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Old 02-09-2016, 05:42 PM   #1
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question: fox and hound cable tracker

Today I learned I can fairly easily trace where individual wires run on my boat using an instrument called a "fox and hound cable tracker", originally developed for telephone installation technicians ($25 at Harbor Freight). I assume both 12 volt and 115 volt wiring needs to be "dead" (unpowered) before I start connecting this tool to one end of the wire I'm trying to trace. Is that how you do it?
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:04 PM   #2
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I've used a tone tool to locate a cable end. Use on a dead circuit, clip the tone generator to one end of a wire you want to trace. Take the sounder to where you think the wire terminates and it'll tone when near the wire you're tracking. It will tone thru the insulation and if there is a break in the conductor it can help locate it.


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Old 02-09-2016, 06:05 PM   #3
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Didn't it come with instructions?


Yes, the wiring should not have any voltage on it. It will work best with the wire you are trying to trace disconnected from other wiring. Otherwise, the signal spreads to adjacent circuits.


I used similar tools in my job 20 years ago. There's a bit of an art to using it because, as I mentioned, the signal can spread to nearby wires or other wires connected to the one you are trying to trace. You may hear a signal in several wires but one will be noticeably louder.


Once you think you have the wire you want, use another method (such as shorting one end to ground and measuring the other end) to confirm that you have the right wire.


You might want to practice using it on wires you can identify first before you actually need to use it.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WesK View Post
There's a bit of an art to using it because, as I mentioned, the signal can spread to nearby wires or other wires connected to the one you are trying to trace.
I was wondering about that when you get to a big bus bar. Thank you for mentioning it.
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:50 AM   #5
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I roll my own . Any box store will have a device that follows AC in a wall.

An old 12V DC bell (bell removed) will work to make pulsating DC , and the box store device wont know the difference.

During the 70's I worked as outfitter for the TT importers and it was required equipment in locating screws that found wires while overlaying on a teak "deck".
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Old 02-10-2016, 08:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by seattleboatguy View Post
I was wondering about that when you get to a big bus bar. Thank you for mentioning it.
If you connect it to the outboard end of a wire that connects to a buss bar, the signal will appear in all the wires connected to the buss bar.

Go to the buss bar end, disconnect the wire from the buss bar, hook the toner from that wire to ground and you should be able to find the other end of the wire. If the wire is part of a cable or bundled with other wires, there may be some crosstalk and several wires may have the signal. One will be louder and that should be your wire.


Hint:
Unless there's a junction or splice, the wire you are looking for will be the same color, size and brand at the other end so if you're tracing a red #12 wire, it should be a red #12 wire at the other end.
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Old 02-10-2016, 08:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by WesK View Post
Go to the buss bar end, disconnect the wire from the buss bar, hook the toner from that wire to ground and you should be able to find the other end of the wire.
I agree; that approach makes the most sense for me. My initial objective is to create a fairly detailed drawing of where all my wiring runs, so for this task, it makes little difference which end of the wire I start from.
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Old 02-10-2016, 08:14 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by seattleboatguy View Post
I agree; that approach makes the most sense for me. My initial objective is to create a fairly detailed drawing of where all my wiring runs, so for this task, it makes little difference which end of the wire I start from.
It does make a difference unless you disconnect you disconnect the wire from the buss bar.

Please read my post again.
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Old 02-10-2016, 08:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by WesK View Post
It does make a difference unless you disconnect you disconnect the wire from the buss bar.
I understood your post, and the importance of disconnecting the wire from the bus bar.
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