Electrical Measurements: Stay Safe. Stay Away.
Have you ever been in the uncomfortable situation of needing to take electrical measurements of a high voltage inverter while it is in operation where you are at risk of incurring an electrical jolt? Perhaps your job requires you to monitor electrical measurement for some duration at high places which are difficult to reach? How about making measurements in a hazardous environment with unbearable heat, intolerable audible noise level and surrounded with poisonous gas? If some of these risky situations describe your job, you may be pleased to know that there are some measurement instruments that can help you do your job with better safety, by staying away from it. Literally. 

Advancements in wireless technology such as wireless local area network (WLAN) and Bluetooth have already permeated our home appliances and personal gadgets for about a decade. Although the test and measurement industry has been riding on the wireless wave since the early days, it has been mainly on testing these wireless standards. It is only in recent times that we have begun to see an increasing trend of test and measurement companies embedding wireless technology as part of the way their instruments operate.

Traditional instruments like multimeters and clamp meters are innovatively combined with wireless technology implementations and the latest smart devices to improve productivity and safety. Now, you can remotely make measurements in risky environments. In fact, you can also make multiples of such measurements simultaneously and continuously log them over a certain time period. This implies that you can make prolonged electrical measurements in risky environments with greater ease and safety.

Let us take a look at some examples of wireless capabilities being implemented in basic handheld electrical measurement instruments.

Firstly, we have the Fluke CNX Wireless System, which is a collection of troubleshooting tools that allows you to view live measurements from multiple wireless modules simultaneously and remotely from a single main console screen. The Fluke CNX 3000 series comprises of Wireless Digital Multimeter (WDMM) and Wireless Thermal Imager (WTI) that act as the main console. These main consoles communicate with AC Current Clamp, AC Voltage and K-type Temperature modules over the 2.4 GHz ISM band. The maximum specified distance for the RF communication is 20 meters. The WDMM is able to connect up to three modules while the WTI connects up to five modules. Multiple measurements are displayed at the same time on either the WDMM or WTI screen. You can also view the readings on the screen of each individual modules. The battery life is great with 250 hours for the WDMM and 400 hours for the wireless modules. The other nice thing about this series is that you get to do a variety of combination measurements including thermal imaging.

The Fluke CNX 3000 Series in wireless action

Agilent Technologies implements its wireless measurements differently, by using the Android platform. The Android tablet or smartphone acts as the main console to simultaneously view live measurements from up to a combination of three handheld DMM and current clamp meters. Every handheld DMM and current clamp meter is required to plug in an Infrared-to-Bluetooth adapter as a means to communicate wirelessly to the Android device up to 10 meters away. There are two Android applications that support this capability – Agilent Mobile Meter and Agilent Mobile Logger. The Agilent Mobile Meter enables you to view live readings from the instruments, while the Agilent Mobile Logger enables you to view real-time measurement trends and perform data logging. Some of the good features include the ability to wirelessly switch measurement types (voltage, current, resistance), audible measurements and sharing via email or SMS. These applications can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Unfortunately it is not available on Apple iOS platform.

Agilent’s handheld instruments go wireless with Android applications and Bluetooth adaptor.

More recently, Redfish Instruments introduced the world’s first wireless multimeter designed for Apple iOS platform called the iDVM. The iDVM multimeter wirelessly connects to an iOS device via WLAN. The innovative iDVM is a combination of a compact faceless hardware and an iOS application. It allows you to acquire, visualize, store and share electrical measurements with other people or other devices. Leveraging on iOS device capabilities, you can expect to intuitively and effortlessly pinch, pan, zoom and scroll your data. After the introduction of iDVM, Redfish Instruments have since expanded their portfolio to include Android devices and also wireless plug-in modules that allows data taken by any Fieldpiece accessory head to be wirelessly transmitted to your smart devices.

The iDVM from Redfish Instruments with UI that mimics a real DMM

With so many innovations that enable wireless measurements, it makes good sense to make risky measurements from a safe distance.

Of course, it's not to say that you can’t safely make these measurements with the equipment you have today. Need to look at other options and approaches? When is your equipment next due for calibration?  Give us a call, we’d love to talk… call (877-781-TEST) or contact us - we’re happy to review your instruments with you.