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Great Minds . . .

And All That!

A couple of weeks ago when we got back from our RV test drive we found that our pedestal was dead.




And as I was sticking my VOM probes into the 50 amp receptacle, wiggling them around to be sure I making a good connection, it galvanized me to build up the tester that I had mentally designed a few years back.

So to refresh my memory, I sketched it out on a pad and started sourcing out some parts. Then it occurred to me that rather than reinvent the wheel, I might ought to check to see if somebody already sold one, saving me the time and effort.

I didn’t find anything commercially-made but I did come across this home-brew effort.

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/tester_50amp.htm

Pretty much my same design, but I did like the box and the connector he used so I borrowed that idea, and then went all digital with it. Great minds, etc.

And here’s what I ended up with,

50 Amp Tester Finished

based on this design that I drew up.

50 Amp Tester Schematic

It only took about 30 minutes to wire it up and get it put together. So the first thing I did was to take it outside to the pedestal, disconnect the coach, and hook it up.

50 Amp Tester at Pedestal

And it worked perfectly. But in the bright sun the lights didn’t photograph very well. So I connected it up again after dark.

50 Amp Tester at Night

Much more visible on camera.

The two circuit testers check L1 and L2 for open grounds, open neutrals, reversed grounds and neutrals, etc. All of which I have encountered at campgrounds over the years.

I would have used two voltmeters but couldn’t find one narrow enough to fit two side by side. So I just swap the one back and forth as needed.

The green LED on the top left checks to see if you have real split phase 220VAC coming from the pedestal and not just two 110VAC lines coming into it. Again something I’ve seen several times over the years.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a parts list on what you need to buy if you want to duplicate mind.

I’ve also got my next two projects in the design phase and I’ll talk about them later.

Jan and I headed up to Webster about 5:30 to meet Chris, Linda, Miss Piper, and boyfriend Connor at the East Star Chinese Buffet.

Family at East Star

Along the way we made a Valero stop for gas at $2.45/gal, a big jump in the last few weeks.

This was our first time to eat here on a Sunday, and they were really busy. And by the time we left about 7:30 they were ‘line out the door’ busy. First time I’ve ever seen this at a buffet. And this is a BIG place.

One thing I like about this place is their cold boiled shrimp, so that’s pretty much what I had, along with veggies and some other meats.

East Star Plate 2

All good as usual.

Coming home we made an HEB stop to tide us over until the real shopping day tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, it’s back to work.




Thought for the Day: 

Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it.

fgdfgh

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12 Responses to Great Minds . . .

  1. Dennis Fineran says:

    Greg
    I built a very similar tester a number of years ago. I added one additional feature that makes the open neutral test much more robust. I bought two hair dryers which draw 20-30 amps. I plug them both into one leg to create a significant load imbalance. The voltmeter would show a significant deviation from 110v if the neutral is open.

    • gregwhite says:

      Dennis,

      I haven’t run into a problem with this. Every time I’ve suspected an open ground or neutral, the tester has found it. But I’ll keep it in mind.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate your comments.

      Greg

  2. Gene Holcomb says:

    Greg,very interesting I always enjoy all your projects. Since I am not handy I have to rely on my Progressive Industry
    EMS. I think I first learned of tha on Nike’s blog years ago. I have gone back on your site to look up what I thought you
    Wrote a while back. Did I see you sprayed the contacts on transfer switch with strike hold to cut down on the
    bussing noise. My switch is loud at nite right by my head.
    I always learn from you info, Thanks

    • gregwhite says:

      Gene,

      We also have a Progressive EMS and it’s saved us a couple of times. But it doesn’t help when like last year at the Soledad Canyon TT in CA, we spent an hour walking around trying to find a working 50 amp pedestal.

      Strike Hold wouldn’t help in the case of your ‘buzzing’. That’s caused by the relay coils in the transfer switch. The AC current that holds the relays in causes the coils to vibrate a little at 60Hz, making the sound. For this reason, some units use a DC voltage to pull in the relays, so no buzzing.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate your comments.

      Greg

  3. LeRoy Willis says:

    Other than making it larger it could be in a 3 gang box. That would give you room for the volt meters.

    • gregwhite says:

      LeRoy,

      I thought of that but I couldn’t find a 3 gang box like this one that looks OK by itself. The only 3 gang ones I could find were the metal or blue plastic ones made for installing in walls.

      Greg

  4. Bob Plaskon says:

    I echo Gene’s thoughts. Your “projects” are very educational and enjoyable. Still waiting for your version of Frankensteins monster!!  Bob

    • gregwhite says:

      Bob,

      Thanks for the kind thoughts. It’s much appreciated.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate your comments.

      Greg

  5. We’ve used the Progressive Industries EMS on the last Two Fifth Wheels and it’s saved us from major problems. I put the Error List inside the Cupboard by the Monitor so there is no Guesswork. The monitor itself tells us the Voltage and Amperage on each leg separately.

    Keep inventing Greg because it means that I’m not alone making things like that.

    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

    • gregwhite says:

      Rick,

      We also have a Progressive EMS and it’s saved us a couple of times. But it doesn’t help when like last year at the Soledad Canyon TT in CA we spent an hour walking around trying to find a working 50 amp pedestal.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate your comments.

      Greg

  6. Don says:

    Looks like one of the circuit testers would fit beside the voltage meter.  maybe not look as nice staggered, but get all on there?

    • gregwhite says:

      Don,

      I thought of that, but it looked funny, AND I’d have to spend another $11 for a 2nd meter.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate your comments.

      Greg

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