I want to
Start a taxi-meter installation shop...
where do I Go To School for that?
-Fred Stock, Co-Owner of Fred Stock Electronics www.TaxiCabElectronics.com and www.TaxiSource.com . . 2/25/2014
We are frequently asked where a person can go to "learn what you do" about
installation of taxi cab meters, related accessories, and other mobile equipment.
My company does not have a formal school or class, and truly, I know of no such
school. However, click on our website www.TaxiSource.com where you will find
a series of "Lessons" which will discuss at length many subjects pertaining to this
endeavor. Look under the heading "LEARNING CENTER"
I suggest downloading the following free lessons:
. Basic Installation Procedures
. . How Meter Statistics Work
. . . Licenses, Paperwork and Regulations.
. . . . Meter Programming versus Meter Calibration
. . . . . Meters 101 - the Basics
. . . . . . Pulses and How they Work
. . . . . . . Testing Your Pulse Circuit Installation
. . . . . . . . Preventing Noise Falsing in Pulse Circuits
. . . . . . . . . Toplight Installation
. . . . . . . . . . Understanding the Structure of Meter Rates
. . . . . . . . . . . Meter Change Report Form ( for reporting your work to the Authorities.)
. . . . . . . . . . . . Typical Meter Rates (extensive chart for setting your rates)
There is also a purchaseable lesson on Starting a Meter Installation Shop with
extensive information for the commercial installation shop operator. This was
develoiped in several decades of installation of electronic equipment, over 27 years
in the taxicab meter installation and calibration business.
In fact, most electrical equipment for automobiles are fairly easy to install.
Taxi meters are a bit more complicated, since they must be properly interfaced
with the automobile circuits, and need to be legally accurate. You need to learn to
properly install antennas for radio and GPS systems, and you need to become
familiar with basic wiring. I offer complete instruction manuals written by me for a
specific car and a specific taxi meter: For instance, If you call me and say "I want to
install a Pulsar 2030 Taximeter in a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria", I will write a manual
for you with exact wiring colors, locations, how to run the wires, where to get the
distance traveled information for the meter, what to avoid in a specific car, things like
that. You will also get programming and calibration information for that meter and car
in the book.
Now, you need to know, in many areas, there is a requirement that you be licensed by
the state or province in which you live in order to install taxi meters. You certainly will
need a local business license. In many areas there is a regulatory agency and/or a
weights and measures department of county or parish government. These agencies
require a report from you after you install a meter so they can go to the customer (or
make him come to them) to be inspected and certified. You will want to establish a
good friendly working relationship with these people so you stay out of hot water. You
can start by calling the switchboard at your county and/or city offices, and asking the
receptionist to direct you to the correct person that oversees the taxicabs in your area.
The county department you need to contact is usually called "Weights and Measures"
or sometimes, "Division of Measurement Standards." Some cities have a police officer
assigned to the taxi industry, and you should contact him or her. They may have specific
forms you'll need to fill out when you install a meter, especially if you are allowed to
"seal" the meter as we do in California. I need to maintain a "Service Agency Registration"
issued by California, and a Technician License issued by California but administered
at the County level. It may not be exactly the same in your area, but be sure to ask the
right questions so you can operate legally and properly.
The National Conference of Weights and Measures website has a stats-by-state chart
for locating the correct information for your Department of Weights and Measures, or the
equivalent. You can click this link for access, then click on your state to get the right
person and the right address and phone so you can get started legally, properly, and
As far as installing two way radios, GPS, stereos, CB's and cameras, alarm systems,
most of this equipment comes with basic instructions enclosed. You will need to stock
fuses and fuse holders, tye wraps, appropriate antennas and connectors, mounting bolts
and screws, toplight switching relays, splices, lugs, bracketing hardware, wire etc. so
you have the basic supplies to do the work, and accumulate the proper hand and power
tools to get your shop ready. Many people work in their own garages or carports, others
rent a space at a gas station or industrial complex. The bigger your business gets, the
more space and employees you will need, of course! Some manufacturers of add-on
equipment may offer a class for installers of that equipment. Our industry does not, as
far as I am aware. But you can learn as you go, as most installers do. A basic electronics
class at a community college or adult education class may be helpful, but not necessary.
A large dose of common sense is required. Don't be afraid to ask alot of questions at
first, and keep copious notes.
Things you DON'T need immediately but may want later on, are Vehicle Lifts, tire chang-
ing equipment, air-compressor tools, and so forth. Electrical and electronic equipment
installers are not mechanics necessarily, and don't need mechanics large tools and
training. Basic hand tools are a requisite. I have put a list at the bottom of this article, as
well as some basic supplies you will need. We make add-on installations in our business.
We connect to the wiring that is already there. We need to keep excellent notes in a
large notebook on each job, including where to make connections, problems we have
encountered, shortcuts we have learned, contacts for information we need, and all job
related technical notes. These will be invaluable the next time someone brings a similar
car/van/truck to you for another job. I recommend this record system to every new shop
owner, and I use it myself every day. Here's another thought. Some vehicles have very
sensitive circuits which relate to unimportant things like AIR BAGS, being able to START
the vehicle after your job is completed, VEHICLE ALARMS and other delights. Ask the
customer about alarm bypasses or shut-offs, make good notes about the job and list your
note-file by automobile make, model and year. If the Yugo you are working on bursts into
flames, write that down, and how you caused it. Then the next one won't be as great a
mystery to you and you may not need the fire department a second time. Just a thought!
Oh, if you choose to keep such notes on the computer, back it up off premises ("the cloud"
works well) so if the pizza joint next door burns you down some night, you still have all
that data tomorrow.
My company offers installation instructions for a specific job, as I said, and for a fair price,
we offer a shop technician's package with meter programming information, trouble-
shooting tips and notes, meter tips for specific meter units, programming keys and
methods, calibration instructions, and so forth. Look through the middle columns of our
website www.TaxiCabElectronics.com . Also read all the free material on the same chart
at the right hand column marked "FREE STUFF". Years of experience, mine and many
other people's, have gone into these articles, offered free as a service of Fred Stock
Electronics - on the web we are www.TaxiCabElectronics.com. as we said. Your next
question will be the wiring data for all cars. No, there is no one single printout of such
information. It changes frequently, and it's different for each make, model and year. I have
spent ovber two decades making my list, and many others have do so as well. You can
invest in services like Mitchell Auto Repair manuals and on-line services, but they are
often expensive and a large dose of overkill for our needs. I can send you the manuals I
write with reference to our extensive notes, for a fee that covers our work - often two or
three hours per instruction package. But you will soon learn that your own notes are the
most valuable, and your experiences the best teacher.
Things we offer for your shop:
(Each entry in blue type below is a link to more information on our/or/others websites.)
* INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS for one exact make/model/year vehicle, and for
the exact meter you are installing, sent printed, or e-mail PDF attachment.
* SHOP TECHNICIAN'S GUIDE to troubleshooting taxi meter installations, wiring
and toplight control circuits.
* PROGRAMMING INSTRUCTIONS for taxi meters, attached or built-in printers.
(We have available data on Pulsar, Centrodyne, Argo, RMI, and others.
* PROGRAMMING CD with custom spreadsheets to give you exact window-for-
window directions for programming your meters and printers.
* INSTALLATION SUPPLY KITS including connectors, relays, wire, splices, fuses
and fuse-holders, tye-wraps
* Chart of TYPICAL RATES for taximeters all over the USA, Canada and even
some foreign countries.
* ACCESSORIES for your customers; checkers, reflective checkers, coin changers,
toplights, new taxi-meters, control relays, In-cab DVR-cameras, pulse dividers and
OBDII computer-converters, back-up alarms, laminated rate cards, transducers for
older cars, FREE wireless credit-card systems, serialized plastic seals for the meters,
flex-mount meter mounting devices, hack-license display holders, discount cards
for drivers to hand out, Thermal paper for printing meters, Credit Card Processing,
much much more !!
Research and Educational Articles we
offer free of charge!! - Just click these!
* Basic operation of meters - what they do and how you use them.
. . .Comparison of Current Taxi Meters
* Selecting Toplights by PICTURE, PRICE, WIDTH, MODEL NUMBER. They come
in numerous colors, styles and custom lettering is free.
* What are pulses and How Do They Work? What happens when you do not have a
pulse? Yikes! Meter Calibration concept and practice.
* Installations: Reasoning, Organizing, Planning!
* Choosing a permanent "screwdown" toplight vs. a magnetic based toplight with
cigarette lighter cord and plug.
* Information about, and Thinking logically about... Vehicles, Meters, Buying a Meter,
Toplights, Advertising Sign Carriers, LED's, Trip Statistics in the meters
* Wizard II Pulse Tracker unit: divides, conditions, buffers and amplifies the
* Making money in the Cab Business - advertising, marketing, contacts,
expenses, nitch markets, more!
* Relays. What are they, how do they work, why do I need one, where can I get one.
* Accepting Credit Cards: a very economical and easy solution to the problem.
Things you will need to set up shop:
Hand Tools: (an excellent source of quality parts and tools is Tessco.com)
Good pliers one large pair (10-12") and one standard (5-6")
Wire cutters one large pair (10-12") and one standard (5-6")
Soldering Iron - medium wattage is good, about 40 watts, and
A roll of RESIN or ROSIN core solder, NOT acid core. Use the small diameter solder
about half the thickness of a pencil lead. A solder-extraction tool ("solder sucker")
is handy when working on circuit boards.
Needle nose pliers in a small size - 4-1/2", and a standard 6 or 7" size.
Splice tool, for making in-line splices and connecting lugs to wire ends.
. . . . . (I like Thomas&Betts Co "Sta-kon" splicer type, but there are several. Amp
Industries in Harrisburg has a good one called "Super Champ").
A small ball peen hammer and a standard size of the same type is handy when
bending and twisting mounting plates.
Several screwdrivers (best quality you can afford) from very small 3" to large12"
and be sure to get both Phillips and Standard slotted type.
A pocket screwdriver with both Phillips and Slotted blade is exceptionally handy
working with taximeters.
A set of allen wrenches in American sizes and a set in Metric sizes will be handy.
A set of spline wrenches (Torx) from very small sizes for electronic equipment to
quite large for automotive panels and fixtures.
A set of "nut-drivers" - hand operated hex head nuts and bolts.
A basic set of open-box wrenches is handy, but to start out you may be OK with
a number of sizes of crescent wrenches.
A Good sturdy vice on a solid work-bench is a necessity when working on
mounting plates and brackets.
A hack saw for cutting metal parts in tight places in the vehicles.
Hand-Held Power Tools: (an excellent source of quality parts and tools is Tessco.com)
A good 117v Electric Drill for drilling holes, variable speed is handy for use as
a backup screwdriver tool.
A battery-powererd electric screwdriver - use the 19.2 volt Sears line, or one similar.
Powerful and long-lasting batteries are the critereon.
A Drop-Light and extension cable is necessary in may jobs even in daylight when
working under dash boards. (Tip - use a curly fluorescent lamp - not a light bulb. Lasts forever!)
A heavy multi-outlet extension cord will save you dozens of trips across the room while
working. Mine has three outlets at the end.
Parts to keep on hand in your shop: The SKU numbers below are Tessco listings.
Nylon or plastic tye-wrape - tie-ties some folks call them - 11152 = 4",
97405 = 8", 445711 = 5" in 100 packs or the equivalents
Wire: Red #18 = 457918, Black #18 = 417936, Yellow #18 = 487971, Blue #18 = 471957,
Green #18 453988, Orange #18 = 423984, or the equivalents
Speaker Wire: if you work on Audio Systems: 462571 or the equivalent
Fuses: 10 Ampere ATC Pack of 100 # 21140 or the equivalents Other sizes to keep
hands 15 amp, 25 amp and 30 amp for horn and toplights, 7-1/2 amp for radio circuits.
Glass Fuses: popular sizes are 10 amp, 20 amp, 30 amp: 76498 is the 10 amp variety.
Fuse Holders: Popular styles: 346443 in Blue Plastic for ATC fuses,
95691 for the yellow holder for Glass AGC fuses.
Splices: Red smaller size: 342447, Blue intermediate size: 42178 or 18089,
Yellow Large size wire splices: 392381
Scotch-Lok wire tag-on connectors: Red double cut smaller size (most common use)
86808, Blue larger size 27385
Lugs for connecting to bolt-type terminals: see Tessco numbers 23443, 75050,
10229, 42769, etc. and get a selection... not by the thousands, ten or twenty is enough.
Relays for Toplight Control: 473844 or similar. They are "single pole, double throw,
five pin" relays with about 30 amp capacity.
Misc sizes of self tapping screws for use on metal and plastic such as roofs and
dash board frames. Get 44617 for 3/4" jobs, and 73543 for 1" deep tasks.
Also keep some pulse divider units on hand to save yourself and your clients many
days of waiting when they want their vehicles NOW!
Any pulse divider will work with any brand of taximeter as a general rule. The Pulsar
Pulse Tracker is the newest and most advanced unit. Pulsar W-2 Wizard Pulse Tracker
is $48.00 from our website. The Centrodyne company makes a good one too,
the FZ063 device, about $48.00. (Prices aqre 2013 prices)
A plug-in device which goes directly into the OBDII diagnostic plug under your
dash and generates a pulse for the meters is the FZ059 converter, abour $200.00.
You probably should keep at least one of each of these on your shelf at all times.
All can be ordered on THIS website, www.TaxiCabElectronics.com.
WHEN YOU GET INTO THE TESSCO WEBSITE, YOU WILL FIND ALL THE STUFF YOU
NEED IN THE SHOP SUPPLIES AND INSTALLATION SECTIONS, TOOLS AND
EQUIPMENT. SPEND SOME TIME AND GET YOURSELF A TESSCO ACCOUNT.
THEY ARE THERE 24 HOURS A DAY AND VERY HELPFUL. THEIR PHONE IS
800-472-7373. OF COURSE, THERE ARE OTHER PLACES TO GET SUPPLIES AS
WELL, BUT TESSCO IS OUR CHOICE.