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Old 27-01-2012, 13:04   #76
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Re: Multimeters

I know it's useless because I recon y'all using lightbulbs with wires instead of DMM's don't understand any of this anyway but here's a decent primer on accuracy of DMM's, written by the masters themselves

http://support.fluke.com/calibration...00_ENG_A_W.PDF

ciao!
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Old 27-01-2012, 16:38   #77
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
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.
I'm not sure I know how many meters and other items I have stashed around anymore, but this one is my first. Before that it was the light bulb taped to a sharpened screwdriver w/a clamp attached to a cord. Yeah I know the cord is a little tacky but whatca want for 45 years of service.
Funny thing is, I still use this stuff.
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Old 27-01-2012, 16:47   #78
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Re: Multimeters

Quality tools are great to have and are worth it for those that need them onboard and use them a lot. However, a great mechanic or electrician could probably do the job better than you or I using nothing but his pocket knife, and we won't be transformed into master electricians by the purchase of a professional-level tool. I prefer to keep things on my boat so that any idiot (me) can fix it when I'm in some place with no stores, no Internet, and no mechanics.

A while ago I was rummaging around in the basement and I came across what I think is the first multimeter I ever scraped together the money to purchase from Radio Shack, which was the only store I could walk to that had one when I was a young teenager. Still worked fine once I changed the battery. It's now more than 40 years old. Kind of fun with the analog scale and all.
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Old 27-01-2012, 18:22   #79
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Re: Multimeters

I have a Fluke 77 and the Craftsman $55 AC/DC Clamp meter.
Not being a electrical genius, many times I get confused on all the different scales. Have been known to use the cheap meter to get a reference of what the reading is, then use the Fluke to get an accurate reading.
The clamp meter is pretty straight forward for general testing.

Usually when I'm trying to get an idea on amp draw, I'll use the clamp on 1st to see about where I'm at. Then if under 10A's then I'll slip the Fluke inline to get an accurate reading.

Those 10A fuses for the Fluke aren't something you want to replace all the time when determining amp draw, and hopeing its under 10A, only to find out it is over 10A..... by means of a blown fuse.

I really need to get a better understanding of the Fluke scales.
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Old 27-01-2012, 18:51   #80
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I've had a cheap crappy one for years.
Me too! Bought a cheap $25 one from Radio Shack 15 years ago. Purchased another cheap clamp on unit on EBAY when I converted to electric propulsion. Both are still working fine 15 and five years after purchase. I used Flukes when I had a real job fixing electronics. Still I had one where the display became unusable. Out of warrenty of course. Could buy five or ten radio shack or EBay meters for the same price as that Fluke. Personally I would not spend my money for a Fluke when much cheaper units will do just as well. Nothing wrong with Flukes just over priced and over kill for boat needs. Buy two cheap Ebay units and you'll have a back up for about the quarter of the cost of some Flukes. My two cents!
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Old 27-01-2012, 19:26   #81
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
Me too! Bought a cheap $25 one from Radio Shack 15 years ago. Purchased another cheap clamp on unit on EBAY when I converted to electric propulsion. Both are still working fine 15 and five years after purchase. I used Flukes when I had a real job fixing electronics. Still I had one where the display became unusable. Out of warrenty of course. Could buy five or ten radio shack or EBay meters for the same price as that Fluke. Personally I would not spend my money for a Fluke when much cheaper units will do just as well. Nothing wrong with Flukes just over priced and over kill for boat needs. Buy two cheap Ebay units and you'll have a back up for about the quarter of the cost of some Flukes. My two cents!
Sure! Us Fluke owners are just crazy and throw away good money on these DMM's that are just the same but 8 times as expensive. We think that owning a Fluke makes us better geeks, that's why every engineer has them. Worth saving up for!



ciao!
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Old 27-01-2012, 20:41   #82
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Re: Multimeters

Nick-
"First, you do not know how wealthy I am. For all you know, the boat is the only thing on Earth I own..."
You're right, Nick. I don't know wha your net wealth is. There's a 2004 for sale now for $650,000, so unless you won her in a poker game, you've still managed to afford a boat that costs about six times more than the average home in the US. If that's your only home, it is still an above-average home.
If, like a certain PI in Fort Lauderdale, you won it in a poker game, good on you!

"Second, you are insisting on a $350.- price tag while I accurately wrote $125.-"
No, we were talking about different meters. $125 is the cheapo for Fluke, the 8x series under discussion run a lot higher.

"Third, 30' avg. boat length??!! for the average cruiser??!! " No, I didn't say cruiser. I said recreational boat owner. Long distance cruisers are a way smaller market than recerational boaters, and despite the forum name, many of the folks here do not spend their entire boating time doing long distance cruising.

"Fourth, No, I do not agree with your $50 multimeter. You should study the least significant digit specification and how that relates to the number of digits after the decimal point the meter in question displays for that specific range. The Sperry you mention I have myself.. it's resolution is 0.1 so 2 digits become 0.2V which is ten times worse than the 0.02V of the Fluke."
You've either got a different Sperry or you're misreading the spec. The one I'm looking at has a 19.99V scale (20V) with a float of 1-2 LSD, meaning that 19.90 volts will appear as 19.92-19.88 volts. The "floating" digit degrades the accuracy of the hundredth of a volt, not tenth of a volt. The 1/2% accuracy limit degrades the tenth of the volt, so a true 14.40 volts could show up as 14.328 volts, which presumaly would display as 14.33 on the meter. 14.3 instead of 14.4, is we ignore the LSD. Significant, yes, but acceptable for may purposes.

"So I repeat: if you can't afford a $125.- Fluke, or don't see the need for a good meter, you have no business working on the boat's power systems. It's harsh, I know." Well, since even a tightly regulated alternator may claim the output spec is "14.3-14.4 VDC" and that's a tolerance of the same tenth of a volt that my meter may be wrong by--I'd say the difference IS quite acceptable when you really want to know "is the alternator charging?" and a 1/10th volt difference is an exercise in persistance, more than a dealbreaker.

You seem to have missed one point though: Even with your Fluke, it does NOT have the accuracy that you think it does, unless you've spent another $50, call it $60 after p&h, sending it out for annual lab calibration. You DO calibrate it evey year, don't you? I just found a reasonable 10V voltage reference ship, got to try to track down one or two pieces so I'll have a decent calibrator of my own. At which point, that tenth volt diffference won't be a problem any more.
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Old 27-01-2012, 21:18   #83
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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..

It appears that depending on what diagnosing one is doing, how would you decide which meter to use....assuming all 4 are connected to the same battery, yet 2 of meters have different accuracy reading from the remaining 2?
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Old 28-01-2012, 06:41   #84
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
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.
Also good for small pry bars, impromptu chisels and especially when you need to bend one to make one of those custom tools you have to have to reached some inaccessible spot behind or under some other inaccessible part to remove some essential screw (while cursing the idiot that designed something that requires such contortions to repair).

But I do keep my "good" screwdrivers separate and in good shape. The Phillips seem to need replacing more often.
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Old 28-01-2012, 09:53   #85
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
You're right, Nick. I don't know wha your net wealth is. There's a 2004 for sale now for $650,000, so unless you won her in a poker game, you've still managed to afford a boat that costs about six times more than the average home in the US. If that's your only home, it is still an above-average home.
If, like a certain PI in Fort Lauderdale, you won it in a poker game, good on you!
I am afraid I had to work hard, blood sweat & tears, for every last cent of it. I don't see how that is something bad while winning with poker is good. You have it the wrong way around imho
You should refrain from pointing at my or anyone else's bank account in these discussions. I find it appalling and rude to be honest but expect it to be the cultural difference between us. So pls respect that a bit.

I insist that 80% or more of Americans with a 42' boat or so are wealthier than I am. They make different choices of where to spend their money on and as long as I do not attack them for that, I expect to be respected in my choices too.

I don't really care if somebody loves the $4.- junk tools. Stuff of nightmares in this thread, horrible! It is about priorities. Some folks complaining here about $125.- for a Fluke run up bar bills that scare me... you save that $125.- the first hour you don't need to hire a qualified electrician. It's too silly to even discuss, so I'm done with it.

ciao!
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Old 28-01-2012, 11:19   #86
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Re: Multimeters

Nick, you totally imsread me. I'm not making implications or moral judgements of any kind. I'm simply, and objectively, observed that you've "got more" than 90% of recreational boaters. That's all. Whether you worked 80 hours weeks for 20 years, or inherited it, or won it in a poker game, is none of my business and I haven't asked or implied anything about that.

Incidentally, I don't casually run up bar bills, either. I'd rather spend it on a Fluke. Of course, to some folks a $125 bar bill is on bottle of cheap champagne. As Einstein may have said, everything is relative.

But please be assured, unless you acquired your boat by placing phony zero-income-verification overinflated mortgages the way that so many players in the US home finance market did in the last ten years, I really don't have any interest in how you got it. (Unless you can teach me how to do the same thing.<G>)
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Old 28-01-2012, 11:41   #87
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Re: Multimeters

I would get one with an auto shutoff, I dont know how many times I forgot to turn it off and the next time I needed it the battery was dead.
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Old 28-01-2012, 12:01   #88
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Re: Multimeters

I've had a Fluke for 17 years, replaced the battery once in that time. I fiddle with old vacuum tube electronics as a hobby. I have tried two units less than $20 and both were WAY off on some functions. Nothing worse than a tool mis leading you and causing you to do a bunch of work based on a bad reading....
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Old 28-01-2012, 12:12   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
Nick, you totally imsread me.
Yes, I'm sorry for that. It's just that I got worked up with the whole thing on wrong priorities with money and found you where the barrel was pointed at. I'm gonna stop lending out tools because of this. They come to borrow my Fluke, laughing at me for buying that stuff so they can borrow, and then at night they party in the bar from the money I saved them while I'm cleaning the Fluke. I've had enough of that, especially now that I know their $4 meter is just as good as my Fluke

ciao!
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Old 29-01-2012, 09:04   #90
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Re: Multimeters

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Yes, I'm sorry for that. It's just that I got worked up with the whole thing on wrong priorities with money and found you where the barrel was pointed at. I'm gonna stop lending out tools because of this. They come to borrow my Fluke, laughing at me for buying that stuff so they can borrow, and then at night they party in the bar from the money I saved them while I'm cleaning the Fluke. I've had enough of that, especially now that I know their $4 meter is just as good as my Fluke

ciao!
Nick.

For a liveaboard, you sure wind up quick. Thought you guys were all Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney, drink in the hand, toes in the sand kinda folks...
N.E.Ways,
I should post my picks but they are similar to others. I got UEI 379 $189(UEI, btw are cheaper than Fluke, last forever but if they dont UEI repairs/reconditions any unit for $35, no limited warranty) I also have my first UEI 250 $100 ( Got it right when a new model was coming out, still works as new after UEI recond it after 10yrs service for that $35) . I also have that $12 Radio Shack one that is handy as hell too.
Lesson, I dont know there is one. Get whatever works for you.
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