An Improved VTVM Battery Eliminator

One of the disheartening things about buying an older (…well, they’re ALL older, now…) VTVM is opening it up and finding either an old, leaky battery, or evidence of one. This usually damages or destroys the battery contacts and sometimes also the circuit board. The battery, usually a standard 1.5V C-cell, is necessary for measuring resistances with the ‘ohms’ scale.

A great improvement has been suggested over the past couple of years to replace the battery entirely, using a modern voltage regulator, drawing power from the filament circuit. A version of this has been available on several Heathkit lists and I’ve used it in my V-7A and IM-18. This replaces the battery and removes the risk of leakage.

More recently, Peter Bertini, Pop Comm Magazine (and others) have pointed out that the circuit used an inefficient half-wave rectifier, probably adding stress to the (already old) VTVM’s transformer.

If, in ‘ohms’ mode, the probes are touched together (0.0 ohms resistance), the entire 1.55 Volts is placed across a 9.1Ω resistor, resulting in the maximum current draw of (I=V/R), or 1.55/9.1 = 170ma. This doesn’t count diode loss and heat loss in the voltage regulator.

The following circuit attempts to repair the inefficiencies and addresses ripple filtering in the regulator, so as to provide an efficient and accurate VTVM Battery Eliminator.

An Improved VTVM Battery Eliminator

The input is from the 6.3VAC filament circuit. The output goes to the same locations as the original dry-cell battery. In the case of a Heathkit V-7A, this is 0.0 to VTVM ground, and the +1.55VDC to the ‘free end’ of the 9.1Ω resistor (see a schematic at More detail and a (somewhat better) solution for Heathkit’s grounded filament supply available here.

2 thoughts on “An Improved VTVM Battery Eliminator”

  1. Mike,
    Is this the best way to bypass the battery? I just got an old vtvm I’m-18….yep the battery was older than dirt, white corrosion was everywhere.
    I am learning electronics on the fly and want to repair this machine, any help would be appreciated.

    73, kk6dqc

    1. Once you clean the corrosion out, you don’t need the battery at all (unless you’d LIKE to check resistance on the ‘Ohms’ setting).

      There’s some discussion on various spots about whether the transformer can ‘handle’ the extra milliamps the little regulator draws. I’ve found that replacing the battery with this little circuit (and I use an old plastic film can to put it in) you can test everything on the resistance range except you probably shouldn’t test like ‘1 ohm’ on the lowest range. Probably not up to around 100 ohms on the lowest range. That’s the point where it pulls the MOST current.

      Or, you can put a fresh battery in it!
      I’ve found RayOVacs will leak shortly after they’re put in service. Hate ’em. But Copper-tops (Duracel) and Eveready’s seem to resist leaking better.

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