Archive for June 21st, 2016
Over the past few months I picked up a pair of Tektronix AM503 Current Probe Amplifiers, plus A6302 20 A and A6303 100 A Hall effect probes. The proper calibration procedures require rather specialized (and, in some cases, custom-built) equipment that I don’t have, but I’ll mostly use these things for non-contact / isolated current measurements where just seeing what’s going on counts for more than absolute accuracy.
For a quick check, I set up a pair of 100 W incandescent bulbs with a plug/socket that breaks out the line conductor into a widowmaker zip cord intended for a foot switch, but I’m not fussy:
That’s an old (pronounced “vintage” in eBay-speak) Radio Shack (“Micronta”) clamp-on AC ammeter that, for my present purposes, I can regard as the Gold Standard for current measurement. The 200 W resistive load reads 1.6 A, which is pretty close to the 1.7 A you’d expect.
The big A6303 probe loafs along at the low end of its range:
The scope says 17.78 mV RMS, which translates to 1.8 A with the AM503 set to 1 A/div. A bit hot, perhaps, but not off by too much.
The two AM503 amps produce slightly different results when switching the probes back and forth, but this arrangement looks consistent:
With the AM503 amps set to 2 A/div, 7.546 mV = 1.5 A and 7.994 mV = 1.6 A. The last few digits of those RMS calculations absolutely don’t matter.
The overall error (at least for low-range AC) looks to be around 10%, which is certainly good enough for my immediate needs. I doubt that I can gimmick up a square wave current calibration fixture that I’d trust.
Labeling the amps improves the odds that I’ll plug the probes in correctly:
The A6303 amp lights the “high range” indicator, the A6302 lights the “low range” indicator. Newer (but still obsolete) AM503A and AM503B amps have an LED readout showing the current/division, but …