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Author Topic: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade  (Read 25541 times)

Mike Sokol

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3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« on: February 20, 2015, 01:18:55 PM »

As promised, here's my hacked 3-light outlet tester with an extra neon bulb between the ground contact and a finger touchpad. It's not very bright, but it indeed works. I used a 100K ballast resistor on an NE2 bulb, but if someone was going to manufacture this they would need to engineer a properly blacked-out window for the hot-ground indicator and select the brightest bulb that would fit. Still, this is a step in the right direction, I think.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 01:23:39 PM by Mike Sokol »
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2015, 03:14:31 PM »

Very kool.... I love it when a plan comes together...

I'm still waiting for my buddy to check out the stinger cap for noise floor so I haven't ordered parts yet... Looks like I don't need to test out the NCNL (non contact neon lamp)...

Does it help if you make the other lamps dimmer?

JR
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Mike Sokol

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2015, 07:54:46 PM »

Very kool.... I love it when a plan comes together...

I'm still waiting for my buddy to check out the stinger cap for noise floor so I haven't ordered parts yet... Looks like I don't need to test out the NCNL (non contact neon lamp)...

Does it help if you make the other lamps dimmer?

JR

There's a lot of yellow light bouncing around inside of the yellow plastic housing, so we put a piece of e-tape on the back of the new bulb to shield it. However, I do have an Amprobe unit with a dark red plastic housing that could offer better contrast. I bought a 10-pack of the NE2 bulbs and my boy has a new Dremel tool to play with, so perhaps we'll hack a few more testers together over the weekend.
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Steve M Smith

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2015, 02:28:07 AM »

If you know anyone with a 3D printer, you could have a new enclosure made from black material and with internal walls between neons.


Steve.
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Mike Sokol

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2015, 07:02:00 AM »

If you know anyone with a 3D printer, you could have a new enclosure made from black material and with internal walls between neons.


Steve.

That's a great idea. The tech school where I sometimes teach has a 3D printer. I could make this a class project for their design students. 
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2015, 03:11:50 PM »

The Radio Shack catalog from 1983 shows a nearly identical tester to the one you started with listed for a price of $5.95.  I am not sure when they first appeared, but after at least 31 years an improvement seems to be well overdue!  Interesting that the price point hasn't changed much-I wonder how much the mark up has changed?
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Mike Sokol

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2015, 03:23:24 PM »

The Radio Shack catalog form 1983 shows a nearly identical tester to the one you started with listed for a price of $5.95.  I am not sure when they first appeared, but after at least 31 years an improvement seems to be well overdue!  Interesting that the price point hasn't changed much-I wonder how much the mark up has changed?

From what I remember they've always been $5 or so. Of course in the early 70's gasoline was 29 cents a gallon and the minimum wage was $1.50 per hour. So that tester took at least 3 hours of work to pay for in 1972, but around 1/2 hour of labor in 2015 dollars. I'm sure the new ones are made in China, which is why they can be sold for so cheap.

I still don't know why this 4th hot-ground indicator light has never been in the US versions. Perhaps it's because the designers weren't thinking about Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground (RPBG) wiring as a cause of hot-grounds. It seems that some countries such as the UK and Canada are VERY concerned with grounding and safety, while others such as Korea and India are way LESS worried about grounding and shock safety.

I'm going to ask my contacts at Amprobe and Klein about this next week. Perhaps they can provide some intel on just why this hasn't been offered here. I think the 4-light outlet tester with hot-ground indicator would be perfect for home inspectors who often come across Knob-and-Tube upgrades which have a greater potential for RPBG mis-wiring. 
« Last Edit: February 21, 2015, 03:25:46 PM by Mike Sokol »
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2015, 07:28:55 PM »


I'm going to ask my contacts at Amprobe and Klein about this next week. Perhaps they can provide some intel on just why this hasn't been offered here. I think the 4-light outlet tester with hot-ground indicator would be perfect for home inspectors who often come across Knob-and-Tube upgrades which have a greater potential for RPBG mis-wiring.

From my experience, home inspectors vary wildly in accuracy-likely because their job requires them to be a jack of all trades, they never really master any.  More to the point, the Sure Test and others will indicate a bootleg ground.  Usually, when they find anything not right about a ground, they flag it as safety and recommend a "licensed electrician evaluate the system".  Bootleg or RPBG are both safety issues-they see no need to delineate which is worse, and their lawyers are probably poorer for them not making that call.
 
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Mike Sokol

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2015, 07:46:59 PM »

More to the point, the Sure Test and others will indicate a bootleg ground. 

One thing to be aware of is that the SureTest and Amprobe analyzers won't indicate a bootleg ground on a branch circuit located more than 15 feet from the G-N jumped outlet. That's because 15 ft of wire has sufficient resistance to get over the "bootleg" G-N threshold.

The thing that I've found when troubleshooting hums with a qualified master electrician at my side is that very few of them really understand how ground bonding and series resistance works. I'm not saying that they don't know their job, because they are mostly qualified for wiring installation and probably know code inside and out. But troubleshooting botched up systems requires another level of understanding how electricity really works. I'm not sure that most home inspectors have any real knowledge of electricity, while many (hopefully) will understand obvious code requirements. 
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Mike Sokol
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2015, 09:47:34 PM »


The thing that I've found when troubleshooting hums with a qualified master electrician at my side is that very few of them really understand how ground bonding and series resistance works. I'm not saying that they don't know their job, because they are mostly qualified for wiring installation and probably know code inside and out. But troubleshooting botched up systems requires another level of understanding how electricity really works.

That is a key concept at lot of "people in charge" do not understand.  I have had cont ed instructors teach things that made no sense if you understand electricity-but you are right their key focus is code and code is primarily concerned with safety.  Safety is enforced (rightly so), so it often becomes the standard vs will it be efficient/not cause interference, etc.  I started out with an electronics interest and "added" the electricians license because it was/is a more viable career in a rural area-but it is hard to sell the "added value" of  understanding electricity (of course, I understand more than they do how much I still need to learn-which is why I am here!)

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Steve Swaffer

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Re: 3-light tester RPBG upgrade
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2015, 09:47:34 PM »


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