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Thread: Test boxes?

  1. #1
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    Test boxes?

    I'm trying to get some information on test boxes for checking foils and epees. Are they useful? Can you use them to check body cords? Which one is best? As far as I can tell they run from $12 to $35 but seem to do the same thing.

    Thanks,
    Susan

  2. #2
    Armorer DHCJr's Avatar
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    To be truthful, there is no ‘good’ commercial available test box. The better boxes are either self-made or built by some of the better Armorers.

    Let me go over some of the most common commercial boxes, their limitations and what to look for. The most common out there are the 2-light variety. There are some of the old ones that use incandescent lights, but most now use LED’s. The LED’s have one glaring problem; they will work even if you have a Kiloohms (1,000 ohms) of resistance. The problem is the box will not work if there is over 200 ohms of resistant in the whole circuit including reels and floor cords. The modern ones have a second problem, no ground. What the older ones had was a bolt connected to the B line. If you had this you could check both the ground on the Epee and the clip on the Foil/Sabre body cord. You can check your body cord with a 2-light box, but you still have the problems with resistance. What you do is cross the B & C lines and the Foil light should come on and cross the A & B lines and the Epee light should come on.

    There have been some that have been sold at NAC’s that have been built out of a little analog multimeter. The same problem, the builder used a meter that was calibrated for Kiloohms.

    What you are looking for in a test box is a way to test resistance and for body cords it is best to have a connector on the box for the weapon end.
    Donald Hollis Clinton, Jr.
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  3. #3
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    i use a 2 light led box

    though an led will still shine with 1 khom of resistance it is noticably dimmer if the resistance of the weapon is to high. if i see this while i'm fixing weapons i use my walmart multimeter on it to see. i use a 2 light box. anyways i think the led problem isn't as important because most intermittent connections won't show up as increased resistance. the circuit either checks or not, i think the led boxes are good to see the flickering. multimeters won't react quickly enough to indcated intermittent breaks.

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    I use an ohmmeter. With a little practice, it is EXTREMELY handy, because you can tell not only whether or not a blade works, but you can also determine where a problem is. AND it works for foil and epee, AND you can test lamés (to a certain extent).

    Oh, and alligator clips on the ends of the wires are a necessity.

  5. #5
    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    *cough cough* Universal test box from Dan Dechaine *cough cough*

    ('course....the one I just got is $800.....but as an armorer I sorta need all the bells & whistles...my Precious, my Precious....)
    Need fencing equipment? See me at H.O.M. Fencing Supply

    Going to your first tournament? Read "Choose yer weapon, Laddie (or: Dude, where's my foil?)"

  6. #6
    Armorer DHCJr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smeric28
    though an led will still shine with 1 khom of resistance it is noticably dimmer if the resistance of the weapon is to high. if i see this while i'm fixing weapons i use my walmart multimeter on it to see. i use a 2 light box. anyways i think the led problem isn't as important because most intermittent connections won't show up as increased resistance. the circuit either checks or not, i think the led boxes are good to see the flickering. multimeters won't react quickly enough to indcated intermittent breaks.
    Is it digital or analog? That is important. If you are talking digital, unless you spend $200 or more it is of little use. With 2 or 3 Kiloohms, yes it will dim a little, but how about 100 ohms. Remember, weapons 2 ohms, body cords 1 ohms per line and lame a wopping 5 ohms. Today, we had a fencer who was having problems with all his weapons. They had been using a 2-light box, which showed them working, but they kept on getting white lights.. The problem was all their weapons was around 100 ohms. Some were obvious like the connector (Prieur Foil) was not tight. But some were not so obvious until you saw the black in the barrel. I have a 2-light box and I use it, but only on weapons I know do not have a resistance problem.

    One thing I should have said was an analog multimeter. Fencing unless you work on the boxes use mechanical switches. Analog is made for them, digital is made for electronic switches.
    Donald Hollis Clinton, Jr.
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  7. #7
    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHCJr
    Today, we had a fencer who was having problems with all his weapons. They had been using a 2-light box, which showed them working, but they kept on getting white lights.. The problem was all their weapons was around 100 ohms. Some were obvious like the connector (Prieur Foil) was not tight. But some were not so obvious until you saw the black in the barrel. I have a 2-light box and I use it, but only on weapons I know do not have a resistance problem.
    From UC Irvine, by any chance? I saw a few of those bad boys myself...I think I sent a few your way! You and Dave Clark were workin'!
    Need fencing equipment? See me at H.O.M. Fencing Supply

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    my setup is analogue, what i was getting at is it really isn't a weakness more of a known issue. if i had fencer going to a high level tournomnet i would check reisitance with an ohm meter anyways.

    There is no way i know of to check resistance and intermittent short with the same device. everybody should have a multimeter in their tool box as well as a 2-light
    Last edited by smeric28; 02-27-2005 at 01:59 AM.

  9. #9
    Armorer DHCJr's Avatar
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    Actually it was USC. I have several intermitancy testers and they are valuable. Most of my primary meters are Simpsons, 262's, 362's and 372's. I can catch most intermitancies, but definetly not all with them. I built my own intermitancy tester, but I also have one of the Negrinis. I am working on an itermintancy tester for body cords. That is a little more work. doing 3 lines at once and intermitant shorts.
    Donald Hollis Clinton, Jr.
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    To Teach is to Learn (Japanese Proverb)

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  10. #10
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    inspired by this thread i found this test box online.
    http://www.sonic.net/~schlae/artools.html
    it is by far the coolest one i have seen

  11. #11
    Armorer DHCJr's Avatar
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    Yes, that is good. The one thing I noticed, if you look at what he named each of his test box. Look at Sam's suggestion for a test box. What he was talking about is Dan's low end 'Universal' test box, with ALL of it accesories. There is also a 'Perfect Fencer', which has a little bit more, but Eric's is very impressive. If any one wants to see one of Dan's Universals or Perfect Fencer, see me at any tournament. In March, I will be at heading up the NCAA Westerns and the Sierra Nevada Open. Also Dan always has a few calibration devices around. Eric has worked a lot with Dan and has become a very good Armorer. His boxes show that, one thing that about Dan's box is the Ergonomics and how easy Dan's test box are to use, if you just read the labels. He acknowledge Dan's contribution by giving him Serial #1 of his Eigertech box.

    smeric28, thank you for posting this. Eric's test boxes are by far better than any commercial box. In 1984, the Olympics bought 2 $1,200 Uhlmann test boxes. It had a single meter, could not test the ground of the weapon, shorts in the body cord and the meter was over 10% off. This WAS a requirement of the FIE to use these. Dan convinced them his earlier Universal which only used calibrated lights (They went completely out at 10 Ohms. At that time there was no maximum resistance at that time) could be used by Control as well at several Simpson 262's for lame. The European Union is so impressed with Dan's Universal, they asked him to build one of the small ones like Sam's for each National Federation. Even they know there are no good commercial test box.

    Thank you again, smeric28.
    Donald Hollis Clinton, Jr.
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    To Teach is to Learn (Japanese Proverb)

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by smeric28
    my setup is analogue, what i was getting at is it really isn't a weakness more of a known issue. if i had fencer going to a high level tournomnet i would check reisitance with an ohm meter anyways.

    There is no way i know of to check resistance and intermittent short with the same device. everybody should have a multimeter in their tool box as well as a 2-light
    Not quite true. Ron Herman (2004 US Olympic armorer) has a small rotary switch tester which covers all the possible shorts (A-C, B-C, B-A) which he built specifically to plug directly into a compact digital meter (i.e., no leads necessary) he owns. He carries this with him to strip calls and can easily check for a short-- just set it for the suspected short see if it registers anything when manipulating the cordage.

    As a hint for working with digital meters on intermittent breaks, you want to be watching the bar-graph display or using the tone-mode, rather than digital output-- they have a much faster refresh rate than the numerical value. Also keep the meter set for auto-ranging, as brief breaks will cause meters to jump range. In general, the digital vs. analog thing is a matter of theology among armorers-- trying to convert a member of one persuasion to another is a waste of time better spent on taste-testing microbrews and arguing their merits.

    -Dave

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  13. #13
    Armorer DHCJr's Avatar
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    I think he meant intermitent breaks. Intermitent shorts can be found with a meter. When I talked about digital, I meant specifically the numeric ones, which the cheaper ones do not have the pseudoanalog display.
    Donald Hollis Clinton, Jr.
    DHCJr@juno.com

    To Teach is to Learn (Japanese Proverb)

    Knowing the rule book by heart means nothing, if you don't understand the rules.

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