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This year's Electronic Distribution Show offered a look at the continuing evolution of test equipment and some interesting new developments.
by Walter H. Schwartz
The Electronic Distribution Show, this year held in Atlanta, May 5, 6, and 7, is where ET/D went to see the latest test equipment and other products of interest to its editors and readers. This year's show produced no great surprises but instead illustrated the continuing evolution of, for example, the digital multimeter and the general purpose oscilloscope, and did feature the introduction of the first, to our knowledge, neatly packaged for two step distribution, TVRO, satellite earth station.
So what's new in test equipment? As I just stated, nothing startling.
However, there were several interesting introductions. Keithley introduced its new Model 128 (Beeper) DMM, a 0.5% accuracy, 3 1/2 digit unit intended for industrial and consumer service and repair. The beeper indicates levels above threshold on volts or amps and below threshold on ohms. It displays a reading, a direction arrow and beeps, simultaneously. The beeper threshold may be set anywhere in the range of 10 to 300 digits, i.e., 1-30 ohms on the 200 ohm range. The 128 also has a diode test range, a shock mounted circuit board and full overload protection. It's cost is $139.
Beckman introduced a couple of new bench-top DMMs and a ruggedized handheld model. The bench-top meters, the Tech'4, 350 and Tech ID 360 are similar 31 range, 0.1 % basic dc accuracy units. The Tech 350 is an average reading meter and the Tech 360 is a true rms meter capable also of reading only the ac component of a composite voltage. It also has a built in temperature measuring capability. The battery life is expected to be 12,000 hours for each of these instruments., due, according to Beckman, to a specialty designed CMOS IC and a special LCD.
Beckman's new HD-100 in its bright yellow O-ring sealed heavy walled ABS case is intended for rough treatment. It is expected to survive drops and input overloads beyond those sustained by previous DMM's according to Beckman. The HD-100 sells for $164.
A new specialized test meter was presented by GC Electronics. GC's Magnameter is a meter specifically designed for microwave oven service.
It features extra heavily insulated test leads and built in switching to permit easy measurement of both magnetron plate voltage, and plate current (voltage across a 10 ohm test resistor). It has a neon flasher which also indicates high voltage and a discharge "dump," switch for discharging the high voltage filter capacitor. The Magnameter sells for $116.95. GC also recently introduced the Micrometer, a simple and inexpensive microwave oven leakage detector. About the size of a marking pen, the Micrometer is simply moved around the door seals. A green meter reading is safe; a red reading means danger. The Micrometer sells for $10.95.
Fig. 6. VIZ's Model WT-540B AC Leakage Tester.
VIZ displayed a couple of items that have been available for a time but were not previously prominently featured, the Model WP-29, a variable isolation transformer/line monitor and Model WT-540B an ac leakage tester.
The WP-29 ISO-V-AC Monitor is an isolation transformer and a 0-150 vac variable source rated at 2 amperes.
The monitor meter, which may be switched to either line input or variable output, has a nearly 3 1 / 2 in. long scale and an accuracy of ± 3% of full scale.
The WP-29 is protected by a thermal overload in the input and a 2 amp circuit breaker in the output. Primary to secondary leakage is reportedly less than 0.1ma. The WT-540B ac leakage tester is a simple device.
However it, or its equivalent, is necessary equipment in every shop.
Connect the ground lead of the W7 540B to a suitable ground and probe all exposed metal of the unit to be tested with red probe. The meter shows leakage level; the 0.5 and 0.75 ma recommended leakage limits are indicated. The cost of the WT540B is under $35.00 and the WP-29 ISO-VAC is $139.95. N.A. (North American).
Soar, a newly organized company formed to market the full Soar test instrument line showed six oscilloscope models, various DMMs, and a wide range pulse generator.
The scopes range in price from about $700 for the 6020, a 20MHz dual trace instrument, to nearly $1700 for the top of the line 6045. At least one model is available with a built in DMM. Soar offers several DMMs. Top of the line is the Model 8010, a 3 1/2 digit LCD meter with a basic dc accuracy of 0.1 %. in addition to other, more standard features, it has a high/low limit function. The 8010 is priced at $199.95. Other meters in the Soar DMM line include the 8025 priced at $169.95. It offers 0.25% basic dc accuracy and is otherwise similar to the 8010. Lower priced meters are the 0.8% model 8080 at $99.95 and the thin case 8090 at $79.95.
Hameg whose name is probably quite new to most of you, displayed its line of oscilloscopes. These have been mentioned in ET/D (Model 312 was featured in December '80) but they have not yet achieved broad distribution. The Hameg scope line includes models from a three inch 10MHz single trace unit to a 50MHz, dual trace, delayed sweep storage scope. New at the show was Model HM 203 a 5 inch, 20MHz, dual trace instrument, complete with probes for $580.
B&K Precision displayed its full line of test equipment, including the new Model 14796, a 30MHz dual trace rack mounting slope with a full compliment of features, and its SA 1010 signature analyzer. Signature analyzers, offered by B&K Precision and one or two other manufacturers at present, are at this time, probably the last word in digital troubleshooting tools. Each test point in a circuit that has been previously characterized for signature analysis can be checked quickly against known conditions and the result is read on a four-digit hexadecimal display. The resulting troubleshooting efficiency is excellent.
Non-Linear Systems presented a new in circuit curve tracer called the Dynatracer. The Dynatracer appears to go a significant step beyond the simple component curve tracer testers previously offered. It uses a comparatively high frequency and has switchable impedance levels which make it possible to pick out not only good or bad semiconductor junctions and relative resistances and capacitances, but to effectively judge good bad or capacitors, resistors and inductances in association with each other and with semiconductors. The Dynatracer will be available as a separate unit for $149.95 and built into various NLS oscilloscopes at slightly less cost.
Other products worth noting were a new field strength meter and a new master subber from PTS Electronics which also was distributing literature on a soon to be available microwave oven leakage tester, very attractive new tool cases from Chicago Case Co. and Platt and similar cases filled with tools by Vaco and Xcelite, and an improved Model SS20 desoldering system by Sylvania with a new no clog feature.
Fig. 15. The control unit for the Channel Master TYRO receiver.
Fig. 16. Sylvania's SS 200 Desoldering System with improved anticlog features.
The last, and to me the most exciting, news from the show was: manufacturers are now packaging TVRO, television satellite receiving systems for distributor to dealer sales.
Channel Master and Lindsay both offered such packages. Lindsay will make up systems to suit individual needs; Channel Master offers two standard pre-package systems, one with a 10 ft. and one with a 12 ft. dish.
Channel Master has carefully worked out the details of two-step distribution of earth stations, to our knowledge the first to do so, and has its 10 ft. dish system, which is to retail for $5900, packaged in seven cartons, none of which exceeds 136 lbs. in weight, and which will altogether fit into a van or pickup truck. The dish and mount are easy to assemble and the mount needs a minimum of labor and concrete to install. Expected time of assembly on a ore-poured foundation is said to be four hours The Channel Master receiver is weatherproof and mounts at the base of the dish. It is remotely controlled and the output to the television receiver is on TV channels 3 or 4.
Channel Master has pre-programmed printing calculators to supply elevation and azimuth information for anywhere in the U.S., and once set to a given satellite the mount can be indexed to enable return after changing to another satellite.
Channel Master feels that there is the potential for sales of several hundred thousand private earth stations to video enthusiasts and to remote areas of the country.
(source: Electronic Technician/Dealer)