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  • Test Leads

     fixbear updated 1 month ago 4 Members · 9 Posts
  • fixbear

    January 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Test leads

    Over the years i’ve found that there are a lot of test lead sets out there. What  type of insulation.  What type of wire.  What type of probe.  90 degree or straight. Removable probe,  Clamp on probe. Wire piercing. $7 to $180. Blunt to sharp and thin.  Retractable covers.  So many it becomes befuddling to the user.  I started with cheap vinyl blunt probes that didn’t’ come off  the wires. They were stiff and difficult to get reliable readings. The wires were a coarse stranded copper and the banana plugs weak. I was blaming the meter for the errors back then. It wasn’t till I got very frustrated with a difficult job that I broke down and bought another new meter. I was working with a power company employee and he showed me his Fluke 87A. It can be dropped for the top of a power pole and survive.  Something I don’t recommend.  It was twice the price of the best meter I ever bought, but I bit the bullet and saved to buy one.  It changed my life in trouble shooting. But the main thing different was the leads. I’ve bought 3 sets of replacements since buying that meter. The bare industrial set today is $80. Comes with red and black straight guarded probes and red and black straight clamp probes as well as red and black cables with one straight and one 90 end. Fine silver coated wires and silicone insulation.  They are very supple and easy to get around in a cabinet. The straight probes are very sharp and have a about 30 degree angle from the point.. Thin enough to get into the back of a connector. Or even onto the pins of a flat wire connector.  And the best thing is the sure grip leads don’t take a set or knot up.  Fluke makes hundreds of test leads for different applications but the TN220 is the one I like.  I originally bough the TLK387 electronic set because I was doing board work, But it’s a bit much for this field.

    I’ve laid out what I like, but what have you experienced and like.  I have a mix mash of 14 meters, but always comes down to the test leads.  Did not know that when I started.

  • techtownmayor

    January 23, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Incredible timing – I just ordered myself the TLK289 “industrial master” lead kit and was amazed that they now sell 15 different test lead kits. 

    Someone in Everett clearly knows that people love their leads, or that they don’t take good care of them and lose pieces all the time (like me)… I’m hoping that the rollup pouch means I’ll take better care of them. 

  • ectofix

    January 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    All I can offer is that I really LIKED (note the past tense) a pricey set of Fluke  test leads I once purchased – which were very sharp.  They accommodated alligator clips and various other tips that came with the set.

    Unfortunately I lost the tips somewhere along the way.  I’ve always been rough with my tools to, so the leads finally gave out as well.

    To be honest, though, I generally only bought new test leads out of necessity when old ones failed…and I’d end up stopping by somewhere on the way to my next job to buy replacements.

    FWIW: I always had a spare meter in my service van…AND test leads to go with it.  But I’m guilty of borrowing tools from myself and not returning them to me.  LOL!

    From my own flippant, hasty and somewhat rough (bull-in-a-china-closet) nature, the one tool that I most OFTEN had to replace was also my most used tool – a 6 in 1 screwdriver.

    The 2nd tool I most often had to replace was…YES – my set of meter test leads. 

    So, I don’t know HOW many sets I’ve bought over the years.  I was r-a-r-e-l-y allowed a choice to suit my preferences when constrained by the limited selection a Lowe’s or HD’s happened to stock while I traveled from job C to job D on a given day when I was experiencing “test leads envy”.

    • techtownmayor

      January 23, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      It never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find Fluke and other brands in retail stores. Our local Fry’s electronics used to have the whole line, but they look like they might not be around much longer…

      • ectofix

        January 23, 2020 at 6:55 pm

        Fluke really is professional grade – therefore deeming their products too pricey for the DIY shoppers at the big box/hardware/electronics stores. 

        If they can’t sell them, then there’s no reason to stock them.

        My go-to has been the Fluke 116…because it’s in an acceptable price range while having all the features I need.

        Although a Fluke 87 would have my desired features and MORE, I could never justify the price. 

        I don’t buy my own tools anymore for work since my in-house employer provides them.  SO, Klein stuff (<$100) is perfectly suitable for around the house.

        I’m not an avid hobbyist or electronics geek (<grin>), so that’s all I need.

      • fixbear

        January 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        I used to have 6 electronic supply houses in the capital district area of New York state. We are now down to one trying to hang on.  I definitely miss just being able to make a call and find a chip locally. And now with the SMT, it’s even hard to find cap’s and resistors.  I have a surface mount station, But both identifying and obtaining parts today is getting difficult.

  • Nafets47

    January 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I use the Fluke325, I really like it and it provides a wide variety of options for the field.

    The clamp aspect of it is both handy and annoying:

    Handy because you can put it around cables that would otherwise frighten some to see if what the amps are.

    Annoying because of its length and the fact that most of the time when you want to clamp it onto something just to hold it for you; never the direction you need.

    However I did cause an arch the other day with my leads and melted the tip of one, need to grind it down.

    • ectofix

      January 23, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      The Fluke 325 looks like a very nice, general purpose meter.  However, it doesn’t appear to be capable of reading in the µA range, so I probably wouldn’t buy one at that price point. 

      I work with gas control systems allot, so reading micro-amps is a must.

      • fixbear

        January 24, 2020 at 3:19 pm

        My latest is a fluke 116/323 kit. especially like how the probes have a twist function for the probe guards. Purposely designed for HVAC work and measuring flame sensor.

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