Antique Meter Prop Build

Introduction: Antique Meter Prop Build

This is my fist instructable and part of a bigger build. I wanted to document these steps for reference and for anyone to gather ideas.
I purchased this meter with the intent of building a mad scientist or Frankensteins lab prop. As the picture shows the glass is broken and there is no needle for the measured voltage. ( the one needle with the round bit on it is just an indicator).

Step 1: Inspect and Plan

I did find the coil still functions and only missing the needle. I epoxied on a new needle made from a piece of thin copper wire painted black, adjusted the counterweight and was able to make the meter move to full deflection with less then 1 volt. I added a resistor and an old volume control potentiometer and now can move the needle anywhere from 0 to 300 volts with just a 5 volt input.

Next Lights, The scale has some convenient mounting holes at the bottom, a perfect place to mount a board for the lights.

Step 2: An Unexpected Find

On removing the scale from the meter I found that this meter is much older then i had first thought. There is a handwritten order number and date on the back of the scale from 1925, very cool! wonder who H.R. was.

Mounted perf board with a couple screws and nuts to bottom of scale.

Step 3: Fit the Parts

Mock up of the warm white LED's. Used flattop LED's to have a wider beam angle. Also made sure that the components will clear the needle as it passes overhead

Step 4: Looks Good

Looks like the LED configuration will work well.

Step 5: Wiring Prep

The back of the meter looks like where all the connections and control resistors were and why this meter went to max deflection with less then 1 volt. The post left behind were a perfect fit for a couple of terminal blocks and they lined up really well with the holes to pass wire through. Used some modern hardware to attach the block to the meter and will use one block for the meter operation and the other for lights.

Step 6: Wiring Cont.

Soldered wires to the meter mechanism and to the light board. Crimped on some terminals and connected to the terminal blocks.

Step 7: Lets Give It a Go!!!

Looks great and runs on 5 volts or 3-AA batteries. The potentiometer (not shown) controls the meter deflection and can have the needle anywhere on the scale just by adjusting the potentiometer.  The broken glass was replaced with acrylic as my glass working skills are next to none and much cheaper as I had the acrylic on hand as with all the other parts from this build, the only thing purchased was the meter itself and that was very affordable.

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    4 years ago

    That is totally cool. What a great find with the note and date. Great restoration and an excellent 'ible. Well done.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    very nicely done. I've got a few that I've been wondering how to light. I wasn't sure if you could take them apart or not.

    Might I suggest in the future for the tighter meter spaces, that you forgo the bread board and just use some heat shrink on the leads of some 3 mm leds pointed up. then you could attach them however you deem fit.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I found using LED strip to be great for tight spaces. I have put lights in many meters now and should have made more instructables but I did get side tracked on this build because I had acquired an antique tube radio I have been rebuilding and an interesting piece of equipment from a radio transmitter that I have been stripping out parts and adding my lights, buttons, air pump and copper tubing and really should get up here since the season is fast approaching.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Weston were high quality meters. I have a bit of their stuff a little newer than your meter movement. If you look carefully enough I bet you can spot your exact meter in the original Frankenstein's laboratory. Great find and good luck on the rest of your build.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I have three more meters I will be lighting. A 1914 Westinghouse kilowatthour meter, An unknown date Westinghouse amp meter 4000 amp. And a Weston watt meter from around the 40's or early 50's, lots knobs and binding posts on this but very tight inside, going to be a challange to light this one unobtrusively. The kilowatt hour meter still functions and will be connected to the neon transformer and 120 volt edison lamps (just have to stay under 10 amps). The amp meter will use a different shunt and be run from the 5v LED lighting circuit and knife switch, similar to the meter in this instructable but will be able to bring back to full functionality if I so desire. This is just the begining of the build and I have aquired many antique and vintage parts, It should turn out to be a very unique one-of-a-kind prop.