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DurhamAppliance's Blog

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You can't touch this... Non-contact voltage detectors



Why so many voltage testers? Well during last years ASTI, the instructor in Basic Electronics asked for those who were afraid of electricity to raise their hand. I embarrassingly raised my hand along with a few others.

He then asked for a show of hands of those who had a healthy respect for electricity. To those he replied "you are the ones most likely to die from an electric shock." I agree. I work well with electricity but it scares the hell out of me. I check multiple times for voltage using multiple testers.

Why the fear you ask? Let's go back to Christmas 1971... I had just turned 12...

My grandmother gave my older brother and me an electric football set for Christmas. No ... no Madden, no Xbox, no Playstation . Even this was too far advanced for the time.....

Heck, that would have been some Jules Verne, Star Trek type shit if we saw that in '71... what we had was....

Just listen to that current flowing.... such raw power! Man, that's football! Well, one late night the power stopped flowing. I was finally about to win a game against my brother and his formidable Baltimore Colts but when I clicked the switch, nothing happened.

I don't know how I diagnosed it but I somehow determined the switch was bad. I unplugged it and took the switch apart. That's when I had an epiphany. I understood it! The switch did nothing but interrupt or connect the line. No problem, for I am... uh... just a 12 yo runny nosed kid who just knew he understood electricity.

My dad had some light switches in his tool room. I figured I'd use one of those to replace the bad switch. My brother, 4 years my senior, wanted nothing to do with it. "Simple" I said, and proceeded to connect the wires and connected them properly. Not only were my Dallas Cowboys about to conquer my brother's Baltimore Colts but I was about to conquer electricity!

The play was set... "hike!"... followed by a "click" of the switch sending my players crashing into the opposition and me crashing to the floor. You know, there is an old saying that if you are working on electricity, have someone standing by with a two by four to knock you free. I wished my brother had a two by four in his hand. I would have welcomed getting knocked the hell out. Instead, I vibrated along with that football set for what seemed like hours and I subsequently continued to have "vibration spells" for weeks to come.

I thought I understood electricity and had no fear of it. Just a dumb preteen kid who later found out about the principle of insulation and that masking tape, like I used on the switch, does a really poor job of it. Luckily, I survived but forever changed in apparently two ways 1) since that time, I have a healthy fear of electricity and 2) my mom told me my hair use to be curlier when I was 11.

ps that football set was the 1971 Super Bowl edition Colts vs Cowboys. My brother being older, took the winning Colts. I had the Cowboys and sad to say, that's why I'm still an honest to goodness Cowboys fan to this day. Yeah, yeah I know... shocking.

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Samurai Appliance Repair Man


A nice roundup and review of one of my favorite quickie test tools.  

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I had no idea there was so many non contact testers. I've seen the pens. Never in multimeters. Always learning new things. I don't use a non contact tester right now. Think I will pick up the Klein soon though.

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Great review Durham.  I keep a Fluke NCVT in my electrical diagnostic bag.  Great tool.

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