I am the luckiest of lucky little scamps. Why do I say this? Well, I donít think we need to dwell on my legendary good looks. Also, the fact that I'm a trend-setter and leader in fashion goes without saying. What I'm talking about is the way in which the fates seem to throw the dice of life so that I always come up with double sizes (metaphorically speaking, of course).
As you may recall, I'm using a lot of antique meters in various hobby projects, such as my Inamorata Prognostication Engine and Vetinari Clock.
Sad to relate, however, I've been running into issues with my meters sticking. Things are exacerbated when you open these little rascals up to check for -- and possibly remove -- internal series and shunt resistors. Also, you have to open them up to remove and replace the existing faceplates with updated versions that are more suited to the information being displayed.
The problem is that these are sealed units that were never intended to be opened up. The tiniest grain of magnetic material -- the merest spec released when you loosen a screw, for example -- can be snatched up by the meter's powerful permanent magnet and really gum up the works.
The reason I say I'm lucky is that I recently penned a column about one of my failed meters: Oh, No! My Antique Analog Meter Has Twitched Its Last. When he read this blog, EETimes community member LakeHermit posted the following comment:
A few years ago my beloved 1960's Variac controlled D.C. power supply's meters died. I spent hours trying to find replacements but could not find anything that mechanically fit. Finally I came across a meter repair place that said they would try to make them work again. I sent them off via priority mail and a few days later they came back as good as new (and more accurate than I could ever remember). Here is the name of the repair place [Ö] Instrument Meter Specialties 339 E. Ave. K8 STE 105 Lancaster, CA 93535.
Well, I immediately bounced over to Instrument Meter Specialties' website at Multimeter.com (you should also check out their MeterSales.com site). Next, I called them on the phone and talked with Jason Dueck. All I can say is that I'm currently performing my happy dance (it's not a pretty sight), because I have found Meter Nirvana.
Jason Dueck calibrating analog meters at Instrument Meter Specialties.
It turns out that Jason and his colleagues are experts in anything and everything to do with both antique and modern meters. This includes repairing and restoring the little beauties. With regard to the antique models, having someone who can keep these little scamps up and running can be mission-critical for industrial and military facilities. And then there's the Maker Movement, which is growing exponentially. I think that my Maker companions are going to be very interested to learn about the services offered by the guys and gals at Instrument Meter Specialties.
I've already dispatched a box of meters to Jason to be fixed up. Furthermore, do you recall my recent blog Analog Meter Faceplate Solution for Vetinari Clock? In that blog I described how John Strupat -- the president of an engineering company that specializes in creating prototypes and one-off custom projects for its customers -- contacted me with a solution for creating new faceplates for my Vetinari Clock.
The concern that has been niggling away at me is having to re-open my working meters to insert these new faceplates. Well, now this problem is solved. Once I have the faceplates, I will be sending them and their corresponding meters to the folks at Instrument Meter Specialties. They will clean and fine-tune the meters, swap out the faceplates, and make sure everything is totally tickerty-boo before returning the little scamps to your truly.
For the last couple of days I've been in constant email and telephone conversation with Jason learning all sorts of useful information. When I told Jason about the forthcoming EETimes Road Trip to Hamvention (the biggest Hamfest and electronic flea market on the planet), and explained that I will be looking to acquire some more antique aalog meters there, he responded by giving me the "low down" on all of the major meter types and manufacturers. I will be presenting this invaluable intelligence in a future column; in the meantime -- as always -- I welcome any questions and comments.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting