Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fluke TS19 buttset is priced low enough
for amateur phone guys

The buttset (or butt set) is one of the most versatile and important pieces of telephone test equipment -- a handset with touch-tone pad, alligator clips, and various features that allow you to know if a circuit is dead or alive, good or bad. It can also make and receive phone calls.

Professional phone guys couldn't live without them. Narcotics agents use them to spy on drug dealers. FBI agents use them to spy on the mob. Teenage boys use them to spy on their sisters.

No one seems to be sure why it's called a buttset. Maybe because it can be used to "butt-in" to a conversation, maybe because it's usually hung from a tool belt on a phone guy's butt, or maybe because phone guys use them while sitting on their butts.

Some buttsets cost $400 or more, way beyond the budget of most people who just sometimes need to test a phone line. Fortunately, Fluke Instruments makes a reasonably-priced buttset with the quality and features you'd expect from a top brand, plus a few extras. It's just fine for use in your office or home, or helping out a neighbor.

Fluke's top "pro" models can survive a 20-foot drop onto concrete or a flop into a swimming pool. The TS19 is made for lighter duty. Don't expect it to survive jumps from helicopters, or white water rafting. It does not belong in the back of a truck with bad springs; and if you misplace your hammer, don't use the TS19 as a substitute. It has an 18-month warranty, but in normal use, the TS19 could last as long as you do.

The Fluke TS19 has both tone and pulse dialing, last number redial, talk and monitor modes, continuous polarity indication, 18-digit last number redial, an electronic ringer, and angled bed-of-nails clips that can grip wires, screws or terminal block clips, and even bite through insulation without destroying the insulation. It's hearing aid compatible and has a high impedance monitor circuit that's safe for data circuits. We like it a lot. Price is just $111, including shipping, at

No comments: