• If you like antique engines, vintage tractors or old iron machinery, register and join us. When you register on Smokstak, please give complete answers and fill in all blanks. IF YOU ARE ON WIRELESS OR SATELLITE, GIVE YOUR CITY AND STATE! NO ZIPCODES! All registrations are manually approved.

Autolab Tester


Hi there i have just picked up an autolab model 196 ac magneto coil-condenser tester but it came with no information
does anyone out there no how to use these or have instruction manuals for these or a web site
any info would be greatly appreciated

Craig A

Staff member
Last Subscription Date
Re: AutOlab tester

I moved your question to this forum.......hopefully some answers will follow...... :)


Cam,I think either myself or my mate Johnno has one of those and the paperwork,leave it with me for a couple of weeks,(my mates not home),and I will get back to you,Norm


I know that this topic goes back a long time but I have just bought home one of these testers and now I'm looking for the operators manual if it is still available please.
Thanks in advance for any help.


Last Subscription Date
I do not have anything on that tester. That said, it appears similar in to the testers we have although not exact. In case no one else answers I will try to help. Coils have a specified current, and condensers a specified capacitance which has nothing to do with the tester. The coil and condenser specifications should be available, at least for most made here in the states, from a Mercotronic or other tester manual. You may be able to find something online or from a friend or member here. If you don't send us an email and I can scan what I have(although it may not happen instantly). As far as the operation. For the coil test, it would appear you set the coil primary amps with the knob labeled as such and spark should jump electrodes in the window. One thing I am not certain of is the "coil output" knob. If I had to guess that would be set in a certain position for different type coils. The test position on the center bottom knob should make spark. Typically the heat setting would run low current through the coil(to warm it up to operating temperature) to expose any insulation flaws and you would re-test after a specified length of time, I would say typically 5 minutes or so. For the condenser test, I believe you would use the set knob to "zero" the needle. Then run through the the test on the other knob, typically for leakage then capacity then series resistance. The leakage should be zero. The capacity should be close to what is shown in the data from another manual(with most falling in the 20-30mfd range). Finally the series resistance should be very low(zero would be perfect) but this test doesn't seem as important as the others in my experience if it is off slightly. Hope this helps a little. Looks like a nice unit. Hope you get it figured out. Good luck.


Thank you to you both for your very valuable input. The main difference with mine is that it plugs into our 240v power supply rather that a 6v or 12v power supply.
Rustyengines in Townsville has offered some information as well and all is along the same advice as being explained here. I want to have a look inside to check the power cable is safe before doing the plug and go. I do like the photo of the very bright blue spark in the viewer as well.
Do any of the 3 wires inside the viewer move?


Well tomorrow is the day dedicated to cleaning the meter up inside and out then plugging it in and "having a go" as they say!

Hopefully all will be good and it will then be a very helpful tool in the collection.


Well it is up and running. when I took the face off the box this is the condition I found it in. I have NOT cleaned it at all. The coil side of things was easy to understand and hook up after I sat and studied what leads should go where but I seem to have an extra earth lead with a probe on the end. In the viewing window you can see a brilliant spark and this was tested at 3 amps and a gap opening of 8 and that is huge. The spark was consistent and didn't break down until it got over 9.
The condensor testing is an easy hook up but I think I now understand what each of the 3 tests do and how to read it. More play time should help there. I ran a few old Victa electrics through the tester and found 2 coils that are NFG and one of them was NOS. Some condensors that failed in different tests so now I can compare them with my multimeters.
I tested a couple of film capacitors and they would not come up to spec on the capacitance but were good in the other 2 tests. (interesting).
Now thankfully Scotty has come to the rescue again here with his vast knowledge on all things with electricity and he pointed out a couple of things.
The aluminium cylinder to the right of the transformer is the vibrator part and then there is one of those old fashioned valves to the left of the transformer, a couple of condensors and then a mix up of all types of transistors and diodes etc.
I am so happy with this little toy and now once I learn how to drive it properly I can fix more things than before.



Last Subscription Date
Debe, I would suggest that before much usage that all the paper capacitors and any electrolytic capacitors be replaced. I am most sure that they are leaky and are a possible source of damage to other parts that can be almost impossible to find. Good luck.


As I know next to nothing about electronics I am keen to now what it is that you can see that makes you say that some parts may be faulty. I am only asking to try and learn.

---------- Post added at 11:10:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:07:36 AM ----------

Hi debe, they are remarkably similar and it seems I have it all worked out in my head on what does what. I spent some time testing some old Victa electrics and found some good and some bad both for coils and condensors. Double checked the results against a multimeter for the condensors and it all matched up.

Next is trying to work out why film capacitors don't give the same capacitance reading as what is stamped on them.


There is no electrolytic capacitors. The theres only 2 capacitors I would replace, as UCC capacitors were unreliable back in the days of Black & White TVs as these units date back to that era. I used to repair TVs back then.