Amprobe Comes Out of the Shadows

Walt's still home with brochitis (but alive and well enough to keep in touch via email to make sure none of us is sitting in his chair while he's out), so I get fill in at the vendor meetings -- and bag the swag -- in this case, neat little boxes of red and yellow M&Ms with the Amprobe name stamped on them. Sweet! The reason for the visit, besides feeding the editors' sweet teeth (tooths?) was to signal that the 47-year-old company is still alive and well and selling clamp-on meters and other test equipment for the electrical, maintenance, construction and HVAC markets. Amprobe marketing manager Lucinda Farwell was showing off the latest version of the company catalog with 250 models of clamp-on meters, multimeters, wire tracers, megohmmeters, power quality testers, environmental and electrical testers, phase sequence and component test relay testers and benchtop instruments.  Having virtually invented the market nearly a half-century ago with its clamp-on inductive ammeter, Amprobe is moving beyond these roots, says Farwell, to specialize in power quality equipment for field measurement and recording of PQ variables, such as power, energy, harmonics, spikes, sags and surges. For example, according to the press release, the DM-II Plus Power Quality Recorder is a unique kit with PC download capabilities that records a broad spectrum of power quality parameters. The kit includes the power recorder, three current transducers, and four cables and alligator clips housed in a rugged carrying case. It can measure harmonics, voltage anomalies (sags and surges) and offers ample data storage memory and a large, easy-to-read display. Readings and charts can be viewed on the recorder's LCD screen or downloaded to a PC using Microsoft Windows-compatible software that is included in the kit. The other interesting piece of this story is Amprobe's evolution. It began as Pyramid Instrument Company. Then it merged to become ATP in 1999. Finally, in a very low-key acquisition in the fall of 2006, it was bought by Fluke and the company headquarters moved to Everett, Wash. The Fluke connection is being kept very quiet (you would never know of the Amprobe/Fluke connection from the company literature), largely because Amprobe is a strong brand in its own right, and Fluke has decided not to fix something that isn't broken. The casualty in this affair is the Meterman line, also owned by Fluke, which has a close overlap to the Amprobe product line. It is being phased out over the next few months.