advanced metrology services for all brands of electronic test equipment
Top Dog is dedicated to being your local source for test equipment calibration serving the west coast with facilities in Silicon Valley and Southern California. Our local support includes:
• Daily Pickup and Delivery service (see below right)
• Advanced Calibration / Metrology services
• Full maintenance, evaluation and repair services
• We sell, rent, lease and buy back all brands of electronic test equipment
• Largest on-line inventory of Test Equipment in the Industry
• ISO 9001:2008 Certified Systems / Processes
The accuracy of your electronic equipment is vital to success of your company. What if an event rendered your instrument less accurate, or possibly unsafe? What if you are working with tight tolerances and accurate measurements are the key to engineering your latest product? . . . or the proper operation of expensive processes? What if you schedule maintenance crews based on your trending data? Consider the time and costs related to poor metrology of your test equipment and you will see the inherent value in regularly maintaining and calibrating your electronic test equipment.
Field Checking versus Calibration
Many equipment users attempt to do a field comparison check of two meters, and assume that getting the same readings mean they are “calibrated”. This field check can be used to identify possible issues, but it can’t show you which device may be reading incorrectly. Additionally, both devices could be similarly out of calibration by the same amount, considering they are likely exposed to similar test environments. So field checking is a dangerous method to base your business upon.
For a true calibration, the calibration standard must be more accurate than the instrument under test. Top Dog Test’s metrology lab uses multiple test points with the industry’s most advanced equipment to ensure the most accurate calibration possible. A Top Dog Test Calibration utilizes calibration standards that are typically 4 times more accurate than the instrument under test to eliminate overlapping tolerances.
Additionally, Top Dog strictly follows ISO 9001 qualified process that utilize NIST-traceable standard — every unit is calibrated to a standard that compares correctly to its master standard maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and is shipped with a certificate of calibration with accompanying test report(s).
Causes of calibration problems
What knocks a digital instrument out of calibration? First, the electronic components of test instruments can simply shift or drift over time. This shifting is usually minor and harmless. With a proper calibration schedule this shifting can be maintained to help avoid much larger problems.
Suppose you drop a current clamp or you expose a DMM to an overload. Depending on the test environment, many transients can exceed the protection device ratings of equipment and cause equipment to fall out of calibration. Shock and vibration issues are also extremely common. Rough handling during shipment or physically dropping a unit can render its measurements inaccurate. Due to this issue we see increasing value of our local pick and delivery service.
How often should you Calibrate Electronic Test Equipment?
- The question isn’t whether to calibrate — we can see that’s a given. The question is when to calibrate. There is no “one size fits all” answer. Consider these calibration schedules:
- Most Manufacturers’ specifications will indicate how often to calibrate their tools, but critical measurements may require more frequent intervals
- Before a major critical measuring project to ensure accuracy
- After a major critical measuring project - when the calibration results come back, you will know whether you can consider that testing complete and reliable
- After an event. If your instrument took a hit — something knocked out the internal overload or the unit absorbed a particularly sharp impact — send it out for calibration and have the safety integrity checked, as well.
- Per requirements. Some measurement jobs require calibrated, certified test equipment — regardless of the project size. Note that this requirement may not be explicitly stated but simply expected — review the specs before the test.
- Monthly, quarterly, or semiannually. If you do mostly critical measurements and do them often, a shorter time span between calibrations means less chance of questionable test results.
- Annually. If you do a mix of critical and non-critical measurements, annual calibration tends to strike the right balance between prudence and cost
- Biannually. If you seldom do critical measurements and don’t expose your meter to an event, calibration at long frequencies can be cost-effective
- Never. If your work requires just gross voltage checks (e.g., “Yep, that’s 480V”), calibration seems like overkill. But what if your instrument is exposed to an event? Calibration allows you to use the instrument with confidence.