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There were probably better and safer options, but as a young electrician I couldn't justify one of the professional units. The surprising thing is that, forty years later the same simple technology is still used in many other modern units. The reference to "West Germany" is also a reminder of the Berlin wall that divided the country in that era.
This tester served me well for doing final safety checks on stuff I had disconnected or been assured was isolated.
The only aspect of the technology that appears to have changed is the form of the current limiting component and the efficiency of the LEDs. Modern Chinese clones tend to use an extra fixed value resistor as an extra safety device.
This type of tester still has its place. The behaviour of the LEDs gives an indication of the voltage, they load the circuit slightly to avoid detecting capacitive leakage and they require no battery to operate.
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12 thoughts on “Inside a vintage west german 500v test lamp with schematic”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars FiveleafCloverFPV says:

    My father always had one like this in his toolbox. From 1990's or so.
    Found the multimeter too complex.

    And good enough to see if something is powered.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Dave Davies says:

    Maybe 'auto' as in automatic rather than 'auto' as in automotive.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars MsLancer99 says:

    To test a 13 AMP socket, we use a 100-watt bulb plug into a lamp holder with two wirers that were soldered two nails with the head cut off and tape up with half an inch left bear so we would push the nails into the 13 sockets and the lamp would light up and yes that socket OK Would we do that now NO

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars channelsixtysix066 says:

    If you change the LEDs, you could also add an audible indicator.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars outsideworld76 says:

    These will trip your ELCB.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars ICountFrom0 says:

    You've been on site for a while, hope things are going well.

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Moon Moon says:

    You’re in accomodation… does this mean that we’re looking at stuff being taken to bits on the floor? Because that looks like carpet to me. Or maybe a sofa, ashens style.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jammit Timmaj says:

    I've made myself something like this. I have 2 LED's in inverse parallel (one red and one green, applied DC polarity will only light the green or red) that are in series with 4*120VAC 5 watt tungsten lamps. The lamps do a good job of limiting the current to around 15ma and can handle up to 480 VAC or 1Kv DC (assuming the insulation of the device was done well enough). Good for a go/no go and polarity test for anything from 3Vdc to anything I would poke at on the AC ranges.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Rob Peabo says:

    A simple and robust instrument.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Eliot Mansfield says:

    I never throw tools out, but when I cleared out my late fathers electrical box – that thing went in the bin.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Michaela Bratzel says:

    Whaaat… "Vintage"??? Shit I use them still.. 😀

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars GroovyVideo2 says:

    i have test light with a small light bulb – some how it still works

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