Quantcast Typical voltage Tolerances for Dry Cell Batteries dry batteries. Whenever practical, dry cell batteries that are not in use should be stored in a refrigerated area to extend their shelf life. Table 2-2. - Typical voltage Tolerances for Dry Cell Batteries ">

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Table 2-2 shows general standards of tolerance for dry batteries. Whenever practical, dry cell batteries that are not in use should be stored in a refrigerated area to extend their shelf life.

Table 2-2. - Typical voltage Tolerances for Dry Cell Batteries

1 to 2 0.1
3 to 10 0.3
11 to 15 0.5
16 to 25 1.0
26 to 50 2.0
50 to 70 3.0
70 to 99 5.0
100 to 200 10.0


Carbon-zinc and alkaline cells are used primarily in portable test equipment, vom's, flashlights, some portable radios, and beacon equipment. The carbon-zinc cell provides 1.5 volts and holds its charge for approximately 1 year in normal service. The alkaline cell provides 1.2 volts and has about twice the stored energy of the carbon-zinc cell of the same size. It also has a longer life at a higher discharge rate than the carbon-zinc cell. You should discard both types of batteries at the first indication of weakness.


The storage life of a mercury cell varies but is generally classified as long. The working life of the cell is extremely long relative to other types of batteries; and it maintains its full rated voltage (1.34 volts) until just before it is ready to expire, at which point its voltage will drop off sharply. Recharging of mercury cells is possible, but is not recommended because the recharging cycle can vary from one cell to another; and, after being recharged, their operating lifetime is uncertain.


Nickel-cadmium batteries have very high efficiency. They can be recharged hundreds of times; given the proper conditions, they may even be recharged thousands of times. They can be stored for a number of years with no significant loss of performance. After just a few charge and discharge cycles, NICAD cells can be recharged to the point that they are just as good as new batteries. Since they are sealed, they are maintenance free and can be installed in any position. There are two types of nickel-cadmium batteries - vented and nonvented. This description deals with the nonvented exclusively because a vented NICAD would have extremely limited application in a shipboard environment.

The voltage at the terminals of a NICAD will normally be between 1.25 and 1.30 volts in an open-circuit condition. This value will vary, of course, depending on the state of charge. If the charge has dropped to a low of 1.1 volts, the NICAD should be regarded as being completely discharged and should not be permitted to be discharged further. The majority of small NICADs are rated in milliampere hours; the large ones are rated in ampere hours. The small NICAD is the one the technician will almost always be concerned with.

Q.26 At what voltage is a NICAD battery considered to be fully discharged? answer.gif (214 bytes)

As a general rule, if the charging current is held to 10% of the milliampere-hour rating for the NICAD and the time of charge is held at 150% of the time required to establish its full milliampere-hour rating, you will encounter no difficulty in maintaining NICADs at their maximum charge. For example, you should charge a battery rated at 300 milliampere hours for 15 hours at 30 milliamperes. You can leave the battery on extended charge for years, provided the charge rate is lowered to less than 10% of the NICAD's milliampere rating.

You should never place a NICAD in your pocket, because metal objects (such as keys) can short the cell and cause extreme heat. Never dispose of a NICAD by fire, because it can explode. Never solder a connection directly to the cell, because the heat of an iron can damage it. Never overcharge a NICAD cell, because an accumulation of gases within its case can destroy it.

NICADs are also subject to a phenomenon commonly referred to as cell memory. If a NICAD is consistently discharged to a minor extent (for example, 30 minutes per day) and then recharged after each use, the useful capacity of the cell will eventually be reduced to that level. To keep this from happening, you should fully discharge (1.1 volts) NICADs on a regular basis. In fact, some maintenance requirement cards and calibration laboratory procedures require this periodic full discharge of equipment containing NICADs.


All rf attenuators, decade or step attenuators, decade resistors, and 50/75-ohm loads are clearly marked to show their attenuation factor or resistance. In the case of precision rf attenuators, they are usually marked to show their useful frequency ranges. They are all basically resistive devices and are designed for a multitude of applications. None of these devices are user-repairable; however, you should be aware of the different methods of determining whether or not they are functioning properly.


Fixed rf attenuators (shown in fig. 2-28), such as the ones commonly found in power-measuring sets, are designed to provide a fixed-signal attenuation over a specific frequency range. Frequency ranges can be in excess of 30 gigahertz, and attenuation factors are typically in 1-, 3-, 6-, and 10-dB steps. Fixed attenuators can be connected in series to provide you with the desired attenuation. Most fixed rf attenuators are designed to handle only small amounts of rf power and are extremely susceptible to damage because of overloading. To test a fixed rf attenuator, you can either substitute it with a known good attenuator or perform basic measurements on the attenuator itself. With the rf substitution method, you connect an rf signal generator to a power meter and establish a suitable reference point on the meter by adjusting the power output of the signal generator. Once you establish the reference point, insert the rf attenuator between the signal generator and the power meter. You then determine the attenuation by noting the difference between the power meter reading and the initial reference point.

Figure 2-28. - Fixed attenuator set.

Q.27 What is the most common method of testing a fixed rf attenuator? answer.gif (214 bytes)


Decade resistors (also referred to as decade boxes) typically are precision devices. Depending on the make and model of the decade resistor, it may be capable of providing you with a selection of resistors ranging in value from a small fraction of an ohm to hundreds of megohms. Decade resistors are commonly used in calibration laboratories and in engineering design applications. Like the fixed rf attenuator, most decade resistors are capable of handling only small amounts of current. They are very limited in respect to frequency capabilities and are commonly used in dc-circuit applications. You may encounter specific equipment that requires the use of a decade resistor in performing your maintenance tests or alignments. To test a decade resistor, you can connect a standard multimeter or digital multimeter directly across its resistance terminals and read its resistance on the meter. This test will only indicate gross errors in the decade resistor such as an open or a badly damaged resistor. If you are performing a precision measurement or an alignment using a decade resistor and have any doubt as to its accuracy, you should submit it to your servicing calibration laboratory. Figure 2-29 shows a typical decade resistor.

Figure 2-29. - Decade resistor.


Decade attenuators (also referred to as step attenuators) are common devices that may be designed as either a stand-alone piece of test equipment or as an integral part of an operational piece of electronic equipment. As the name implies, they are used to attenuate rf signals in incremental steps. Like the fixed rf attenuator, you can easily test them by using the rf substitution method, as previously described. Views A and B of figure 2-30 show two types of decade attenuators.

Figure 2-30. - Step attenuators.


Terminations of 50 and 75 ohms are designed as either feedthrough, impedance-matching devices, or as rf loading devices. They are precision resistors sealed in small plastic or metal enclosures and are designed to be mounted on various rf connectors. In the case of feedthrough terminations, they are designed with rf connectors at both ends, which allows the rf signal to pass through them. They are impedance-matching devices designed primarily to reduce the voltage standing-wave ratio (vswr) that is produced when two pieces of equipment with dissimilar impedances are connected together.

You can test a feedthrough termination by measuring the resistance between the center conductor and the shield of either rf connector with an ohmmeter. As mentioned above, some terminations are manufactured as loading devices that are designed to shunt an rf signal to ground. A perfectly matched termination can be compared to a transmitting antenna in that it absorbs all of the rf signal with only a small amount of power being reflected back to the transmitting device. When using a termination as a load, you should ensure that its wattage rating exceeds the power output of the equipment to which it is connected. You can also measure this type of termination by using a standard ohmmeter to read the resistance between the center conductor and the shield of the rf connector.

Q.28 What is the most common method of testing resistive terminations? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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