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Thank you, to the thousands of you loyal fans who use our tools every day. You all recognized the testing value of a tool that combine the functions of a test light, power and ground indicators, a voltmeter, a flashlight, and of course, the ability to apply breaker protected power or ground directly to the tip. And although Power Probe Tek is building an ever-increasing line of tools to help technicians fix cars faster and easier, the Power Probe III is, by far, our most popular circuit testing tool to date.
The Power Probe III has a proven track record of simplicity and reliability, however there is one issue that continues to come up on our Tech Support line– Is your Power Probe III making weird crackling noises from the speaker? And/or possibly the voltmeter is giving you strange erroneous readings?
You might think your PP3 is broken and needs to be repaired or replaced. Good news! It is likely there is nothing wrong with your probe, there is just a setting that needs to be fixed. Even better news, you can fix it quickly. Let me start by explaining what is going on with your probe.
First, the voltmeter function on the PP3, is obvious because it is the default test mode of the PP3. But did you know your PP3 actually has 4 more test modes that you can choose from? We find that a lot of PP3 users do not know this. If you are anything like I am, you likely never refer to the manual unless you can’t figure out how to do something, so you may have never read about the extra test modes.
So, besides the normal DC voltmeter mode, the PP3 also has “Min” mode, “Max” mode, “P” mode (meaning pulse), and an AC threshold setting. You access these modes by holding down the oval speaker button for a couple of seconds and the probe will cycle to the next mode.
The modes also go in order, so starting from the DC voltmeter, hold the button down, the speaker should beep and the screen display will change and show a “-“ in the lower left corner. This is “Min” mode and it can be used to catch any drop in voltage or intermittent opens.
Hold the button down again, the speaker will beep and the screen will now show a “+” in the corner. This is “Max” mode, just the opposite of “Min” mode, it can be used to capture any voltage peaks or spikes.
Hold the button down a third time, the speaker will beep, and the display will now show a “P” in the lower left corner. This is Peak to Peak or Pulse mode and can be very useful for testing any pulsed voltage signals, like crank sensors, wheel sensors, etc.
Hold the button down again, the speaker will beep, and the display will now show an alternating “+” and “-“ sign. This screen is not so much a mode as it is a setting that you can change. Tis is also where we can get into trouble and make your tool do funny things. This setting is called the “AC Threshold” setting. Now the Power Probe III can NOT read the type of AC (alternating current) voltage like that comes from a wall outlet, but it can measure pulsed DC signals and give you a true Peak voltage reading, not an averaged reading. This is available in “P” mode already, however, by changing the AC Threshold setting, the PP3 will automatically change from DC voltmeter to “P” mode if it sees a pulsed voltage that exceeds the AC Threshold voltage setting. The probe will also activate the speaker function allowing you to actually hear the signal on the probe tip. This is what we call the “Audible Monitoring” function which is not available if only “P” mode is selected.
Let me explain, when the AC Threshold is selected, you will see a voltage number on the LCD screen. A quick tap of the speaker button will select the next available voltage setting. There are different voltage thresholds you can select by continuing to tap the speaker button – 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 5.0, 10.0, and 50.0. The way it works, you select a setting below the expected pulsed voltage you want to monitor. So, if you to measure a 5 volt pulsed circuit, you can select any setting below the expected 5 volts. In this case, I may want the setting at 1.0 volts. First, I select the AC Threshold setting by going through the mode selection, then tap the speaker button until 1.0 is on the display, then hold the speaker button down for a couple of seconds to bring the probe back to its normal voltmeter mode. Now probe the pulsed circuit and the probe will automatically switch to “P” mode and you will hear frequency of the pulsed signal through the speaker.
This is a very useful testing feature. The problem is if this setting gets lowered and not reset to the normal setting of 50.0 volts. If the setting is too low, it can cause the tool to read abnormally and give you strange noises from the speaker when testing normal DC circuits. If the tool sees any kind of pulsing, it may be on the borderline and trying to select the “P” mode.
You may not even be aware that this setting was there, but now you know how to reset it. If your Power Probe III is exhibiting any of the described symptoms, be sure to check your AC Threshold setting. Make sure it is set at the default 50.0 by going through the process described above or refer to you user’s manual. If you get stuck or need any advice, please do not hesitate to call our Tech Support and we will be happy to walk you through it. Toll free number is 1-800-655-3585 M-F 6:00am to 5:00pm PST
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