I'll start with the disclaimer. One of my many areas of ignorance is electronics. My incompetence in that field is deep and vast. I can handle simple stuff like house wiring, but when electronics guys start talking about how many foonads of impudence it takes to drelberize the flimble I get a serious case of MEGO. Fortunately my electronic brain block doesn't drastically interfere with working on a Model T.
Recently I've been using a borrowed Electronically Cranked Coil Tester to check and adjust coils and to test a magneto. I found that the ECCT is easy to use, and the videos give good step-by-step instructions on how to do the testing and how to make the adjustments.
If I were doing enough coil work to make me buy a tester, this would probably be the one. Its advantages are ease of use (it's portable) and cost. Even when fully equipped with all the available bells and whistles, I believe it costs less than half the price of most HCCT units I've seen for sale.
The downside for me is that I was unable to use the feature which puts a lot of detailed information on your computer screen. The software for that is available only for Microsoft systems. Windows and I have never gotten along, and I refuse to spend money to infest my Mac with it. Maybe eventually a Mac-friendly version of the software will come along. Fortunately, while it would be nice to see all the extra information on a screen, it isn't necessary to find out what's wrong with a coil and make adjustments.
This coil's capacitor tests Good.
The Coil/Dwell test shows that it's double-sparking and needs adjustment. The ECCT video tells you how.
With a bit of adjustment it tested Excellent.
The Multi-Spark test, in which the tester rapidly fires the coil 100 times, seems the hardest to pass. A coil which tests Good or Excellent on the Coil/Dwell test may not do as well here, and takes more adjustment.
I tested and adjusted enough coils to operate three cars, and found that I have dozens of coils that have bad capacitors. Maybe I'll use some of them to learn coil rebuilding, or maybe I'll send them to one of the guys who knows what he's doing.
The ECCT I was using to test coils was also set up for magneto testing, so I tried that too. Here's the video: https://youtu.be/-BqeGi4xuro
Steve, the newer MACs are clever enough to run those Windows programs.
They may be called Super-MACs.
Steve, Thanks for posting an interesting video. I would like to know what the voltage actually was so I assume that would be on the computer screen.
I just got a ECCT as well but have yet to try it out. Thinking it might be something very good to use at one of our club garage days.
I have purchased one of the ECCTs and I must agree with you 100%. Very easy to use, good instructional videos, and quite portable, especially with the now (or soon to be) available battery power supply (Thank You Mike Kosser). Even with all of the bells and whistles it is significantly less than the cost of an HCCT and similar in cost to a Strobo-Spark coil tester AND a St. Louis Magneto Tester bought as a package. I think that it is the bee's knees, right up there with indoor plumbing and a good woodstove fire on a February night (northern hemisphere).
Now, this ECCT doesn't butter your bread; You must still melt out the tar, solder in a new cap and spend time (occasionally a lot of time, right?, Ron and Brent?) adjusting the points.
It is a well made, solid, performs as advertised product and made right here in America.
What a guy with a Mac could do is to go to Craigslist and buy a cheap laptop dedicated to the purpose of ECCT use. You could probably pick something up for less than $100.
Since I first tried out an ECCT I could tell it would be an instrument that Model T owners, for whom electrical things are a mystery, could easily use.
I ended up using a miniature laptop with 10" screen with my ECCT. Software installation is really very easy - no bloatware or conflicts with anything.
That along with a 12V SLA battery for the ECCT makes for a very portable set up.
It's a great unit that just works as it should, always giving consistent and accurate results.
I was hoping to do magneto testing on a bunch of cars in the club. I missed the last tour cuz I had to work and there went my chance. Now my engine is done so i can test my own car but everyone else is done for the winter. Looking forward to doing it in the spring.
The idea of a cheap used laptop is pretty good. I won't bore you with all the details of why I wouldn't use it for anything else, but I've been down that unhappy road before.
Steve, I can surely identify with your disclaimer! Dave
Steve, I heartily agree with you about Window$. Why not try running it in a Virtual machine?
You'll have to get a copy of the install media, but that shouldn't be too hard. I'm hardly an expert, but I'd stick to XP & if you don't give it network access, it will work pretty well.
VBox is fun to play with anyway, especially as winter approaches.
Steve - If you get a used Windows machine just make sure it has the correct operating system.
I have a bunch of expensive programs that will not run on my newest computers so I have to keep an XT machine alive.
BTW don't even think Vista unless you desire pain and suffering for your wallet.
Steve, Thank you for sharing your experience using the ECCT. Its unfortunate you were not able to use the software option, it makes coil adjustment a bit easier by providing graphical distribution of coil firing consistency but it isn't necessary as you pointed out. Some folks have been successful running the ECCT software on their MACs using a windows virtual machine but do understand that may not be appealing.
Regarding your comment about having dozens with bad capacitors, the capacitor test is very sensitive and can be skewed by fingers touching both point elements or leakage through the core when the vibrator spring is pressed against it. These alternate leakage paths can be avoided by using a thin plastic bag to insulate those paths to test only the capacitor leakage. Coil performance will not be significantly degraded provided the capacitor value is near the 0.47uF nominal value even if the test result shows a poor result; indicating the leakage is poor with respect to a modern 0.47uF capacitor of the correct type which typically registers Good or Excellent.
Would be interested to know how you felt the ECCT adjusted coils performed in your car on the road.
I'll look into the virtual box thing. I checked out a couple of things that purported to put Windows into a Mac, but they cost money. No sale.
I was very careful to heed the warning about leakage, inserting plastic under the vibrator spring and being careful not to touch the points. Unfortunately I didn't realize that close to 0.47uF is "good enough", and when those coils tested Poor I didn't bother to do the other tests on them. For now I have enough coils that tested Good or Excellent, but eventually I may go back and retest all those others. Some of them may be usable too.
The tested and adjusted coils work very well. I've gone for a couple of test drives with them, as well as driving to town frequently for shopping and errands, and I enjoy the peppy performance. My test drives were on the steepest local hill I could find, and I took it in high gear all the way up. The 1926 touring I rode up that hill a year ago needed the low pedal near the top, but I don't know if that was due to coils or a tired engine. I've posted this video before, but here it is again.