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Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS)
Module 16—Introduction to Test Equipment
Chapter 3:  Pages 3-21 through 3-30


 
 
The same amount of current must always be used to deflect the pointer to a certain position on the scale (midscale position, for example), regardless of the multiplication factor being used. Since the multiplier resistors are of different values, you must always "zero" the meter for each multiplication scale selected. When selecting a range on the ohmmeter, select the one that will result in the pointer coming to rest as close to the midpoint of the scale as possible. This will enable you to read the resistance more accurately because scale readings are more easily interpreted at or near midpoint.
 
The Megohmmeter
 
An ordinary ohmmeter cannot be used for measuring multimillion ohm values of resistances, such as those in conductor insulation. To test for such insulation breakdown, you need to use a much higher potential than that supplied by the battery of an ohmmeter. This potential is placed between the conductor and the outside of the insulation. A megger (megohmmeter) is used for these tests. The megger, shown in figure 3-15, is a portable instrument consisting of two main elements: (1) a hand-driven dc generator, which supplies the necessary voltage for making the measurement, and (2) the instrument portion, which indicates the value of the resistance you are measuring. The instrument portion is of the opposed-coil type, as shown in view A. Coils a and b are mounted on movable member c. A fixed angular relationship exists between coils, and they are free to turn as a unit in a magnetic field. Coil b tends to move the pointer counterclockwise, and coil a tends to move it clockwise.
 

Megger internal circuit and external view - RF Cafe

Figure 3-15.—Megger internal circuit and external view.


 
Coil a is connected in series with R3 and unknown resistance Rx. The combination of coil a, R3, and Rx  forms a direct series path between the + and - brushes of the dc generator. Coil b is connected in series with R2, and this combination is also connected across the generator. Notice that the movable member (pointer) of the instrument portion of the megger has no restoring springs. Therefore, when the generator is not being operated, the pointer will float freely and may come to rest at any position on the scale.
 
 

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The guard ring, shown in view A of figure 3-15, shunts any leakage currents to the negative side of the generator. This prevents such current from flowing through coil a and affecting the meter reading.
 
Q-24.   What is the purpose of the guard ring in a megohmmeter?
 
If the test leads are open, no current will flow in coil a. However, current will flow internally through coil b and deflect the pointer to infinity. This reading indicates a resistance too large to measure. When a resistance, such as Rx, is connected between the test leads, current also flows in coil a; the pointer tends to move clockwise. At the same time, coil b still tends to move the pointer counterclockwise. Therefore, the moving element, composed of both coils and the pointer, comes to rest at a position in which the two forces are balanced. This position depends upon the value of Rx, which controls the amount of the current in coil a. Because changes in voltage affect both coils in the same proportion, the position of the moving element is independent of the voltage. If you short the test leads together, the pointer will come to rest at zero because the current in coil a is relatively large. Since R3 limits the current, the instrument will not be damaged under these circumstances. The external appearance of one type of megger is shown in view B
of figure 3-15.
 
Most meggers you will use are rated at 500 volts; however, there are other types. Meggers are usually equipped with friction clutches, which are designed to slip if the generator is cranked faster than its rated speed. This prevents the generator speed and output voltage from exceeding rated values. A
1,000-volt generator is available for extended ranges. When an extremely high resistance, such as 10,000 megohms or more, is to be measured, a high voltage is needed to cause enough current flow to actuate the
meter movement.
 

CAUTION


 

When using a megger, you can easily be injured or damage equipment if you do not observe the following MINIMUM safety precautions:


 

·  Use meggers on high-resistance measurements only (such as insulation measurements or to check two separate conductors on a cable).
 
·  Never touch the test leads while the handle is being cranked.
 
·  De-energize and discharge the circuit completely before connecting a megger.
 
·  Whenever possible, disconnect the component being checked from other circuitry before using a megger
 
Q-25.   Most meggers you will use are rated at what voltage?
 
Q-26.   The development of excessive test voltages is avoided by the use of meggers equipped with what device?


 

ELECTRODYNAMOMETER-TYPE METERS


 
The electrodynamometer-type meter differs from the galvanometer types we have just studied in that two fixed coils are used to produce the magnetic field instead of a permanent magnet. Two movable coils are also used in the electrodynamometer meter. The electrodynamometer meter is most commonly found in various types of power meters.
 
 

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Q-27.   What components in an electrodynamometer-type meter movement produce the magnetic field?
 
As shown in figure 3-16, the fixed coils are connected in series and positioned coaxially (in line) with a space between them. The two movable coils are also positioned coaxially and are connected in series. The two pairs of coils (fixed pair and movable pair) are also connected in series with each other. The movable coil is pivot-mounted between the fixed coils. The main shaft on which the movable coils are mounted is restrained by spiral springs that restore the pointer to zero when no current is flowing through the coil. These springs also act as conductors for delivering current to the movable coils. Since these conducting springs are very small, the meter cannot carry a high value of current.
 

Internal construction of an electrodynamometer - RF Cafe

Figure 3-16.—Internal construction of an electrodynamometer.


 
Q-28.   What is the limiting factor as to the amount of current an electrodynamometer meter movement can handle?
 
METER ACCURACY
 
The meter is mechanically damped by means of aluminum vanes that move in enclosed air chambers. Although very accurate, electrodynamometer-type meters do not have the sensitivity of the D’Arsonval-type meter movement. For this reason, you will not find them used outside of the laboratory environment to a large extent.
 
METER MOVEMENT
 
The primary advantage of the electrodynamometer-type meter movement is that it can be used to measure alternating as well as direct current. If you apply alternating current to the standard galvanometer-type meter, it will not produce a usable reading. Instead, the meter will vibrate at or near the zero reading. On one-half cycle of the ac, the meter is deflected to the left and on the other half cycle
 
 

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to the right. Since the frequencies you will be measuring are 60 hertz or greater, the meter is incapable of mechanically responding at this speed. The result is simply a vibration near the zero point; in addition, no useful reading of voltage or current is obtained. This problem does not exist with the electrodynamometer-type movement. Current flow through the stationary (fixed) coils sets up a magnetic field. Current flow through the moving coils sets up an opposing magnetic field. With two magnetic fields opposing, the pointer deflects to the right. If the current reverses direction, the magnetic fields of both sets of coils will be reversed. With both fields reversed, the coils still oppose each other, and the pointer still deflects to the right. Therefore, no rectifying devices are required to enable the electrodynamometer meter movement to read both ac and dc. Rectifying devices are required for the D’Arsonval-type meter movement to enable it to be used for measuring ac voltages and currents.
 
Q-29.   What is the primary advantage of the electrodynamometer-type meter over the D’Arsonval-type meter?
 
VOLTMETER
 
When an electrodynamometer is used as a voltmeter, no problems in construction are encountered because the current required is not more than 0.1 ampere. This amount of current can be handled easily by the spiral springs. When the electrodynamometer is used as a voltmeter, its internal connections and construction are as shown in view A of figure 3-17. Fixed coils a and b are wound of fine wire since the current flow through them will not exceed 0.1 ampere. They are connected directly in series with movable coil c and the series current-limiting resistor.
 

Circuit arrangement of electrodynamometer for use as a voltmeter and an ammeter - RF Cafe

Figure 3-17.—Circuit arrangement of electrodynamometer for use as a voltmeter and an ammeter.


 

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AMMETER
 
When the electrodynamometer is used as an ammeter, a special type of construction must be used. This is because the large currents that flow through the meter cannot be carried through the moving coils. In the ammeter in view B of figure 3-17, stationary coils a and b are wound of heavier wire to carry up to 5.0 amperes. An inductive shunt (XL) is wired in parallel with the moving coils and permits only a small part of the total current to flow through the moving coil. The current flowing through the moving coil is directly proportional to the total current flowing through the instrument. The shunt has the same ratio of reactance to resistance as the moving coil does. Therefore, the instrument will be reasonably correct at frequencies at which it is used if ac currents are to be measured.
 
WATTMETER
 
Electric power is measured by means of a wattmeter. This instrument is of the electrodynamometer type. As shown in figure 3-18, it consists of a pair of fixed coils, known as current coils, and a moving coil, called the voltage (potential) coil. The fixed current coils are wound with a few turns of a relatively large conductor. The voltage coil is wound with many turns of fine wire. It is mounted on a shaft that is supported in jeweled bearings so that it can turn inside the stationary coils. The movable coil carries a needle (pointer) that moves over a suitably graduated scale. Coil springs hold the needle at the zero position in the absence of a signal.
 

Simplified electrodynamometer wattmeter circuit - RF Cafe

Figure 3-18.—Simplified electrodynamometer wattmeter circuit.


 
Wattmeter Connection
 
The current coil of the wattmeter is connected in series with the circuit (load), and the voltage coil is connected across the line. When line current flows through the current coil of a wattmeter, a field is set up around the coil. The strength of this field is in phase with and proportional to the line current. The voltage coil of the wattmeter generally has a high-resistance resistor connected in series with it. The purpose for this connection is to make the voltage-coil circuit of the meter as purely resistive as possible. As a result, current in the voltage circuit is practically in phase with line voltage. Therefore, when voltage is
 
 

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impressed on the voltage circuit, current is proportional to and in phase with the line voltage. Figure 3-19 shows the proper way to connect a wattmeter into a circuit.
 

Wattmeter connection - RF Cafe

Figure 3-19.—Wattmeter connection.


 
Wattmeter Errors
 
Electrodynamic wattmeters are subject to errors arising from such factors as temperature and frequency. For example, heat through the coils eventually causes the small springs attached to the pointer to lengthen and lose tension, which produces deflection errors. Large currents through the wattmeter also produce a noticeable deflection error. These errors are caused by the heat (I2R) loss through coils from the application of high currents. Because of this, the maximum current range of electrodynamic wattmeters is normally restricted to approximately 20 amperes. The voltage range of wattmeters is usually limited to several hundred volts because of heat dissipation within the voltage circuit. However, the voltage range can be extended by the use of voltage multipliers.
 
Good-quality, portable wattmeters usually have an accuracy of 0.2 to 0.25 percent. You must remember, though, that electrodynamic wattmeter errors increase with frequency. For the higher frequency and power ranges, special types of wattmeters are made specifically for those ranges. We will discuss two such wattmeters in chapter 5 of this module.
 
Wattmeter Overloads
 
The wattmeter consists of two circuits, either of which will be damaged if too much current passes through them. You should be especially aware of this fact because the reading on the instrument will not tell you whether or not the coils are being overheated. If an ammeter or voltmeter is overloaded, the pointer will indicate beyond the upper limit of its scale. In the wattmeter, both the current and potential circuit may carry such an overload that their insulations burn; yet the pointer may be only part of the way up the scale. This is because the position of the pointer depends upon the power factor of the circuit as well as upon the voltage and current. Therefore, a low power-factor circuit will provide a very low reading on the wattmeter. The reading will be low, even when the current and voltage circuits are loaded to the maximum safe limit. The safe rating for each wattmeter is always distinctly rated, not in watts, but in volts and amperes.
 
 

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 TECHNIQUES FOR METER USE


 
We have considered the more common meters; now let’s consider some of the techniques employed in their use. The techniques suggested here are not all-inclusive. You will find, as you develop your technical skills, other variations and techniques in use. Consider the techniques for measuring current in a circuit. You can accomplish this by placing an ammeter in series with the circuit or by measuring the voltage across a resistor of known value and using Ohm’s law to figure current. This last technique has the advantage of eliminating the necessity of opening the circuit to connect the ammeter.
 
CONTINUITY TESTS
 
Open circuits are those in which the flow of current is interrupted by a broken wire, defective switch, or any means by which the current cannot flow. The test used to detect open circuits (or to see if the circuit is complete or continuous) is continuity testing.
 
An ohmmeter (which contains its own batteries) is excellent for use in a continuity test. Normally, continuity tests are performed in circuits where the resistance is very low, such as the resistance of a copper conductor. An open is indicated in these circuits by a very high or infinite resistance between two continuously connected points.
 
Figure 3-20 shows a continuity test of a cable that connects two electronic units. Notice that both plugs are disconnected and the ohmmeter is in series with conductor D under test. The power should be off. When checking conductors A, B, and C (connection of ohmmeter to conductors not shown), the current from the ohmmeter flows through plug 2 (female) through conductor A, B, or C to plug 1 (female). From plug 1, current passes through the jumper to the chassis, which is "grounded" to the ship’s structure. The metal structure serves as the return path to the chassis of unit 2 and completes the circuit through the series-connected ohmmeter. The ohmmeter indicates a low resistance because no break exists in conductors A, B, or C. However, checking conductor D reveals an open. The ohmmeter is shown indicating maximum resistance because current cannot flow in an open circuit. With an open circuit, the ohmmeter needle is all the way to the left since it is a series-type ohmmeter (reads right to left).
 

Continuity test - RF Cafe

Figure 3-20.—Continuity test.


 

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Where conditions are such that the ship’s structure cannot be used as the return path, one of the other conductors (known to be good) may be used. For example, to check D, you can connect a jumper from
pin D to pin A of plug 1 (female) and the ohmmeter leads to pins D and A of plug 2 (female). This technique will also reveal the open in the circuit.
 
TESTING FOR GROUNDS
 
Grounded circuits are caused by some conducting part of the circuit making contact either directly or indirectly with the metallic structure of the ship. Grounds can have many causes. The two most common are the fraying of insulation from a wire and moisture-soaked insulation. The fraying of insulation from a wire allows bare wire to come into contact with the metal ground. Moisture-soaked insulation causes reduced insulation resistance (also classified as a ground).
 
Grounds are usually indicated by blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers, however, can also result from a short circuit other than a ground. A high-resistance ground can also occur when current is increased significantly but not enough to rupture the fuse or trip the circuit breaker.
 

CAUTION


 

Before testing any circuit, ensure the circuit under test has been de-energized and checked with a safety shorting probe.


 
In testing for grounds, you may use a megger or an ohmmeter. Measuring the resistance to ground from points in a circuit determines if the point is grounded. Referring again to figure 3-20, you can see one possible means of testing a cable for grounds. If the jumper is removed from pin D of plug 1 (female), a test for ground can be made for each conductor in the cable. You can do this by connecting one meter lead to ground and the other to each of the pins of either of the plugs. A low resistance indicates that some part of that conductor or one of the plug assemblies is grounded. Both plugs must be removed from their units; if only one plug is removed, a false indication is possible because a conductor may be grounded through the unit.
 
TESTING FOR SHORTS
 
A short circuit, other than a grounded one, is one where two conductors touch each other directly or through another conducting element. Two conductors with frayed insulation may touch and cause a short. Too much solder on the pin of a connector may short to the adjacent pin. In a short circuit, enough current may or may not flow to blow a fuse or open a circuit breaker. A short may occur between two cables carrying signals but might not be indicated by a blown fuse.
 
Shorts occur in many components, such as transformers, motor windings, and capacitors. The major test method used to detect shorts in such components is to measure resistance. The indicated resistance is then compared with the resistance given on schematics or in the equipment technical manuals to determine whether the measured value is within specifications.
 
An ohmmeter is the device used to check for shorts. You can use the ohmmeter to detect a short between two conductors by measuring the resistance between them (be sure electrical power has been disconnected). A low resistance reading indicates a short. You can test the circuit in figure 3-20 for a short by first removing the jumper and disconnecting both plugs; you then measure the resistance between the two suspended conductors.
 
 

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WARNING


 

The following section discusses voltage measurements on live circuits. BE SURE YOU ALWAYS FOLLOW PRESCRIBED SAFETY RULES WHEN MEASURING VOLTAGES.


 
VOLTAGE TESTS
 
Voltage tests must be made with the power applied; therefore, the prescribed safety precautions must be followed to prevent injury to personnel and damage to the equipment. You will find in your maintenance work that the voltage test is of utmost importance. It is used not only in isolating casualties to major components but also in the maintenance of subassemblies, units, and circuits. Before checking a circuit voltage, you should check the voltage of the power source to be sure that the normal voltage is being applied to the circuit.
 
The voltmeter is used for voltage tests. In using the voltmeter, make certain that the meter used is designed for the type of current (ac or dc) to be tested and has a scale with a suitable range. Since defective parts in a circuit can cause higher than normal voltages to be present at the point of test, the highest voltmeter range available should be used first. Once you have obtained a reading, determine if a lower scale can be used that will cause no damage to the meter movement. If so, use the lower scale. This provides a more accurate reading.
 
Another consideration in the circuit voltage test is the resistance and current in the circuit. A low resistance in a high-current circuit could result in considerable voltage drop, whereas the same resistance in a low-current circuit may be minimal. Abnormal resistance in part of a circuit can be checked with either an ohmmeter or a voltmeter. Where practical, an ohmmeter should be used because the test is then carried out with a "dead" circuit.
 
The majority of the electronic circuits you will encounter in equipment will be low-current circuits, and most voltage readings will be direct current. Also, many of the schematics will indicate the voltages at various test points. Therefore, if you suspect that a certain stage is defective, you can check the voltage by connecting a voltmeter from the test point to ground. If the suspected stage is not defective, the voltmeter readings should match the voltages given on the schematic.
 
Some technical manuals also contain voltage charts on which all the voltage measurements are tabulated. These charts usually indicate the sensitivity of the meter (for example, 20,000 ohms/volt) used to obtain the voltage readings for the chart. To obtain comparable results, you must use a voltmeter of the same sensitivity (or greater) as that specified. Make certain that the voltmeter is not "loading" the circuit while taking a measurement. If the meter resistance is not considerably higher than the circuit resistance, the reading will be markedly lower than the true circuit voltage because of the voltmeter’s loading effect. (To calculate meter resistance, multiply the rated ohms-per-volt sensitivity value of the meter by the scale in use. For example, a 1,000-ohms-per-volt meter set to the 300-volt scale will have a resistance of
300,000 ohms.)
 
RESISTANCE TESTS
 
Before checking the resistance of a circuit or of a part, make certain that the power has been turned off. Also make sure capacitors in the associated circuit are fully discharged. To check continuity, always use the lowest ohmmeter range. If the highest range is used, the meter may indicate zero, even though appreciable resistance is present in the circuit. Conversely, to check a high resistance, use the highest scale since the lower range scale may indicate infinity, even though the resistance is less than a megohm. In making resistance tests, you must remember that even though the external ohmmeter leads are
 
 

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connected in parallel with the circuit to be measured, the internal meter circuitry is electrically connected in series.
 
In making resistance tests, take into account that other circuits containing resistances and capacitances may be in parallel with the circuit to be measured. Erroneous conclusions may be drawn from readings obtained in such cases. Remember, a capacitor blocks the dc flow from the ohmmeter. To obtain an accurate reading when other parts are connected across the suspected circuit, disconnect one end of the circuit to be measured from the equipment. For example, many of the resistors in major components and subassemblies are connected across transformer windings. To obtain a valid resistance measurement, you must isolate the resistors to be measured from the shunt resistances of the coils of the transformers.
 
Resistance tests are also used to check a component for grounds. In these tests, the component to be tested should be disconnected from the rest of the circuit so that no normal circuit ground will exist. Dismounting the component to be checked is not necessary. The ohmmeter is set for a high-resistance range. Then the ohmmeter is connected between ground and each electrically separate circuit of the component being tested. Any resistance reading less than infinity indicates at least a partial ground. You can also check capacitors suspected of being short-circuited by measuring the resistance. To check a capacitor suspected of being open, temporarily shunt a known good capacitor then recheck the performance of the circuit.
 

CAUTION

To avoid possible damage to equipment during resistance tests, observe the following precautions:


 

·  Always connect an ammeter in series—never in parallel.
 
·  Connect a voltmeter in parallel.
 
·  Never connect an ohmmeter to a live circuit.
 
·  Observe polarity when using a dc ammeter or a dc voltmeter.
 
·  View meters directly from the front. When viewed from an angle off to the side, an incorrect reading will result because of OPTICAL PARALLAX. (Parallax was covered in NEETS, Module 3, Introduction to Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement.)
 
·  Always choose an instrument suitable for the measurement desired.
 
·  Select the highest range first and then switch to the proper range.
 
·  In using a meter, choose a scale that will result in an indication as near midscale as possible.
 
·  Do not mount or use instruments in the presence of a strong magnetic field.
 
·  Remember, a low internal resistance voltmeter (low sensitivity) may shunt the circuit being measured and result in incorrect readings.


 

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Introduction to Matter, Energy, and Direct Current, Introduction to Alternating Current and Transformers, Introduction to Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement, Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading, Introduction to Generators and Motors, Introduction to Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies, Introduction to Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies, Introduction to Amplifiers, Introduction to Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits, Introduction to Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas, Microwave Principles, Modulation Principles, Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits, Introduction to Microelectronics, Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros, Introduction to Test Equipment, Radio-Frequency Communications Principles, Radar Principles, The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary, Test Methods and Practices, Introduction to Digital Computers, Magnetic Recording, Introduction to Fiber Optics

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