*Meters work with 12 Volt, 17 amp-hour sealed lead acid (AGM) batteries (typical of FRC robots) equipped with Anderson Power connectors. They can read accurately (plus or minus about 0.1 volts) from 3 volts to 30 volts DC.
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Q. What does the Pyro-Meter do for me?
The Pyro-Meter gives you a very fast, fairly accurate reading of the current voltage level of a battery equipped with the standard FRC style battery connectors (Anderson connectors). You can use this reading to quickly compare batteries to decide which one will give you the best results on the field for the next match and which batteries need to be “recharged pronto.”
Q. Why would I use a Pyro-Meter when I could buy a Battery Beak from Andy Mark? (Reference)
A Pyro-Meter costs a good deal less than a Battery Beak, and is easier to read in a hurry. If you need a quick check of which battery has been run down, then a Pyro-Meter is your friend.
Q. If it’s so easy, why does anyone bother with load testers, Battery Beak or other?
Load Testers, such as the Battery Beak, read the voltage under load. They put one or more known resistances across the terminals of the battery and then read the voltage drop created. Given these readings, it is possible to estimate the overall health of a battery - its internal resistance, its ability to hold a charge and several other important aspects of battery “health.”
Using a Load Tester is a good idea. However, a load tester, by definition, has to load the battery, consuming a small but real part of its charge. It also takes time to get a reading, and often the equipment is more expensive than a voltmeter. The Pyro-Meter is a quick solution during competition. It is affordable, and assuming you are starting with healthy batteries, it quickly allows you to assess their relative readiness for service. Of any two batteries that are in equivalent “health,” both of which have been charged and or used recently, the one with the higher voltage is almost always the better battery to use.
Q. If all I need to know is the voltage, why can’t I just use the team’s multi-meter?
Absolutely, you can. Sometimes it’s awkward to get the contacts in place. It’s not always easy to carry a multi-meter around. But this is a perfectly good solution. Your multi-meter is likely as accurate or even more accurate than a Pyro-Meter, if you make good contact with the Anderson connector contacts. A Pyro-Meter is easy to carry on a neck or wrist lanyard, fits in a pocket, or attaches with a zip-tie near your battery charging station.