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Gam Check or DMM

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by ecglstec, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    I've been thinking of buying a GAM Check for testing cable, insturments, ect. I have a very nice Fluke DMM that I absolutly love, but I want something cheaper that I can afford to drop. Do you think I should go with a Sperry meter from lowes for about $80 or fork up the $150 for the Gam check. They seem pretty durable, but 150 is alot for a few basic circuits, I could just build it myself I guess.

    So low end DMM with Volts, Impedance, Amps ( up to 400A) OR a Gam Check ?

    I use the equipment on a daily basis. What do you guys think?
     
  2. The_Guest

    The_Guest Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Check out used gamm checks, they're always lying around. Ebay may have them, you could get one of the darker colored ones for a lot cheaper than the newer ones. A lot of people bought newer units because the older dark colored (black) units would get lost in piles of cables, so many switched to the more modern red units. You could probably find an older gamm check working just fine and you'll save yourself some money. If the dark color bothers you just put some paint on them, they're relatively easy to paint I heard. People paint the dark ones all the time.
     
  3. bdesmond

    bdesmond Active Member

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    Whats the GAMChek do for you that a DMM doesn't? Nothing that I can see - it's got some fancy lights, fits one style of plug. I've found that some good probes on a multimeter fit just about any kind of socket. You might look at a nice case for the fluke you have, or one of the ones with a rubberized body. I have no idea what model I have, but it has a rubberized body, and my experience is that it bounces. The thing was probably six hundred bucks, but, it does everything but make coffee for me in the morning. Six hundred bucks is cheap in the Fluke range of stuff anyway.
     
  4. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    bdesmond raises a very good point here in that you use several styles of plugs. Here we use a standard plug for all single phase applications.

    The only drawback on using a multimeter is trying to juggle plugs and probes, so for the more common tasks, I tend to make up a simple continuity testers that thrown inside road cases and tool boxes.

    I have a box on my desk that checks every combination of connectors that I use on leads and makes life so simple when checking in bulk.

    The only commercial testers that I buy and use are similar to a gam check in that it checks for correct wiring of power outlest to tell me if my earth, active and neutral wires are correct. I plug this in a check any outlet that I am plugging my equipment into before I flick the switch. However, this only cost me about $10 US new.

    The other megaohm meter for checking the insulation on cables. Cost is about $35 US
     
  5. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I have a DMM that's both clamp for ampreage and multi-meter. I also have a set of fluke leads to it that allow me to interchange the probe between alagator clips, insulation piercing hooks and the normal probes.

    That true RMS is where a lot of the cost goes into, and while it's good in doing things like trimming dimmers, for general purpose work, it's not much more of an advantage. The hooks and clamps however were a large advantage in making life easy and not fumbling with the probes. Someone even melted down the tip of one of my probes at one time when they fumbled with it.


    The multi-meter, be it a calculator sized one or as necessary often a combination one that will even tell temperature is very useful.

    On the other hand, so is a Gam check. If you are atop a ladder, it's much more easy to use the gam check for instance. Much less at times your probes won't find something to contact within a receptacle, or if they do, it won't hold in contact. The Gam check will stay in contact much easier.

    While I also have various edison checks, even GFCI testers, they rely upon having live power. Such testers make life quicker and easier. If your Gam Check is the wrong flavor for the cable to be tested, you build a adaptor. I in using the Edison tester and Gam Check test L6-15 and L6-20 cables - when powered by 120v circuits, L5-15 and L5-20, Stage pin, Edison and a lot of other types of cable with these two testing devices. Just takes a adaptor to convert which is wired in the same way as the outlet for bench testing.

    My bench test circuit has 20 amps of power coming into a switch. It than goes to thermo magnetic circuit breaker and plug fuse which can go down to 5 amps as a maximum rating. It than feeds a GFCI receptacle before it hits the various outlets above. Very useful for a table top. It also has a indicator light linked to each so you can tell what blew.


    In testing it does require live power. Short of such a test box, I would be more concerned with testing gear which is the advantage the Gam Check has. It can test both live power or have a cable plugged into both ends to easily test continuity. Handy to have with you up in a catwalk. The lamp check is also useful.

    Such a testing device does not replace the need for a analog or DMM, but it does make life much more easy for testing in the field.

    On a ladder all you have to do is plug it in and you can test power coming in, and the lamp itself without fooling with the probes. You can also put a tie line thru it and hang it off your belt much more easily than you can carry around a multi-meter. What do you do with the probes and long leads? Can't exactally stick them into your pocket.

    As for color, my tools are not left behind thus loosing it in a bin of black cable is not a problem.

    My thoughts at least. I use both, all three test device types and more. The Gam Check while perhaps over priced for it's value is still a good tool to get if you have the money. First comes at least a decent multi-meter.
     
  6. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I will probably build a gam check and save about $100! Can't be too hard to find the plans online! Maybe even different checkers for different cables!
     
  7. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    I think I'm going to buy a Gam check. While it would be much cheaper to build one, I've found that professionally desinged equipment holds up when you really need it, and I can't afford for a peice of equipment to fail when I need it.

    I will still keep my Fluke onsite , but I have a feeling that the gam check will find a home in my back pocket and the fluke will live in my general toolbox.
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    USITT 3rd Biennial Theatre Technology Exhibit 1991 has the general method laid out for wiring up at least a power tester inside of a plug. I made at one point a stage pin tester using this set of instructions. Didn't work but I might have done something wrong.

    Doing something wrong being the operative word also in it could be dangerous such mistakes with live current. It would also be much cheaper to just go to your local hardware store to purchase a Edison socket tester than put it on the end of a stage to Edison adaptor. Such a testing tool will also hold up well to abuse.

    After that, for continuity check, I'm sure DMX tools or someone can speak electronics talk about which resistors and LED's would be needed to test a cable or lamp.

    I would not do it as both a line voltage and continuity check option all in one however. Such things GAM produces have special safety features involved in doing so. Believe that GAM now also produces a less expensive power tester without the lamp and continuity check. Could be worth the price.
     
  9. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    Come to think of I'll just buy the gam check, and maybe some other types of testers for xlr and such.
     
  10. JP12687

    JP12687 Active Member

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  11. JasonH

    JasonH Active Member

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    and for the other testers (xlr,1/4",midi,rca,etc) use the behringer cable tester... I love mine :)
     
  12. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    No thanks, behringer isn't exactly the best equipment ever. I'll stick with my whirlwind q box
     
  13. JasonH

    JasonH Active Member

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    Oh, get over it, use whatever works
     
  14. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    Get over what? I was mearly pointing out that behringer does not make the most dependable equipment. Having owned at least a few thousand dollars worth or behringer lighting and sound gear, I can safely say that the price is directly related to the preformance of their products. I'm sure that if you ask any other person on this forum that uses their equipment professionally, they will tell you to buy the best equipment you can afford. Behringer makes a cable tester for 29.99, my q box costs about 100.00. I've never had a whirlwind product fail, I have had behringer products fail all the time. I can afford the whirlwind box, and it is dependable compared to the behringer, so I bought it. If you can only afford the Behringer box then thats the box for you.

    Perhaps I didn't make my point very clear in my previous post, but there is no need to be rude.
     
  15. JasonH

    JasonH Active Member

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    I've never had a behringer product fail. I've seen them fail, only when they arent treated properly. Its a remarkably well build $30 cable tester, its really awesome for a behringer product. I've been tossing mine around for about two years now and its still great.
     
  16. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    Hmm, maybe you're a lucky one. I haven't had a good experience with Behringer in a long time. I don't like that Behringer knocks off alot of their products from other companies. My point is still the same though, buy the best tools you can afford - it will save you money in the long run.

    I had a behringer console for a few months to try it out on a few supervised rental gigs. At first it worled like a charm, but in a month it needed a new power supply ( it was noisey as hell) and a few faders and pots replaced.

    I've always thought of behringer as entry level gear, however they have started making some stonger products. I do then to rent out small behringer consoles because they are easy and cheap to replace.

    However, When I am responsible directly for a show, Behringer equipment is typically not on my trucks. It's just not reliable enough.
     
  17. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I think that you both raise some good points and at the end of the day, I think the message is a simple one.

    Buy the best that you can afford and then update it once you have the money to do so. Once you have updated either sell, donate or rent the old equipment.

    One of the examples that I commonly use is a set of Snap-On screw drivers that I purchased over 10 years ago for $160 Australian Dollars, which have never let me down. A friend of mine buys a new $20 set almost every year because he breaks the tips on them all the time. After 10 years - who is in front?

    Tools and equipment is only expensive if you loose it (or some F#*!er lifts it) or do not look after it.

    You will also find that some manufacturers make an excellent range of products in one field (say Audio) and then enter into a new field (say lighting) and do not come up to scratch. So do not just buy based upon the name.

    Another thing to consider is how much use the equipment is going to get. If you are using it every day, as opposed to if you were using it every couple of weeks or so, would also be something worth thinking about.

    Admittedly, Behringer is widely regarded as lower cost, entry level equipment but if the choice is Behringer or nothing, then I say buy it and use it until it dies or you are in a position to upgrade it.

    Oh – and looking after your equipment will always make it last a little longer.
     
  18. The_Guest

    The_Guest Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Behringer makes a decent compressor, best bang for the buck. I've seen them in the racks of professionals many times. It also love how affordable they are, you can actually afford to compress a decent number of channels. It's kinda nice to show up to a gig and see a bunch of consistent behringer comps over something high end along with a bunch of random no namers. Some of their miniature consoles aren't bad, they make great mixers for basic video stuff. They're not something you'd want to mix a band on, the gain structure on those consoles are relatively cheap. They clip very easily. Some of behringers processing equipment isn't too bad, they have a few decent products. Overall it's all crap.
     
  19. ecglstec

    ecglstec Member

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    Agreed. Behringer's compressors with gates tend to be loud when the gate changes states, though. They work ok if you don't use the gate. I keep a compressor/ limiter ( actually now that I think about it, one is a behringer on my smallest rack) between my consoles and amps for smaller rental racks. They have clear rack cover with security screws and lock over them and are set to limit the gain to a resonalble point. This has greatly reduced the number of tweeter I have to replace in my small rental gear.
     
  20. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    LOL - Thanks Jeff.

    You had me thinking to myself "Gee - maybe I should check out these comp/limiters he is talking about". Then I read the very sobering conclusion:

     

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