Looking at options for test boxes.

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by ktinoue3, Jan 16, 2017.

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  1. ktinoue3

    ktinoue3 Podium

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    I am looking at options of test boxes. I mostly fix my own weapons and that of classmates. I would eventually like to work towards volunteering and doing armory for regional events.

    From research and reading forums I found following:
    • Advanced Test Box from the armory store. A single meter rotary test box. Can be used to test body cords including short testing, lamés, weapons, mask cords and continuity. Available in instruction, kit, or complete build (would make the kit). Great for personal set up. Not ideal flow for weapon control.
    • Brtech's Tourna-test 3 meter test box with short detection. I have not been able to find out a lot of information about this box as most threads that cover it no longer appear to exist.
    • Favero test box, expensive but it has many options and tests basically everything.
    • Dell electronics all weapon tester tests body cords including short testing, lamés, weapons, mask cords. Micro-controller based. Haven't found any reviews or detailed opinions on it. Really like the size of it.
    • Anton Sarukhan Micro-controller based test box v2 controller. Uses a touch screen. Not sure on it ability to detect micro breaks. I am a programmer and the code is in a repo so I might be able to play with it to see.
    Have I missed any options? Anyone have any preferences or opinions on the above options.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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  3. neevel

    neevel Armorer

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    You really want one that indicates resistance values if you want to do serious armory work, so I'd say no to the FWF and Uhlmann/Allstar LED only testers.

    Chris Green will also sell a single meter analog test box with a smaller form factor than Mergs'- I can PM you his e-mail if you're interested in contacting him. Both he and Mergs have been using their single meter boxes for control at NACs and international tournaments for years- while there are real advantages to a 3-meter box, a good 1 meter setup is still perfectly adequate to the task. Many other folks who regularly work NACs, ROCs, and SYCs also have single meter boxes.

    I've been using the Dell box for 3-years now (I helped George Dell out as a developmental tester; a number of its behaviors and features were the result of my feedback to him) and like it. As you noted, the compact size and light weight is very nice in this era of luggage fees and weight restrictions. The autoranging LED digital display and the pseudo-analog bar are very fast and do not have the response-time issues that the LCD displays on many (less-expensive) digital meters have. I have made one modification to it to assist with equipment control- the addition of a pair of spade-lug to banana plug adapters beneath the plugs for the lame test lines (which are shared for other cord lines) to keep the lame leads plugged in without having to stack plugs- easily and cheaply done. There's also the advantage of it being US made, so if you need any support or repairs it can be sent to George. It's a three-line tester- the digital display shows either the highest resistance of the 3-lines (if all lines are below passing resistance) or will cycle through lines that are high if more than one are over the limit. In the A-line (head cord mode) it can also be used as a normal ohmmeter.

    The Favero falls into the category of cool-but-overkill, and has the additional design goober of not having two clip posts for mask cords- there's a little adapter you need to be constantly removing and inserting to one on the A line plugs.

    The final option you have not listed is building your own, which is how most of us started. A switch-box with a 6-position double-pole rotary switch is not difficult or expensive to build and can be used with the meter of your choice (digital or analog is a question of religious denomination among armory folks, the one caveat being that cheap digital meters lacking autoranging and a pseudo-analog bar are prone to missing quick breaks). A 3-meter box is really not all that much harder to build, either. By building your own, you can also choose the enclosure that meets your own preferences for size and durability.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  4. neevel

    neevel Armorer

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    BTW, where are you located? There are a number of us here who could point you to someone in your vicinity who might be able to help you out with building tester.
     
  5. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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    I thought the FWF box was built to reject items with too-high resistance and was thus suitable for club work. Am I mistaken?
     
  6. neevel

    neevel Armorer

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    The thing is, you really want to see the actual resistance value and see how it changes when you exercise a piece of equipment to diagnose what might be wrong. Also, seeing that a resistance value is creeping up on a rules limit allows you to identify incipient problems and fix them before they become significant.
     
  7. ktinoue3

    ktinoue3 Podium

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    I live in the Seattle Area. I Fencing at Salle Auriol.
     
  8. andy.collins

    andy.collins Rookie

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    ktinoue3,

    I sent you a pm, but you should definitely get in touch with me. I'm also at Salle Auriol, and I'd be happy to help you build a tester and/or show you some of my creations.

    Andy
     
  9. St.Meow

    St.Meow Made the Cut

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    Ironically, I'm around the position you're trying to achieve. If you're looking heavily into buying one, Mergs design is very nice, and much cheaper than the Dell or Favero ones, and if you're trying to do regional or national events, basic LED boxes are not really acceptable, most they are just to do quick checks on strip. My best suggestion is to build your own box, to help give you some better electrical engineering knowledge and how the weapons work.

    The simplest box to build is buying a separate multimeter and use the box itself as a switch for hooking up the equipment to the meter. Just a 6 position 2 pole switch that changes the positive and negative from A-A, to B-B, to C-C, to A-C, to B-C, to C-A (or any other configuration you think appropriate). All that you need to buy is a multimeter, the connectors, and a 6 position 2 pole switch.

    There are also 3 multimeter designs, where you have 3 meters attached and just have one switch to go from straight connections (A-A, B-B, C-C) to crossed connections (A-B, B-C, C-A). That's a bit faster to use, just obviously much larger. That's just one switch. a 6PDT switch particularly.

    If you want to get even more in depth, you can learn to build your own resistance testing circuit. This involves an analog meter and some resistors in series to make the current going through the meter be indicative of what resistance is in place in the circuit.
     
  10. brtech

    brtech Podium

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    The Favero is overkill for most people, but the graph display of intermittents is very useful for diagnosing some problems, Google still finds the TournaTest threads, PM me if you need any help. I'm still around, just built a new version of it, and several armorers have built similar testers.

    I do suggest everyone start out building a single meter tester. It's really useful to teach you how test boxes work. The 3 meter testers are really only useful if you need to work quickly, such as when you work the armory table at a NAC. Many 3 meter testers don't test shorts, and I think that's a problem.
     
  11. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    I have to agree with Brian (brtech) about the Favero tester. I own one (found it on eBay for 1/2 price!) and it's definitely overkill for the average armorer. I find it most useful when I work on epee tips where the graphic display is helpful for checking the response of the tip action. Only an geeky mechanical engineer like me would love it. Otherwise, a old school analog multimeter setup is much more handy and definitely lighter to carry around.

    As for when I'm at a NAC level tournament, I use a 3 multimeter setup for testing body and mask cords and a desperate multimeter for testing lames and masks. Like Brian said, it's much quicker
     
  12. brtech

    brtech Podium

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    I love spell corrector. I really want to see that desperate multimeter trying to fit in with the crowd!
     
  13. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    Yes, technology at its finest! Of course, there have been some real desperate fencers watching me when I tell them that their lames won't pass muster. Parents just hate armorers who tell them that little Tommy needs a brand new saber mask before he can fence in the tournament.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  14. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    I'd like to build a three meter analog box to test epee body cords.

    Anyone have a good source for not super expensive analog ohmmeter faces that have a scale of something like 0-5 ohms?
     
  15. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    I use Gardner Bender GMT-319 which has a 1 Ohm scale with a 5 Ohm center scale reading. Locally (California), I get them at Orchard Supply Hardware which for some unknown reason is labeled as their GMT-318 model. About $25. You will have to modify the provided probes to have standard 4mm banana plugs. The plugs on the multimeter themselves is a standard 2mm version.

    When I get home, I'll try and get a picture of my setup and my adapter box. The box is fairly compact and was designed to test foil, epee, and mask cords. There are additional banana jacks built into the box where I can hook in my lame tester cords if my other multimeter craps out for some reason. I've used this particular setup at last year's Summer Nationals and this year's RYCs and ROCs. So far, no real problems with it.

    http://www.gardnerbender.com/en/gmt-319
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  16. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    This one: http://www.gardnerbender.com/en/gmt-319 ?

    It looks like it has an ohm reading with 50 in the center, not 5. Am I misreading it? If I set it on ohms x1, is a vertical needle reading 50 ohms or 5?
     
  17. dcchew

    dcchew Podium

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    The picture may not totally match the product that my local hardware store sells. My meter may be a company specific meter that GB sells directly through them. I do know that on my meters, there is a R1 resistance setting with a 5 ohm center scale. So, it makes it easy to use for testing lames or cords.

    I think you already have my email address, contact me via that if you want me to buy the meters locally and I can ship them to you. Several of the NAC armorers use this meter too. I'd suggest getting 4 meters just in case one craps out.
     
  18. neevel

    neevel Armorer

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    Unfortunately, finding an analog meter with a x1 range has become a bit of a chore. The Sperry SP-10A used to be the go-to model to look for (compact and only costing $10-15), but it was discontinued several years ago and no single consistently-available model has taken its place. If you're not lucky enough to have a hardware or electronics supply store local to you that carries a suitable model, your best bet is to go looking on Amazon and pay close attention to the product photos to see if there's a X1 range and a reasonable center-point on the scale (and hope the photo is accurate).
     
  19. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    Thanks, I appreciate it. I'm going to look locally, but I may be in touch.
     
  20. bobb121

    bobb121 Podium

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    KON I am using the
    Velleman AVM360
    which is available from EPO for a substantial markup.

    Here it is on amazon for around $8
     

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