Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => OT Knowledge => Topic started by: Biggsy on August 03, 2013, 07:53:28 pm

Title: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Biggsy on August 03, 2013, 07:53:28 pm
For amateur electronics and electrics, in the £50 to £100 price range.

I'm more interested in good build quality and accuracy confidence than fancy features, though I would like auto hold or min/max reading.  I'm not buying twenty-quid jobs any more after suffering bad contacts and having doubts in general.  Thanks.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: redshift on August 03, 2013, 08:03:05 pm
Fluke is de rigeur at work.  I have a Fluke 73 that's lasted since...  ...er, forever.  1990, I think.  I recently bought another meter from Charlotte which she found in her garage which is an RS own-brand thing, and that's pre-1989 - it was made in West Germany!  That's a good one for kicking around the workbench at work, and for a fiver, I won't miss it if it's nicked.

Of course, if you're really Old-School you'll be happy with nothing less than an AVO.

Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Jurek on August 03, 2013, 08:06:22 pm
+1 for Fluke.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: David Martin on August 03, 2013, 08:38:19 pm
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Wombat on August 03, 2013, 08:42:05 pm
Another vote for Fluke.  I haven't got one, as I have a Maplins cheapie, but they are generally practical, tough, accurate etc.  I DO have a Fluke thermal imaging camera at work, though...
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Rhys W on August 03, 2013, 09:11:43 pm
The Maplins ones seem pretty OK to me. No idea how accurate they really are but nothing I've measured has made wonder if it's out. Professional ones are usually sent away somewhere once a year to be calibrated, I don't know if it's worth it (or even possible) to calibrate the £20 ones.

Flukes are nice - I always regret not stealing the Fluke that was on my desk when I got made redundant. I deserved to walk away with that after the way we were treated there!
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Gattopardo on August 03, 2013, 10:37:31 pm
What will you be using if for?

Have an old AVO with no leads that I have no idea it if works, but it looks good.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Biggsy on August 03, 2013, 11:17:25 pm
Maplin's current £50 one seems to be about what I want, but will it have Fluke-like quality inside?

What will you be using if for?

Various things, hence I want a general purpose multimeter.  (A brand new one).
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: uphillbothways on August 04, 2013, 12:09:48 am
If it's only going to be used a few times a year, one of the cheap units will be fine. The relevant electronics have improved a great deal over the years, so a unit costing as little as £5 can be perfectly satisfactory for basic hobby or DIY use.

Fluke or AVO/Megger meters are extremely durable and will provide good long-term service. If you do choose a Fluke meter, watch out for counterfeit and grey-market units. Genuine Fluke meters sold in China are much cheaper than elsewhere, but have no warranty outside of China - they're of no poorer quality than other Fluke meters, but you're on your own if you need repair or calibration.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Gattopardo on August 04, 2013, 12:13:54 am
More in the sense what features would you like, ranges of  needed. 

Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on August 04, 2013, 12:33:07 am
I have a Maplin "WhiteGold WG022" multimeter which cost me a distinctly non-trivial amount of money back when I was 16 or so.  The killer feature for me at the time was the ability to measure frequency (oscilloscopes being unobtanium in a pre-eBay world without access to the right kind of skips).  It's served me well - though truth be told, I have an assortment of cheapo <£5 multimeters that probably get more use, on account of being more readily to hand when I need them.  90% of multimeter jobs are continuity testing (don't buy one that doesn't beep), and the rest are mostly resistor/capacitor identification (the stupid stripes are too small for me to see in colour) or battery voltage checks, none of which call for high degrees of precision.

I generally dig it out if I need the max/min hold feature.  That's something that's well worth having, IMHO.  Expensive fuses for the low current range are a pain in the proverbial, though.

I also have a semi-cheapo multimeter (which feels really plasticy) with an RS232 port on it.  It's come in handy at least twice for logging the performance of battery charging/discharging type circuits.  It's also got a backlit display, which is the sort of thing that only comes in handy when you're having a bad day.

And then there's my lightweight racing multimeter:  Only does voltage and resistance.  Not very precise and probably not very accurate.  Runs off a pair of hearing aid batteries.  Small and weighs bugger all.  I believe it may have been an 80s RadioShack creation.  An excellent multimeter for touring/audax.

While I'm sure that Fluke win hands-down on quality, I can't help thinking the two important criteria for good multimeters are sturdy build and proper calibration, which are orthogonal.


(Obviously I ought to own a AVO, just because they're cool.)
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Gattopardo on August 04, 2013, 01:28:59 am
Should we have a show us your multimeter thread

(http://i.imgur.com/OWdaetRl.jpg)
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Biggsy on August 04, 2013, 03:12:00 am
More in the sense what features would you like, ranges of  needed.

Like the Fluke 17B's below, for example, but I'm just asking for suggestions of makes rather than models.

Multiple functions with Auto / Manual ranges
Large LCD display, 4,000 Counts update 3/sec
Main Measurements : Frequency, Temperature, AC/DC A-V-Ohm , capacitance, Diode & Continuity , duty cycle
Frequency : 50Hz to 100Khz
Temperature : -55C to 400C 
Capacitance : 0.01nF to 100uF
AC Volts : 0.1mV to 1,000V
DC Volts : 0.1mV to 1,000V
AC Current : 0.1uA to 10A
DC Current : 0.1UA to 10A
Resistance : 0.1 ohm to 40Mohm
Duty Cycle : 0.1% to 99.9%
Data Hold  Function 
Both Auto range and Manual range Selectable
Overrange protection for all ranges
Polarity Indication : Indicates negative polarity
Overflow Indication
Sleep Mode / Auto Power off / Low Battery Indication
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Gattopardo on August 04, 2013, 02:26:16 pm
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.

Cheaper to buy the same one from other stockists than the leads.

Get one with audible continuity as I find that handy.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Piemaster on August 04, 2013, 05:57:49 pm
Fluke
The electricians on the boats that I work on don't use anything else, or at least not for long before getting a Fluke out anyway.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: hellymedic on August 04, 2013, 06:23:26 pm
I have an AVO downstairs.. For preference I use my £7 maplins cheapy. It could however do with some new leads.

SEVEN POUNDS??!! You was ROBBED!

We got our Maplin's cheapies at 2 for £5.
One of David's has just died; some have had lead failures but hey! They were cheaper than the PP3s that power them.

Mine's still OK (I do try to keep David off it) and I still have the last meter unused in its packet.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: David Martin on August 04, 2013, 08:06:24 pm
I'm guessing - I did buy it many many many years ago.

I am tempted by one that does frequency and capacitance rather than just basic AVOT
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Valiant on August 04, 2013, 08:13:05 pm
My cheap £3 CPC jobbie still seems to be doing the job. Even has a backlight :D But then I don't need calibrated accuracy.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Rhys W on August 04, 2013, 09:49:24 pm
I am tempted by one that does frequency and capacitance rather than just basic AVOT

My Maplins one does that, and also a transistor tester. Can't say I've used any of those features, despite being an electronics hobbyist (building guitar effects pedals mainly). 99% of the use is continuity, voltage or resistance (double checking colour codes). It's a Precision Gold Academy PG-012, I think it was about £15 or so.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Valiant on August 05, 2013, 12:15:17 am
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on August 05, 2013, 12:25:43 am
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?

Anything that measures resistance can be used to test continuity.  Most half-decent multimeters have a beeper that sounds on the low resistance range when the reading is within range.  Useful for checking cables where you need four hands and two sets of eyes to keep the probes in the right place, before you try looking at the display.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Biggsy on August 05, 2013, 01:05:09 am
O.oh I've never used for continuity, is that a special feature on some or a generic thing?

It's a generic mode that most multimeters have now - an absolute must for me.

See http://youtu.be/gh1n_ELmpFI?t=11m54s

...I don't mind scratchiness; I definitely don't want any noticeable lag.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: redshift on August 05, 2013, 02:07:38 pm
I just had a look at the meter I bought from Charlotte - it is the RS own-brand Iso-Tech.  They seem to last, on the grounds that this is at least as old as my Fluke!
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Valiant on August 05, 2013, 05:50:10 pm
Just looked at mine, it's a Tenma 72-7770. It's got a continuity with no lag :D Never used it before. I usually have multipin cable testers for everything but I can see it coming in handy :-)
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Lucky on August 05, 2013, 08:37:54 pm
Fluke and Agilent are what you'll find in most electronics labs. Not cheap, but worth the extra if confidence in your measurements is important.

Just looked at mine, it's a Tenma 72-7770. It's got a continuity with no lag :D Never used it before. I usually have multipin cable testers for everything but I can see it coming in handy :-)

Tenma is Farnell's own-brand range of test equipment. The multimeters are rebranded UniTrend (http://www.uni-trend.com/product.html) products.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: The_Mikey on May 27, 2019, 10:06:44 am
I still have my old White gold WG023, but newer meters generally have more functionality,  i have a Fluke DMM in my work van and that has taken well over 14 years of abuse without issue.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on May 27, 2019, 01:22:53 pm
My WG022 has finally gone to silicon heaven.  Well, it ostensibly works, but the readings drift all over the place, and there doesn't appear to be anything I can do with the single calibration pot that improves matters.

But I've taken a punt on the EEVBlog 121GW meter (https://www.eevblog.com/product/121gw/).  It has several unique features aimed at the electronics hobbyist that make it a very attractive option in the price range.  Things like a 15V diode test range (for zeners and LEDs), the ability to log data at intervals to Micro-SD card[1] as well as over Bluetooth, an inverse continuity test mode (beeps when the circuit is broken, for troubleshooting dicky wiring) and a VA measurement mode[2].  It's also got the low burden voltage circuitry of the µCurrent built-in.  The use of 4*AA cells as a power source in a relatively small package is pleasing, too.

The main disadvantages are that it's relatively slow at auto-ranging (though not as badly as it was in early versions of the firmware, and this may be improved further in future), and the red silkscreen for some of the function markings is almost unreadable in bad light (I expect this to be fixed in later hardware batches).  If you read horror stories about knob problems, these were fixed before the current production run.

It's Not A Fluke, but it's not really trying to be.  It's under active community development (you can just download the schematic, the comms protocol is open, and I wouldn't be surprised if a completely open firmware appears eventually).  I'd regard the firmware as beta-test quality.  Very nice toy.


In cheap meter news, I've also acquired a UNI-T UT210E (https://www.uni-t.cz/en/p/clamp-multimeter-uni-t-ut210e), entirely on the basis of its ability to measure small (down to a few milliamps) DC current via a clamp.  Witchcraft, I know, but it actually works[3], and it's a very convenient thing to be able to do.  It can do the usual voltage/resistance measurements via probes, too, but it's not the sort of thing I'd trust at mains voltages, and it's only a 2000 count meter.  They have other models in the range aimed at higher currents.


[1] For safety reasons the SD card slot is inside the battery/fuse cover, requiring a screwdriver to access, so it's not really a substitute for a proper data logger for regular use, but it's a nice feature to have for one-offs.
[2] Budget constraints mean it lacks the hardware for true power.
[3] You have to position the clamp and then zero the reading to eliminate static magnetic fields.

Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Valiant on July 24, 2019, 11:16:54 pm
So if I was buying again I would deffo get a Fluke, if only to cover my ass when doing installs etc.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on July 24, 2019, 11:28:38 pm
So if I was buying again I would deffo get a Fluke, if only to cover my ass when doing installs etc.

Yeah, can't beat a fluke for arse-covering and mains electrical stuff.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: CommuteTooFar on July 25, 2019, 09:33:59 pm
I must be silly. Everyone here wants a fluke.  I bought a Brymen BM235.  I searched reviews of it and there were some good reviews on youtube with people checking it against calibrated loads resistances etc. They concluded that there were few better multimeters at the price.  An equivalent fluke would cost a lot more.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Vince on July 26, 2019, 12:16:26 am
I found this to have very good advice on multimeters
Multimeters Tips and Tricks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFTQxWlMGeE)
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on July 26, 2019, 12:18:55 am
I must be silly. Everyone here wants a fluke.  I bought a Brymen BM235.

Nice meters those.  Wish more meters did the flashing the backlight in continuity mode thing.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Russell on July 26, 2019, 09:31:12 am
I'm thinking I would like an analogue multimeter, not an AVO8 type but not a tiny Amazon one* either.  I have a digital one, decades old but still going, but there are just some things where a moving needle is better.

Any recomendations?

I have one of those, even more decades older but the input resistor has snapped - ought to get round to mending it really.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on July 26, 2019, 11:13:32 am
I'm thinking I would like an analogue multimeter, not an AVO8 type but not a tiny Amazon one* either.  I have a digital one, decades old but still going, but there are just some things where a moving needle is better.

Any recomendations?

An oscilloscope?
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: grams on July 26, 2019, 11:33:10 am
Some modern digital multimeters have a bar graph that's designed to update quicker than the numbers and emulate a moving needle. Beware some manufacturers have copied this feature without the faster updating, because they know how people shop on the internet.

I think if you go looking for  newanalog meters you're going to have a hard time avoiding badly made rubbish, for the same reason. You're better off with secondhand or NOS.
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Kim on July 26, 2019, 11:44:38 am
Thought experiment: How many updates per second does a digital meter's bar-graph need before it outperforms an analogue meter mechanism?
Title: Re: What brands of multimeter can I trust?
Post by: Chamford Sideplate on October 10, 2019, 09:07:37 am
I got a Fluke 27 at a car boot sale last month for a tenner. It's ancient but seems okay. MSHA version too - for use in mines. I think it's guaranteed not to spark within certain limits of use.