Keeping your world up and running.®

Looking back; looking ahead

By Jack Smith

Traditionally, the New Year is a time to reflect on the previous year; assess where we are and where we need to be; fix what needs fixing; and celebrate our accomplishments. I’m not big on resolutions, per se. However, I’m all for finding ways to accomplish more, to solve problems, and to be more productive.

For this column, I’ll look back at some of Fluke’s 2010 product introductions. I’ll also look ahead to how some of these can help you do your job even better in 2011. The list of products mentioned here is in no way exhaustive and are mentioned in no particular order.

Fluke 190 Series II ScopeMeter

Fluke introduced two models of its 190 Series II ScopeMeter. The 190-104 is the 100 MHz model; the 190-204 is the 200 MHz model. The series includes all the features of the standard ScopeMeter. But what’s new for this series includes four channels instead of two, longer battery life (7 hours), and a new USB port. They’re also the first portable scopes safety-rated for CAT III, 1,000 V/CAT IV, 600 V environments.

Troubleshooting can be easier in 2011, especially if you need to check circuit or equipment timing or synchronization issues. With four channels, you can also compare all three power phases to each other or an additional signal such as control or switching pulses. Having the extra two channels also comes in handy for troubleshooting and maintaining variable frequency drives (VFDs) and inverters used in green energy.

New clamp meter family, new probes

In 2010, Fluke introduced a new clamp meter family. The Fluke 365 is the latest in the new line, which includes the 381, 376, 374, 375, 373, and the iFlex i2500-18 and i2500 flexible current probes.

I won’t go into a lot of clamp meter detail here. Clamp meter basics, application notes, and meter specifications are easily accessible on the Fluke website. However, I will point out a few features that stand out. Hopefully, they will give you ideas for how to make your work safer and more productive in the coming year.

The Fluke 365 clamp meter has a thin, small, detachable jaw design that makes it easy to get around tightly packed wires. Typically, it remains attached to the meter body. But it can be removed and clamped to a hard-to-reach wire or cable while attaching to the meter body through a flexible 3-foot lead.

The Fluke 381 is packed with all the features you’ve come to know and love in a clamp meter. The extra feature that will make your electrical testing life much easier in 2011 is the remote display. The detachable wireless display feature is designed for flexibility, convenience, productivity, and safety.

The 373, 374, 375, and 376 clamp meters offer improved performance. The 376 is designed for high current applications, measuring current up to 2,500 A AC and 1,000 A DC. The 375 features a low-pass filter, which makes it useful for troubleshooting motors and VFDs that operate below 600 A. The 374 measures both ac and dc current. The 373 is a low-cost, True RMS clamp meter that measures AC current only.

The iFlex current probes are included with the 381 and 376 clamp meters, and are compatible with the 375 and 374 meters. They expand the measurement range of select Fluke clamp meters to 2,500 A AC. The large coil allows users to reach around large conductors; the small profile improves access in crowded spaces.

Insulation Testers

If your job requires testing high-voltage equipment, an insulation resistance tester could be an asset to your diagnostic and predictive maintenance programs. Fluke introduced the 1555 and redesigned the 1550C insulation testers in 2010. The1555 offers insulation testing up to 10 kV. Both testers have measurement storage and PC interfaces. While the Fluke website lists all of their features, those that stand out are automatic Dielectric Absorption and Polarization Index calculations with no additional setup, and the ramp function for breakdown testing.

Infrared Inspection Windows

Fluke introduced two infrared inspection windows designed to facilitate infrared and visual inspections of switchgear and electrical equipment in enclosures. The CLKTO is designed for indoor applications; the CLKT is designed for outdoor applications. Both C-range windows allow technicians to view live circuits with cabinet doors closed and without wearing cumbersome personal protective equipment. Electrical workers are protected from electrical shock or the possibility of an arc flash.

Vibration Tester

If your past included hiring third-party vibration specialists to diagnose mechanical equipment problems or perform predictive maintenance, your future could include bringing these services in-house. The handheld Fluke 810 vibration tester is designed and programmed to diagnose common mechanical problems such as unbalance, looseness, misalignment, and bearing failures in mechanical equipment such as motors, fans, blowers, gearboxes, couplings, pumps, compressors, and spindles.

Besides its affordability and portability, what makes the 810 unique is its ability to identify specific problems and rate their severity on a four-level scale to help prioritize maintenance tasks. It also recommends repairs and provides context-sensitive on-board help menus. Another plus is its ability to analyze current machinery condition and identify faults without having to establish a baseline over a long period of time. It uses a rule set developed over years of field experience to simulate an “instant” baseline.