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Out of Order: Low Battery in Multimeter = High Voltage Scare

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RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my ranting on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

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The very first submission for RF Cafe's new Out of Order feature has been received from Joe Birsa. His experience is one that many of us (including me) has been bitten by at some point in our electronics and/or electrical pursuits. Unfortunately, this type of situation occurs so infrequently that by the time it happens again, we've forgotten about it and are prone to getting bitten once more. Do you have a good work-related anecdote to share? Please email it to me for consideration. Thanks.

 

 

 

 


Low Battery in Multimeter = High Voltage Scare

 

By Joe Birsa  N3TTE

Last year when I was adding a new accessory to my ham radio station at home, I noticed that the power supply I use for accessories was putting out 16 VDC instead of the nominal 12 volts I expected.

So, I turned on my soldering iron and grabbed a 7812 (a much-used linear voltage regulator), a scrap of project board, and a heatsink from my stockpile of parts and made a little voltage regulator.

When I then checked my voltage regulator, its output was also reading 16 volts! Suspecting a malfunctioning meter, I then used a new 9 volt battery to check my multimeter's accuracy. Rather than measuring a little over 9 volts as it should, it read 12 volts instead.

I replaced the 9 volt supply battery in my multimeter and the power supply then read the expected 12 VDC and the battery read 9 VDC. I then measured the battery I took out and it read low, about 7 volts.

Apparently the voltage reference in the multimeter required more than 7 volts in order to function properly. Seven volts wasn't low enough to prevent the meter from working, but it made every voltage reading display as being higher than it really was. A simple "LO BATT" indicator on the display would have save me a lot of trouble.

In retrospect, I should have grabbed my backup multimeter and verified the reading; but it was at night after a long day at work. Hopefully my experience will come to mind if you ever find yourself getting nonsensical readings during a measurement - do not just assume your test equipment is functioning properly.

 

Out-of-Order Archives

Do you have a good work-related anecdote to share? Please email it to me for consideration. Thanks.

- The Singing Telephone Switch 

- The Professor-Provided Cheat Sheet

- TV DXing, and the Dog on the Roof

- Occam's Razor for Water Bottles

- Of Pointy-Haired Bosses

- Attack of the Cookie Monster

- Tracking Down a Mystery Signal

- Low Battery in Multimeter = High Voltage Scare

 

 

Posted February 12, 2014

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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