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Choosing a Time Domain Reflectometer for Cable Troubleshooting

Megger CFL510F Hand-held Time Domain ReflectometerLocating cable problems through visual inspection, continuity and insulation resistance testing can be difficult and time-consuming especially on long installations. To help you save time, effort and money in troubleshooting cables, consider using a Time Domain Reflectometer. This diagnostic tool is very efficient and accurate because it can help localize the fault from where you are in a matter of seconds. After prelocating the fault, you can then run other diagnostic techniques to verify the defect. Time domain reflectometry is not only effective in finding faults in electrical cables. It can also be used for various installations for cellular, telephone and cable TV installations.

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Considering getting a Time Domain Reflectometer? Check out these popular TDRs from Megger, High Voltage Test Equipment and Hipotronics. Below is a comparison of the testers that can help you decide which device suits your testing needs.


Megger CFL510F Hand-held Time Domain Reflectometer

The CFL510F is an advanced TDR that lets you identify various cable defects. It has exceptional features and a wide measurement range. It can located faults from 30 feet to 9,000 feet at a resolution of 4 inches. It has an internal impedance matching circuitry that lets you test a variety of cables with an impedance of 25, 50, 75 and 100 Ω. It also features a FastFind button that helps make waveform interpretation easy. This feature automatically adjusts the gain and range of the device and places the cursor at the major event  on the cable. It has a balance control that lets you closely match the device to the tested cable. This feature lets you easily test long cables.


Product Features:

  • Selectable ranges for testing electrical, telephone, cellular and CATV cables.
  • Selectable 25, 50, 75 and 100 Ω output impedance
  • Easy to use front panel interface with contrast, balance  and gain controls
  • FastFind feature
  • Backlit 128 x 64 pixels LCD screen
  • 1% of range resolution
  • Adjustable velocity factor from 0.01 up to 099 at 0.01 increments
  • 5 Volts peak to peak output pulse
  • 0 to 120 Ω balance adjustment
  • Update rate of once/second for 5 minutes after the last pressing of the key
  • Operates using 6 LR6 batteries
  • IEC61010-1 300 V CAT III safety rating compliant



High Voltage TDR1669 Time Domain Reflectometer

This TDR is designed to be used together with impulse generators and arc reflection testers. It can locate defects at a distance of up to 48000 feet and can automatically capture and hold the waveform by a thump or arc. Another good feature of this device is its internal storage that can save up to 15 traces. This lets you retrieve the results later for comparison or reference.


Product Features

  • Selectable ranges of 500, 1500, 3000, 6000, 12000, 24000 and 48000 feet
  • Selectable live trace TDR mode and Arc Reflection mode
  • Hold function that lets you freeze the humped waveform during Arc Reflection mode
  • Auto Range and Auto Locate functions
  • 10.5-inch color LCD dual display
  • RS232 interface allows you to attach the device to a computer for data transfer, analysis and report generation
  • Comes with the following accessories:
    • Coaxial to coaxial cable
    • Manual
    • Ground Lead
    • Power cable
    • USB to serial cable
    • RS232 Cable



Hipotronics TDR1130A Time Domain Reflectometer

The TDR1130A features an automated set-up which can be adjusted as necessary. It has an internal storage that lets you store results for later retrieval. This tester can be used with a high voltage coupler so you can use it together with a cable thumper.


Product Features

  • Large 7-inch LCD display
  • Compatible with common thumpers
  • It can help reduce cable damage
  • Battery operated which makes it suitable for field testing
  • 16-sample memory
  • RS232 port for PC connectivity
  • Has a range of 1ft to 1,000,000 feet
  • 100 MHz sampling rate with a resolution of 2.5 feet
  • 25 to 50-volt pulse amplitude
  • 100 ns to 20 μs adjustable pulse width



This electrical test equipment is available for rent, lease, or purchase from Protec Equipment Resources. We are here to help you with your testing equipment needs.

Wherever the job takes you (and the equipment), with Protec’s multiple locations, we always ship from the office closest to your desired drop location (if the electrical test equipment you need is in-stock at that location), and the equipment can be returned to the nearest office.

We always consider ALL shipping options in order to save you the most time and money.

Also, if you happen to be close to one of our many office locations, walk-ins are always welcome!

Rely on the Electrical Test Equipment Rental Experts, we are there when and where you need us.


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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published August, 2012 and has been updated freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.