Turk’s Tips: The Volt-Ohm Meter

By |  December 14, 2011

I am often asked “what technical tool should my irrigation technician carry on his cart to troubleshoot valves” I always answer, a volt-ohm meter AKA multi-meter. A volt-ohm meter has several features that take the guess work out of diagnosing electrical shorts in golf course irrigation wiring. I know some guys will argue that there are several manual methods to diagnose solenoid operation, low voltage valve wire, and communication cable. While these methods can be get the job done they can leave a irrigation technician stumped if they don’t solve the problem. Inexpensive meters can be purchased at any home improvement center for as low as $10 or as much as $350. I use a digital auto-ranging type meter that has VAC, VDC, OHM and Diode test features. Analog meters work just as well and in some cases are the preferred type. Learning how to use a meter may seem daunting at first but with time the technician will come to appreciate the advantages and wonder how they ever got along without it. There are several sources you can use to help you learn how to use one of these meters. Find out if your local irrigation supplier has irrigation training or talk to your local irrigation sales rep about stopping by to demo the latest VIH golf rotors while spending a few minutes showing you how to test a solenoid on the demo. Most golf course mechanics have a meter and can pass on some user knowledge as well. Don’t forget about YouTube.com where you can watch instructional videos on just about anything. If I neglect to have my meter for a job (of course I always have my meter)  I can pick one up at the local hardware store for as little as $10. An inexpensive analog meter can save the day. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Don’t forget to check the meter’s batteries periodically unless you want to start pulling your hair out… you’ll see what I mean. — Joe Turk is a golf course irrigation specialist based in San Diego. If you have any questions for Turk, he can be reached at Joe@turfassist.com or via his website at www.turfassist.com.

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