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Old 26-01-2012, 23:07   #61
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
A lightbulb? Most of the problems aboard boats that you've seen? Sure. Must see a lot of really tough problems then. The kind of diagnose you can do with that is "battery broken" or "no power". Please... don't go to the brightness of bulb tells you voltage to the tenth of a volt or something

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Perhaps that's my point. Most problems people have aren't that difficult, having to do with blown fuses, corroded or otherwise failed connections, dead batteries, things like that. Perhaps you just get to see the tough ones? I really like my clamp DC ammeter, but most of the time I can get by without it.

I'm not sure what we're arguing about anymore. My position is that while quality tools are great to have, you don't *need* lab-grade gear to troubleshoot most boat electrical problems.

And so I'm done with my end of this particular discussion, unless I think I can actually be of help to someone.

Also, I'm sailing Friday and Saturday (watch my AIS track during San Francisco's "Three Bridge Fiasco" race on Saturday), and will be attending a Pacific Cup seminar on Sunday, so I won't have much time for these entertaining discussions.

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Old 27-01-2012, 04:47   #62
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I normally buy the really expensive tool when the job actually requires it. If I bought every specialty tool on the chance that I might need it some time in the next 20 years my boat would not float.

I have quality hand tools. I have a serviceable VOM. I dont carry an NC VTL on the off chance I might need to machine a prop shaft.

Lets say I am at sea and my charger is off by .5 volts and my VOM doesnt have precision or accuracy to measure that particular problem. So what? I probably dont have the part that needs replacing in my stores unless along with 1/2 ton of specialy tools I carry 1/2 ton of stores with me.

The reality is that many things that break at sea will be fixed at next port of call. What if next port of call is some remote island? Maybe I am screwed, maybe I defer the maintenance to next civilized port of call.

I may be rolling the dice but I dont think anyone has been lost at sea because the absorption voltage is .05v off.

I have been a mechanic and technician for 30+ years. My simple VOM has done eveythng I need on both airplanes and boats. I haven't yet needed .05 precision because I rarely open the black box and work on board level stuff. I get that some of you are sparkys and do and that is cool.

Jowever, I have never failed to find the faulty box or wire or circuit with a $30 vom. When it came time to need a $300 vom or (heaven forbid) an oscilliscope I would weigh that against the cost of replacing the offending component or hiring a sparky for a couple of hours.

Buy the quality you can comfortably afford regardless of you loa...
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Old 27-01-2012, 05:12   #63
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Re: Multimeters

Being of an Electronics background and having done quite a few boat electrical repairs/work, how often have you used anything other than resistance or voltage functions when fixing or working on anything boat related? Maybe the odd current measurement. A couple of cheapo meters will be fine for 99.9% of the time, I had an expensive meter rot out in 2 years left on a boat that was not heated or dehumidified most of the time. Makes much more sense to just have a couple of cheap units one sealed up as a back up!
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Old 27-01-2012, 05:27   #64
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Re: Multimeters

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60 post on multimeters? This must be the multimeter war thread.

I know it's winter but only up here in the North.
Yep, I was surprised to, had to wonder what the thread drift was but hey, it is still (mainly) on topic.

My 2 cents worth, buy the one you FEEL comfortable with and will still do the job.

Remembering that most (all?) the cheap ones will do the job (as will the flukes etc) so it remains that some of us only feel comfortable with quality tools while other only feel comfortable with bucks in the wallet.
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Old 27-01-2012, 05:44   #65
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Re: Multimeters

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, NAILS.

I too loved my Simpson 260 VOM, but sold it for $100 in the 1970's. I was hard up for cash.
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Old 27-01-2012, 06:14   #66
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Re: Multimeters

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60 post on multimeters? This must be the multimeter war thread.

I know it's winter but only up here in the North.
Here's some I had kicking around the shop..

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Old 27-01-2012, 06:52   #67
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Re: Multimeters

Maine Sail's clamp meter is a Mastech, another stencil brand of Chinese instrument maker Sinometer.

Mine is almost identical, and is sold stencil branded by Radio Shack for $60. It is a lovely instrument with specs comparable to Fluke.

With this instrument, you don't have to decide between the cheap camp or the good camp on this thread -- you can have it both ways!
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Old 27-01-2012, 07:03   #68
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Re: Multimeters

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Maine Sail's clamp meter is a Mastech, another stencil brand of Chinese instrument maker Sinometer.

Mine is almost identical, and is sold stencil branded by Radio Shack for $60. It is a lovely instrument with specs comparable to Fluke.

With this instrument, you don't have to decide between the cheap camp or the good camp on this thread -- you can have it both ways!

I can assure you it is no Fluke otherwise I would not have purchased the Fluke. It is however an ok inexpensive DC clamp. Please be aware though that it does not capture DC in-rush, though misleadingly sold as such, and also will not capture DC lows or highs at the speed of the Fluke..
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Old 27-01-2012, 07:13   #69
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Re: Multimeters

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60 post on multimeters? This must be the multimeter war thread.
Yes, and this is only about the 5th thread on the topic...
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Old 27-01-2012, 07:32   #70
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I can assure you it is no Fluke otherwise I would not have purchased the Fluke. It is however an ok inexpensive DC clamp. Please be aware though that it does not capture DC in-rush, though misleadingly sold as such, and also will not capture lows or highs..
Mine is a slightly different model. It does not claim to capture in-rush current.

In what way -- and I'm asking this out of real curiosity, since you no doubt know a lot more about them than I do -- why do you say it's "no Fluke"? What is missing? The specs on resolution and accuracy are the same or better, the functions are almost the same, although I accept that claimed specs and real performance might be different.

The lack of inrush current measurement on the Sinometer is a shame. It means that in case I ever have air conditioning on board, I will have to buy an additional meter (or if I start to have any problems with the refrigeration). But I don't have A/C at the moment, so I haven't missed it so far.
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Old 27-01-2012, 10:27   #71
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Here's some I had kicking around the shop..

They are so clean. Do you ever use them?
Mine has been thru several machine shops. I've even had to replace the probe wires a couple of times.
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Old 27-01-2012, 10:55   #72
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Re: Multimeters

I have a Fluke 12 (not available anymore) that I truly love. I have a Fluke 117 as well that is pretty darn nice. I also have a fluke AC/DC current meter that helps tremendously. The difference between the real deal and the RS cheapos is night and day.

If some wires, a resister, and a light bulb are good enough for you then you'll appreciate the quality gear. Otherwise you won't be able to tell what you are looking at.
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Old 27-01-2012, 12:51   #73
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Re: Multimeters

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If you could see the state of some of my screwdrivers I'm sure I would flunk out of the screwdriver thread. I do try to devote just one or two for chisel work and save the others.
If I wear out a screwdriver, I sharpen it until I have a nice awl. Great for punching holes for chafe leathers or even as a half-assed fid.
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Old 27-01-2012, 12:56   #74
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Re: Multimeters

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60 post on multimeters? This must be the multimeter war thread.

I know it's winter but only up here in the North.
Hey, it's a nice change from "I'll use this gun I stored aboard with my cold, dead hands unless you admire my anchor" threads. Or am I conflating threads again?

Seriously, 9/10 boat owners will find cheapies "enough". I must own four of this type just because I have multiple tool kits. I'm not even counting the old needle-type battery testers.

But I could use a decent amp-meter because when we go offshore, resistance, continuity and draw will become more important to me.
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Old 27-01-2012, 13:02   #75
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Re: Multimeters

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Makes much more sense to just have a couple of cheap units one sealed up as a back up!
This is true for everything. I recall seeing a guy on a pretty crappy-looking, beat-up boat. He'd spent four years in the tropics and everything needed rechroming, ospho treatment, varnish, Cetol and even a good scrub. He had a big mechanic's toolchest, however, covered in stickers and decals. He opened up a couple of drawers and inside were fitted foam inserts, reeking of anti-corrosive spray. He selected a PRISTINE pair of box wrenches, wiped down the tool with a spotless rag, and adjusted something on his engine.

I commented on his tidy toolchest, and he said "I was told as a teenager to take care of my tools and they'll take care of you. They are too expensive to let rust."

He then told me most of the tools were 35 years old.
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