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Old 27-03-2013, 10:28   #16
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Fluke, Fluke, Fluke, ...... other than those 3 brands I wouldnt.... :>) You want AC, DC volts, Resistance, and hopefully Amps/milliamps....
My luck with cheap VOM's is terrible. The things can be off by a factor of 100% sometimes!
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Old 27-03-2013, 10:43   #17
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

I have... at least 6 meters. Probably more.

The meter I've most used over the years is a Radio-Shack clone of the Fluke 77 meter. Auto ranging, range hold, data hold, fast 'analogue' bar, audible continuity, diode test, auto off, rubber surround. The thing's about 20 years old. I replace the batteries once in a while. Still quite accurate.

My other go-to digital meter is the top-end model from Canadian Tire. It's normally about $60 but comes on sale for about $20 at least twice a year. Insanely good value at $20. Has all the usual plus a transistor-test, frequency counter, capacitor checker.

Various and sundry others.... most cheap.

As mentioned the better cheap ones can actually be quite good, but they should be compared with known good meters before you trust them.

Another thing - when a cheap meter asks for fresh batteries... give them to it. I had one meter which was flashing "feed me" but it seemed to work so I just kept using it... til I noticed that it was reading about a volt higher than other meters (on 12v). The 9v battery was down to around 6.5v...

Meters are normally calibrated by attaching to a precision voltage source, then tweaking. Here's an inexpensive precision source (haven't tried it myself, but looks like a great solution).

You can get reasonably close by tweaking a cheap meter to match a known good one, eg when they're both measuring across a charged battery... but you better be damned sure the "good" meter is trustworthy, else you're just amplifying its error.
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Old 27-03-2013, 11:06   #18
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

This one I got from Radio Shack and sounds like what Dockhead got or a replacement with same features:


And this one is from Sperry and I saw it appear in the West Marine catalog; I got it 8 years ago in Trinidad:


Both do DC amps with the clamp. Also, while buying anyway, get this IR temp meter from Fluke:

I am sure that when asked many CF members will come back with what you can do with it on a boat and so many are important enough to spend this money.
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Old 27-03-2013, 11:45   #19
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

I haven't read any of the replies but I can tell you I know what they will say... Get a special $1,000,000 all singing all dancing takes-tradesman-to-operate thing with a Special Name.

For my boat I bought a $16 digital one and its lasted 5 years.

It does have a connection tester where some dont.

Also has a thermometer probe that I threw out last week because I have never used it.

Does to volts and to 10 amps DC.

What more does one need?
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Old 27-03-2013, 11:56   #20
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I haven't read any of the replies but I can tell you I know what they will say... Get a special $1,000,000 all singing all dancing takes-tradesman-to-operate thing with a Special Name.
I have has a very bare bones radioshack one my whole life.

Most the recommendations thus far were very modest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
What more does one need?
Maybe that is the question. Perhaps i am looking for something that isn't.

The ham radio gurus have ones that do strange things. If i am going to be maintaining a marine vhf, ham and marine band radio i figured some fancy signal testing stuff might be important.

thanks
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Old 27-03-2013, 11:57   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I haven't read any of the replies but I can tell you I know what they will say... Get a special $1,000,000 all singing all dancing takes-tradesman-to-operate thing with a Special Name.

For my boat I bought a $16 digital one and its lasted 5 years.

It does have a connection tester where some dont.

Also has a thermometer probe that I threw out last week because I have never used it.

Does to volts and to 10 amps DC.

What more does one need?
Resistence is what I use most. Also, my DC circuits do way more than 10 Amps. The clamp meter is key I think.
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Old 27-03-2013, 13:23   #22
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

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BTW... if anyone knows how to actually calibrate these things accurately, I'd like to know....
You need a standard cell, and a standard current source. These are usually available to calibration labs and are expensive. I used to use them and we had to have them calibrated once a quarter. Probably be best to have one calibrated for a bunch of friends and then share that around to compare against each other's meters.

Morgan precision instruments in Akron could probably help.
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Old 30-03-2013, 16:56   #23
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A old fluke off eBay, also get the alligator clamp adapter.
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Old 30-03-2013, 17:19   #24
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter Meter: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

If you've got the money and are going to use it often enough, Fluke is the one with the rep.
If you want to save a whole lot of money, I'd go with the one in the link. Actually, I did.
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Old 30-03-2013, 17:36   #25
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

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Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter Meter: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

If you've got the money and are going to use it often enough, Fluke is the one with the rep.
If you want to save a whole lot of money, I'd go with the one in the link. Actually, I did.
"Auto power off" and "Sound Warning when incorrect banana jacks are used relative to function switch setting"
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Old 30-03-2013, 17:54   #26
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Given you don't want junk and seem willing to pay for quality, reliability and accuracy...Fluke.
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Old 30-03-2013, 18:35   #27
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Professionally I have several Flukes, Aglients , ( all good) , a Uni-T , ( reasonable crap ) and an assortment of lots of older stuff


My advice

* don't look for a one meter does everything , get what you need ( and understand) for your use today , if that's basic DC AC then that's that

* buy a specialist or fancy one( or more) if and when you need them and you understand what you need


* for a good basic DMM , autoranging, peak hold and a latched continuity buzzer are useful. Try and ensure its in a rugged protective bumper. I have a fluke 77 for this type of stuff , on the go for 20 years , replace battery about every 5 years

* I prefer clamp probes , but get a clamp meter. NOTE be careful , the cheap ones are current transformer based and can't measure DC current, yet the say they can , but its using probes like a DMM. I've met more people with clamp meters that say they can measure DC, when in fact they can't. A DC clamp meter must be Hall effect and these are generally characterised by a smaller clamp jaw ( though that's changing )

* specialist meters can measure AC peak , RMS , watts , capacitance etc etc , get one only if you need it.

* I have a data logging DMM, 4000 point store , I find that useful for trend analysis.

* 2nd hand flukes can be picked up on eBay. Just like IBM, you'll never get fired for buying a Fluke !

* an infrared thermometer is useful on a boat , try to get one with a small " dot" size , the smaller the better , the cheapies have large dot sizes ( ie the focal area) are arnt that useful. ( even if they seem to work )

* calibration is not needed on DMMs for typical non precise work upto 2 significant digits as a general comment. Maybe as your first electronics project you could build a simple voltage reference ! , most cheap DMMs can't be calibrated anyway and the sophisticated ones are done digitally.

Dave
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Old 31-03-2013, 11:39   #28
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

I am in the business so meters are very important to me. I have thee clamp meters that I use for various specialized applications. My DMM is an expensive Fluke 289 that has a recording capability that I use extensively.

That said, the instruments that I carry in my tool bag are:
Fluke T+ Pro: Fluke T+PRO Electrical Tester, Solenoid Voltage Tester, Voltage Detector
No on/off switch
Measures AC and DC voltage and indicates AC voltage three different ways
Measures resistance
Indicates continuity
Built in flashlight
GFCI tester
Fluke 1AC-II:Fluke 1AC-II / 1LAC-II Volt Alert, Volt Stick, Voltage Tester Pen - Fluke
Detects prescence of AC voltage from 90VAC to 1000VAC and is sensitive enough to be able to determine which conductor in a bundle is hot.
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Old 03-04-2013, 21:32   #29
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Other brands I dont know about, but my Fluke that I have owned for 25years has never failed and has accessory's like temp probes, clamp type amp probes and one of my favorite accessory's, is the test leads that are pointed and have alligator clips that screw over the ends
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Old 03-04-2013, 21:47   #30
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Re: Multimeters - What Features To Look For.

Batteries that you can actually afford and find in a store.
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