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“That meter is really what got me started in the business”

August 2013

As equipment operates, heat can cause troubles that are tough to pin down. Ricci relies on his Fluke 287 Electronics Logging Multimeter for help.

Just a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing, there they were: the suspects with their backpacks, moving toward the finish line - their images captured on security cameras.

Long before the tragedy in Boston, Vito Ricci understood how critically important reliable, round-the-clock security and surveillance can be. As owner of Digi-Sat Plus in Montreal, Ricci, an electronics technician, specializes in installing and servicing car satellite radios and GPS systems, as well as the security systems that help protect homes and businesses, property and lives. No one knows better how much people depend on these systems. Security is serious business.

A complex security system may include wired or wireless cameras, sensors to detect an intruder's arrival, lights, video recording capability, an alarm system, and connection to the Internet. DC power supplies will be connected to AC mains, and systems will also include an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). All these components must work smoothly and faultlessly together. Ensuring they do demands thorough testing. And for Ricci, testing he can count on calls for Fluke tools.

"High confidence"

"With Fluke, I can have a high confidence in my measurements," Ricci said. "That's what's important to me…to make sure that I can trust what I'm seeing."

More than two decades making measurements have turned Ricci into a Fluke tool enthusiast. He still uses his first Fluke, a model 87 digital multimeter (DMM) that he bought more than 20 years ago.

"It's still as accurate and reliable as the day I bought that meter," Ricci said. "It hasn't lost its accuracy - I've had it calibrated and it still falls within specs. It's a real workhorse. That meter is what really got me started in the business. I could always rely on it. This was the first piece of high-quality test equipment I ever bought. I still have the original box and manual."

In Vito's toolbox
Satellite and security expert Vito Ricci relies on a variety of Fluke test tools:

Passing the tests

Ensuring that a security system is on duty when needed requires Ricci to perform a variety of tests:

  • Mains leading to the DC power source may be tested for voltage and voltage drop under load.
  • He tests power supply outputs to verify that the DC output voltage remains within specifications under load, and adjusting to compensate for voltage drop if required. He also tests current draw (amps) under full load to verify that the system does not exceed the power supply design parameters.
  • He searches for fluctuations in the way equipment consumes power using the DMM's Min/Max recording capability and to verify maximum current consumption under full load.
  • Ricci uses the diode test function when troubleshooting circuit boards to identify faulty diodes and transistors.
  • Ricci also uses his Fluke meters to regularly perform resistance tests to verify the integrity of circuit loops and wiring, and to troubleshoot for faulty or corroded connections with excessively high resistance.
  • Continuity tests are a staple, and Ricci especially values the responsiveness of his Fluke instruments. "What makes Fluke meters different is the fast latching of the continuity function," he said. "Other meters, you touch the probes together and there's sometimes a delay - and that's not good. With Fluke, you touch it together and there's a fast, millisecond response. You can pick up short intermittents. Attach it to a wire or circuit and move the wire around and you can see if it's shorting out, or if the connection is intermittent. A lot of other meters, you can't do that. They don't latch fast enough and you may miss those intermittents."
  • As equipment operates, heat can cause troubles that are tough to pin down. Ricci relies on his Fluke 287 Electronics Logging Multimeter for help. "Sometimes components can operate fine when they're starting off. But then as they heat up, they start to act up," Ricci said. "Those are tricky conditions, very hard to find because you don't know when it's going to act up.

    "The logging function on the Fluke 287, that really helps a lot. You can set the meter to record over a long period of time, and if components act up due to thermal intermittent conditions for example, you can catch when that's going to happen on the meter. It'll log the time, it'll put it on a graph, you can go back to it and see what your measurements were then."
  • Other tests are just…elemental. Like nasty weather. "Sometimes you have no choice," Ricci said. "You're working on a ladder and installing a camera. You're out there and you need to take your measurements. I turn to the Fluke 28 and Fluke 27 when I'm working outside - then I have nothing to worry about," he added. "I can be working in the rain and if there's a downpour, I just keep working. It's so nice not to not have to worry about water getting in the meter."

A representation of your work

"I really love working with the equipment," Ricci said. "The build quality is so high…it makes the job a lot easier. You're more efficient."

Beyond their speed, precision, and ruggedness, Ricci sees another important benefit in his team of Fluke instruments (see "In Vito's Toolbox"). To him the right tools are a sign of professionalism, and worthy of respect.

"It's also a representation of your work," he said. "When you show up with Fluke equipment and you're working with other colleagues, they see that you're not messing around with some cheap test equipment. You're using the best. If you have high standards, you have to use equipment that has been designed to have high standards too."