Circuit testing the modern way

We take a look at some of the latest devices to keep you diagnosing problems profitably...

Published:  20 June, 2013

Are you looking to update your diagnostic tools? Well, first of all, the good news is that you'll be spoilt for choice. There has never been so many continuity testers, data loggers, oscilloscopes and other electronic dooh-dahs available.

The difficulty comes when deciding what would be a good buy. I'm sure every garage has at least one piece of 'silicon scrap' - an electrical tool that may have been very expensive yet it became obsolete as soon as it was delivered.

We can't tell you exactly what tools are a going to be a good buy and which ones are soon to be out of date but there are a few interesting devices new to market that will help you resolve problems in less time.

First of all, we'd like to mention the Bosch FSA 500. This battery-operated tool is connected wirelessly to a PC, on which the test software is installed and via which the measurement module is controlled. If a Bosch KTS module is connected, the actual values from the control unit diagnosis are also displayed in the FSA software. The device's measurement module is equipped with engine test functions as well as a universal oscilloscope with a 2-channel and 4-channel mode, an ignition scope and a 2-channel multimeter. It therefore meets all standard requirements for the electrical and electronic testing of vehicle bus systems, such as the CAN bus.

For some jobs a fast stand-alone oscilloscope is the perfect solution and in recent months modern 'scopes have got even faster, thanks to the development of a new type of connection. Back in the 1990s most PC-based oscilloscopes connected to the computer through the 25-pin parallel port connector. The move to USB 2.0 in the early 2000s was a significant step forward for 'scopes, increasing transfer rates by over 100 times and allowing many devices to be powered by the USB port.

If you are reading this article, the chances are that you already have a multimeter or two in your arsenal. These are fine but there is a new device for testing circuit continuity on the market that you might wish to consider. The Power Probe Hook is a circuit testing device that will automatically set its own meter and range.

When connecting the probe tip to measure resistance it automatically becomes an instant ohmmeter and 'auto ranges' without manually selecting it and measures from 0 to 15 Mega ohms. When connecting the probe tip to measure voltage, it automatically becomes a voltmeter and will take readings between zero and 99 volts. It also does this for AC voltage and automatically becomes an instant AC voltmeter along with the measured frequency, so you have to spend less time messing around with the settings on the meter and more time diagnosing faults.

The device activates motors and components up to 100 amps inrush and can power 25 amps to a circuit continuously. Not only does it supply battery power to components but it also displays the current draw in amps and resistance in ohms. You can determine if motors are sticking or are in the beginning stages of going bad by capturing and displaying maximum inrush current.

Testing electrical circuits and components is often regarded as a 'dark art' by those who prefer to connect the scanner and read what it says. However, as regular readers of this magazine will know, circuits are by definition logical, and by using the right testing equipment with the correct approach will help you resolve the problem faster and more profitably.

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