Thread Number: 36468  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
My new obsession
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Post# 390727   4/19/2018 at 14:56 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out my old Radio Shack Micronta 22-203A multitester to test some batteries. I'd recently been using a cheapo digital meter I'd picked up for free with another purchase at Harbor Freight for such things, but I quickly realized how much I preferred the older style analog meters. Then I came to the startling realization that I'd had the thing for almost 40 years! Where does the time go? Later that evening, I allowed myself to engage in the very dangerous (for me) practice of idly perusing eBay and ended up looking at analog multitesters and buying a nice Simpson 260 meter like I'd used in my high school electronics classes and a cute little Midland 23-101 meter just like one my grandfather had when I was growing up. Both of these meters are more than 50 years old and still work great. The Simpson is a Series 3, which dates back to the 1950s. They've actually been making them since the 1930s and are still selling them today.

The Midland came with a nice leather case and actually had a vintage red AA Eveready Transistor Battery in it that still had enough of a charge to fully deflect the needle on both resistance settings. Although it showed no sign of leaking, I changed it out for a fresh alkaline AA cell, just as a precaution.

Yesterday, I took delivery of a third meter--an EICO (Electronic Instrument Corporation) 566, which was sold in kit form back in the '50s and '60s. EICO apparently was a competitor of Heathkit. This one was in beautiful condition and the builder, Joe Hoffman, even signed his work on the inside of the case. The only issue the thing had is the glass was loose at the top and interfering with the needle's movement. I had to almost completely disassemble the unit to find that two of the screw tabs that held the glass in place at the top had broken off. I quickly remedied the problem with a strip of electrical tape but someday, when I'm really, really bored, I may go back in and fix the glass into place with a bead of silicone.

I don't know where this new obsession is heading but at least the meters take up less space than vacuum cleaners ;)

Post# 390751 , Reply# 1   4/19/2018 at 22:29 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Yeah meters can be pretty cool.

My late grandfather worked for Simpson for a really long time as an electrical engineer. So he had tons of Simpson equipment (and paraphernalia). And now I have all of it. I have like 5 260's, a bunch other meters, and an O-Scope and frequency generator. Interestingly, his tube tester was a Hickok.

I also have a pile of owner's manuals for Simpson stuff, if there's one you want, I can scan 'em and give you a pdf.

Post# 390763 , Reply# 2   4/20/2018 at 09:03 by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Way to go Edgar! That old stuff just keeps going, was made as best as we could then

Post# 390781 , Reply# 3   4/20/2018 at 15:04 by human (Pines of Carolina)        
My meter collection

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I thought I'd share some photos of my growing analog meter collection. From left to right: Simpson 260 Series 3, Micronta 22-203A (which I've had since about 1980) , EICO 566, Micronta 22-214. In the foreground is the Midland 23-101 like my grandfather's.

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Post# 390786 , Reply# 4   4/20/2018 at 15:48 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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I've got an older one, although I don't know the year, from my grandfather. It needs new leads...ill take some pictures when I return from Wisconsin.

Post# 390801 , Reply# 5   4/20/2018 at 21:58 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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My dad has one like that Simpson on the left, or at least he did. It might still be around. I've also got some of the newer LCD ones but they seem so cheap compared to these analog ones.

Post# 390834 , Reply# 6   4/21/2018 at 09:48 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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The Simpson 260 is a model that's had some serious staying power. It's been around since the 1930s and the ones they make today look almost just like the first ones they put out. Of course, there have been plenty of updates on the inside. Today, they even offer one with a red LED digital display, which just looks so wrong. There's a great web site called that offers detailed technical information, schematics and manuals for every iteration of the 260 put out in the past 80 or so years. It's interesting to look at how the model has evolved over time.


Post# 390849 , Reply# 7   4/21/2018 at 13:50 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

Analog meters are still my go-to instument for looking at changes in current, ohms etc. With digital you get ghost readings etc. When testing capacitors, isolators, diodes etc you can watch the needle swing and then back.....nothing quite like it.


I almost did the same thing....start hitting eBay for analog meters....stopped myself after two engine analyzers. Glad I did, because they're not being used. I bought one, it had no manual and I couldn't find one online. So....I PMed a seller that was selling both...asked if he would make a copy of his manual and sell me that. Supposedly he went to a copy center and all told with shipping I paid almost $30 for the manual. And it was a crummy copy job not even bound, for that money. Within a week the same analyzer with an original manual went for like $10....bought that too.  eBay is that way and I was stupidly impatient.


Oh and BTW, nice collection of need some Heathkit



Post# 390876 , Reply# 8   4/22/2018 at 01:10 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Simpson 260--the CLASSIC analog multimeter.Lots of them here at work.A multimeter will only test a cap for shorts or extreme leakage.they cannot tell you the value or leakage of the cap.You need a cap tester or even a megger(megaohmeter) for those tests.Meggers can be helpful for vacuum motor tests,and other motors and transformers for that matter.They can test for leakages or shorts to ground better than a standard ohmmeter.We use those at the transmitter plant.I have found MANY a shorted transformer with a megger that a standard ohmmeter would miss.Meggers generate a higher test voltage than a standard ohmmeter--like up to 5Kv.A standard ohmmeter may get up to 9V.Crank magneto meggers are relatively inexpensive.And they show up on used instrument markets-Biddle was a very common brand.Another classic besides the 260.

Post# 390882 , Reply# 9   4/22/2018 at 08:04 by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

One can only imagine how many variations of these types of meters exist. At the very least he will know if the power is on and how many amps or volts he has available.

Post# 390883 , Reply# 10   4/22/2018 at 08:06 by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

This could be a very electrifying if not shocking hobby. Sorry in advance I just couldn't resist. LOL!

Post# 390913 , Reply# 11   4/23/2018 at 01:51 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

There are some folks that do collect old test equipment and even use it.did know of one case where a person got killed using a portable Fluke digital multimeter to measure voltage-he was measuring a 480V line in a cement plant and wearing the meter around his neck with the neck strap.His meter was set on "ohms" and we can now know what happned.Fluke cautioned the strap should NOT be used while doing voltage and current measurements-was for ohms only in a dead circuit.Yes,better a dead circuit than a DEAD operator!!

Post# 391111 , Reply# 12   4/26/2018 at 21:04 by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

If there is more than one of any item made. There are collectors for that Item. I for one enjoy seeing or hearing about the things others collect. I have a friend that collects old fans. Learned about them as well. I have taught him about vacuums.

Post# 391204 , Reply# 13   4/28/2018 at 12:02 by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Same pig, different lipstick...

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I've made an interesting--not earth shattering, but interesting--discovery as I've been messing with these meters. It appears that back in the '70s and '80s, maybe even into the '90s, Radio Shack and Sears sourced their analog multitesters from the same Korean manufacturer. A Sears model 82363, for instance, is almost identical to a Radio Shack Micronta 22-204 except for the manufacturer's name and the bezel around the controls. Radio Shack's were black with silver lettering while Sears' were silver with black lettering. It would be interesting to know how the devices compared in price when new. In today's second hand market (aka eBay), the Radio Shack meters tend to command considerably stronger prices. I picked up the aforementioned Sears meter for less than half of what the comparable Radio Shack meter typically goes for.

Post# 391238 , Reply# 14   4/28/2018 at 21:51 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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So i just built my first 'frankenmeter' this afternoon. I got this one Simpson 260 Series 5 meter in as-is condition and after working on it for five or six hours, I gave up on it and called it a loss. Then a couple of days ago, I got a Simpson Series 3 that was supposed to be in good shape except the seller did a woefully inadequate job of packing it for shipping and the USPS being what it is, you can probably guess the rest. To the seller's credit, he refunded my money without a fuss and told me just to toss the meter. But I started thinking about it last night and decided that maybe I could make one good meter out of the two.

The Series 3 had suffered some damage to the case and the needle wouldn't move, while the Series 5 has some circuit board issues, so my initial idea was to move the series 3 circuit board into the Series 5 case. As it turned out, I was able to free up the needle on the Series 3, so I was able to leave things a little more intact than I had at first thought would be possible. I ended up just putting the back cover from the Series 5 onto it, along with one of the knobs off of the front and the display bezel and glass. The meter is still sort of temperamental with the needle freezing occasionally for no apparent reason. I still may go through with my original plan and swap the internals so that the Series 3 circuit board and the Series 5 display are in the same case. At this point, I don't see that really have much to lose by trying it.

Post# 391253 , Reply# 15   4/29/2018 at 00:19 by dartman (Portland OR)        

When I took electronics in high school in the 70s they were still using vtvm meters, later I got several Radio Shack cheap analog and a digital lcd meter. I used em all but mostly used the digital one as it was accurate and had a continuity buzzer which was handy. My latest meter is a Fluke auto range true rms 179. It has all the latest bells and whistles, is still current, and has a analog bar graph so I can peak circuits and just check for voltage or whatever quickly. If you like digital a analog bar graph is really handy for the times a needle pointer would be handy. They all have their place and uses but I like what I have, I got it on eBay used for a great price, and it armored and almost indestructible.
I think I might have the last big, top of the line, analog meter radio shack made too, but haven't seen it in a long time and we've moved since then but they were nice meters too.
The early meters had a cool art deco look which makes them stylish and collectable, and come to think of it I bought a ww2 Japanese navy meter just because it was so unique and probably rare. I don't think it works now but it's complete and had all the leads and a case.

Post# 391266 , Reply# 16   4/29/2018 at 10:31 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I have a Craftsman Professional digital VOM model 82063 that has many of the features you describe, as well as a temperature function. The probe is missing off the end of the wire but I ordered a replacement for $1.23, including shipping from China. It's coming via the proverbial slow boat and should be here by early July. Prior to that, the only digital meter I'd ever used was a cheapo model from Harbor Freight that I'd gotten for free with a coupon and was definitely worth the price. The Craftsman meter has me rethinking digital somewhat but at this point, I still am more comfortable with the analog experience. That's just me.

The top-of-the-line, near-professional grade Radio Shack analog meter back in the day was a 22-210, which in the catalog photo looked to be a re-badged Simpson 260 but was in reality a decent quality Korean-made knockoff. I have a later version of that meter in my collection, a 22-220, which has a couple of slightly different features from the 22-210. The DC +/- selector at the upper left is replaced with a three-position on/off switch that has a third position for an internal battery check but it checks only the 9v battery and not the C-cell. This power switch also removes the "off" position from the main selector switch but all other functions are the same, including an audible continuity feature. The 22-220 also adds an electronic zeroing knob below the ohms adjust knob, making it much easier to "zero" the meter without the need for a screwdriver. The manual adjustment is also present on the meter display itself.

I've never handled a 22-210, but the build quality of the 22-220 has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, the case is constructed of heavy ABS plastic with a metal reinforced handle and the batteries and fuse are easily accessible via a small panel without taking the entire back off of the meter. All that said, there are also some corners cut that shouldn't have been. Chief among them is the test lead sockets are only held in place by solder on the circuit board, which is also their sole electrical connection. The positive socket on mine had a cold solder joint that had broken loose. I don't know whether this was a manufacturer defect or a subpar repair done by a previous owner but I'm kind of thinking it was likely the latter since the other solder joints on the board all look shiny and smooth, as they should be. I've re-soldered it, adding a little more solder all the way around the socket so it more closely matches the others. Admittedly, it's not perfect, but hopefully it will stay put for the foreseeable future.

Post# 391972 , Reply# 17   5/15/2018 at 09:03 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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My addictive personality has gotten the best of me and I have really gone overboard on the multitesters. Before I put the brakes on acquiriing more meters, I picked up this little beauty, a Simpson 230, which is the smaller sibling of the venerable 260. Nicknamed the "Hammeter", it was designed to fit the needs of ham radio operators. It's a little smaller than a soda can. Mine isn't presently functional but I think I can make it work. One of the leads going to the meter movement needs to be re-soldered and it needs a battery. The one really oddball thing about its design is the C-cell battery is supposed to be soldered into place. Later versions had a battery holder for an AA battery so I'm going to install one. I'm going to try a C-cell holder first with the option of reverting to an AA holder if it doesn't fit.

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