I would like to set up a indoor track with a volt & amp meter to check out equipment. I can find digital meters but I am sure I need more than just the meter. Does anyone have a diagram of how these meters would be hooked up???
You can pick one up at HarborFreight for about $7 (less on sale). It comes with the pointy probes. It would be easy enough to make a second set of probes with banana jacks and alligator clips (or even hooked up directly to your test track).
For voltage just hook a probe up to each rail. For amperage you need to put the meter in line with one of the power feeds to the track. Its pretty simple.
Whatever you chose for an ammeter, make sure it can handle at least the amount of current you are fused for. Most handheld type multi-meters can only handle about 1/2 to 1 AMP max current, if that. Pulling 10A through your multimeter will ruin its day ... electronics surplus stores and probably RadShack in the states (we don't have them up here anymore) have relatively inexpensive panel meters which are available in the DC voltages and currents used on LS. As Dwight says though, you won't get a meaningful reading on DCC
Voltage is measure across two points (i.e. rails). Current (amperage) is measured through something. OHM's Law: V=I/R where V=voltage, I=current(in amps) and R= resistance (in ohms)
Power (watts)=I x V (called volt-amps on transformers)
There are a couple of potential problems with using a hand-held volt ohm meter in place of a real panel meter. First, the hand-helds are battery powered. You will need to remember to shut them off each time you use them, then turn them back on to the appropriate range for use. Failure to turn them off will use up lots of batteries.
A second problem is that the cheap hand-held meters are usually very limited in terms of amperage, commonly an amp or two. Assuming you want a meter that will read amperage to at least to the maximum of your power supply system (say 10 or 15 amps), you will need to add a shunt and read the voltage drop across it. This is a pretty simple design and build task, but even with the correct shunt, accidentally putting the meter on the wrong range can result in its early demise. That means you will need to remember to turn the meter on and select the correct range every time prior to turning the RR power supply on.
Hand held volt ohm meters are made for a specific purpose and aren't really well suited for the application you suggest. Add to that the fact that the cheapest hand-held meters from Harbor Freight and the like usually have a pretty limited life due to cheap construction, and you will find that real panel meters are definitely a superior solution for permanent use. There are lots of suitable analog panel meters available in the $20 range.
I can wire a house but this stuff is more difficult for me. Will you please explaine to me thw reason or the two different 5V power supplies here. that just doesn't sink in for me. am sure there is a very good reason,just explaine it to me.
You wire the voltmeter in parallel with the power supply leads.
You wire the ammeter in series with the power supply. The ammeter requires a "shunt resistor",
which is probably included with the lower current capacity meters from All Electronics.
Posted By dbodnar on 06/22/2008 3:10 AM
Good day - I put together some notes on wiring the inexpensive Harbor Freight meters on my web page.
Have a look and see if this makes things a bit clearer. Volt Ohm Meter Wiring