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Plugable USBC-VAMETER version 3 is a 240W voltage and amperage meter

The first 240W power meter is PD 3.1-ready

While the general public may not yet need a 240W meter, you might. If only to make sure there are no gaps in your meter portfolio. And possible to get to the bottom of whether your Mac or peripherals are actually charging.

The new update to the Plugable USBC-VAMETER (USBC-VAMETER3) is here to build off the completion of the PD 3.1 specification and the emergence of 240W USB-C cables which hit the news in late May as reported by my colleagues at Tom’s Hardware (where they have a good explainer). The Verge reports that even if 240W USB devices are not a thing yet, the cables are pretty widely available now. Here’s one from Anker, one from UGREEN, one from VCOM, and even a right-angle one from AINOPE.

The third iteration of Plugable’s meter can reportedly handle between 4.5V and 50V, and between 50mA and 6.5A. It offers +/- 3% accuracy instead of the previous 100W limit.

Sean. Hollister at The Verge has been testing the various VAMETERs for years, going back to when Plugable was one of the first companies to sell such a gadget. “It may not look as cool as a USB-C cable with a built-in power meter, but it’s definitely a more versatile tool. It’s great if you’re not sure whether a particular cable or charger is functioning properly, and it doesn’t mess with data; this one will pass through up to USB 3.1 Gen 2 data while it’s testing power, though it doesn’t work with Intel Thunderbolt 3 stuff.”

Here’s how Plugable describes it:

For a multimeter, the Plugable USB-C Amperage and Voltage Tester (USBC-VAMETER3) manages to fit a lot of useful features into a sturdy little package. About the size of a USB flash drive, this bidirectional USB tester allows for full USB data passthrough while it monitors USB-C power and charging, measures voltage and amperage, even visualizes the directional flow of electrical current–all in real time.
Connect the USBC-VAMETER3 inline between a USB-C host system like a laptop, tablet, or cell phone and a charger to use it as a USB voltage meter or power consumption meter. An updated OLED screen means a brighter and easier-to-read display in any lighting conditions, and a new orientation button lets you flip the screen with a click.

How it works:
This meter is a transparent interposer–it should not interfere with the USB data (1.1 through 3.1 Gen 2), USB-C Alternate Mode video, or USB-C charging. The meter can be used in-line with USB-C docking stations, chargers, and other USB-C accessories. The meter is able to achieve this without interfering with normal USB-C operation as it only taps into the power (VBUS) and ground connections to measure values and leaves the data lines untouched.

Common uses:
Connecting between a USB-C host system like a laptop, tablet, or cell phone and a charger to monitor charge information.

Connecting between a USB-C host and docking station to monitor charge information.

Connecting between a USB-C host system and a USB-C bus powered accessory like an external hard drive, flash drive, etc to measure power draw of a device.

Testing for USB-C port spec compliance such as a VBUS hot condition, voltage drop under load, etc

  • This meter is not meant to replace professional USB-C test equipment, it is designed for quick/easy measurements for users of any skill level.

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