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Topic:
Locating buried wires
This thread has 18 replies. Displaying posts 1 through 15.
Post 1 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 16:13
Munson
Long Time Member
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476
Does anyone have a good tool they use for locating buried wires. Working on a project that have a lot of wire buried and need to find them. Cat6 wires, Crestnet wires, speaker wires.

I use the Fluke intellitone, and this is good for some things, but not very good at finding or tracking wires in the wall.

Was looking at an Amprobe but hesitant to spend the money unless I know it is going to work. Called the company and they did not recommend for Low Voltage wires, but then I read the manual and it talks about how to use with Low Voltage wires. Left me with even more concerns.

[Link: amprobe.com]

Has anyone used this or have something they do use that works good.
Post 2 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 17:46
Fred Harding
Super Member
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3,234
Have you tried attaching the black lead off the tone generator to ground on the Fluke? My experience is that really ups the level, making it easier to find with the want. Not sure which iteration of Intellitone you have...
On the West Coast of Wisconsin
Post 3 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 17:59
SammPX
Long Time Member
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412
I had to trace a conduit between the side of the house and a pool equipment pad last year and borrowed one of these from the electrician

[Link: techtoolsupply.com]

I was able to follow an obscenely long conduit almost 700 feet with no pull boxes to be found anywhere.
Post 4 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 18:40
Brad Humphrey
Select Member
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On November 14, 2019 at 17:59, SammPX said...
I had to trace a conduit between the side of the house and a pool equipment pad last year and borrowed one of these from the electrician

[Link: techtoolsupply.com]

I was able to follow an obscenely long conduit almost 700 feet with no pull boxes to be found anywhere.

+1

And here it is on sale:
[Link: amazon.com]
Post 5 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 22:27
thecapnredfish
Senior Member
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1,381
Just as SammPX posted or an excavator. The tool works very well. You can even determine depth.
Post 6 made on Thursday November 14, 2019 at 22:36
Fins
Elite Member
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11,312
On November 14, 2019 at 17:59, SammPX said...
I had to trace a conduit between the side of the house and a pool equipment pad last year and borrowed one of these from the electrician

[Link: techtoolsupply.com]

I was able to follow an obscenely long conduit almost 700 feet with no pull boxes to be found anywhere.

This right here. I used to use one to locate breaks when I installed and serviced invisible fence systems. Works great. I’ve always wondered how one would work in a house to try to locate buried wires.
Civil War reenactment is LARPing for people with no imagination.

Post 7 made on Friday November 15, 2019 at 03:32
pilgram
Loyal Member
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November 2004
5,640
Are the wires under ground or in the walls?

I love my Fluke Intellitone because it can trace and map live network wires and it has paid for itself many times but,since it's "digital" it's a little weak when the wires can't be touched.

I use my Progressive 200FP with a Tracer 2 to locate wire burried in walls.
Compared to the Fluke,it's limited in everything else BUT,it it will find wires quite well in walls and get you within an inch or two of the actual location.
Every day is a good day.......some are just better than others!
Post 8 made on Friday November 15, 2019 at 12:37
Ernie Gilman
Yes, That Ernie!
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On November 14, 2019 at 17:46, Fred Harding said...
Have you tried attaching the black lead off the tone generator to ground on the Fluke? My experience is that really ups the level, making it easier to find with the want. Not sure which iteration of Intellitone you have...

Don Heany would like this, and we all should know about it.

Toner instruction is usually to connect the two wires from the tone generator to a wire pair. This results in a usually very clean tone signal that you can pick up at the other end of a hundred foot long wire (or any place along the way). But the nature of wire pairs is that their construction tends to cancel them out.

So a MUCH stronger signal can be put on the wire by grounding one output of the tone generator -- either output, red or black -- and connecting the other one to one of the wire conductor. I've traced wires in an attic from the room below over a distance of sixty feet using this method, where I was waving the wand above my head and the wires put out a signal great enough to be picked up by the wand.

If the wire is in a conduit, or the wire conductor you choose is grounded, this method is pretty much useless.
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. “Bernie” Shaw
Post 9 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 14:43
Don Heany
Senior Member
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1,002
Had a client with a driveway sensor that was hit or miss installed be previous homeowner. The leads tested fine per Cartell standards so we assumed it was too far or too deep (or both) from passing vehicles. He borrowed one of these locators (pic he sent me only described it as yellow). Probe was found ~3’ down and as many feet away with a mini excavator without damage and reset at optimal distance. It now works 100% of the time.

Thanks Ernie, I had seen this thread but hadn’t been compelled to tell this story about another cool tool.

My personal favorite possession is a Cable Scout TDR. I’ve had it for about 12 years now and have only needed it a handful of times and it really saved my ass. We should consider a canonical list by location of these interesting (not enough to buy) tools that we could loan out here. I’d love a close by industry friend with a Fluke DTX tester... A couple years ago I lent my Intellifile set to an RC’r and he returned it promptly with a twenty in it. Would like more of my tools to do this, hah!
Post 10 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 14:46
Don Heany
Senior Member
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September 2008
1,002
On November 15, 2019 at 12:37, Ernie Gilman said...
Don Heany would like this, and we all should know about it.

Toner instruction is usually to connect the two wires from the tone generator to a wire pair. This results in a usually very clean tone signal that you can pick up at the other end of a hundred foot long wire (or any place along the way). But the nature of wire pairs is that their construction tends to cancel them out.

So a MUCH stronger signal can be put on the wire by grounding one output of the tone generator -- either output, red or black -- and connecting the other one to one of the wire conductor. I've traced wires in an attic from the room below over a distance of sixty feet using this method, where I was waving the wand above my head and the wires put out a signal great enough to be picked up by the wand.

If the wire is in a conduit, or the wire conductor you choose is grounded, this method is pretty much useless.

Discovered this many years ago attempting to tone out a coax run. Connected to center conductor and shield, just as I had given up hope one of the leads popped off and the hound started barking like crazy. Total eureka moment.
Post 11 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 14:53
Mac Burks (39)
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On November 16, 2019 at 14:46, Don Heany said...
Discovered this many years ago attempting to tone out a coax run. Connected to center conductor and shield, just as I had given up hope one of the leads popped off and the hound started barking like crazy. Total eureka moment.

I discovered this also. I strip to expose center conductor and connect 1 lead there and grounding (to actual ground or by having another person hold the lead) the other lead.
Avid Stamp Collector - I really love 39 Cent Stamps
Post 12 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 16:52
Ernie Gilman
Yes, That Ernie!
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On November 16, 2019 at 14:53, Mac Burks (39) said...
I discovered this also. I strip to expose center conductor and connect 1 lead there and grounding (to actual ground or by having another person hold the lead) the other lead.

Think things through.
You should be connecting to the ground, as you do, and to the shield. Remember that the shield limits radiation like this from coming out of the wire. For this kind of testing you want the greatest possible radiation of test signal.

The purpose of the shield in normal use is to keep signals outside the wire from getting to the wire, and to keep signals on the wire from getting outside the wire. This testing is not normal use and we want to exploit what the wire parts can do rather than what we usually use it for. (This is exactly what I meant in an earlier post when I said I like to know more about the things we're dealing with than is required for normal use.)

When you connect your toner's hot lead to the inside conductor of a shielded cable, but the shield is not grounded, then some signal from the center conductor will leak out. That is what you've been testing with.

Connect the toner to the actual shield! Then all the signal will radiate off the wire.

That is, unless the shield is grounded somewhere.
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. “Bernie” Shaw
Post 13 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 20:31
Mac Burks (39)
Elite Member
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17,259
On November 16, 2019 at 16:52, Ernie Gilman said...
Think things through.
You should be connecting to the ground, as you do, and to the shield. Remember that the shield limits radiation like this from coming out of the wire. For this kind of testing you want the greatest possible radiation of test signal.

The purpose of the shield in normal use is to keep signals outside the wire from getting to the wire, and to keep signals on the wire from getting outside the wire. This testing is not normal use and we want to exploit what the wire parts can do rather than what we usually use it for. (This is exactly what I meant in an earlier post when I said I like to know more about the things we're dealing with than is required for normal use.)

When you connect your toner's hot lead to the inside conductor of a shielded cable, but the shield is not grounded, then some signal from the center conductor will leak out. That is what you've been testing with.

Connect the toner to the actual shield! Then all the signal will radiate off the wire.

That is, unless the shield is grounded somewhere.

I have found it to work better the other way around.
Avid Stamp Collector - I really love 39 Cent Stamps
Post 14 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 21:40
andrewinboulder
Senior Member
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Always wondered why a human body would boost that signal so much higher.
Post 15 made on Saturday November 16, 2019 at 21:47
Ernie Gilman
Yes, That Ernie!
Joined:
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December 2001
29,388
The human body acts a bit like a ground, which the above examples tell us will increase the signal.

On November 16, 2019 at 20:31, Mac Burks (39) said...
I have found it to work better the other way around.

I take it you mean connecting one lead to a ground and the other lead to the hot conductor inside a coaxial cable. I don't see why that would work better and it's been my experience that it doesn't. As they say, YMMV.
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. “Bernie” Shaw
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