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Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 444
Sandro Offline OP
Just a heads up. Like most people, I don't heed the warning to 'test on known live circuit first' or 'test leads first' when using my trusty yellow Ideal Vol-Con. THIS HAS ALL CHANGED. When doing a service call on a sign, I checked for live power (120V). Vol-Con gave the all clear, no power. I proceeded to disconnect the ballast and Zap..I got nailed. It turns out the Vol-Con lead had separated where the tester wire meets the probe and I had no idea.

I shudder to imagine what would have happened, if I proceeded to work on a "dead" 347/600V line.

Todays lesson, Don't be dumb. Test your meters before use! On the Vol-Con, just touching the two leads together gets the Continuity light going so you know the leads are good.

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 159
CRW Offline
Good message! Also, make sure your test leads are in good shape. If one gets cracked or skinned, don't just throw a little tape on it, get new ones. They have a specific voltage rating. If you use a really cheap tester, meter or leads, you could pay dearly.

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Thanks guys, this is a very important topic and thread. As Sandro points out, when we take things for granted, we may not have a second chance to get it right.


Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 109
Hello from South Dakota!!!

The right tool for the right job. The right meter for the application. Sometimes spending a little extra $$ can bring you home at the end of the night.


Jon Niemeyer
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
When testing for hot wires the OSHA required method is:
1) apply tester to a known live ciruit and verify that tester is working
2) apply tester to cirucit in question and verify that tester shows no voltage
3) apply tester to known live circuit to verify tester is still working properly.

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,374
Great thread, and once again, great information.


Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
I certainly like to check the meter on a known energized circuit first, although I hace to admit to not rechecking after testing the dead circuit.

I'm reminded of an article many years ago about the inspectors that used to walk every mile of track on the London Underground (subway) system every night. Apparently they would always climb down carefully onto the track and connect a box containing 12 bulbs onto the conductor rails so they could see when the control center switched off the power for the night.

Asked why so many bulbs, one said "With one you could have a dud bulb. With 12 you have a better chance."

"But what if there are 12 dud bulbs?"

The reply sticks in my mind:

"Mister, if you're that unlucky, you're not going to be living much longer anyway!"

[Linked Image]

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 91
i have been using the ideal volcon for 20 years. the only problem i ever had was that when you first buy it and plug in the leads YOU MUST PUSH THE LEADS IN ALL THE WAY .at lunch the other day i saw a brand new volcon and sure enough the leads were not pushed in all the way. hope this helps

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