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Thread: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

  1. #1
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Feel like a dumb yet I do need a hint so....I've a SF L6 and I would like to test Ampere draw with a multimeter (I already own).
    How?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* MrAl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Hi there daberti,

    Using a 0.1 ohm resistor to measure current sometimes
    works out better than the meter itself. The 0.1
    ohm resistor is connected in series with the battery
    and the voltage across the resistor is measured with
    a digital voltmeter. The voltage measure reflects the
    current, and is ten times higher than measured.

    For example, if you measure 0.1 volts then the
    actual current is 10 times that, or 1 amp.

    If you still want to use the meter, connect it in
    series with the battery.

    Take care,
    Al

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    If your multimeter has a current setting, you have to use it in series and never parallel.

    Most meters will let you measure up to 200 ma through the regular test leads plug. If you have a 10 or 20 amp setting, that usually requires use of a different plug for your positive test lead.

    If you tried using it in parallel like you would to measure voltage, you probably blew the fuse. It is a common mistake. Good luck finding a replacement fuse.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    @MrMe
    That's the problem: fuse has not been blown, yet how to measure in series? I'm really a beginner [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon23.gif[/img]

    @MrAl
    Thanks for your advice too [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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    *Flashaholic* andrewwynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    The simple basics of measuring current is that you must interrupt the circuit and put the meter in series with the power source.. i.e. typically with a flashlight like a maglight that has a tail cap.. you can turn the light 'on'.. take off the tail cap.. set the meter to 'amps' and put the leads in the right holes.. at that point touch the 'negative' lead to the bottom of the battery and the 'positive' lead to the shell of the flashlight.. the meter acts as the tail cap and completes the current loop.. if you hook up the leads backwards most meters don't care they just display negative values.

    The higher end meters have an alarm if you have the leads in the 'amp' connections and the meter set to anything but amps.. easy way to melt things is to hook a meter into a circuit thinking it's set to volts but it's still in the 'amps' mode.. to a circuit, an ammeter looks like a 'short'.. a voltmeter looks like an 'open'.

    It will become 'second nature' if you do it enough... just remember.. amps you have to disconnect.. volts you don't.

    -awr

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    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Never say thanks enough [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    I can't remember if I welcomed you in a different thread. I think I did but, so what, so there, welcome to here. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  8. #8
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Yes you did [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
    Thanks for welcoming me, again. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Ok.
    Picked up DMM and MAG 3D torch.
    Turned mag on then tailcap off, turned on DMM using first 10A setting then 200ma.
    In both cases A reading is 0 and torch does not light on.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* MrAl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Hi there daberti,

    You need to touch one meter lead to the minus side
    of the battery inside the light while applying a little
    pressure to keep the batteries in good electrical contact,
    and the other meter lead to the INSIDE of the light where
    the threads are. Note the outside is covered with a non
    conducting paint so you cant touch the meter lead there.

    Have you used the meter for other current measurements yet
    to prove it works ok?

    Take care,
    Al

  11. #11
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Ok. Was only a matter of threads.
    Now: I guess that Resistance is something different if between - of batteries and threads than with tailcap. Am I right?

  12. #12
    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    [ QUOTE ]
    I guess that Resistance is something different if between - of batteries and threads than with tailcap. Am I right?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Resistance is never checked with a power source attached. Resistance is the measurement of how well something blocks electricity. The DMM has a small battery inside that it uses to check the resistance at a known voltage.

    To practice, Take the lamp from your mag lite. Set the DMM to the 200 ohm scale, and touch one lead to the silver case and the other to the metal blob at the tip of the lamp. Your meter will then tell you the resistance of the bulb.

    Daniel

  13. #13
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    You're right and I spoke not so clearly: I meant to say that the spring in the tailcap is more conductive than the threads, but I had a second though....as both are used when closing my torch. uuuhh feel like a moron [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon23.gif[/img]

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Thats OK daberti, we all had to learn.

    You need to have both test leads in good electrical contact.
    The edge of the maglight should be bare metal. The threads may be coated.

    Your meter should be on the 10A (or 20A) range, AND the RED lead should go into the jack marked 10A (or 20A).

    If it still doesn't light up, check the fuse in your meter. It should be someware near the battery area.

    Dan

  15. #15

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    I am using 2 x MicroPuck 2009-HI drivers wired in parallel, and my MM is reading 980mA at the batteries, what kind of power am I getting at the LuxIII??

  16. #16
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Problems solved: it was dealing with some coating over mag's threads.
    Thanks

  17. #17
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    How many batteries have you got?
    Lets make an example:
    assumed that ya're running at 6V
    W=V*A (note: I'm simplifying, it should be something like V*A*0.8 instead)
    W=6*0.980 thus ....?(Waiting for yor calculation [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] )

    In any case given that LuxIII should run at 3W in any case you're overdriving it, as you're running at 5W levels (if I recall well 0.980 is the current of SF L5 which runs @6V).

  18. #18

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    2 alkaline AA batteries. When I put in fresh batteries and tested, I had 3.06v and 1000mA at the batteries.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    How did you measure Ampere? As you measure volts? Or as stated here above by andrewwynn ?

  20. #20
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Anyway assumed that you got 3.06V you should be slightly below 3W, thus in safe zone...but also correct thermal dissipation must be assumed [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  21. #21

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    When I measured current I took off the tailcap where the switch is located, and connected the leads to the body of the flashlight and the negative side of the battery.

  22. #22
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    This thread taught me how to measure current. Must read. An example:
    "...if you were to measure from the luxeon's positive lead, the connection would go:

    driver board's Vout+, Meter + lead, meter - lead, luxeon + lead.

    If you are attempting to measure current by putting the probes across the luxeon, you are shorting out the luxeon (and driver board) and getting an incorrect measurement. " (evan9612)

  23. #23
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Ya did it right, so it is valid what I said here
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...mp;o=&vc=1

  24. #24
    *Flashaholic* andrewwynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    if you measured 3.06V and 1000mA.. that is 3.06W.. but that's coming out of the battery... more than likely you are getting just about 85% efficiency with the mini pucks.. so that is 2.6W at the lux.. bright but could be brighter.. you'd have to interrupt the connection to the LED to get a more accurate measurement at the LED.. if you have a 'J' binned emitter i have a formula that works pretty well to estimate power and current only from knowing voltage on the emitter.

    to find out the efficiency of the driver(s) you need to measure the current and voltage (under load)... both at the battery and at the emitter (the tricky one.. usually means cutting or unsoldering a wire).. multiply current x volts at the battery and at the emitter.. you will get watts for each.. now divide the watts at the emitter by the watts at the battery and multiply that by 100 and you'll have the % efficiency. Expect something between 70 and 90.. if it's way off you are probably measuring something wrong.

    -awr

  25. #25

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    After further testing, I realized an error in my testing strategy and therefore calculations.

    It seems that to accurately measure how much power the driver is pulling, I needed to test the voltage of the 2 x AA batteries under load. (thanks andrewwynn)

    On the same circuit, under load, the 2 x AA batteries are putting out 2.05v and 1010mA on fresh batteries. Total power consumption would be 2.0705 watts. Assuming that the micropucks are 83% efficient at this voltage (which I found was the case when testing other MicroPucks) then the power consumption by the LED would be a mere 1.7185 watts. So just a little over half of what the LED is rated for.

    Here's the kicker, the voltage at the LuxIII bin TWOJ was only 3.00v...which would make the current approx 580mA.

    I did some testing with another unknown bin LuxIII (the stock LuxIII from the XM-3) and various other drivers and this is what I got. I measured the current directly, in the circuit between the batteries and the driver, then between the driver and the LuxIII. Then measured the voltage directly. So the only numbers that were estimated in these tests was the efficiency of the drivers.

    Stock EL XM-3 Driver
    Batteries 2.12v (under load) / 880mA = 1.866w
    LuxIII 3.40v / 380mA = 1.292w
    efficiency <font color="red"> 69% </font>

    Single standard output MicroPuck 2009
    Batteries 2.45v (under load) / 440mA = 1.078w
    LuxIII 3.30v / 270mA = 0.891w
    efficiency <font color="red"> 83% </font>

    2 x standard output MicroPucks 2009 wired in parallel
    Batteries 2.11v (under load) / 790mA = 1.646w
    LuxIII 3.45v / 400mA = 1.380w
    efficiency <font color="red"> 83% </font>

  26. #26

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    So the stock XM-3 driver is very inefficient. More info on this driver can be found here. Koala's findings were:
    [ QUOTE ]
    koala said:
    ...mine's at 380ma due to the lower vf(3.08v) of my Luxeon. My efficiency measurements at ~72%.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    And just to clarify, the reason I am getting so much more output with the driver in my XM-3 currently, I am using 2 x High-Output MicroPucks 2009-H (and the different LuxIII bin obviously).

  27. #27

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    Remember that there can be an error in calculations using your ammeter with low voltages, where the voltage drop across the shunt resistor in the ammeter can throw off your efficiency calculations.

    What you might want to do is measure the voltage at the point of interest, then use a lab. power supply so generate the same voltage at the measurement point whilte measuring the current draw, and you'll notice that the lab power supply is reading slightly higher at the source. Your calculation of power from the current and voltage (measured at the point of interest) will be more accurate.

    Hope that helps!

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* andrewwynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    I think your micropuck is not as efficient at the voltage level.. I was only getting like 75% max at volts near 2.. maybe close to 90 with 3.0... here's the thing.. when i developed the voltage to current curve (formula) for the Tbin luxes i use.. it comes out to that if you have 3.0V on your emitter.. my math says it has only 122mA and .36W... that would be extremely low efficiency so i'm wondering if you took your voltage from like the 'neg' of the battery and the anode of the LED vs direct on both sides of the LED..

    1.7w into a Jbin should be more like 3.41V and 498mA...

    The formula i use is this: (Vf-2.6)^2*0.76 = I.. then i calculate power my multiplying the two. (I x Vf).

    It never lets me down.. when i measure 450mA on my nanos.. it always is within a couple hundredths of 3.37V.. if i measure 3.37V it comes out to 1.52W..

    i was going to develop a formula for K bin emitters as well but i only use J.

    In any event.. that formula is a life saver dealing with emitters that are soldered in to a circuit.

    -awr

    oh.. PS.. if you are trying to do this with one meter... it won't be accurate... i hook up one meter for amps and one for voltage so i can get power.. (one day i'm building a 'power' meter that reads directly watts),,, 3 leads.. hook up the 'common, and the current loop.. internally the 'goesout' of the current loop is also hooked to the + voltage.. it reads both current and voltage and displays the product or power.

  29. #29
    Flashaholic daberti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    One question to you mates: V under load must be misured in series, right?

  30. #30

    Default Re: Testing Ampere draw with a multimeter

    [ QUOTE ]
    daberti said:
    One question to you mates: V under load must be misured in series, right?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    No. Voltage is always measured in parallel.

    You read voltage (a pressure) *across* a part, you read current (a flow rate) *through* a part. The current meter must 'count' each electron, so they all have to flow through it. Voltage (what some call 'tension', as in 'high tension lines') can be sensed with very minor disturbance.

    Them's the rules, "Voltage across, current through".

    Doug Owen

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