What is Wrong with the National Weather Service?

The Featured Image (at the top of the page), is the Weather Alerting Radio I use, a Reecom R-1630.

Here is my problem with the National Weather Service (hereafter NWS). The Pittsburgh Area NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter has been “Out of Service” since, according to the NWS, 08 April 2022. As of this writing, it is 20 May 2022.

Weather Radios and Weather Transmissions, Overview:

Due to the Limitations on Signal Propagation, Multiple Transmitters are needed in Each State and Area of Coverage. NOAA Weather Radio (hereafter NWR) is the term they use for such Transmissions.

The NWS maintains “more than 1000  transmitters, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. 

In general, for more common Thunderstorm Weather Events:  

    • “Advisories and Statements” – Weather and conditions that may evolve.
    • Watches – conditions that may arise over a period of hours that can result in a specific Severe Weather Event/s.
    • Warnings – indicates that a Specific Severe Weather Event/s is ongoing near the warning area, or other observations indicate that it is highly possible to have a Severe Weather event. (usually within 1 hour of the time of issuance, or less).

For more specific meanings: Watch/Warning/Advisory Definitions

On my Weather Radio, we have it programmed to Set (Light) the LED for a “Advisories and Statements” and Watches, Set the LED and Sound an Alarm for Warnings, and some of the Alarms Possible are shut-off, like Tsunami Warnings, if we get a Tsunami in Pittsburgh, I don’t want to know it’s coming. Avalanche Warning is off too, not something we really get.

On my Weather Radio, when the Alert Sounds, you Press the Stop Button to Stop the Alert Sound, and the Radio Button to Turn on the Weather Radio, and listen to the nature of the Warning, where it’s at, which way it’s heading, etc. We get an occasional one in the middle of the night. When I was working (before retiring), it was funny, because I’d get out of bed and grab the Alarm Clock, trying to turn off the alarm, until my wife told me it’s the Weather Radio.

Head Palm Leslie Nielsen

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), is a separate system from the NWR. Using this system, the Govt Sends Out Warnings (determined to be important to send by Federal and Local Authorities) to Cellphones, and if Tornadoes threatened, for example, we’d likely get a Warning, but it doesn’t provide the “Advisories and Statements” and Watch Alerts, it doesn’t provide details on the storm path, etc. After seeing the problems the govt is now having with the NWR, with transmitters down, and no projected resolution date, I’m losing confidence in the govt to reliably provide any alert.

But for years, in multiple locations; and we carry a Weather Radio when traveling; we’ve not had any problems. Until now.


My Model Weather Radio Display – From an Online Image

NOAA Weather Radio

    • NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.
    • Known as the “Voice of NOAA’s National Weather Service,” NWR is provided as a public service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce. 
    • Broadcasts are found in the VHF public service band at these seven frequencies (MHz):
    • 162.400 MHz     162.425 MHz     162.450 MHz     162.475 MHz
      162.500 MHz     162.525 MHz     162.550 MHz

Here are the Frequencies by State or Area, and supposed coverage:
Nationwide Station Listing Using Broadcast Frequencies

The link above lists other Frequencies that provide service to Pittsburgh. I’m going to demonstrate that despite being Technically Correct, it’s not actually correct for most users. A Commercial TV or Radio Station, or an Amateur Radio Operator, with a Mast for their Antennas, and if that Mast had an Antenna that worked with the Weather Radio Frequencies, and if one had it connected to the Weather Radio, you might get the alternate frequencies IF you knew to switch your Radio to one of those Frequencies and test that it works.

The Pittsburgh NWR Outage has no date when it will return. Are they credible Meteorologists? I’d say yes. Yet the same govt that tells you how indispensable Weather Warnings are doesn’t seem to care about their equipment not sending out “Advisories and Statements”, Watches, and Warnings, and not being available for Local and National Emergency Broadcasts. Therefore, are they operating the NWR with the respect that it should be given, considering how much they like to criticize people for not taking Severe Weather Watches and Warnings seriously, I’d say no.

I’m a radio enthusiast, have outdoor antennas, including scanner antennas, and, by and large, can’t receive the Alternate Frequency the NWS Advises, even on the dedicated Weather Radio I own.  The Details of which Radios Worked, which Did Not Work, are further below.

Consider, though:

    1. I’m way up on a hill (excellent reception opportunities).
    2. If someone lived in a valley, they may be unable to receive the Alternate Frequencies even with an External or Outdoor Antenna.
    3. And most people don’t have External or Outdoor antennas on their Weather Radios.

So, overall, it’s not looking good for the NWS to claim there are Alternate Frequencies available for my area, or other areas in hilly terrain.

Both Scanners (Whistler and Uniden) have a Weather Radio built in, and would work for notifications, unless the power fails, then they do nothing (yet the Dedicated Weather Radio Works, on Batteries, without Power for up to 200 Hours).

Handheld Radios

Left to Right:

Yaesu VX-2, Yaesu VX-5, Yaesu VR-500, Alinco DJ-V5, Alinco DJ-X10

These are my Handheld Radios. The Middle and the Right Radios are Receive Only, the other 3 Transmit as well. The first 3 radios starting on the left, there is no hint of the Alternate Weather Radio Frequencies, none, zip, zero, nada. These radios are each considerably more expensive than most weather radios.

The Alinco DJ-V5, if held right, in the correct part of the house, receives the New Philadelphia, Ohio, Transmission (93 Land Miles Away) very weakly. The Alinco DJ-X10 Receives the New Philadelphia, Ohio, Transmission fairly reliably in most parts of the house.

Livingroom Whistler Scanner

Whistler WS-1065 Scanner, on top, is a Newer Scanner, Has Weather Alerts and Warnings, is Connected to an Outside Antenna, and it doesn’t receive ANY of the Alternate Frequencies from the NWR. If a Signal Was Available, when Power  is lost, then restored, the Whistler Scanner stays in Weather Mode, and Scans for an Active Weather Frequency, assuming it doesn’t lock onto a Static Signal Caused by Noise, it should resume Weather Radio Operation on Power-up.

Images Above: ⬆, the Bottom Radio, is a Shortwave Receiver, the venerable Yaesu FRG-100, this one survived a Lightning Strike of sorts.

Click on Images to Enlarge:
Above Left: ⬆ Yaesu FT-8900R. This is a relatively Expensive Transceiver. It has 2 Separate Tuners, the Left Side of the Display is One Frequency, the Right Side is another, it will literally receive 2 Frequencies at the same time, and you can turn down the volume for either. Though I use it for Receive, I am Licensed to use it for Transmitting, as I am for the Transmitting Handhelds I have too. It’s a Mobile, the Power Supply below it is needed to use it in the home, and to power the HF Transceiver to the left of this radio.
The FT-8900R is connected to a Scanner Antenna, out back, and it receives the New Philadelphia Ohio Signal Fairly Strongly, another area Signal is received fairly strongly, and another one still is weakly received. A Weather Radio on this Antenna may work, I’ll be moving mine to that antenna soon.

Images Above Right: ⬆, to the left of the FT-8900R is a Yaesu FT-840 Transceiver, I am not Licensed to Transmit on it, I do not use it for Transmitting, Receive Only.

Click on Images to Enlarge:
Above Left Top Radio: ⬆  This is a Uniden Bearcat BC-785D Receiver, it’s Digital Capable, has the Digital Card (the Whistler is Digital Capable too and doesn’t need a card), is Connected to an Indoor Antenna (actually a Trunk Mounting Antenna for a Car, but it’s Mounted on a Portable Metal Magazine Rack). It has weak reception for the New Philadelphia Ohio Transmitter and doesn’t receive any others. This works as a Weather Radio, providing it isn’t turned off or subject to a power failure, as it starts up in Memory Scan Mode and not the Weather (WX) Mode. I even wrote to Uniden about it, they told me it’s not a Weather Radio, it’s a Scanner, so put a lid on it. (I paraphrased here, LOL).

The Radio to the right of it is a Shortwave Receiver, a Palstar R30. These are interesting radios.

From the National Weather Site, on National Weather Radio (NWR) Issues, I have found the following:

NWR Outages and Issues 

The First Listing is of a Problem that is not a Problem. Midland was smart enough to detect the loss of a Weekly Test if the Test is missing for 10 Days (i.e. No Weekly Test). To verify that the Radio System is intact for Alerting, NWR does a Weekly Test that puts the radio into Alarm, States that it is Just a Test and gives details, and the Radio Resumes Normal Operation. Weekly Tests are not done when Severe Weather Threatens. So, every Wednesday, at Noon, ours was tested. But it’s like Back-Up Beepers on Vehicles. Great idea, unless you work around them, then you ignore them regardless of number of them. Same with getting used to the Weekly Test. We’d hear it, when the system was working, but when they stopped coming, we never noticed.

The Midland radio then commences to Alarm periodically to Alert the user that the Radio is Not Receiving the Weekly Test. In Pittsburgh, the National Weather Service Stopped Radio Broadcasts on 08 April 2022, and it wasn’t until 03 May 2022, during a storm, that I noticed it failed to Alarm because there was no Radio Transmissions. Had I owned the Model and Version of the Midland Radio named, I would have known within 10 days that something was amiss. So, let’s move onto the Issues at the NWS, Jump past this first notice.

“Beeping” on certain Midland receivers and the weekly test

NOTE: If your Midland receiver is beeping, the following explanation is the most common, but it is not the ONLY explanation for a beeping receiver.

The Midland WR-120 desktop NOAA weather radio knows it is supposed to receive a weekly test from the National Weather Service every seven days. If the radio goes for ten days without receiving a test, it gives out one beep every ten minutes.

The radio will re-set itself at the next weekly test, or the next watch/warning issuance.

If you do not want to wait, you can cancel the beeping by unplugging the radio from the wall, turning the radio over, and removing one battery. Wait approximately 10-15 seconds, then replace the battery and plug the radio back in. The settings on the radio will NOT be affected by this, as the SAME county code, and all other information is stored on a flash memory chip.

But you WILL need to re-set the clock. To do so:

1) Push MENU. “SET TIME” appears.
2) Push SELECT
3) Use the up/down arrows to adjust the hour up or down. To get from AM to PM, just continue past the hour 12.
4) Use the right button to move to the minutes setting
5) Use the up/down arrows to adjust the minutes up or down. Right arrow to access both of the minute digits.
6) When you have set the clock to the proper time, hit MENU twice. The radio will display “SAVING”. You are done setting the clock.

We apologize for the inconvenience. The ten-day missed test alarm is a way to assure viewers that their weather radio is performing properly.

​NOTE: The previous version of this radio, the Midland WR-100 does not make an audible beep. However, it will display the words “CHECK RECEPTION” until it is re-set using the same steps as outlined above. Like the WR-120, the radio will automatically re-set itself at the next weekly test, or the next watch/warning issuance.

Ok, Downgraded VS Out of Service. Downgraded refers to Reduced Radio Transmission Performance due to Damage, or other issues. Severe Weather Alerts are broadcast to a specific area by Antennas located in that area, and thus are themselves subject to Severe Weather. But by hobbling things together, they keep Broadcasting, but possibly with an Altered Coverage Range.

This (below) irritates me, it shows a lackadaisical regard for people that bought and trust Weather Radios for the purpose of being Alerted to Severe Weather.

    • We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
    • Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county.

The Govt, with Essential Services, that may make the difference between Life and Death of people that normally rely on the system, NEVER SEEMS TO BE ABLE TO SAY WHEN IT WILL BE RETURNED TO NORMAL SERVICE.

Yet, of a PBS Channel in the Pittsburgh PA area, I noticed this:

WQED-FM Goes Off-Air Due To Transmission Line Damage

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It has been radio silence for WQED-FM for the past couple of days. According to the station, its transmission line was damaged about 350 feet up at their tower in Oakland. The transmission line will likely not be fixed until Thursday. 

PBS is Non-Profit, Govt Funded, and they were off the air for a Few Days and the Date that they expected to be returned to Service is given, just a Few Days after the incident. Yet the National Weather Service has no idea when the repairs will be made to many of these Out of Service or Downgraded Performance Transmitters.

Dos Equis Disgust

WWF42 Ponca City, OK is degraded (5/03/2022)
(5/03/2022) WWF42 Ponca City, OK on frequency 162.450 is currently degraded due to limited coverage caused by antenna and cable damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Below, the Pittsburgh Area Transmitter, the notice was posted on 04-26-2022, or updated then, the outage, according to the NWS, was since 08 April 2022. A construction incident, I heard, destroyed the phone line, or data line, depending on the person responding. How in Sam Hill can a Transmitter Serving over 1.5 Million people be out for over a month and not expected (I was informed) to return to service for Several Weeks?

Is this how they repair their Radio Transmitters?


Despite Cellphones purportedly already being used to link Transmitters with the Local Weather Office of the NWS, they claim Procedures and Finances keep them from implementing the change to repair the Pittsburgh Transmitter.

KIH35 Pittsburgh, PA is out of service (4/26/2022)

(4/26/2022) KIH35 Pittsburgh, PA on frequency 162.550 is currently out of service due to a telecommunication outage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.

Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WXJ35 Portales, NM is out of service (4/12/2022)
(4/12/2022) WXJ35 Portales, NM on frequency 162.475 is currently out of service due to a degraded audio signal caused by a damaged antenna. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WXL90 Des Moines, NM is out of service (3/29/2022)
(3/29/2022) WXL90 Des Moines, NM on the frequency 162.550 is out of service due to antenna damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WWG76 Kulani Cone, HI is degraded (3/24/2022)
(3/24/2022) WWG76 Kulani Cone, HI transmitter on frequency 162.550 MHz is degraded due to limited coverage caused by antenna damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WZ2540 North Kohala, HI is degraded (3/24/2022)
(3/24/2022) WZ2540 North Kohala, HI transmitter on frequency 162.500 MHz is degraded due to limited coverage caused by antenna damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WWF39 Hawaii Kai, HI is degraded (3/24/2022)
(3/24/2022) WWF39 Hawaii Kai, HI transmitter on frequency 162.425 MHz is degraded due to limited coverage caused by antenna damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WXM35 Hays, KS transmitter is degraded (3/3/22)
(3/3/2022) WXM35 Hays, KS on the frequency 162.450 was degraded due to limited coverage caused by antenna damage. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WWF37 Carlsbad, NM transmitter is out of service (2/11/22)
(2/11/2022) WWF37 Carlsbad, NM on the frequency 162.475 is out of service due to an inoperable transmitter. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WXN24 Artesia, NM transmitter is Out of Service (1/19/22)
(1/19/2022) WXN24 Artesia, NM on the frequency 162.425 is out of service due to a transmitter power issue. We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Multiple Alaska transmitters are Out of Service (1/12/22)
(01/24/2022) WNG528 Bede Mountain, AK transmitter on frequency 162.450 MHz is out of service We do not have an estimated time for a return to service.
Listeners are advised to check the https://www.weather.gov/NWR/outages page for updates. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
(01/24/2022) KZZ88 Cape Fanshaw, AK transmitter on frequency 162.425 MHz is out of service. We do not have an estimated time for a return to service.
Listeners are advised to check the https://www.weather.gov/NWR/outages page for updates. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
(01/12/2022) WNG718 Sitkinak Dome, AK transmitter on frequency 162.450 MHz is out of service. We do not have an estimated time for a return to service.
Listeners are advised to check the https://www.weather.gov/NWR/outages page for updates. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

WNG728 Bellflower, MO transmitter is Out of Service (07/16/21)
(7/16/2021) WNG728 Bellflower, MO on frequency 162.425 is currently in the process of being moved to another tower. We do not have an estimated date for a return to service.

Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience. 


The Bottom Line, Literally (LOL) is that most of my Amateur Radio Receivers DO NOT RECEIVE THE ALTERNATE FREQUENCIES that the NWS so casually says that you should tune to when the Primary Frequency is out. My Amateur and Broadband Receiver equipment, though many of them are older, are Higher End stuff than most Weather Radio Circuits (though the Weather Radio Circuits, being limited in Reception Range, may be more sensitive than my Radios). If I did not live on a hill, I may not have received anything. Many people in this area live in valleys. If I did not have an Outdoor Antenna, I may not have received the Alternate Frequencies on my Transceiver. Although a Weather Radio may work connected to that Antenna, most people DO NOT HAVE OUTDOOR WEATHER RADIO ANTENNAS.

The NWS made no attempt, that I am aware of, to Notify the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area that they would not have NWR Transmissions for over a month, well over. Even if I could use an Alternate Frequency, I didn’t know I needed to, and my Radio DOES NOT scan for a Secondary Frequency if the Assigned Frequency is missing.  This is substandard performance by the NWS. They Use Facebook and Twitter for receiving Notifications of Severe Weather from Weather Spotters, I checked, there is no notice that the NWR Transmissions are Out of Service.

They have over 1000 Transmitters and relatively few are Out of Service, or Downgraded, so, really, that means that by far, most of the equipment works. Although that’s true, and I could understand a week or two of Out of Service or Downgraded Transmissions, ones lasting a month, or 6 weeks, or more, indicates that the service they tout as indispensable when it comes to funding it, is not indispensable when it comes to repairing it. It’s easy to sit in an office and type:

    • We do not have an estimated time for a return to normal service.
    • Listeners are advised to check the NOAA Weather Radio County Coverage Listings for alternate transmitters serving their county.

But this doesn’t assure that those with Weather Radios will have an Alternate Frequency to use, or that their radios will be switched to the Alternate Frequency.

The NWS should have, for Temporary Use:  Drop In Antennas, Cellphone Links, Power Back-up (Permanent) or Mobile Generators, just to keep these supposedly vital Watches and Warnings functioning on a reliable, ongoing, basis (and I suspect much of this is in place already, but the Loss of Data or Phone Line to the Transmitter does not seem to have been considered).

Perhaps privatizing the NWR system is in order, since the govt would hold them responsible for keeping the Transmissions active, whereas the way it is, they simply say that they have no idea when it will be repaired, why am I not surprised?

An Unused Amprobe R3 Current Clamp Ammeter – a Piece of History

A Historic Treasure that works, an Unused Amprobe R3 Pro Clamp Ammeter. It’s older, Analog, Reads A.C. Voltage and Current (Not D.C.), and has a Continuity/Resistance Reading for about 500 Ohms and Less (in practicality).

A friend with a Refrigeration Business had one, it’s the 1st Amprobe R3 and for that matter, the 1st Clamp Ammeter I ever saw. His was made from a Harder Plastic, my model being more recent. There is a Red and Black Voltage Testing Lead (used with Jacks on the Bottom of the Meter), and a Yellow Test Lead used to Measure Resistance/Continuity used in Conjunction with either the Red or Black Voltage Tester Lead (only one of those leads plugged into the Left Meter Jack on the Bottom as Viewed from the Front), and the Ohmmeter Lead plugged into a specific terminal on the Right Side of the Meter as viewed from the Front.

Meter 1

Below, Click on Images for a Close-Up

The Kit includes:

  • Organizing Carrying Case
  • Amprobe Clamp Ammeter
  • Voltage Test Leads (2)
  • Insulated Alligator Clip to be used with a Voltage Test Lead (1)
  • Resistance/Continuity Test Lead (1)
  • Line Splitter (with X1 and X10 Positions)
  • Shunting/Shorting Bar to be used with the Splitter (in VERY SPECIFIC AND LIMITED APPLICATIONS)
  • RAL-4 Cord with a Receptacle on one end, and Insulated Alligator Clips on the other end, to be used in Specific Circumstances with the Splitter and Shunting/Shorting Bar.
  • Instructions, Registration Information, and other Promotional Information

The Resistance/Continuity Test Lead is missing the Metal Testing End for contact with the circuity, I’ll try and Repair/Replace it as possible. This was the only Deficit Noted.

The Rotatory Scales Are:

  • Amp 6, 15, 40, 100, 300
  • Volt 150, 300, 600

Ohms is on a Non-Rotary Scale of 0 to Infinite Ohms, on a Logarithmic Scale that is only semi-accurate in the 0 to 100 Ohms. As this is not a Digital Meter, it’s designed to show Approximate Resistance for Coil Resistance Purposes and for Continuity.

The Instructions are Shown on this Blog, they appear to be from June 1995 in terms of the Revision of the Instructions, the Meter Dates from 1995 or Newer.

PDF of the Meter in general, in an Easier to Read format:

AMPROBE® Rotary Scale Clamp-on Model RS-3

Original Instructions Included with this Meter (click on for Close-Up):

Cover and Pages 1 and 2

Pages 3, 4, and 5

OHSA Requires the Use of Insulated Gloves, usually with Leather Outer Protective Gloves (Prevents Damage to the Rubber Insulated Gloves) when working on Equipment with Exposed Energized Parts at 50 Volts or More. Although I doubt the average Home Tinkerer is equipped with Insulated Gloves, it does highlight the need to keep one’s hands well away from Live Conductive Parts when testing. A Shock Applied in a specific manner can be fatal even if the voltages do not seem to be particularly prone to cause death. After working 25+ years in Heavy Industry (around 15,000 Volts and Less), the worst shock I’ve received was at home. For a Double “Light Switch” Work Box, I turned off the circuit to one half, leaving the other half lit for the light above where I was working. While Replacing the Light Switch it didn’t want to insert back into the box, so I manipulated the Wiring in the Box and Touched the Energized Terminals on the other Switch. It went in one arm, across my chest, to the other arm, and back to ground. I let out a scream and frightened my wife who was standing there. It’s fortunate it wasn’t fatal, this is the worst scenario for being shocked, right across the chest. BE CAREFUL.

Having a Meter, knowing when and how to use it (Safely), is indispensable.

For the Various Ranges for the Clamp Ammeter and Voltage Functions, the Meter Display Rotates to change the Meter’s Input Circuit for the Anticipated Use and Range and to offer a Scale Suitable for the Selected Input.

This Clamp Ammeter uses the Alternating Magnetic Field of an A.C. Conductor to Induce an Altering Magnetic Field in the Laminated Sections of the Clamp and it is has Coils of Wire Around the Laminated Sections of the Clamp that change the Alternating Magnetic Field into an Electrical Current for the Meter Movement. The Amprobe R3 is a Current Transforming Type.

Current Transforming vs Hall Effect

Not uncommon these days, though, is a Meter Design that uses a Hall Effect Sensor, and due to this Technology, D.C. Currents can be Measured as well as A.C., see the following article. If your Clamp Ammeter has Metal Exposed on the End of Both Clamp Halves (in the Center), it’s likely a Current Transforming Clamp Ammeter, and if one Side is Metal and the other is covered in the Molded Plastic of the Clamp Shell, then it’s likely a Hall Effect Clamp Ammeter.

What are Hall Effect (A.C. / D.C.) clamp meters?

This Clamp Ammeter can only Measure the current if one if the Wires is Separated from the other. If you look at a standard Table Light Cord, both wires are bound together for convenience. If you clamp both wires, the Meter will not read the current used by the lamp, since the Current in one wire is equal in amplitude but in the opposite direction of the current in the other wire, and they cancel out. Though one could separate the wires and measure just one, either one, to read the current, it is needlessly destructive. Amprobe included a Splitter with this Set-up that is plugged into the wall (REMOVE THE SHORTING BAR FIRST), and the Lamp Plugged into the Splitter. To Avoid Issues with the Shorting Bar, one can Plug the Lamp into the Splitter, then the Splitter into the Receptacle, as it would be impossible for the Shorting Bar to be on the Splitter when it’s plugged in.

Clamp Ammeter Basics 1


Click on the Images Below for a Close-Up

Click on the Images Below for a Close-Up

Click on the Images Below for a Close-Up, this is the Purpose of the Shorting Bar. The Splitter Plugs into the Cord (RAL-4) shown to the Left, and the Insulated Alligator Clips are used to Put the Splitter/”RAL-4 Cord” In-Series with a Motor Lead or Component, the Shorting Bar Completes the Circuit so that the Splitter can be used to Read the Current.

Splitter and Shorting Bar Considerations

The Meter, Accessories, and Challenge in getting good photos of a Black Meter in Detail.

On the Left of the Meter, the Shorting Bar (Orange) and Line Splitter (Black). The Meter itself, with the 40 Amp Scale Showing. The Yellow Probe to the Right of the Meter is for Resistance and Continuity. It takes a AA Battery, and the Probe is Broken Off, the only item in this set that was damaged.

The RAL-4 Leads has the Black Receptacle and Red and Black Leads, with Red Insulated Alligator Clamps at the end. The Black Insulated End, seen with the RAL-4 Leads, is actually for the end of one of the Voltage Testing Leads, (Bottom Right), and can be installed and removed as needed.

Meter and Accessories 2

Meter, Line Splitter, and Shorting Bar. The Shorting Bar Literally Shorts Across the Plug-End of the Splitter, and is only for use with the RAL-4 Leads as shown above. The 40 Amp Rotary Scale can be seen on the Meter, and the Stationary Scale for Resistance is also clearly shown.

When the Splitter is Plugged-in to a Receptacle, there is a Voltage Test Point on either Side of the Splitter, so that the Voltage Across the Line, whether or not an Appliance or Light is plugged into the Splitter, can be Measured with the Voltage Test Leads and the Rotary Dial Set to the Appropriate Voltage Range. The Voltage Test-Points do not work when the RAL-4 Cord is used.


Meter 2

Below is the Meter (the Display should be on the Voltage Scale, I forgot to Set it for the Photos. The Voltage Scales are Red. The Meter is being used to hold the Voltage Probe, the Voltage Probe is designed to work work with the Clamp. This is a great design, as the Reach of the Probe on the Meter allows the Hand to stay further away from Energized Parts. The Image below that is the Same Photo, as originally taken, before I reworked it. The Black Meter just wasn’t showing up on Flash Photography, from my Cellphone, but I tried in the sun and underestimated the significance of the shadows.

Meter 3

Meter 4

This is the same situation. The Image shows the Connection of the Resistance/Continuity Attachment to the Meter, requiring the use of one of the Voltage Test Leads in the Position Shown. The Yellow Leads plugs into the Right Side of the Meter when viewed from the Front. The Image Below that is the Same Image, that I reworked, and but I also removed the Shadows from the Lower Image, but decided to redo the Background Entirely.

Meter 5

Meter 6

Miscellaneous Information Included with the Meter. Click-on the Image for a Close-Up.

Reducing the Frustration from Saving Money

Featured Image (at top of Page) is courtesy of: Public Photos Domain 

This started out as a Comment to this Great Article on Clever Journeys Blog.

Successful Tips to Fight This Massive Inflation

Great Suggestions for budgeting and saving money! 

In my Blog Entry today, some Food Safety; which may be made even more of a concern in times of Scarcity; and Considerations on a Few Points addressed by Clever Journeys:

Long ago, we stopped buying Ground Meat, due to Gristle or Bone Pieces in it. Now, my wife takes uncooked cuts of meat, Steaks or Roasts, cleans off the fat and grinds it into Ground Meat (for cooking), so I eat Hamburgers, Meatballs, Chili, and the like with no worries. Ground Meat is prone to abuse by stores, such as Ground Meat being mixed with older Ground Meat, and other Older Meats being ground for Ground Meat. To avoid Raw and Under-cooked Meat (Especially any Ground Meat/Poultry), use a Meat Thermometer (when possible), make sure the Temperatures in the Middle of the thick part of the meat is sufficiently high to kill pathogens (one article suggested on Hamburgers, to Insert the Thermometer from the Side). Everything doesn’t need cooked to Well Done, but you must cook it to at least the minimum temperature for the minimum time specified for the Type of Food you are preparing. Because Measuring Techniques Vary, consult Trusted Sources for the Temperatures Needed. Generally, Hamburger must be to 160° F (some say 165° F) or use other Techniques for slightly lower internal temperatures (search Safe Meat Cooking Practices).


All three of these are Food Thermometers, the Bottom One is the only one that sees use for Food, the others are used for Area Temperature Measurements. But the Bottom One has a very Fine Tip, making it easier to insert. Thermometer Calibration must be verified from time to time, see the Manufacturers Instructions. Some Thermometers have a Slow Rate of Change for the Temperature Reading. Be patient, or buy a model that updates the display faster. Don’t place the Thermometer in the Oven while cooking unless it’s designed to be used that way (Often Analog, Stainless Steel, Glass Window, and Must Rated for such use, there are Special Remote Probe Electronic Thermometers as well).  

Can You Leave A Meat Thermometer In The Oven?

Yes, you can leave a meat thermometer in the oven, for the entire duration of the cook, but make sure your thermometer is oven-safe. Other type of meat thermometers like instant-read thermometers cannot be left in the oven for a longer duration. To know if your meat thermometer is oven-proof or not you need to check the thermometers packaging for this detail. 

Thermostats. There are Seven Day Thermostats (Including Self Learning Thermostats), and 5-2 Day Units. The 5 and 2 Assume each Week Day is the same, and each Weekend Day is the same. A Seven Day Thermostat Allows Individual Programming for Each Day.

Thermostat White Rodgers 5-2 1F78Thermostats I have Known. The One Below is currently being used, and is an Older Model. Above is the one that was in my house when I moved in, likely an Older Unit, but much Newer than the one below, it functions just fine. Both are 5-2 Programmable Thermostats. 

11 Best Thermostats For Gas & Oil Furnaces – Buying Guide Included
In the Above Linked Article, I am not Agreeing or Disagreeing with the Choices in Thermostats, but it does address usage and application issues and is worthwhile. The article also covers Thermostats that are controllable by an App on your Phone or Tablet, which sounds sophisticated, but sometimes Simplicity is the best route. In a book, “The Psychology of Everyday Things”, the author describes a couple that bought a Italian Washer and Dryer with abundant features. Yet, they are only able to use it in its simplest mode as it is too complex for them to understand. 

For Thermostat Installation, consider hiring a knowledgeable person, in some instances, it may not be as straight forward as one thinks. 

Furnace Filter Considerations:

Heating: Dirty Details of ‘High Efficiency’ Disposable Furnace Filters

Yes, Change those Filters According to the Manufacturer’s Instructions, or more often due to conditions, but the lure of High Efficiency Filters is strong and they may cause issues with your Furnace. 

Pleating the Filter Media, common in High Efficiency Filters, increases the Surface Area so that though the media is more restrictive, since it’s a larger area, it’s not necessarily an issue, Until the Filter starts plugging. Change them often, Calendar the Change Date, and look periodically before that to be sure they aren’t plugging-up. My furnace inspector said High Efficiency Filters can Ruin the Heat Exchanger because it overheats from a lack of Air Flow. Another Furnace Inspector said that he can install a 2″ Filter Tray that accepts 2″ Pleated High Efficiency Filters (much more surface area) and the risk of the Furnace overheating is drastically reduced.

Consult the Furnace Manufacturer provided Instructions, use the Filters, and Change Filters as the Manufacturer recommends to best preserve the life of the Furnace. 

Of High Efficiency Filters, from a Furnace Repair Website: 

Furthermore, these types of filters become dirty much faster than regular filters. Though that may sound like a good thing at first—they are allowing less debris to circulate back into your home—it also means that you’ll need to change your filters more often – something many people forget to do. Once these filters become dirty and clogged, they make your blower work that much harder. Over the years, we’ve seen many cases of burned out blower motors caused by too much stress on a blower motor.

In fact, by significantly reducing the airflow thru your furnace, these expensive disposable filters can even cause failure of parts such as high-temperature safety switches or the heart of the furnace, the heat exchanger. Furnaces use high limit sensors to shut down the furnace in the event that the heat exchanger overheats. And what do you think the number one cause of these sensors going off is? Insufficient airflow across the heat exchanger. 

Light Bulb

Incandescent Lighting is mostly wasted heat and a little light. But heat, in the Winter, in cold areas, is useful. If your lighting is wasting heat, and you convert to High Efficiency Lighting (Less Heat, More Light, for the money), the heat that is no longer added to the room by the lighting is added to the room by the furnace. It likely (at this time) is still cheaper for the furnace to run to make up for the lost lighting heat. Yet, I enjoy a Table Lamp next to me, with a 3 way Bulb, on the Mid Setting of 100 Watts or Highest Setting of 150 Watts (be careful on older lamps or unknown wiring with higher wattage lamps), and the Radiant Heat from the bulb makes me feel more comfortable in the winter.

In the warmer part of each Spring, my few Incandescent Table Lamps are all converted to LEDs, and I have one Compact Fluorescent Table Lamp Bulb (CFL) that is still functioning well, and I see no need to prematurely create waste by throwing it away. I agree, LED Lighting is the best way to go.

I have:

  • Porch Light has a Dimmable LED Bulb (see below).
  • All Ceiling Fan Lights in LEDs.
  • All Table Lamps are LED Bulbs, with the exception of one CFL. 
  • Dining Room Alcove (Closet) Fixture is LED (by design). 
  • The Bathroom Overhead Fixture is LED (by design), wall Sconce Lights are LED Bulbs.
  • Cellar Way Fixture is LED (by design), and Basement Recessed Ceiling Lights; originally Incandescent, got hot, I feared a Fire Hazard; so, I converted them all to LED Flood Light Bulbs, absolutely wonderful, they are brilliant and much much cooler in operation than the original Incandescent Bulbs.

Color of LED Lights, this page shows it best, and uses a Spectrum Chart to show the range. This applies to Colors Specified by All Manufacturers:

Led Light Color Temperature Chart

Be advised:

  • Dimmable LEDs must be used on Dimming Circuits.
  • There are Dimmable LEDs, but not All Dimmable LEDs work on all Dimmers.
  • It seems that you can use a Dimmable LED on a Non-Dimming Circuit, but don’t use a Non-Dimming LED on a Dimming Circuit.

Though I read it’s a Fire Hazard to use Non-Dimmable LEDs on a Dimming Circuit, the Fire Hazard seems to apply more to Non-Dimming Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) used in a Dimming Circuit. It appears that there were Dimmable CFLs available.

Tips for dimming LEDs 

I hope this additional information is helpful to anyone seeking to save money and minimize frustration in doing so. 


Bridges in my Life.

Industrial, Infrastructure, Spiritual, Dental, Figurative, they all span something.

The Most Recent:

I have had my share of crossing Bridges in Heavy Industry. Seldom in the capacity of my Job, per se, but in getting to or from my job. I parked at the base of one of several sets of stairs to the Railroad Bridge/Walkway on the Parking Lot Side, and that led to another set of stairs, on the Plant Side, with a Turnstile Gate with a Employee Card Scanner/Time Clock, to record arrival and departure times for pay, and to control access to the plant. The facility was fenced, but an observant person noticed that the barbed wire on top of the fence was designed more to keep people in the plant, than out of it. Strange.

Bridge Work 1 - 1

The Bridge brought a gathering of people. Due to the Gate; there was a wait time to leave, many employees started gathering 15 minutes before the end of their shift; they gathered, inside the plant, at the base of the stairs, at the Turnstiles, and when the magic time was reached, people began Clocking-out, which freed the Turnstile for 1/3 of a Rotation, letting one Employee Exit before locking, and the next Employee Scanned his or her card (mostly his because this Gate was not near the Women’s Locker-Room) unlocking the Turnstile for 1/3 Rotation, etc.

The stairs to the Bridge saw a large number of people leaving together each day, yet for the arrivals, they were sporadic. People came from one of a few parking lots, often waiting on the Bridge for others just arriving, but parked in another lot, to meet them and converse while walking in. It was a place of camaraderie, of laughter, a place to relax. Most of the Bridge Conversations were not about work, you were either coming into work, or leaving it, and making it a conversationally longer day is not something most want.

Bridge Work 2 - 1

I met a man on the Bridge one day, he had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), as I watched him struggle to breathe, due to climbing the stairs, that helped to show me why Wearing Respirators, needed for some jobs, was important. Another man, I commented to him about the roar of the Crickets as we were leaving work, and he replied “What Crickets”, this reinforced Wearing Ear Plugs, I didn’t want to lose the ability to hear these, and other, wonderful insects. Northern Harrier Hawks, there was one or more that hunted the land in front of the plant, the stinky plant, the noisy plant, but there it was, for people to see, in the wild, in a small parcel of land adjacent to the bridge, hovering over intended prey. Despite being a casual Birder, I have seldom seen this anywhere, save from the Bridge at work in a place that you would never expect to see it.

I remember the conversation with a man, ordinarily a friendly man, that was pert and uncharacteristic, and it occurred on the Bridge. I heard the next day or so that he was found dead, and I have to wonder if his dysphoria wasn’t due to some condition that he wasn’t addressing, such as Chest Pain or other, and I felt sad, he was a decent guy, younger, and his death was ruled accidental (it occurred when he was by himself when he was engaged in his hobby).

Trains, many people like Trains. Very infrequently, one would be being pulled across the bridge while the walkway was in use (of course, some Parking Lot stairs access required crossing the tracks to get to the walkway, and while the Train was crossing, those people had to wait or walk to another set of stairs). The edges of the Trains Jut-out as it rounds the bend, stand behind the provided line, and use commonsense. And the Bridge went over other Railroad Tracks, so, if one was so inclined, and I was so inclined, one had an Ideal Vantage of other trains used for the Facility or in use on the Main Lines.

The Original:

One bridge still remains a memory, though I never used it. Many years ago, I worked in a Chemical Lab of a Steel Mill. I was young, the more senior guys had stories of earlier in their careers. One involved a Railroad Bridge into the plant. Turns out, in the Good Old Days, some men would walk across the Bridge at Lunch Time, to a Local Bar that sold food and alcohol, with an accent on alcohol, I’m not sure the bridge even had a Walkway, they just walked on the Ties, and the Trip back must have been more harrowing for at least a degree of intoxication. That was wisely put a stop to.

The Bridge that made the Most Recent Experience Possible:

I had a fear of Bridges, basically a Fear of Heights, Acrophobia is the name. I was not even able to drive across a Bridge in the lane closest to the side, I’d stay in the center lane. That was conquered in a strange way, I attended Trade School for Electronics, 21 Months Straight, with no periods of breaks (no Spring Break, etc.), though we had Weekends and Holidays off. Classes went without significant breaks in between. Just go from one classroom to the next, except for the short, on the hour breaks. Lunch break was more than adequately long. So long that people would eat, and some would leave the building to walk. If I wanted any time during the day to causally talk with friends I made at the school, I had to accompany them on their walk, and being in Downtown Pittsburgh, the City of Bridges, they naturally walked across a Bridge on the same street as the school. Day after day of doing this, week after week, month after month, I lost my fear of being on Bridges. I went from walking on the Road Side of the Bridge Sidewalk, to being able to stand at the Sidewalk Handrail and peer down onto the large river underneath.

Another Kind of Bridge: 

And the last Bridge was only possible since I lost my Fear of Bridges. Cranes, EOT or Electric Overhead Traveling Cranes, ran on Rails, and from the Rails on one side of a Building to the Rails on the other side of the Building, was the Bridge of the Crane. I have included a photo of a Crane, and I was trained to operate EOT Cranes on one like this. But this one, and the one I was Trained on, was really not that high. But due to being trained, and due to the area I worked, one EOT Crane I operated was, perhaps, somewhat higher, and one LUDICROUSLY HIGH. When operating it, the employees signaling below looked like little Lego Characters. And Cranes can Derail. And there I was, way up there, looking down from the edge of the operators area, waiting for signals to move the crane this way or that, lift the item, or set it down, and so on. (Bridge, Trolley, and Hoist).

Crane Bridge

My Bridges, and my Stories, for the month.

Meter Basics – Voltmeter Used to Determine Limit Switch Positions

I intended this to be a Blog on a Ampprobe R3 (not shown) that I just bought, that one will follow. It’s an Older Clamp Ammeter, but Brand New. It’s made from more modern plastics than the one I was most familiar with, so it’s not likely as old as I think, but it’s a Complete Set in the Original Case, and BRAND NEW.

I went to Electronics School, and I worked as an Industrial Electrician, and some at work that went to School to be an Electrician were sent to the Electronics Department. Go Figure. So I had the Basics, but not the Commonsense. Older (this was years ago, I’m now in that category) Employees in my Shop were kind enough and professional enough to show the ways they learned to do many Electrical Jobs.

This Blog is intended as Theory, there are Safety Issues not discussed in the Blog Itself. The Meter Must be suitable for the Voltage Used, the Meter Must be Rated for the Current Potential in the circuit (this is known as Category Ratings, Inexpensive Meters may fail, in High Current Potential Circuits, in Dangerous Ways due to deficits in the Meter Design). Inspect the Meter and Leads before use. I have seen a Tester often used on 480V with both leads showing exposed wires where they enter the Tester Body, this is a very dangerous condition in terms of Electrical Shock or Short Circuits (I took it out of Service when I discovered this condition, why did no one else see it). If the Enclosure where Voltage is being Read has Exposed Conductors (Screws, Terminal Strips, etc.) Wearing Insulated Gloves and Leather Outer Gloves may not only be required according to OSHA, but the intelligent thing to do.

Electrical Measurement Safety by Fluke 

​I wanted to cover a topic that I was taught and used often in Heavy Industry. It’s the Use of a Voltmeter to Test for Contacts being Opened or Closed.

You Must Know the Circuit:

● To Understand if the use of the Voltmeter is appropriate for the Purpose

● To understand what you are seeing

There are a series of Drawings and Schematics used in this Blog.

Meter 1

⬆ Heater Coil and a Thermal Fuse, with the Actual Thermal Fuse depicted as being in the circuit (a Battery Powers this Hypothetical Circuit to Demonstrate an Issue with Analog Meters, most likely this Circuit would be powered by 120 Volts AC). A Thermal Fuse as shown is a Protective Device that permanently opens when a specific temperature has been exceeded, it significantly reduces the chance of a Fire started by certain Appliances, such as the Warm Mist Vaporizer that I’ve replaced them in, and I’ve seen them in Fan Motor Windings. It’s not likely that the Voltmeter would be used to measure these fuses, since they are Electrically Energized in use and Dangerous to work with in that condition, Unplugging the Appliance and using an Ohmmeter would be more likely. But the Circuit is for the Principles of Measurements.

Meter 1-1

⬆ Voltage Measurement Across a Good Thermal Fuse and an Opened Fuse. It’s Fairly Self Explanatory, if the Thermal Fuse is Good, it’s an Intact Conductor, and it would be like taking a Voltage Measurement on a wire, there is no significant difference in Potential, the Meter would Read Zero. If the Fuse Opens, the Source Voltage appears across the Open, kind of. The Drawing shows 24V read on the Meter, and these days, it would be very close to that, but this is applicable only if the Input Impedance of the Meter is many times that of the Heater Coil shown. If the Impedance of the Meter was Identical to the Impedance of the Heater Coil, the Meter would Read 12 Volts and the Heater Coil would have 12 Volts across it, splitting the Source Voltage. This may have been seen with Analog Meters, and the Principle of Checking the Fuse this way can still be used with an Analog Meter, but the Source Voltage may not be seen across the Blown Fuse, a percentage of the Source Voltage might. But with Digital Meters, they often have Input Impedances that exceed 10 Million Ohms (10 Mega Ohms) and it is usually much more than the Heater Coil, or Gas Valve as seen in later slides, and the Voltage is usually nearly the same as the Source Voltage.

Meter 1-2-1

⬆ The Meter Spanning Both Open Contacts in this Example shows the Source Voltage. It has access to the Source on the Left, and a Completion Circuit to the Source on the Right (Its Red and Black Connections Respectively). This isn’t just a lesson in Theory, this is a Useful Practice that I use when possible. The Furnace Repairman was at my home, the Furnace Refused to Start. Something was Blocking the Completion of the Circuit, a Safety Device. Furnaces use various devices to determine if it’s safe to turn on the Gas Valve. The Furnace Repairman was disconnecting wires and testing for Continuity. I showed him that he can leave the wires connected and test for voltage and find the Open Component.

⬆ ⬇ The Principles of Spanning Multiple Switches, and the results described, in a series of images.

Meter 4

Meter 4-1

⬆ Simplified Switch Drawings Showing the Current Pathways that must be Present for the Volt Meter to work, please Notice the Colors used for Individual Pathways in the Top Image on the first of two Images.

Basically, the Meter Needs Access to the Source Voltage, and a Return Path to the Source Voltage. If either is blocked by an Open Switch, Wire, etc, the Meter Will Read Zero Volts.

⬇ On the Next Drawing is a Schematic of a Furnace. They Show a Series of Roll-Out Switches to Protect the Furnace and possibly your home from Flames coming out of the Heat Exchanger (usually due to a restriction) into the Furnace Control Compartment. These Switches may be able to be Manually Reset, but the Cause of the Roll Out Switch Trip needs investigated. I can measure across each Roll Out Switch (when the Thermostat is Calling for Heat and the Furnace is in the right cycle) to see if a Switch is Open (I’d see 24 VAC if it was) or Across all of the Roll Out Switches to see if More than One Switch is Open. Voltage Measurements beginning from one end of the Circuit, Jumping to the Return Leg of the Power Supply (24 VAC), can also show where the Voltage does not exist, therefore a component earlier in the Circuit must be Open.

Meter 2

⬆ A Furnace Schematic is shown. The White Wire has to be Energized, the Pressure Switch Closed (this is the Forced Draft Fan and it must be on before starting the Burners), the Stack Over Temperature Switch needs to be closed, and the series of Roll Out Switches need to be Closed, then the Gas Valve is Energized, Opens, and the Burners Ignite.

In the Furnace Schematic, some of the Components have 120 Volts AC Across them, but, in this case, a Transformer can be seen about mid section in the Schematic, everything below that is 24 Volts AC.In the Furnace Schematic, some of the Components have 120 Volts AC Across them, but, in this case, a Transformer can be seen about mid section in the Schematic, everything below that is 24 Volts AC.

⬇ Optional Section on Common Furnace Operation Sequence:

Ignition Sequence, Described from an Online Source for Similar Furnaces:

A majority of hot surface ignition systems light the main burners directly. This simplifies the process and eliminates a pilot light.

  • On a call for heat from the thermostat, the Forced Draft Inducer motor engages
  • As soon as the control board verifies all safeties are good and the Forced Draft Pressure Switch is closed, it engages the hot surface igniter by energizing it with voltage
  • There is a slight delay allowing the hot surface igniter to reach temperature. The hot surface igniter will glow red hot.
  • The gas valve will open feeding the burners with raw un-ignited gas.
  • When the gas hits the igniter it lights. The hot surface igniter is strategically located for ignition purposes.
  • The flame sensor senses the fire and continues allowing the gas valve to feed gas to the burners. It stops feeding voltage to the hot surface igniter.
  • When the thermostat satisfies, the gas valve closes. The blower runs for a time dissipating the heat in the furnace and then shuts down.

The Flame Sensor, a Vital Component, is not Shown in the Examples in this Blog, we are Focusing on the Roll Out Switches and Voltmeter Use for Diagnostics.

Meter 3

⬆ Next Images are the Expected Voltages based on a Few Simple Conditions.

With W Wire Energized, Pressure Switch Contacts Closed, and Gas Valve Known Good, for the Following Several Images:

Meter 3-1

⬆ This is Conditional Based on All Switches Spanned being Closed. Remember, if the Switches are Closed, it’s the Same as Taking Voltage Measurements on a Piece of Wire, no Voltage will be read.

Meter 3-2

⬆ Next Image and One or More being Open within the Span of the Meter Lead Placement, and Moving the Meter Lead Looking for the Open Switch (though with 2 or more Open Switches, the Offending Switches cannot be found this way).

Meter 3-3

⬆ One Switch Opened, and Locating it by Moving the Black Meter Lead (in this case), with the Finding that the Right Most Switch is Good.

Meter 3-4

⬆ Next Image Moving the Black Meter Lead, the Switch 2nd Switch Shows 0 Volts, therefore, the Return Path to Source for the Meter is Lost due to the Open Switch, indicating that the 2nd Switch from the Right is Bad and all the others must be Good (Closed).

Meter 3-5

⬆ Next Image, 2 Switches are Open, and Test Point Voltages showing what will be seen by Spanning the Switches at the Various Points.


Gas Pipeline Valve Position Status Lights. 

Valve Lights

These Gate Valves, for large lines, such as 30” lines, controlled the Flow of Gas through the Lines (Gas, as in Gases, not Gasoline). These Valves were not used for Throttling, they Are Either Opened or Closed. To go from Opened to Closed, or Closed to Opened, they must Travel.

  • When Traveling, Both Lights are Lit (Opened and Closed).
  • When Fully Opened, the Closed Light is Turned-off (leaving the Opened Light Lit).
  • When Fully Closed, the Opened Light is Turned-off (leaving the Closed Light Lit).

Meter 5

⬆  When I first started at the facility, the Switches Operated as the First Set of these Images Show.

But the Light Circuits were 24 Volts AC and the Valve Control Circuits were 120 Volts AC. Water in the Junction Box on the Valve (not a normal condition) would, on occasion, short 120 Volts to the 24 V and that would Blow Out Fuses and or Bulbs. When the System was Upgraded to PLC Control (Programmable Logic Controllers), they used 120 Volts to the Light Circuit Limits. The PLC was Programmed to Read the Limit Position, and based on that, the PLC would Light the Display Panel Lights with 24 Volts. But they changed how the Limits Are Read and the Significance of whether the Limit Contacts are Open or Closed.

If there is a Problem with the Display Panel Lights, you can diagnose the Field Switch from the comfort of the PLC Cabinet indoors, but you had to understand what you are seeing.

In the Original Sense, the Valve Traveling had 2 Limit Switches with Closed Contacts which lit Both the Opened and Closed Light.

● Valve Fully Opened saw the Opening of the Closed Light Limit (leaving only the Opened Light)

● Valve Fully Closed saw the Opening of the Opened Light Limit (leaving only the Closed Light)

⬆  If the Previous Paragraph sounds confusing, that’s because it is. See the Drawings, they make much more sense.

Meter 5-1

⬆  The scenario described above was updated to PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) and they used the contacts differently to determine the position of the valve. The PLCs caused confusion among Electricians that were accustomed to the original Valve Travel Lights scenario, no longer could you equate an Opened Switch to the Light Turning-off, the PLC used Logic to Set the Display Panel Lights, and based on the Logic Programmed into them, separately posted the Display Panel Lights according to that Logic.

Meter 5-2

Nevertheless, the Point is that the Volt Meter can be used in both circumstances, but you must understand the circuit to understand the significance of what is being seen. Regardless of the Voltage, if the Limit Contacts are Closed, you will read Zero Volts (or nearly Zero Volts), if the Limit Contacts are Open, the Source Voltage will appear across the Terminals that go to the Limit.

Voltage Tester vs Multimeter:

With the Inclusion of Electronics (PLCs) and in some instances, even before that, the old Standard Voltage Tester was replaced by a Multimeter with a High Input Impedance, since the Impedance is so low in Voltage Testers that it is Possible to Activate the Process (a Motor may start, for instance, and the results can be very dangerous) when measuring points on PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) or Elsewhere.

I would check the Status of the Limit Switches (which were almost always the cause of the problem), from the Building PLC Cabinet to save me from Locking-Out the Valve, Walking 80 some steps on stairs to get to it, using Fall Protection and a Respirator, sometimes the Gas Inspectors had to measure Gas in the Area to make sure it was Safe to use only a Respirator. So, checking the Limits while inside the Climate Controlled Building, at the PLC Cabinet Area was a smart thing to do. (wait while I pat myself on the back). Yet one time, Multimeter in hand, the Machines began shutting down (see the Video below, if it doesn’t start at 33 Seconds, move it to that point, just imagine it in reverse), so I left quickly, to return to my work area to prepare for the worst (Electrical things needed attended to, en masse, when Shut-Downs occurred, and they tended to cascade, one motor lost often started a chain reaction), and people, seeing me leaving the PLC Area with a Multimeter in hand, were saying “What Did You Do!”. I didn’t do anything, I was Looking at the PLC Connection Drawings when it occurred, and thank goodness I was not connecting the Meter to the PLCs at the time.

Big Electric Motor – Startup Test Sound

Free Respirator from the Govt, my Observations

My Neighbor asked me about a Respirator that he got it for Free at his Pharmacy.

  • Dräger X-Plore 1750 N95
  • Part Number 3951330
  • NIOSH Approval Number: TC 84A-9238

In Heavy Industry (i.e. at Work), I wore Respirators daily for 12+ years, and in the same facility, wore it periodically for another 12+ years. At work, for Negative Pressure Air Purifying Respirators, we wore Elastomeric Respirators, either Half-Face or Full-Face. They are Rubber or Silicone, accept 2 External Cartridges, and use Intake and Exhaust Valves.

As a Union Representative, I had the chance to participate in Instructing Employees at the plant in a formal setting, on using Negative Pressure Air Purifying Respirators. I did this for 1200+ People per year, including the Supervisors and Hourly Employees, for 7+ years. The training all employees attended at some point during the year, embodied various Industrial Hygiene Elements useful in our facility, Respirators were part of that. The material was in accord with OSHA and Corporate Requirements, and the material was prepared by Supervisors at the Facility that specialized in Safety and Training. Though I was a Presenter of this material, I also used Respirators, we were in a Chemical Plant with Deadly Exposures ever present, and knowing what to use and when was vital. (We had Hydrogen Sulfide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Anhydrous Ammonia, Benzene, Xylene, Toluene, Nitrogen, and more, many of these Required Breathing Air to work around, the use of Breathing Air was instructed by the Company).

During the pandemic, I have never worn a Mask, but this isn’t what most people assume when a person says that. In any situation that requires a Mask, I wear an N95 Respirator. Mine are the:

3M 8210 N95 Industrial Respirator


Protect Life MK-9500 N95 Respirators.

The latter model, I paid about $85 for 20 of them early in the Pandemic, and the price is $29.25 for 20 now. The 3M was not available early in the Pandemic, and the latest I purchased was $20 for 20 of them. Both Models of Respirators also had Shipping charges.

I give them to Friends or Neighbors at no charge. My son and his wife had covid last year, I gave 10 of them to him, at his request, as they have little children at home and distanced themselves as much as possible and wore N95s and Hand Washed when closer contact was necessary. The children did not get sick (it may be that they were infected, but their Immune System fought it off). My son’s wife sister is a Medical Doctor, she gave them a Pulse Ox and stayed in contact with them for guidance. My son and his wife recovered with no issues.

My neighbor has been wearing a “Behind the Ear” purportedly an N95, but was recently given the Dräger X-Plore 1750 N95 for Free at the Pharmacy. I told him I’d check into it.

On Reddit, I found this comment: “Any reviews for these masks that are part of the free from gov plan? Drager X-plore 1750 & Moldex 2200n95”, confirming that the Dräger 1750 N95 seems to be part of the offering.

The Dräger 1750 N95 uses a “Behind the Head” Strap System, one at the neck level, one well above the ears on the Back of the Head. I read, in general, that Head Straps are supposed to give a Better Fit than Behind the Ear Models.

Behind the Head

I consulted the CDC page to be sure that the NIOSH Certification was authentic. NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, researches various issues pertaining to Work Safety, and Respirators are much studied by them. NIOSH is under the CDC. Mediocre Manufacturers (usually Imports) have been known to mark Respirators NOSH, leading one to falsely believe they are NIOSH certified.

From the CDC:

Counterfeit Respirators / Misrepresentation of NIOSH-Approval

“Signs that a respirator may be counterfeit:

  • No markings at all on the filtering facepiece respirator
  • No approval (TC) number on filtering facepiece respirator or headband
  • No NIOSH markings
  • NIOSH spelled incorrectly
  • Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g., sequins)
  • Claims for the of approval for children (NIOSH does not approve any type of respiratory protection for children)
  • Filtering facepiece respirator has ear loops instead of headbands”

What is given can be taken away. So, looking up the NIOSH Certification Number can help verify that a Respiratory Product is Authentically Approved and is currently being made to the required standards.

NIOSH-approved N95 Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators

The Dräger X-Plore 1750 N95 is currently certified, registered as TC 84A-9238, and has a link to a PDF on Donning and Doffing, Usage, Care, Limitations, etc.

This is included in the Information provided by Dräger:

“These particulate respirators are not intended for use as protection against bacterial or viral agents such as avian (bird) flu virus, SARS or any other bacterial, viral or biological agents.”

Yes, Agents refers to the Routine Pathogens that one may be exposed to that causes illnesses, not to weaponized usage of similar. So Dräger is saying that the Respirator is not suitable for use against pathogens that cause illnesses.

My 3M N95 has this:

“Biological Particles

This respirator can help reduce inhalation exposures to certain airborne biological particles (e.g. mold, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, etc.) but cannot eliminate the risk of contracting infection, illness or disease. OSHA and other government agencies have not established safe exposure limits for these contaminants.”

Tuberculosis is 1 to 5 Microns in Size, N95s Filter 0.3 Micron and Larger Particles. Of course it would be filtered if the Respirator fit correctly. Bacillus anthracis is 1 to 1.2 Microns wide and 3 to 5 Microns Long. They would be Filtered. But covid-19 is 0.125 Microns and smaller, and this is not covered in the 3M Literature.

I like Dräger products. With any Respirator, the omission in the accompanying literature of mentioning a specific virus or bacteria in contaminants that will be filtered is not the same as certifying that the Respirator works with the “agents” one is exposed to. And, despite the ability of the Filter to Remove a contaminant doesn’t mean the contaminant is not inhaled to some extent. Filtering Facepiece Respirators and Half Face Respirato​rs have an Assigned Protection Factor of 10, that means that 1/10 (or 10%) of the Contaminant Breaks Through or Gets-By the Face to Facepiece Seal. How much of the covid pathogen can be breathed without causing infection? Not a question I can answer.

Even Full Face Negative Pressure Air Purifying Respirators with an Assigned Protection Factor of 50, has 1/50, or 2%, Break Through and much more if not Fitted and Worn Correctly.

The Simple Masks that they told us all along to wear, have No Face to Facepiece Seal, they have no Assigned Protection Factor. N95s have a Seal. If an N95 with a Face to Facepiece Seal that is being handed out by the govt is listed by the manufacturer as not being suitable against viruses and bacteria, how can a Mask with no seal ever have been effective at protecting the wearer? I don’t believe they can be, and I believe that the govt knows that Simple Masks do not protect the wearer, but foisted them on us anyway by representing that they do. Masks may reduce pathogens given off by people that are infected, but with a Doctor on CNN blurting out that Masks do not stop Omicron and they didn’t Stop Delta, claiming they are Airborne, the amount of pathogens that Simple Masks stop likely has been seriously overstated.

CNN Admits Cloth Masks Don’t Work After Supporting Their Use For Over 20 Months

On the same page as the above is Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH at the CDC saying that (Simple) Masks can help reduce your chance of COVID19 infection by more than 80%. Yet, on this Blog, I have demonstrated that the superior version of Respiratory Protection being distributed by the govt for free (N95) says it doesn’t work for viruses and bacteria (although the Respirator will filter larger Bacteria and Larger Molds). She’s basing her opinion on Mask Efficacy on the Droplet Theory of covid-19, but it’s Airborne, and I think they knew from early on that it was Airborne. The CDC Supervises NIOSH, and NIOSH researches, among other things, Respirators, certainly NIOSH, thus the CDC, would have known. 

I believe that Dräger’s candor is enlightening, and I do not think that their product is inferior to other N95s on the Market, the nature of a N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator is they Stop 90% of the contaminant at most, and they stop less if the Fit, and Usage, is not perfect, or the Contaminant is not compatible with the design of the Respirator.

Yet, if anything the average person might have access to that might work, N95s would be my choice. With the Scaling Back of Mask Mandates, this Blog Entry might not seem to be as useful as it would have been at one time, but it is intended to show my knowledge of, and experience with using respirators, and the faulty reasoning of the govt in requiring Simple Masks to begin with.

Convenient Measuring of Current on Appliances and Devices

Featured Image found, in part, at the Following Link: 

Amprobe 330 – TRMS Motor Maintenance Clamp Meter (1000 A AC/DC)

This Blog Entry is a result of the Humidifier Blog I did recently. Measuring the Current of Vicks Vaporizer was a way to determine how much current, in my case, was needed to produce an adequate output of steam with the Unit that I have (it’s seen prior use), the water that I have (it’s not a good match for this type of Vaporizer) and the careful addition of salt to increase the conductivity in the water.

The Unit is rated at 5.8 Amps Maximum, often runs between 1 and 2 Amps, in my case produced more steam in the 2 to 3 Amp Range, and in the 3 to 3.5 Amp Range, the steam was significant. If you keep topping off the water, and adding Salt, it’s possible for the Salt to become Concentrated, so every few Fills for the Vaporizer, I cleaned the Tank and the Steam Unit according to the Instructions and started over.

So, it’s important to know the current on an Appliance or Device at times. In the Old Days, the De-energized Circuit Needed to be Opened, the Wire Cut or Removed from a Terminal, and the Meter Placed In-Series with the wire, to measure the current (then the power was restored). It’s more dangerous, it’s invasive, and it’s needless these days.

As Electrical Current Flows in a Conductor (hereafter called a “wire”), there is a Proportional Magnetic Field that expands and contracts in the wire with Alternating Current (AC), or a Magnetic Field is established of a specific intensity in association with a DC Current, that corresponds to the Amount of Current Flowing in both cases. The more common “Clamp Ammeter” measures AC Currents but not DC. But there are AC/DC Clamp Ammeters available.

To measure the Current, One of the Conductors needs to be Separated from the other, usually the Hot wire and the Neutral, and only the current in the single wire measured.

Clamp Ammeters 50 - 1

Clamp Ammeters 52

For Plug-In Equipment, Line Splitter’s were developed and sold, and they are used simply by Plugging them into the Receptacle, Plugging the Device into the Splitter, and using the Clamp Ammeter in the Splitter openings for the measurements. Multiple Manufacturers offer Splitters to be used with Clamp Ammeters.

Clamp Ammeters 53

See Image Below for this Section:

Internal Construction of the Ampprobe ELS2A Splitter.

If you Clamp on the Assembled ELS2A on the opening closest to the Plug End (x1), the Neutral Wire is on Top and the Hot Wire on the Bottom (see Lower Image directly below). Clamping the Neutral will show the Same Current as the Hot if the Device is Functioning Properly. On the Receptacle End (x10), the Extra Loops of the Hot Wire can be seen. There would be 10 Passes of the Hot Wire on the Lower Side of the Opening (as shown), the current would read 10 Times Higher than it actually is, and the Clamp Meter Displayed Result would need Divided by 10 to get the actual current.

Clamp Ammeters 54

Below: The Clamp Ammeter has a Display Light that I forgot to use on the Images to the Right.

Clamp Ammeters 56

All Images In this Blog Entry Created with GIMP Using Personal Photos, Photos Sourced Elsewhere, and Drawings. 

Below is the 1st Style Clamp Ammeter I had even seen. A friend used one for his Refrigeration Business. The Accessories are Unique, but Care Must be Taken Using them to Prevent the Shunt from Being Attached when the Splitter is Plugged-in to a Receptacle, as the Shunt will cause a Short, Injury and Equipment Damage is Possible, Tripped Panel Breaker/Blown Fuse, etc.

Created with GIMP


The Functions of the Attachments can be seen in the Following Drawing, except for the Voltage Test Leads and the Continuity Accessory shown Bottom Left. The Yellow Probe Accepts a Battery and is used, in conjunction with another Test Lead, with the Meter on Equipment that is Verified as Deenergized to Measure Resistance and Continuity. With the Resistance/Continuity Lead Removed from the Meter, the Black and Red Leads can be used to Measure Voltage. Each Measurement, Amperage, Voltage, and Continuity, have a Separate Dial that the Rotary Dial must be set to Prior to Use. Remove All Leads before Using the Clamp for Amperage Measurements. 


The Top Drawing Shows that the Alligator Clips would be Attached in series with a component in a Circuit. That Current would flow into one side of the Splitter, is Shorted Over to the other side of the Splitter via the Shunt, and back to the Circuit. Taking the Measurements at the x1 and x10 Points would work normally.

The 2nd Accessory is intended to maintain the Ground for the Appliance or Device, while providing a Testing Point for the Splitter to be attached and measurements taken. The Energized Wire enters the Accessory, is sent to the Testing Plug for the Splitter, flows into one side of the Splitter, is Shorted Over to the other side of the Splitter via the Shunt, back to the Ground Accessory Hub and into the Plugged-in Device or Appliance. Taking the Measurements at the x1 and x10 Points would work normally. The Newer Ampprobe ELS2A Splitter carries the Ground through the Splitter, Eliminating the need for the this Device to maintain the Ground.

Clamp Ammeters 58

An HT Instruments Splitter with Additional Opening.

Clamp Ammeters 55 - 1
This Splitter is Unique for a Few Reasons. Physically, there is a Short Cord with Plug on one end, and a Short Cord with Outlet on the other end. 
PE = Protective Earth (Ground Leakage) L-N is Leakage Line/Neutral
  • Similarly to the Ampprobe ELS2A, there are Voltage Check Points, but Checking to Ground is also Possible on this Unit.
  • It shows where to Check for Ground Currents (mA PE)
  • It shows where to Check to see if there is an Imbalance in the Line and Neutral Currents. Differences in Line to Neutral Currents is how a Ground Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI) works. If the Current is the same in Both Conductors, no GFCI Fault Exists. If the Current is Greater in the Line than the Neutral, the Current is flowing somewhere else, and the Device Trips when the difference is great enough. You can Measure the Actual Difference at mA L-N. If 3 Amps were in the Energized Lead, and 2 Amps in the Neutral, the Meter will read 1 Amp.
  • In the Absence of Ground Currents, it should be possible to Measure the Appliance Current in the Top or Bottom of the Ax1 Opening. Using the Bottom Opening, the Clamp will measure the Current in the Electrically Energized Lead. In the Ax10 Position, the Neutral Passes the Loop of the Electrically Energized Wire (Top), and this may Improperly Reduce the Current Read at the Ax10 Position. The Manufacturer marks it to Not Take Measurements at the Side of the Loop where the Neutral Passes, and there are only 9 Conductors in the Loop at this point, and 10 at the Bottom, so Reading at the Bottom is the only Correct way.

Clamp Ammeters 59 - 2

Clamp Ammeters 60

Take Aways on this Blog Entry. 

  • Ammeters Originally Needed Placed in Series with the Circuit to Measure Current. 
  • Clamp Ammeters were developed, and they can be placed over a wire to determine how much current is flowing in the wire. 
  • Clamp Ammeters were largely for AC, but AC/DC Units are now available. 
  • To Facilitate the Measurement of Appliances and Devices, a Splitter was made that provides Openings for x1, x10, and possibly other measurements. If the x10 Opening is used, the Current on the Clamp Meter Display needs to be divided by 10 for the Actual Value read. The x10 can help on Appliances with Low Current, and for Meters with only 1 Character after the Decimal to increase the Accuracy but the Results on the Clamp Meter must be divided by 10. 
  • Splitters may have Voltage Measuring Points. 
  • Early Splitters did not carry the Ground to the Appliance, and required an Accessory to do so, newer ones carry the Ground through the Splitter and the Accessory is not Needed. 
  • Specialized Accessories were available for the Ampprobe Splitter as shown, but care must be taken when using them to fully understand how they work and to safely use them. 

Humidifiers and Vaporizer Considerations

Crane EE-5201GR Warm Mist Humidifier is on my Chest-of-Drawers in the Bedroom as shown at the Top of this Page (The Featured Image according to Word Press) and more views of it are shown immediately below, Click on Image for Close-Up View: 

Humidifiers. I thought this was going to be easy. Sheesh.

There are Evaporative, Ultra-Sonic, and Steam (and maybe other) types of Humidifiers/Vaporizers.

My wife and I have Evaporative and Steam Humidifiers/Vaporizers. 

Evaporative Units may have a Water Tank, often Removable for Filling, or may be plumbed to your water line in the case of Whole House Humidifiers in the Furnace Duct Work that run when the furnace is on. They have a Wicking Media, that soaks up the water, and subjects it to Air Flow, from a Fan or your Furnace Fan (Forced Air Heating), and Evaporation of the water occurs, and it mixes with the Circulating Air, and introduces that Humidity into the desired area.

Evaporative Units are somewhat self regulating, since the more humid the air is, the less evaporation takes place, and therefore the output should drop somewhat as the air becomes more humid. Our Unit has an Ultraviolet Light that “Sterilizes” the Water as it slowly passes through the U.V. Light Area on the way to the Wick, in theory killing most Molds and likely other pathogenic organisms in the water. This model is rare at this time (Out-of-Stock Issues), and I see they make an identical looking unit without the U.V. Light, but to kill the pathogenic organisms, you need to periodically place a Pod of some sort in the Water Tank, and supposedly that kills Mold and Bacteria. 

Honeywell 2

Honeywell 1


This is the Model we have:

Honeywell HCM-350 Humidifier – Setup & How to Clean & Change the Filter

Caution, this woman can talk really fast, thorough, but fast:

Honeywell Germ Free Cool Moisture Humidifier Review – Best On The Block?

 Whole House Evaporative Humidifiers would, in theory, have the same issue with Mold and Bacteria production, but they may have U.V. or other mitigation systems to reduce or eliminate that, but this Blog Entry is on Common Portable Units.

The following is a man that received a Transplant, and due to Immunosuppression Medications needed, he was more vulnerable to pathogens, and he claims that his Humidifier caused him to have a very serious and nearly life ending infection requiring hospitalization and very long term Antibiotics to resolve. Proper usage of your Type of Humidifier is definitely something you want to be familiar with, including cleaning it as instructed.

The Hazard of Humidifiers- This Thing ALMOST KILLED ME

Let’s Talk Powdery Residue. I knew Ultrasonic Humidifiers can leave a White Powdery Residue on Furniture, but I started to ponder why doesn’t the Steam Types do the same. One article I read said that Evaporative Units don’t leave the White Powder, as the Powder is actually from the Minerals in the water, and in Evaporative Units, the Minerals become attached to the Wick. The article said only 2 Types of Humidifiers are prone to leaving Powder, and those are Ultrasonic and Personal Fine Mist Humidifiers, in both cases the Water Particles containing the Minerals are spread into the room, and when they dry, the Minerals are left behind, hence the White Powdery Residue. But why doesn’t the Steam Types leave a Powdery Mist. If you own one, or have owned one, you know the answer. The Minerals leave a Residue in the area where the Steam is made, the Droplets from the Steam Humidifier are more akin to Distilled Water, no Minerals to Deposit. Of course, the mineral residue is a problem in terms of the Unit Functioning, at least at some point.

Ultra-Sonic, I have no experience other than casual observation. Apparently an Ultra-sonic Transducer is used to, well, this page says it better:

How Do Ultrasonic Humidifier Work?

“There are two primary principles of humidification when it comes to ultrasonic humidifiers: cavitation bubble implosion and capillary wave theory.

Cavitation bubble implosion: The cavitation bubble implosion is another humidification process that can be seen with ultrasonic humidifiers. This process involves using the oscillator in the machine and changing the amplitude so that the water creates tiny cavitation bubbles. These bubbles on the surface of the water send water aerosols into the air.

Capillary wave theory: The capillary wave theory is involved in the humidification process with ultrasonic humidifiers because this is how these units are able to bring water aerosols into the air. The water tank creates surface waves that are used to carry water droplets into the air (off of the small wave).”

A recurring theme is to use Distilled Water in Humidifiers:

In Steam Humidifiers (like my Crane Unit, it heats the water but not by Electrical Conduction through the water), Distilled definitely leaves less mineralized residue Inside the Humidifier, but, as I suspected, from Vicks (the Model in this Blog that uses Electrical Conduction to Heat the Water), is the following:

Question: My vaporizer has water, but no steam is being produced? How do I increase the steam coming out of my humidifier?

If you have filtered water or are using distilled water, this can prevent the unit from steaming. If you are using distilled water, please switch to tap water and try again.

Using Distilled for Ultrasonic it will leave much less Powdery Residue Outside the Humidifier.

Same with Portable Evaporative Units, that use a Fan and a Wick to distribute humidity into the room. The Wicks become plugged with minerals, Calcium Carbonate largely, and magnesium and iron. Distilled water would reduce that considerably, but it may be less expensive just to use Tap Water in these Humidifiers and change the Wick often enough to keep it functioning properly.

Honeywell HCM-350 Unit Bottom with Wick Installed, Notice Mineralization on Wick. In the Center of the Bottom, Light Grey Plastic can be seen, this is from the U.V. Light that Sterilizes the Water before it enters the Wick sump. 

Honeywell 7

If you have significant needs for Room Humidifiers in the Winter, you can get Bottled Distilled Water, Like Tyler Mountain Water, etc., (Tyler Mountain has 3, and 5 gallon Returnable/Refillable water bottles) delivered and have the empty Bottles taken back to the company for reuse, or depending on the volume you use, you can buy it at the store in disposable Gallon Sized Jugs. We mix 50% Distilled with 50% Tap Water to reduce the Minerals in the Crane Unit I’ll Discuss, it’s a Warm Mist Humidifier where it essentially creates steam, mixed with Air, to reduce the Temperature of the Water Vapor emitted by it.

Distilled Water is recommended in Ultrasonic and Evaporative Humidifiers to reduce the Pathogens that may be present in the water and distributed by the Humidifier, though the use of Distilled does not alleviate the need to Clean the Humidifier as instructed to eliminate Molds and other Pathogens.

I prefer Steam and Warm Mist because the Heating of the Water to produce the Vapor is sufficient to kill many Molds and Bacteria, but follow the Manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning in any unit. I also prefer them because they do not use a Fan like the Evaporative Unit we have, the Fan on Medium and High can create Air Currents in the room that contribute to the room feeling chilly. And, believe this or not, but it’s true, there are Evaporative Cooling Units, and when Evaporation Occurs especially in Lower Humidity Environments, it may cool the air Discharged from the Humidifier vs the Air that was Taken into the Humidifier, further making it feel cooler in the room.

But there are some Safety Issues with Warm Mist and Steam Humidifiers. They require heat to make the Steam (or water vapor). The following is the entire purpose for me writing this, a comparison of the designs and principles of operation. Much of the material in this Blog was discovered as I researched this topic and I felt it Important to convey to help people make a choice.

My Crane EE-5201GR Warm Mist Humidifier uses a Heater, the Heater is in an Enclosure that is exposed to the Water, the Heating Elements are inside the Enclosure and not exposed to water. Water Fills the Heater Enclosure Sump from a Tank on the Unit. But what if the water is all used up? There’s a Float Switch to turn-off the Humidifier when the water is low. But what if the Float Switch Fails, there is a Thermostat that Opens on High Internal Temperatures that must be Reset to use the Humidifier again. But what if the Float Switch and the Re-settable High Internal Temperature Switch Fail to work, there is a Fail-Safe High Temperature (Thermal) Fuse that, if it opens, the Humidifier must be Returned to the Factory for Replacement of the Thermal Fuse – and I replace them, I have one here that needs a New Thermal Fuse, it’s my son’s. See, there is increased complication in design. I bought my son a new Crane Warm Mist Humidifier, just the other day, and I’ll repair his, and put it aside for a spare. The reason the Thermal Fuse failed, and this is the 2nd Time, is that there is a Low and High Level of Humidification. If you set it on High, too many times, the Fuse must become fatigued from being near the melting point of the fuse material and eventually Opens and stops the Humidifier from working. I only use it on Low, I instructed my son to only use it on Low. There is also a Tilt Switch on the Humidifier, so that if the Unit is Knocked-over, and then there would not be water on the Heater Enclosure, the Tilt Switch shuts-off the Humidifier as well.

This Drawing, Below, pertains to the Crane EE-5201GR Warm Mist Humidifier: 

Crane Warm Mist Humidifier Cross Section - 2

The Evaporative Unit is Straight Forward, but the U.V. Light has already significantly discolored the plastic, and I would not think it was a good idea to let this run without water in it, yet there does not appear to be an Empty Tank Shut-off for the Unit. In the comments online, that was one thing people complained about. Yet overall, it is much simpler in design and operation than the Crane. It also uses much less Power to operate since the U.V. Light and Fan (and controls) are the only devices operating, there is no Heater.

The Vicks is also a great for adding Humidity to your home. Yet the Output of the Humidifier can vary depending on Mineral Content of your water. And it can vary so much that you may have no, or practically no steam, or it can conduct so much current that it can Trip a Breaker or Blow a Fuse in your Electrical Panel and Spit Water from the Steam Diffuser. I have the Electrical Instruments to measure the Current, and According to Vicks, limited salt can be added to Increase the water Conductance if the Steam Output is too low. My unit is rated at 5.8 Amps, but operates fine from 1.9 Amps to about 3.5, it really increases in steam output as the current increases. But adding Salt is something they said will accumulate, so if you added a little salt, then topped the water off and added a little more salt, then topped the water off and added more salt, sooner or later you’ve added too much salt. To prevent this, every few Reservoirs Full of water with a little salt (not much) added with each top off, I dump the entire Reservoir and rinse and start all over again. These Vicks Vaporizers (Humidifiers) have no controls, they just plug in and they heat the water by Electrical Conduction between the Electrodes. When the water drops below the Electrode Holder, they stop conducting and stop making Steam. Always Unplug before adding water, salt, or cleaning according to the Instructions, or when the Unit is not Actively Being Used. Clean it according to the Instructs and if Storing, let it Fully Dry before putting the Steam Unit back on the Reservoir to help prevent mold growth. 

Vicks 1

This Drawing, Below, pertains to a Vick’s Vaporizer Type Humidifier: 

Steam Vaporizer - 1

Vicks 7

Vicks 8


  • Warm Mist and Steam, Evaporative, and Ultrasonic are common Humidifier/Vaporizer Methods.
  • Warm Mist and Steam may be made by Heating the Water with a Heating Element or via Electrical Conduction between 2 Electrodes.
  • Warm Mist with a Heating Element has less Mineral Deposits when Distilled Water is Used, Electrical Conduction Units may not work or may not work properly with Distilled Water.
  • Due to the High Temperatures in Warm Mist and Steam, they are less likely to serve as a breeding ground for pathogens and less likely to disperse them in the house.
  • Evaporative Units should have less Mineral Deposits on the Wick when used with Distilled Water and Distilled Water may be better when people with Immunological Issues are in the household.
  • Evaporative Units are Self Regulating to a degree since less evaporation occurs as the Humidity in the Room Increases.
  • Ultrasonic is better when used with Distilled Water as it won’t cause White Powder to be deposited in the room, and is better to use with Distilled Water when someone with Immunological Issues is in the house as the water will not have pathogens to be ejected into the room.
  • Illnesses from Mold and Pathogens that grow in Humidifiers and are introduced to Humidifiers by contaminated water is not limited to just people with Immunological Issues, therefore Clean Humidifiers as instructed by the Manufacturer to reduce Mineral Build-up and to prevent the culturing of harmful pathogens.


LED Christmas Light Repairs, Additional Information

The Meters:

Meters in the Featured Image, not Discussed in the order shown, but for Identification Purposes:

  1. Micronta (Radio Shack) 22-198U, the Meter is mine from Childhood, it is about 50 years old.
  2. Fluke T-3 Electrical Tester, this Tester is about 15 years old.
  3. Fluke T-2 Electrical Tester, this Tester is about 28 years old, and the Tester at #2 Replaced it to address issues that resulted in a Recall of this Tester for Repair.
  4. Metra Hit 18S, a German Manufactured Meter, is 25 Years Old from Documentation I see online.
  5. Tek Power TP 7244L, an Analog Movement Meter, is about 3 years old.
  6. Spark Fun VC830L is about 3 years old.
  7. Greenlee DM-510 is about 25 years old.
  8. BK Precision Model 350 Clamp Ammeter with Multimeter Functions is 37 years old plus.

The purpose of this Blog Entry is not to show the Best Method of Testing LEDs, but to see if the Listed Meters would Test them in one way or another. Inexpensive meters (a few in the selection discussed), if not protected and rated for situations where higher currents are possible can fail in ways likely to cause injuries, possibly seriously. The Procedures in this Blog Assume that the Light Set is unplugged from the Receptacle, and that the Individual LEDs are being tested, therefore there is no potential for Injury from Meter Failures, and no potential for Meter Failure save what may happen due to coincidence. But owning a Meter, and Learning to use it Properly, can be useful in many areas. So if you have a Meter, or are motivated to buy a Meter, hopefully you’ll find this information interesting.

Not all LEDs are guaranteed to Light with the Voltage from a Suitable Meter, but if you have a Christmas Set where you know the Meter Lights the LED, and bought the Correct Replacement LEDs, they should similarly Light with the Meter.

The Lights (LEDs):

We had 2 Strings of C9 Sized LED Christmas Lights on the Front Porch, and one long set of C7 Sized LED Christmas Lights on the Deck. Both of these utilize C9 or C7 Sized Covers with Correspondingly Colored LEDs, the sets seem to use the same sized sockets, but the Colored Covers (One Style is a Colored Opaque finish, the other Colored Transparent) are C9 or C7 sized. They make great replacements for older Light “Strings” (But these LEDs ARE NOT FOR REPLACING BURNED OUT INCANDESCENT TWINKLE LIGHTS COMMON NOT THAT LONG AGO!!!!!)

Ours is in their second year of use, and we noticed that the Blue LEDs were burning out. Grrrr! So, you can live with a bulb out here, and a bulb out there. But, suddenly, one set went out. My wife was not a Happy Camper. I looked online, found a website that discussed repairing LED Light Sets (see my previous post on Christmas Lights), I have sets similar to what this person repaired, and I removed the offending Light String and brought it inside to diagnose.

I found the offending LED, did a make-shift repair that I refuse to discuss here, and ordered the replacement LEDs already in sockets, all I had to do was pull the old ones out and insert these.

I purchased 80 Multi-Color LEDs in Socket Inserts, there’s Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Orange. 80/5 is 16, so I supposedly had 16 of each color. I ran out of Replacement Blue LEDs and tried using Yellow. With a Blue Colored Cover, the Light was not bright enough to be seen on a cloudy day, but works to some degree, at night. So I tried using Green LEDs with the Transparent Blue Cover, and I was surprised, the Light Looked Green.

3 LED Availability

So I looked at just replacing the LEDs themselves, and bought 120 of them, in Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Orange. 120/5 = 24 of Each Color, so now I have 24 Blue LEDs that I am installing in the Socket Inserts that I pulled and tossed the Defective LED (they’re in the Electronic Waste Pile that just keeps growing).

4 LEDs in Socket Inserts and Without

These LED are in Series. Somehow, if they burn out, they still have continuity across them.

  • If you remove a Socket Insert from a Light String, the Light String goes out.
  • If the LED fails in such a way that continuity across it is lost, the Light String goes out.

So as I tested them, I discovered that “most” of my Meters, on one setting or another, yet to be detailed, will either:

1. Light (Illuminate) Functioning LEDs

2. Show Continuity in Both Directions across the LED (this is unnatural for an LED to Conduct in Both Directions, I am not sure of the Mechanism of it, but it keeps the Light String on and Helps to Identify LEDs that are no longer working)

3. Show Open in Both Directions.

I used this Go/No Go Test, using the Meter as a Voltage Source to Light the LED, and to analyze it further using the Meter if the LED didn’t light.

2 LED Anatomy 1

Since, on many Meters, on the Diode or Certain Resistance Settings, if the Meter Test Leads are Correctly Inserted into the Meter, these LEDs can be tested by simply holding the Meter Test Leads on the LED Leads:

For my Lighting Set for LEDs already in Socket Inserts: 

  • Black Meter Test Lead Held on the Shorter of the Socket Insert Leads.
  • Red Meter Test Lead on the Longer.

For New LED Not in the Socket Insert (loose):

  • Black Meter Test Lead on the Shorter LED Lead.
  • Red Meter Test Lead on the Longer LED Lead.

With the Result of Lighting the LED if the Meter is Compatible and LED Good.

5 LEDs Replacement with Respect to Polarity

LEDs that Failed Testing with known Suitable Meters were Tested for Continuity in Both Directions, i.e. the Black Meter Test Lead on the Shorter/Red on the Longer, then Red Meter Test Lead on the Shorter/Black on the Longer. If The LED didn’t light, then shows Continuity in Both Directions, or shows Open in Both Directions, the LED is Bad.

TekPower TP7244L ($40 on Amazon), this is an Analog Meter.


Let’s start with my single Exception to the Polarity of the Meter Test Leads. Meters, to measure a Diode (if they have a Diode Setting) or Resistance, need to apply a Voltage to the Test Leads, resulting in current flow through the component being tested and the Meter Measures the Current Flow. It’s this voltage that will Light (Illuminate) the LED if it works.

The Instructions for the Meter discusses Testing LEDs, and they discuss the requirements for connection of the Meter and Meter Test Leads to the LED Leads based on the Polarity the Meter uses.

The Instructions Throughout this Blog Entry say to:

Test the LED by Applying the Black Meter Test Lead to the Shorter Socket Insert LED Lead, or to the Shorter Loose LED Lead, and the Red Meter Test Lead on the Longer LED Lead.

This Meter requires:

Test the LED by Applying the Red Meter Test Lead to the Shorter Socket Insert LED Lead, or to the Shorter Loose LED Lead, and the Black Meter Test Lead on the Longer LED Lead.

The Meter Instructions say to use the Resistance X10 position, but I found it works with diminishing Brightness on Functioning LEDs on the X100 or X1K Positions. There is a X10K Position, but this would probably ruin an LED, as the Meter Lead Output Voltage is Approximately 3.16 Volts on X1, X10, X100, X1K Positions (I think the Internal Resistance Decreases the Available Voltage when a Measurement is being taken), but greater than 10.5 Volts (no load) on the X10K Position. The Meter Uses 1 One 9V Battery and 2 AA Batteries.

This is a Pleasant Meter to use, has great Display Light, Rubber Over-Case, Lead Caps and Plugs (to prevent puncture by the lead tips or infiltration of dirt into the Meter End of the Leads). But the Meter has an Analog Movement, practice is needed comparing the Meter Settings and selecting the Proper Scale, and when measuring DC Voltage or Current, the Leads need to be Inserted Correctly or the Meter Movement tries to move the wrong way and can Damage the Movement. The above LED Issues with Meter Lead Polarity do not apply to Measuring Voltage or Current, but the Instructions are a bit superficial and buying a book on Analog Meter Use would be best if you buy this meter.

Fluke T2 Tester. 


The the Photo Above, the T2 is to the Right, the T3 is to the Left. The T3 was an improvement after a Recall of the T2. 

This Tester was not able to test the LED by Illuminating it, the Tester uses 2 AA Batteries, so at most only 3 Volts would be available on the Leads in a Continuity Test situation. The Polarity of the Meter Test Leads was correct, but the Voltage Measured on the Leads was 1.06 Volts, not enough to Forward Bias (Turn-on) the Diode to Light it.

Fluke T3 Tester. (See Above)

This Tester was not able to test the LED by Illuminating it, the Tester uses 2 AA Batteries, so at most only 3 Volts would be available on the Leads in a Continuity Test situation. The Polarity of the Meter Test Leads was correct, but the Voltage Measured on the Leads was 1.8 Volts, not enough to Forward Bias (Turn-on) the Diode to Light it.

SparkFun VC830L $14.95 at the SparkFun Web Site, $17.53 on Amazon.


SparkFun is a Web Site that sells Electronic Supplies and Provides Information for people to use to learn about Electronics.


How to Use a Multimeter

On the Diode/Continuity Setting the Meter provided 2.5 Volts on the Meter Test Leads and the Polarity on the Meter Test Leads is Correct, subsequently, on my Working LEDs, they Light Up Sufficiently, but not brightly. On the 20M/200K/20K/2K/200/ Ohm Ranges, there is Less Than 1 Volt on the Meter Test Leads, and the voltage is Insufficient to Light the LEDs.

BK Precision Model 350 This is a Very Old, Immaculate, Clamp Ammeter with Multimeter Functions. This meter is not likely to be encountered, it was replaced by the 350B and I’m sure that replaced by many others. For the Largest Part, Multimeters that use a 9V Battery (as this one does) very well may work as described on this Blog entry.


The Meter produced 2.5 Volts on the Output for the Diode/2000 Ohm, 200 Ohm, and Continuity Positions, and the Meter Test Lead Polarity is Correct. Tests LEDs on all the Ohm/Diode/Continuity positions, but Slightly Dim.

Greenlee DM-510 This is a fairly old model, replaced by the Greenlee DM-510A and available on Amazon for $155.


On my Greenlee DM-510, the Polarity for the Meter Test Leads is correct, and the following Voltages were noted (The Multiple Kilo Ohm and Mega Ohm Settings Represent a Decimal Place Movement from one to the Next. For example, 3000 Kilo Ohms is 3.0 Mega Ohms, the Different Decimal Positions Allow More Precision as needed):

  • Diode Position 3.0 Volts
  • Ohms Position/Setting 2.4 Volts
  • 1st Kilo Ohms Setting 1.2 Volts
  • 2nd Kilo Ohms Setting .9 Volts
  • 3rd Kilo Ohms Setting .4 Volts
  • 1st Mega Ohms Setting .6 Volts
  • 2nd Mega Ohms Setting .65 Volts

In the Ohm Position, the LED was Lit very Dimly, from the Side it was Difficult to tell that it Lit at all. In the Diode Position Lights the LED Adequately.

Metra Hit 18S is an unusual Meter, Made in Germany, I suspect it was very expensive when this model was available. On a German eBay Page, I saw one for $285, and I don’t know how old the listing was. This Meter uses Covers on the Meter Jacks for the Leads, they describe it as follows:

“The automatic blocking system prevents incorrect connection of the test leads and incorrect selection of the measured quantity. This reduces danger to the user, the meter and the system to a remarkable extent, and eliminates it in many cases”


As an Electrician, we most often tested for Voltage. Electronic Repair people, in my area at work, often often for Current. The Meter Jacks used for the Meter Leads are different between Voltage Measurements and Current Measurements. I borrowed a Meter from the Electronic people at work, never checked the Meter Leads, took a voltage measurement, and voila, nothing. I looked, the Meter Leads were in the wrong Jacks. But it was too late, I blew the fuse in the Meter. Returning it, I told them the fuse needed replaced, but I was told that even after it was replaced, the Meter no longer worked, and it was an expensive Meter. The Metra Hit 18S “blocks” the incorrect Jacks, forcing you to use the correct ones. But to rotate the Selector Knob on the Meter from Voltage/Resistance settings, to Amperage settings, the Leads must be removed first as the Knob won’t rotate if it can’t move the Covers to reveal the Correct Ports and Block the Incorrect Ports. In use it’s easier than it sounds, and it is a valuable safety and economic feature (helps prevent the meter from being ruined).

The Metra Hit 18S was used for all the Voltage Measurements given in this Blog, save for its own. The Meter Test Lead Polarity is correct.

  • Diode Position 3.9 Volts
  • Ohms Position/Setting 3.4 Volts
  • 1st Kilo Ohms Setting 1.2 Volts
  • 2nd Kilo Ohms Setting 1.2 Volts
  • 3rd Kilo Ohms Setting 1.1 Volts
  • 1st Mega Ohms Setting Less than 1 Volt
  • 2nd Mega Ohms Setting Less than 1 Volt

With the Meter Set to the Diode Position (this is Straightforward) or the Ohm Position (you have to hit the Auto/Manual Button Repeatedly until only the Ohm Symbol is Displayed, i.e. not K Ohms or M Ohms), the LED Lights nicely when Connected to the Meter Test Leads as described elsewhere in the Blog.

Micronta 22-198U (Radio Shack), this Meter is a very old Digital Meter. This Meter was not able to Test the LED in the manner described in this Blog. The Meter Instructions mention the settings for testing Diodes, but the Scale Used is on Resistance (20K and 200K Ohm) and the Voltage (Stated as 1.21) is Insufficient for an LED. The Polarity of the Meter Test Leads is correct.


  • 200 Ohms Setting 1.17 Volts
  • 2K Ohms Setting 1.17 Volts
  • 20K Ohms Setting 1.17 Volts
  • 200K Ohms Setting 1.16 Volts
  • 2000K Ohms Setting 1.08 Volts
  • 20 Mega Ohms Setting 0.62 Volts

In Summary:

The Light Sets discussed are LED, and they Accept Appropriate LED Replacements, either already in the Socket Insert Base, or Loose to be Correctly Installed in the Socket Insert Base. LED Light Strings often/always have a Diode to rectify the incoming Alternating Current to Crude Direct Current Required by the LEDS to work and they Use Resistors to Reduce the Current and Voltage as needed. Despite the similarity of Loose LEDs to Incandescent Twinkle Lights that were more common a few years ago, LED Replacements ARE NEVER TO BE INSTALLED IN AN INCANDESCENT TWINKLE LIGHT SETS.

My Replacement LEDs, both the LEDs pre-mounted in the Socket Insert Bases, and the Loose LEDs, are made by the same Manufacturer that my Light Strings were made by. This does not necessarily need to be the case, but Size, Voltage, and Current Specifications would need to be considered.

Most Meters that Use a 9V Battery will be able to Light (Illuminate) Individual LEDs used in my Christmas Lights, likely they will work for a variety of Individual LEDs.

All but one of the Meters in this Blog Entry has the Correct Polarity that permits the Described Method of Testing the LEDs to be used, see the Graphic showing the Anode and Cathode and required connection from the Meter to light the LED. The one Meter that varied from accepted Polarity identifies the needed connections in the Instructions for Testing LEDs and the Setting to Use.

Meters used in this Blog, where they have removable Leads, must have the Black Lead in the “Common” Jack on the Meter to assure that the Polarity of the Meter Test Leads is Correct. Even if the LED fails to Light with the Meter Correctly Set, it would be common practice to Reverse the Meter Test Lead Connections at the LED to be sure that the LED still doesn’t light, and the use of a known Good LED to verify that the Meter is Correctly Set and Connected, is advised.

Replacement LEDs, whether in the Socket Insert Base, or Loose to be Installed into an Existing Base after the removal of the Defective LED, must be Installed in the Socket Insert Base Correctly, and the Base must be Installed in the LED Light String Correctly as well.

Different Sets may use Different Orientation of the LED to the Socket Insert, Observe The Orientation of the Socket Insert to the Socket, and of the LED when Removing it from the Socket Insert, and Install the Replacement LEDs according to the needs of your Set.

6 Socket Insert Alignment Marks

Pharmacies, a cautionary post

Look at the Featured Image, at the Top. These are “most” of the Pills that I take, a weeks worth of Daily Pills. Look how much the Shape and Color has changed since August 2019 (top) to December 2021 (bottom). The Dosage was changed by the Doctor since then, the Histamine Blocker that I take for Stomach Acid is decreased in dose and changed from Zantac (Ranitidine) Over the Counter in 2019 to Pepcid (Famotidine) by Prescription. It appears that in 2019, I was taking Zantac (Ranitidine) twice a day. I was taking it for Urticaria under a Doctor’s Instructions. I now take Pepcid (Famotidine) for Stomach Acid once a day.

I was taking 200 mg Phenytoin in the morning and 300 mg at night, now I take 200 mg in the morning and 200 mg at night (Doctor’s Change in Dose based on Blood Levels).

But look how much the pills have changed (the arrows point to what the Pills looked like in 2019 and now in 2021), and this was a gradual thing. But since the last time I had prescriptions filled, 3 changed that I take and 1 that my wife takes to different forms of the same Generic Medications.

If the intent of the globalists was to close down stores and open mail order stores, they are succeeding. Pharmacies, once a time honored small town thing, are becoming more rare. The chain pharmacies are taking over, but they are having trouble keeping up.

We use Rite Aid Pharmacy. Two local pharmacies have closed, one before covid, one during it. Their customers got shifted to other pharmacies, and with the closing of the 2nd one, Rite Aid got their customers (apparently the records of the prescriptions, refills left, expiration date of the prescription, etc. were transferred to Rite Aid). Of course, people transferred don’t need to stay with Rite Aid, but the options seem to be having issues too.

We used to get phone calls, voice messages, that our prescriptions are ready to “pick-up”, but no more. My wife has called the prescription refill in to the store, and when she shows up 2 weeks later, they still haven’t filled the prescription and only does it when she is at the register, or waiting with the herd of others that came from other pharmacies or that called their prescriptions in a week or longer ago but it was never filled.

There’s a pandemic, we’re told, but Rite Aid has created a situation where people, often sick, are coming into the pharmacy to have a prescription refilled that they phoned in, or with a new prescription, and they need to wait with several others while the prescription is only then filled, she said she has seen 7 to 10 people waiting. Does this sound reasonable?

She tried to transfer our prescriptions to Giant Eagle, and they would have accepted them, but the Pharmacist from Giant Eagle phoned her and told her they are on the verge of having similar disruptions in operation from being inundated with customers from closed pharmacies.

So, in this post, and in one or more in addition, I’d like to explain why this is an issue.

1. Crowding people together that have a higher probability of being sick with a communicable illness should be discouraged, from a covid stance and from a stance of suprainfections that can dramatically undermine a covid patient’s medical state.

2. Prescription Errors. There is a term for it, alas, the last time I heard the term was in the late 1980s, when I was in Pharmacy Technician School.

Know Your Medications, Your Pharmacist, and Trust, but Verify when Your Doctor Prescribes New Meds – A Case in Point

A Suprainfection is, literally the term Supra (meaning above) and infection. When a person gets sick, they are not limited to 1 infection at a time, they can have multiple infections. So if covid is a concern, and they are pushing how contagious the Omicron Variant is, it may be communicable from one person in the pharmacy line to another, or other illnesses may be communicated to a person that makes the person more vulnerable to covid. In either case, reducing the number of people waiting indoors is needed, not increasing the number. To complicate the problem, they are operating at reduced Hours, and in fact, they did not open at all one day as they should have, according to a conversation my wife overheard.

Prescription Errors. UGH.

I take a ton of medication.

One medication I take, Phenytoin, is for seizures. When the pharmacy shops for lower prices on Generic Medications, they buy different suppliers of Generic Medication, and this is what they supply. There’s a problem with that, they have different levels of Bioavailability, so despite being the same Dose, it does not mean that I’ll have the same Blood Levels. So, when the pharmacy switches, I can have break through seizure symptoms (I have temporal lobe seizures and haven’t had Grand Mal), and if they persist, I contact my doctor, he orders a blood test, that shows the level, and the Dose is adjusted to achieve the correct level. One Neurologist suggested I take the Brand Name only Drug, and I did for some time. It’s Phenytoin and it’s made by Mylan. But Mylan decides periodically that they are suspending the manufacture of Phenytoin for some reason, and so, you guessed it, I’m back on Generic, the Blood Levels change, etc.

Enter the new problem. I take Coumadin, and Phenytoin Interferes with Coumadin and Coumadin Interferes with Phenytoin. But the interference is in a predictable way. So I get Blood Tests for Coumadin, and I get Blood Tests for Phenytoin, and Doses are adjusted and are stable, and all is right with the world. Until Mylan shipments aren’t being received by Rite Aid, and I get put back on Generic, and my blood levels change, and I went from an PTINR Anticoagulant Level of 2.9 (2 to 3 is the range) to 3.5 and my likelihood of bleeding is greater, so I need to contact the doctor, and he needs to adjust down the Coumadin Dose, and I need to have blood tests for Coumadin and Phenytoin. Grrr!

So, with the pharmacy under stress, I am now being given Metoprolol, Montelukast (Singulair), and Phenytoin from a Different Supplier or Generic Sources than I did before, therefore I cannot be guaranteed what the Blood Levels will be on my complex pharmacological use. My wife is being given Atenolol from a different source than before, and with all this different source stuff, Pharmacy Errors become a real possibility because what you were taking now looks different, and if you don’t check, you can be harmed.

Remember the terms Tablets, Capsules, Caplets.

I search DuckDuckGo for: JSP 523 Tablet Green

Drugs[dot]Com comes up as the first hit. Bingo. It’s the Pill.


I search DuckDuckGo for: X51 Capsule White

Drugs[dot]Com comes up as the first hit. Bingo. It’s the Pill.


I search DuckDuckGo for: PHN 100 Taro Orange Capsule

Drugs[dot]Com comes up as the first hit. Bingo. It’s the Pill.


I search DuckDuckGo for: A 100 Round White Tablet

Drugs[dot]Com comes up as the first hit. Bingo. It’s the Pill, BUT, no Picture.


The Pills Must be as Pictured, the Sites have Disclaimers that they can make mistakes. So it’s not absolute. Your Bottle of Medication should have a Description of the Pill, “A 100 Round White”, something like that. If you are not satisfied, call the Pharmacist and ask him or her. Tell them that the appearance of your medication changed since the last time you had it filled and you want to be sure you have the correct Medication.

Searching online is only to help decide if you have the correct pill. “A 100 Round White Tablet” may also yield “A100 is White, Elliptical / Oval” but this is different, in one case, it’s a Losartan Potassium 100 mg and not the Metoprolol Succinate Extended-Release 100 mg that I take. The Pill Must be Identical, Marked Identically, and be identified as you expect it to be. If any doubt exists, phone the pharmacy.

The other issue is that with changes in the Generic Version can come changes in Blood Levels of the medication. Between Brand Name and Generic, or Generic and Generic, most are highly compatible, but when you take several medications, changes in the interactions between them can occur, as I saw the Anticoagulant PTINR Value of my Blood Test increase significantly with a different Phenytoin. And now they have supplied all new forms of Generic Medications, and it’s a concern.

But watch for Stressed Out Pharmacies trying to get prescriptions filled and mistakes are made. In my life, with all the Pills that I take, I only once had an incorrect prescription and I didn’t take it, by the time I got home, the pharmacy phoned and said I needed to return, they dispensed the incorrect dose. One time my wife, taking Atenolol, was having problems, and I was talking it too at the time, so, since they were filled at different times, but Identical in Dosage, she started using my pills and her problems went away. I actually think the manufacturer failed to put the medicine in the pill, or failed to provide the proper dose in the pill. By the markings, we knew it was the correct pill. The pharmacy exchanged the pills and everything was fine.

Be Very Careful with Medication.