Make sure you have a full 12V going to the BATT connection, not thru a ballast resistor or resistive wire. Measure it with the key on.<----
Check for a ballast resistor OR if used a bad secondary Ignition wire losing spark during crank cycles....
You can check the disty out of the car. Chuck it up in a vise, attach plug wires and plugs, wrap a bare wire around the plugs and then wrap that to the aluminum part of the disty so they have a ground.<-----
Arrrrgh!! you have hit a pet peeve with me..here..Please read on....
Hook up a short wire with a push on connector to BATT. Attach jumper cables from a car battery to the disty, with the (-) clamped to the disty body, and the (+) to the BATT wire. Reach down and give the dusty a spin with your hand (don't need a drill). The plugs should fire. Did this lots of times.<---
while this will certainly show spark, it is only good for low RPM (spark or no) AND IS not the best way to (safest ) to test..
lots of things can go wrong..the battery can short and blow up...,
you can get wrapped around 8 - 50,000 volt bites (that you CAN not let go of..)
The RFI EMITTED BY THE UNTERMINATED PLUG TOWERS can/ will back feed into the dizzy and blow a hole through the ECM substrate (Fried module) BTW..most don't know, this can occur with under matched plug wires, And worn out wires..so running bad is NOT the only consequence..
I am glad to see you say not to use a drill..as this only damages the shaft, makes it even harder to control things (hold plug, spin gear, hold ground, hold power, inspect spark.well you get the idea you need to grow 3 more arms..)
While this will work don't get me wrong..There is just too much to go wrong that can cause injury or damage...and is NOT necessary at all..
considering that you can pull the ECM and take it to the auto parts store and test it for free..
And you can test the mag pickup and reluctor simply by putting an ohm meter across the plug at an R x 1 scale,pas a screw driver across it and watch the meter..it should jump between 000 and infinity..if not it's bad..And that's all folks...nothing else in there to test..and you didn't have to pull the dizzy...
If that's good that leaves only the coil and carbon pickup in the cap..it should read between 300 and 30k on an ohm meter. If that's good look elsewhere..
You can even to it without plug wires, and it will arc across the top of your cap! Don't do this a lot, or you'll make carbon track shorts all over your new cap, or you may also short thru the rotor.
This can / will cause the resultant RFI to backfeed through the system via unterminated plug towers and cause the ECM to blow apart..now you will need an ECM to even finish testing..
Tom, I'm not putting your system down..and your free to test as you wish..and what works for you, works for you!
It's I run across this more and more and , although it will show go / no go..It's really is not safe and can do more damage than good..and cause physical harm (depending on how you configure it) I always advise against it..just my humble opinion..but many do agree..