2018 Test and Measurement Awards

When we get to the test and measurement category, we’re talking about the tools that cross many trades. We continue to see new innovations in the form of connectivity, multiple functions, and increased capabilities. Whether used for diagnostics, troubleshooting, or layout, these tools help Pros get the job done. Following are the PTIA 2020 Test and Measurement Awards.

Winner – Circuit/Wire Tracers

Amprobe AT-8030 Industrial Wire Tracer Kit

What they said: 

The AT-8030 is an advanced, industrial wire tracer kit, the first to be rated CAT IV 600 V for electrical safety. Designed to protect electricians from the most dangerous level of transient overvoltage spikes up to 8,000 V known to occur in industrial environments, the transmitter can be safely connected to energized cables up to 600 V AC/DC. The receiver is equipped with patented Smart Sensor technology, which finds and displays the location and orientation of energized wires in walls, floors, and ceilings on the large color TFT LCD screen. The Smart Sensor makes it easy for the user to validate both the location and direction of electric circuit plans.

In addition to a high safety rating and Smart Sensor technology, the AT-8030 includes advanced features which make it an effective, easy tool for the user to master. These include two operating frequencies for energized (6.25 kHz) and de-energized (32.768 kHz) circuits, non-contact voltage detection, ten adjustable receiver sensitivity levels, a high-contrast receiver LCD, signal induction with CT-400 Signal Clamp as well as an attachment point for a hot stick allowing for an extended range to hard-to-reach areas.

Key applications for the AT-8030 include tracing energized and de-energized wires in walls, ceilings, raceways, cable trays, and underground, locating dead-end circuits and shorts, identifying breakers and fuses, locating neutrals, ground lines, branch circuits, and feeders with control systems wiring and GFCI-protected circuit wire tracing.

What we say: 

Anytime you create something that’s a world’s first, it’s a big deal. Amprobe triggers the alert with the AT-8030 as the world’s first wire tracer system to earn a CAT IV 600V electrical safety rating. That’s great for industrial settings. We also really like how easy the Smart Sensor makes it to verify circuit location and direction. There’s always a risk of creating a system that’s tough to learn, so we especially appreciate Amprobe’s efforts to create a feature set that helps lower the learning curve.

Price: $1,899.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – Inspection

Ripley Tools ODM VIS 500 Wireless Fiber Optic Inspection Scope

What they said: 

Ripley Tools introduces the new ODM brand VIS 500 Wireless Fiber Inspection Scope. The VIS 500 simplifies the crucial fiber inspection process using automated image centering and focus, intelligent PASS/FAIL analysis, and easily pairs with Android and Apple iOS devices. Contaminated fiber end-faces are the leading cause of optical link failures and solutions that make inspection easier will help reduce installation problems.

  • Compact & portable, ideal for tower climbers & technicians on the go
  • Auto-focus functionality for the fastest available inspection process
  • Report creation & sharing directly within the free inSpec app
  • Automated PASS/ Fail capable of detecting defects < 1 μm in diameter
  • High-definition, large field-of-view image
  • Quick-change adapter tips for all connector styles
  • Robust battery & comfortable grip for all-day use
  • Includes convenient tool carrying case

Lightweight and compact with a no-slip ergonomic grip, the just over 10-ounce wireless scope is the perfect addition to any tower climber’s tool bag or cable installers tool belt. Technicians can quickly and easily focus, analyze, and save the images in less than seven seconds and then upload results for cloud-based reporting. Quick change adapter tips available to accommodate all connector styles and ODM inSpec software is included to integrate the VIS 500 with Android or iOS, allowing users to easily view fiber end-faces, run automated analysis, save images, and create/share reports.

What we say: 

Fiber technicians need a very different kind of inspection scope than building inspectors, electricians, and plumbers. It has to have a combination of precision and delicacy to see what’s going on at the connection while allowing for a range of user environments from underground to the top of towers. Ripley Tools get it, and the ODM VIS 500 has what you need to make your fiber inspections run more smoothly and identify any problem areas more easily. We’re particularly drawn to the quick auto-focus and automated pass/fail functions of the probe. Connecting directly to your iOS, Android, or Windows device, it makes quick work of reports from the inSpec app as well.

Price: $1,495

For more information, click here.

Winner – Leak Detection

Amprobe ULD-420 Ultrasonic Leak Detector

What they said: 

When equipment begins to fail due to an air or gas leak, vibration, or electrical discharge, the leakage point emits an ultrasonic sound wave that is above the natural range of human hearing. The ULD-420 Ultrasonic Leak Detectors converts this ultrasonic sound into a signal that can be used to pinpoint the exact location of the equipment failure. Users can read the strength of the leak clearly on the large LCD display bar graph and identify the source of the leak by listening to the converted audible sound emitted via the headphones. When working in un-pressurized systems, or the pressure is not sufficient enough to detect or verify a leak with the receiver alone, the transmitter can be used to generate the ultrasonic signal instead, making the leak findable by the receiver. In extremely noisy environments where there is strong ultrasonic noise generated by running machinery or equipment, the receiver’s filter function can filter out up to three main noise frequencies which would otherwise hide the noise of the fail.

The ULD-420 can detect ultrasonic noise in the 20 kHz to 90 kHz frequency range, which is the optimal range for detecting a variety of leakage events. For accurate leak pinpointing, the receiver also features eight levels of adjustable sensitivity. The transmitter, if needed, can output ultrasonic sound in three different strengths. Accessories, including a parabola and detachable tubular extension, are also included for precise locating and verifying leaks in hard-to-reach locations.

This combination of advanced features makes the ULD-420 an ideal tool for HVAC/R, mechanical and electrical inspection, and troubleshooting. Users can utilize it for a variety of applications, including locating leaks of compressed air or other gases, plumbing, valves, tanks and pipes, heat exchangers, boilers and condensers, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, and motors and machinery.

What we say: 

Leaks aren’t always immediately as noticeable as a blown hose or water running down the wall. They aren’t always liquid-based either. Amprobe’s ULD-420 helps you locate gas leaks, electrical discharges, and even unusual vibrations by listening for ultrasonic waves you can’t hear on your own. By detecting problems in the early stages, you can avoid more costly maintenance and downtime. Going way beyond basic detection, Amprobe includes a hose of features that help you tactically locate suspect frequencies even when other ultrasonic noises are present.

Price: $1,199.95

For more information, click here.

Winner – Multimeters

Fluke 87V MAX True-rms Digital Multimeter

What they said: 

In industrial settings, technicians and electricians sometimes work in extreme conditions to troubleshoot electrical systems. The new Fluke 87V MAX True-RMS Digital Multimeter is designed to work reliably in even the harshest industrial environments so technicians can take accurate measurements safely regardless of conditions.

Built on the trusted features of the Fluke 87V, the 87V MAX is the most rugged DMM Fluke has ever made. The 87V MAX has an IP67 rating making it fully waterproof and dustproof and has been tested to withstand a four-meter (13 foot) drop. It has an extended operating temperature range of -15 °C to +55 °C (5 °F to 131 °F), as low as -40 °C for up to 20 minutes, and can operate in up-to-95 percent humidity.

The Fluke 87V MAX also includes a removable holster that doubles as test lead storage and a test probe holder for one-handed operation. In addition to being incredibly rugged, the 87V MAX features the same powerful set of measurement functions and accuracy as the 87V, including:

  • True-RMS ac voltage and current for accurate measurements on non-linear signals
  • Measurements up to 1000 V ac and dc;—Measurements up to 10 A (20 A for 30 seconds)
  • Frequency measurements to 200 kHz
  • A built-in temperature function to conveniently take temperature readings (using supplied thermocouple) without having to carry a separate instrumen0t
  • Min/Max/Average recording, plus 250 μs Peak min-max to capture variations automatically
  • Unique function for accurate voltage and frequency measurements on variable frequency motor drives (VFDs) and other electrically noisy equipment.

The DMM features large display digits, a high-resolution 19,999 count display mode, and a two-level bright white backlight for work in dark areas. The meter includes backlit keypad buttons for increased visibility. It also has twice the battery life — up to 800 hours — as the original 87V. The 87V MAX comes complete with TL175 test leads (Fluke’s premium retractable leads), AC175 alligator clips, and an 80BK-A type-K DMM temperature probe. The 87V MAX is safety rated CAT IV 600V/CAT III 1000V. It offers a limited lifetime warranty.

What we say: 

Fluke takes their multimeter game to the Max with the 87V Max True-RMS Digital Multimeter. This upgrade is all about durability that even our toughest electricians would have to work hard at to defeat. Capable of withstanding a drop from 13 feet and carrying an IP67 ingress rating, it’s built to last. As impressed as we are with the build, the runtime didn’t get past us. With up to 800 hours of operation, it’s double what the original 87V has.

Price: $499.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – NCV Testers

Greenlee TR13 Non-Contact Voltage Tester

What they said: 

The newly redesigned GT13 and TR13 non-contact voltage detectors identify the presence of voltage from 50 volts to 1,000 volts AC. The redesigned GT13 and TR13 are now equipped with a more ergonomic grip and button location, along with a bright LED flashlight for use in dark work areas.

TR13 is the only non-contact voltage detector equipped with a patented dual-tip design to easily open the protective shutters on tamper-resistant and conventional receptacles to test for the presence of AC voltage. The tool is compatible with 15A and 20A, 120-volt outlets. To ensure the integrity of the unit, both GT13 and TR13 models are equipped with a patented automatic self-test. Every two seconds, the intelligent design checks all component circuitry assuring the tool is ready to detect AC voltage. To conserve battery life the testers will automatically turn off after five minutes. The Greenlee GT13 and TR13 can be used to detect voltage in outlets, lighting fixtures, circuit breakers, wires, and cables, or to find a break in a wire.

What we say: 

Our electricians really appreciate the upgraded ergonomics of Greenlee’s non-contact voltage testers. It’s the dual-tip design of the TR13 that wins the day, however. Those dual tips make it easier to get into tamper-resistant outlets and determine whether energy is flowing. It’s also perfectly capable of checking for voltage in the same areas as other NCVT designs.

Price: $26

For more information, click here.

Winner – ODB2

Craftsman Auto Assist CMMT77695

What they said: 

Auto Assist is a Car Sensor & Diagnostic App which allows car owners/drivers to quickly detect vehicle trouble codes, see problem descriptions, severity, and repair cost directly on their smartphones. Auto Assist breaks the car problems down into simple and understandable terms, provides the severity and consequences of continued driving for each underlying problem. Also, shows the vehicle’s manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule for upcoming service intervals as well as the estimated cost, broken down by parts and service. Furthermore, Auto Assist features parts and tools buying feature for any maintenance or repair needs. Finally, car owners can use the Logbook feature to keep a comprehensive record of all maintenance and repairs that have been performed on their vehicle. This feature can help identify possible issues down the road.

What we say: 

If you’re a mechanic, the readout on an ODB2 scanner can tell you a wealth of information. But what about those of use that are just trying to figure out the problem without taking half a day off of work to sit at the shop? Craftsman has a brilliant solution for the average driver with the Auto Assist scanner. You get an easy-to-understand display of trouble codes as well as descriptions of any problems and even estimated repair costs. It also lets you know the potential consequences if you keep driving the vehicle without making repairs. For less than $60, it’s something every car owner should have.

Price: $59.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – Thermal Imagers

Klein Tools Rechargeable Thermal Imager (Cat. No. TI250)

What they said: 

TI250 Rechargeable Thermal imager is an affordable tool that allows electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals, home inspectors, and other trade professionals to easily verify systems and troubleshoot problems needing maintenance via quick verification of potential problems based on hot and cold spots displayed on LCD. Users can select high and low-temperature alarms from -4 to 752-degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 400-degrees Celsius). Users can adjust the emissivity from 0.10 to 0.00 and select from ironbow, rainbow, and gray color palettes for whichever best captures the event. Users can then store and share these images with an optional MicroSD card.

What we say: 

If you’re not using thermal imaging as part of your inspection and diagnostic jobs, the time has never been better to jump in the game. Klein’s Rechargeable Thermal Imager is small enough to easily fit in your tool bag, recharges via USB, displays the targetted temp and in-screen range, and has simple controls. It also has an impressively affordable price tag under $250—similar to those phone attachment designs but in an all-in-one unit.

Price: $249.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – Water & Moisture

FLIR MR277 Building Inspection System

What they said: 

FLIR MR277 Building Inspection System is FLIR Systems’ first moisture meter with Infrared Guided Measurement (IGM) to offer Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging (MSX) technology. This all-in-one, thermal-enabled moisture meter with hygrometer provides users with a full understanding of problem areas by enhancing IGM thermal images with visual details so they can quickly find moisture, air leaks, and insulation voids.

Designed for restoration, remediation, and building management professionals, the enhanced FLIR MR277 includes features needed to identify, diagnose, fix, and document moisture and building envelope problems. The FLIR Lepton, 160 x 120, thermal imaging sensor powers IGM, visually guiding users straight to the source of building-related issues. Once a problem is located, the built-in pinless sensor enables quick, non-invasive moisture detection. Inspectors can then streamline diagnosis and documentation by using the built-in Bluetooth to connect via METERLiNK to mobile devices running the FLIR Tools mobile app. This allows users to upload measurements and images from the job site to easily complete and share full reports with their customers.

The MR277 features a vibrant display screen that is 50 percent larger than previous FLIR moisture meter models, making it easier to identify problem areas visually and allowing users to view multiple parameters simultaneously, including humidity levels, dew point, and vapor pressure. A dual-camera system powers FLIR MSX, which adds visual details such as edges, writing, and patterns to full thermal images. The MR277 can display and record MSX, thermal, and visual images, with storage for up to 15,000 images in the internal memory.

The MR277 includes an MR02 removable pin probe in addition to the built-in pinless sensor to allow users to verify the presence of moisture and take accurate, pin-based measurements with a single tool. The MR13 moisture hygrometer is also included; this humidity and temperature sensor measures relative humidity and is field-replaceable, thereby minimizing downtime to help keep professionals on-site to quickly complete the job.

What we say: 

The FLIR MR277 combines the advantages of Infrared Guided Measurement (IGM) with the company’s proprietary Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging (MSX). Its environmental sensors help you quickly locate, identify, and document problems. The IGM technology and laser pointer help you isolate the problem area, where you can then use the integrated pinless moisture sensor for non-invasive readings. Or, you can use the external pin probe for more invasive readings. Marrying the technologies of a quality hygrometer with thermal imaging and blending it the MSX overlay makes locating and diagnosing moisture issues much faster.

Price: $1,399.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – Line Laser Levels

Milwaukee Tool M12 3-Plane Laser

What they said: 

Our M12 Green 3-Plane Laser provides you with all-day runtime and best visibility in its class. Get 15+ hours of continuous runtime with an M12 REDLITHIUM 4.0 Battery for ultimate productivity. The high-intensity green offers you superior visibility up to 125′ for long-range applications. The vertical and horizontal lines make alignment and level applications easy. The integrated magnetic bracket features micro control and pivots on the plumb point for easy and fast alignment. The amplified rare earth magnets provide a strong hold and will not slide on steel studs, while an integrated hang hole makes setup easy and efficient in any environment. As part of the industry-leading MILWAUKEE M12 System, this laser is compatible with all M12 Batteries.

What we say: 

Milwaukee did a lot more than just make a cross line laser for the M12 platform. The entire line of new lasers use high-viz green beams and feature an innovative micro-adjustment knob to dial in your vertical lines much easier than other lasers. The design team also ensured the kit includes a battery that delivers all-day runtime. In the case of the 3-plane laser, it’s a 4.0Ah pack with up to 15 hours of lithium-ion power. A couple of seemingly minor accessories also make a big difference. The magnetic mount lets you attach the laser in 4 different orientations, not just one like most mounts. The magnetic target card is another breath of fresh air with a high-contrast cross and X pattern that easily lets you see when you’ve centered your beam.

Price: $599.99

For more information, click here.

Winner – Rotary Laser Levels

Bosch Power Tools GRL4000-80CHVK 18V REVOLVE4000 Connected Self-Leveling Horizontal/Vertical Rotary Laser Kit

What they said: 

The Bosch REVOLVE4000 Self-Leveling Rotary Laser with uCAL User-calibration delivers a comprehensive solution for precise outdoor and indoor leveling.

It has a Dual Dial-In Slope feature that allows slope angle adjustment on both the X and Y axes, for grading applications. The GRL4000-80CHV is powered by a Bosch CORE18V 4.0 Ah battery, providing extended runtime. The rotary laser is compatible with 4.0 Ah and 8.0 Ah Bosch CORE18V Li-ion batteries. It also features an alkaline adapter to use four (D) cells.

The REVOLVE4000 is engineered with a cage overmold and an innovative handle design, and it is built to IP68 dust- and water protection standards. It features Bluetooth connectivity to a connected device, linking to the Bosch Leveling Remote App. This app controls on/off, Dual Dial-In Slope, and more.

The rotary laser features uCAL, for user-calibration, taking the user step by step through the calibration process. This avoids tool downtime and provides confidence that the laser is accurate. It delivers accuracy of up to ±1/16 In. at 100 Ft. in horizontal applications and ±1/8 In. at 100 Ft. in vertical mode, and a range of up to 4,000 Ft. with laser receiver. The laser features a vertical beam at 90° point for layout, squaring, and plumb applications.

What we say: 

There’s sooo much to love about Bosch’s Revolve4000 rotary laser! It solves a major issue with downtime thanks to the uCAL function that lets you recalibrate in the field. We really like that Bosch chose to use its 18V battery platform for power and that it gives you an alkaline option for backup. With protective bumpers around the housing and an IP68 ingress rating, it keeps you in the game no matter what conditions the day throws at you. Plus, it’s a Bosch Connected device that pairs with your phone using the Bosch Leveling Remote app to give you controls and make using it a one-man operation. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete and jobsite-friendly rotary laser than the Bosch Revolve4000.

Price: $1,999

For more information, click here.