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#180451 - 08/26/08 08:03 PM Circuit tracers...  
Sir Arcsalot  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 127
Lynden, Washington
I am strongly considering the purchase of a good-quality circuit tracer for a number of reasons and am looking at the Amprobe AT-2005 and Ideal 61-958 as possible candidates.

Any field experiences with the aforementioned tracers- pro and con- would be greatly appreciated. Experiences with other makes/models are fine too...

I am a very firm believer in "you get what you pay for" so I am willing to fork out a bit more $$ for something useful.

Thank you very much in advance.


No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#180455 - 08/26/08 08:28 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: Sir Arcsalot]  
HotLine1  Offline


Member
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,872
Brick, NJ USA
I owned an Amprobe AT and was relatively happy with it.

That said, what are you intending to trace? I found that for tracing underground feeds (site lighting) The AT was 'second best'. I used a Ditch Witch unit from an irrigation contractor, and that had to be first choice for underground.

Just my two cents


John

#180456 - 08/26/08 08:38 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: HotLine1]  
Sir Arcsalot  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 127
Lynden, Washington
I plan on tracing mainly de-energized electrical and communications circuits (energized would of course be a truly last resort); reasonably good (but nondestructive!) underground locatability would be a real plus.


No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

#180463 - 08/26/08 09:21 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: Sir Arcsalot]  
Obsaleet  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 362
Pa
I havew the amprobe and its Ok. It can find circuits in the ground but not very well. I don't however have the wand for it. I just hold it down close and sweep.



Ob


Choose your customers, don't let them choose you.

#180494 - 08/27/08 08:46 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: Obsaleet]  
Sir Arcsalot  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 127
Lynden, Washington
By "not very well" WRT underground tracement, do you mean it has difficulty finding the desired circuit at all, or does it indicate an unduly wide, i.e., less accurate, or hit-or-miss area where it could be?

I do know a large percentage of successful locates- I presume above-ground as well- lies in the skill of the user (I'm talking about myself here). For example, this is undoubtedly true when a seasoned surveyor is using a Schonstedt ferrous metal detector for finding survey monuments, etc. versus a greenhorn...


No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

#180504 - 08/28/08 10:15 AM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: Sir Arcsalot]  
HotLine1  Offline


Member
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,872
Brick, NJ USA
Results from the Amprobe for site lighting UG fault locations (opens/breaks) can be good, but....practice & patience are required. A few long phone calls to the factory tech helped. Like I said 2nd best. Managed to track a UG burnout to a 2' wide X 4' area, cut the blacktop, dug down & it was almost dead center. Using the Ditch Witch wand, narrowed a similar break to an 12" x 18" area. Both jobs were #4 & #6 AL conductors in PVC & energized.



Last edited by HotLine1; 08/28/08 10:15 AM.

John

#180510 - 08/28/08 03:36 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: HotLine1]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Member
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
I have used tracers, up to $800 in cost, with mixed results. Maybe it's our local soil, maybe it's my technique (or lack of it), but all of them seem to require a lot more 'art' than 'science.'

That said, they are a valuable tool, a real help, in figuring out what is going on.

I've also found it a help to use marking paint to indicate solid 'hits' .... sometimes, the pattern of dots will help you to see a pattern, and find your problem. I found a paved-over, faulted junction box this way. (Also - in true "Murphy's Law" fashion ... I was parked right over the box!)

Still, the best help is 'additional information.' That is, first-hand knowledge of the installation, or photos of things during construction.
For example, I once was chipping the concrete around a pool in order to bond to the rebar - and was not finding it! Watching a video the customer had made of the pour, I was able to see - you guessed it - that I was chipping right where the helper had stood - pushing the steel to one side. Murphy again!

Still, I am able to sort out 90% of my tracing issues using a $30 'circuit breaker finder' on hot circuits, and the $130 Progressive/Tempo unit on dead ones.


#180551 - 08/29/08 09:07 PM Re: Circuit tracers... [Re: renosteinke]  
Sir Arcsalot  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 127
Lynden, Washington
Thank y'all for the replies so far. I do appreciate it.

I have done some more research and now I realize that Ditch Witch makes subsite equipment as well as excavators... at first I thought Hotline1 was referring to a trencher for locating cable laugh laugh laugh Sure, they work extremely well at finding them but not exactly the most wire-friendly. Seems also that particular company is geared toward rental as opposed to purchase but maybe that's just my perception.

Of course, I would not expect a multi-purpose tool (above- and below-ground) to be equal in accuracy to one strictly suited for the mole's eye view kind of work.

Makes me wonder if I could build an oscillator circuit that my Schonstedt could pick up down the line... That thing will "warble" when 60Hz is near. Maybe I could change the warble signature with an oscillator of a unique frequency. Nothing better than the Schonstedt IMO for finding ferrous metal pipes, etc. etc. etc...

It sounds like the Amprobe- though not cheap- works well for its intended purposes. Apparently the Ideal 61-958 is fairly new and perhaps not a lot of members here have had a chance to use it in the field. Replies still appreciated.

Thanks again folks.



No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.


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