I want an ammeter for my plane (besides the one built into the Dynon). Figured that’s a pretty easy problem to solve. I had some errands to run, so I stopped by O’Reilly Autoparts (yeah, I know, mistake #1) to buy one. The lady behind the counter said, “We don’t sell those.” Never mind that there was a display of them on the wall less than three feet behind her. “Yes, you do,” I said. “They’re on your web page. And there some right there behind you on the wall.” “Those aren’t ammeters,” she said, “those are gauges.” I carefully controlled my eyes so they wouldn’t roll back in my head (I do have to shop there from time to time since they’re so close to the house). I walked back out to my truck, grabbed my iPad, pulled up their own web page, and showed them. All four clerks crowded around the screen and started typing into their computers. Finally, one of them said, “None of our stores in Washington have one. Nor do the warehouses. I can get you one in 5-7 days. Most people use a voltmeter now, instead.” Um, that’s so confused that it’s not even wrong. That’s like asking for a hammer at Home Depot and being told that most people use spray paint now instead of a hammer. On to the next stop…
Stopped at Napa down in Woodinville, since I had to go by the bank, anyway. “Nope,” the guy said. Computer says we’re out. He went and checked the shelf and confirmed. He offered to check other local stores, but I didn’t feel like driving all over, so I declined. Oh well, I’ll add it to my next Aircraft Spruce order and pay double (plus shipping) or something.
Aha! There’s a boat shop in Woodinville. They sell parts! And they’re a gun shop, too. Might as well check out what’s on the rack while I’m shopping for my ammeter. No ammeters there, either, but the guy behind the counter was pretty sure he could get one from the warehouse by tomorrow. After much digging through catalogs and typing stuff on his computer, he found one. -60 to +60 amps, 2″ hole, and a built-in shunt. That’s it, exactly what I’m looking for. It’ll be in around 11am tomorrow. I can live with that.
What concerns me is a) how completely clueless O’Reilly’s is about auto parts (considering that’s their business), and b) how rare ammeters seem to be these days. Does nobody care whether their charging system is actually charging or not? Simply looking at buss voltage only gives you a tiny bit of the story. Whatever. I found mine, and I can go crawl back into my hole.