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The Trainer #73 - Building a solid electrical foundation

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 09:00
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Electrical troubleshooting is, for many of us, a challenge. I think it’s similar to a pilot who flies in VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions versus one who flies in IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions. The VFR pilot relies on outside references to maintain control of his airplane; how the nose of the plane looks compared to the horizon, how the wing tip angles on either side align relative to the horizon, and the G-forces at play on his body. Sure, the instruments play a role just as they do when we drive a car, providing speed and other important information to further that control.
The IFR pilot, though, is dependent on those instruments and must actively ignore what his eyes and senses may be telling him. Often, there is no outside visual reference at all – nothing but sheer white caused by the enveloping clouds gathered around him. Imagine driving your car without outside visual clues!

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Maybe it’s the same here. Electrical problems are often hidden from view, if not entirely invisible to our sight. There are no audible clues, either, unless the harness is on fire! We have to rely on our tools and our knowledge, often actively ignoring what our emotions may be telling us.
The tool part is easy. For the majority of problems we need to locate, our trusty DMM (Digital Multimeter) will do the job. The knowledge, on the other hand, may be lacking. We need to know our fundamentals inside and out, and understand the laws that govern electrical circuits. And, just as the VFR pilot ill prepared for IFR conditions will succumb to vertigo and spiral to the ground, techs failing to master these fundamentals will find themselves flying in circles, and wasting valuable time when dealing with electrical faults.
In this edition of The Trainer, we’ll teach you how to fly IFR  with your DMM and troubleshoot electrical concerns with confidence!
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