s all I need.

      • fixbear

        Member
        January 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        I used to have 6 electronic supply houses in the capital district area of New York state. We are now down to one trying to hang on.  I definitely miss just being able to make a call and find a chip locally. And now with the SMT, it’s even hard to find cap’s and resistors.  I have a surface mount station, But both identifying and obtaining parts today is getting difficult.

  • nafets47

    Member
    January 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I use the Fluke325, I really like it and it provides a wide variety of options for the field.

    The clamp aspect of it is both handy and annoying:

    Handy because you can put it around cables that would otherwise frighten some to see if what the amps are.

    Annoying because of its length and the fact that most of the time when you want to clamp it onto something just to hold it for you; never the direction you need.

    However I did cause an arch the other day with my leads and melted the tip of one, need to grind it down.

    • ectofix

      Member
      January 23, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      The Fluke 325 looks like a very nice, general purpose meter.  However, it doesn’t appear to be capable of reading in the ยตA range, so I probably wouldn’t buy one at that price point. 

      I work with gas control systems allot, so reading micro-amps is a must.

      • fixbear

        Member
        January 24, 2020 at 3:19 pm

        My latest is a fluke 116/323 kit. especially like how the probes have a twist function for the probe guards. Purposely designed for HVAC work and measuring flame sensor.

  • Sparky0575

    Member
    February 17, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    I personally do not care for fieldpiece leads . I had an issue one time where there was a bare spot in insulation when working on 480 volt step down transformer and lead went to ground and POW!! and I dang near crap my pants. The insulation on fieldpiece leads is to soft and breaks down to easy. I prefer Fluke test leads and will spend the extra money to insure that I am safe.

  • fixbear

    Member
    February 17, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Anytime you work on 480 you are supposed to take quite a few safety steps. Working live means a back-up person trained with CPR, a Insulated ground matt, 1000V insulated glove sets, face shield and fireproof jacket. And 4.5 ft of work clearance. I’ve seen 480 blow a hole threw a panel the size of a soccer ball from humidity. Makes you knees feel like jelly and you ears ring

    • nafets47

      Member
      February 18, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      I am sure that is not the only body reaction you get from that…. would need a change of clothes from the storage after that.

  • fixbear

    Member
    February 18, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    The higher end of low voltage is very powerful. I once worked at a aggregate plant that the cone crusher was a 250HP 580V motor with a 6 position GE drum switch to get is started. The drum switch was the last on a wireway line about 50 ft long. The regular operator called in sick and the manager sent out another man to man it. He forgot all about stepping a little at a time and waiting for the motor to come to speed at each step. A series of autotransformers to eliminate high surges. He whips the switch to full on and the excitement starts to happen. The arcing started at the drum switch and went all the way back to the Substation off a 356KVA line. It took a month to replace it all with both inside help and outside.

    I’ve been through 5 of these type incidents. So believe me that when I work on anything over 277V, I take the time to make myself safe. Wish I had taken pictures.

    • techtownmayor

      Administrator
      February 18, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      One of the most terrifying things you’ll find on YouTube are videos of arc flash injuries/deaths. Some of those will stick with you for years so I do not recommend ๐Ÿ™

      In my Dutch years as a sparky, I did quite a lot on 380V (3 phase EU power), but only a few times got to help out energize a large building’s high current switchgear.

      It took 20 minutes just to gear up, pull out the arc shield (on wheels) and hand crank the primary circuit breaker. The noises in a switching room are quite something, and some of them will indeed have you feel like jelly. Kudos to anyone who has to work on this stuff all the time. It isn’t the kind of place you ever want to be complacent…



  • nafets47

    Member
    February 22, 2021 at 9:19 am

    I was in the room with a electrical tech who was sorting out someone’s failed main disconnect for a larger property. The spring (large FYI) had become stuck and wouldn’t allow you to restart the disconnect. It was one of those push button off/on with a crank handle.

    Anyway he took a pair of channel locks and “popped” the switch open.

    The balls on that man are unreal, power was running to the disconnect I am happy he didn’t get hurt.

    • techtownmayor

      Administrator
      February 22, 2021 at 9:34 am

      No way for me. Anything that can (and often will) arc outside its enclosure is strictly hot stick for me. A pair of Channel Locks won’t do it for me ๐Ÿ˜€

      It may work 100 times, but that 101st attempt will not go so well…

  • fixbear

    Member
    February 22, 2021 at 10:22 am

    I used to have to clean and lubricate 480V service disconnects. The stationary blade receivers were always hot. Not for the light of heart job. One loses a lot of sleep after doing one. And the special switchgear grease is very costly and hard to get. But if the mechanical function does not work as designed and snap the blades in and out. You’ll get some substantial arcing. Both opening or closing.

    • techtownmayor

      Administrator
      February 22, 2021 at 11:00 am

      Kudos! You’d be amazed how many people think that a switch is a switch. Poorly aligned, poorly cleaned contacts can create a ton of headaches.

    • nafets47

      Member
      February 22, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Yea that is a solid pass for me. I like my fingers and general bone structure to deal with things that can arc and remove those things dear to me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • chanlui

    Member
    April 12, 2021 at 11:14 am

    I bought a set of Fluke silicon test lead with the sure grip aligator clips. The resistance is in order of several ohms so while it’s OK for voltage measurement it’s no good for resistance measurement.

  • fixbear

    Member
    April 12, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    It’s not the leads that cause this, it’s the connection to what you are measuring. Often a film of grease on the probe from your skin. Clean them with alcohol and zero your meter, then check for repeatability. If your experiencing this with the alligator clips, clean the threads and make sure they are tight.

    I also find that the telcom leads are a great addition at times. The multi-pin piercing clamp works well on small gauge wires.

    • chanlui

      Member
      April 14, 2021 at 8:59 am

      I had that set many years ago in fact 30 years ago about when I bought the Fluke 87 (the original 87) and because they didn’t work well they’re still like new and I just tried it again, clean with contact cleaner whatever, I never get it to work well. I have no problem with other sets of leads though and I have many.

      • fixbear

        Member
        April 14, 2021 at 10:37 am

        That’s odd. Can you give me more detail as to what was the problem with them. If you had the original 87A model, it was recalled due to the selector switch. I still have mine, but the screen has lost a half of a digit. It’s still my favorite after the Simpson 260. Especially because of the graphing bar that helps determine if you having a connection problem.

        • chanlui

          Member
          April 14, 2021 at 10:49 am

          If you want I can send them to you for evaluation. Yeah I had the original 87 and it had bad display twice. First time Fluke fixed it for free the second time they said can’t fix it and offered me $100 toward the 189 which I went for.

          By the way can we post pictures here? I would like at least posting some pics and also test the leads again tonite and tell you what’s wrong.

  • techtownmayor

    Administrator
    April 12, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    I recently ordered this set from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Multimeter-Digital-Electrical-Alligator-Replaceable/dp/B083K4GBJF/ref=pd_sbs_3?pd_rd_w=c9npO&pf_rd_p=1f09e623-97c8-4c74-883f-063b7295f49e&pf_rd_r=TNB5C6RX9MQ48A77DE8K&pd_rd_r=31d9a715-3a54-4bb4-a4c6-3b03ab0b9994&pd_rd_wg=9bvEE&pd_rd_i=B083K4GBJF&psc=1

    They are clearly not made for commercial use, but they are surprisingly good for low voltage measurements, or those times where you don’t have enough hands to hold the probes down ๐Ÿ™‚ At $21 they are cheap enough to toss if/when I break them…

    • nafets47

      Member
      April 13, 2021 at 7:40 pm

      That doesn’t seem like a bad deal especially with the quantity you are getting. Like you said not for commercial, but in my experience the amount of wire low/vol has is quite excessive.

  • fixbear

    Member
    April 14, 2021 at 10:30 am

    I’m not a fan of PVC insulation. To stiff for my liking. Silicone is not the answer either, To easy to cut. Hypalon is expensive, but tough and long lasting as well as being supple. Fine annealed silver coated wire is the best for both conductivity and being supple. Gold or silver plated tips work better than Nickle. When you resharpen, they lose their corrosion protection. And conduction contact reliability. That’s why the high cost of good ones.

    Interested to hear how these probes work for you. We have all had the probe that gets shorted/overloaded, or get’s a intermittent open in the field. The whole reason for always carrying a extra pair. I’ve never had the SMT tweezers. I can see where they would be a big help looking for a bad diode or resistor.

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