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Hatta
April 20th, 2013, 09:51 AM
Can anyone recommend a reliable multimeter? I've gone through maybe half a dozen of the things. I was just using this one (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-Auto-Ranging-Digital-Multimeter-MS8232B/202571334) to check the starter solenoid on my car. I was getting some real strange readings trying to do a voltage drop test, so I disconnected everything and just tried checking continuity. Every time I got continuity the multimeter crashed, and now it's totally dead.

Why are these things so flakey? What's a good one? Do you have to spend hundreds of dollars to get one that doesn't suck?

Stone
April 20th, 2013, 10:11 AM
I got a cheap Sperry there many years ago and it still works great. I think it was around $20 or so. For a few dollars more they had some with more features than the one I got.

http://www.amazon.com/A-W-Sperry-DM210A-Function-Multimeter/dp/B000ET0UY8

Here's more options:

http://www.ebay.com/bhp/sperry-multimeter

Malc
April 20th, 2013, 10:47 AM
I have a Fluke, an excellent meter but pricey it cost an arm and a leg years ago but still going strong, I also have a Robin also made by Fluke which i used for work, again an excellent meter and i think it was about half the price of the Fluke, I've had cheap ones over the years but none of them seemed to last long.

Chuck(G)
April 20th, 2013, 10:47 AM
I've had several, right down to the cheapest--and they all work.

The thing that I don't like about the one you show is that the same probes and connections are used to measure voltage and current. Try to measure current when you're across a high-current source such as a car battery and you'll end up blowing the meter or the internal fuse (if there is one).

The most commonly-used meter among professionals is a Fluke--try to find a used one for sale.

I use an inexpensive DMM most often--it was less than $30, but measures frequency, temperature, capacitance and resistance and has a nice backlight. So your mileage may vary.

Ole Juul
April 20th, 2013, 12:13 PM
I've had several, right down to the cheapest--and they all work.
. . .
I use an inexpensive DMM most often--it was less than $30, but measures frequency, temperature, capacitance and resistance and has a nice backlight. So your mileage may vary.

I paid about $80 bucks years ago for what is probably the same thing. I've also got an old one like that which my father (who died years ago) left me. It works too. Frankly I can't imagine these things not working. Perhaps the OP is making some odd connections or switching while connected. I'd wager that if one of these things break it is user error.

That said, I must admit I've seen one not work well. I got it from a neighbour, so don't blame me - and I have no idea what he's done to it. By the looks of it the original price would be in the one dollar range from China, with perhaps a markup to $4.95 in the North American market. Funny, it actually works fine, just not the bottom of the range. It's perfect for automotive. ;)

Agent Orange
April 20th, 2013, 12:35 PM
If you were a professional you would most likey have a Fluke in your tool kit. Also, Hewlett Packard made some of the best and most versatile meters around but they tend to be a little pricey. I have both and speak with experience.

NeXT
April 20th, 2013, 03:53 PM
I paid $15 at canadian Tire for a plane jane DMM that did ACV, DCV, DCA, ohms, and diode checking. Never failed me.

njroadfan
April 20th, 2013, 05:08 PM
I have the older version of this meter (Cat #22-811): http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=20362256#

Works fine and the duty cycle measurement (not a common feature in cheap meters) is handy for diagnosing CIS-E fuel injection systems in cars. It has a fused 400mA port for the ammeter and an unfused 10A port. If you need anything higher, you'll have to pay a bit more.

Maverick1978
April 20th, 2013, 06:16 PM
I've got a Fluke 117 True RMS (http://www.fluke.com/fluke/usen/Digital-Multimeters/Fluke-117.htm?PID=55996) meter. I picked it up on eBay for $52 shipped, NIB. I absolutely love this little thing... I've also a $3 cheapie from Harbor Freight that I carry around with my work gear, as I generally only need to verify continuity with it.

I've often found Fluke meters at pawn shops and the like for quite cheap (i.e. under $40). If I could justify the purchase cost, I'd have picked up one or two of the more advanced models in this manner, but frankly, my little meter with it's basic toolset suits my needs just about perfectly.

Hatta
April 21st, 2013, 07:08 AM
The thing that I don't like about the one you show is that the same probes and connections are used to measure voltage and current. Try to measure current when you're across a high-current source such as a car battery and you'll end up blowing the meter or the internal fuse (if there is one).


I'm pretty sure I didn't do that with this one, as the current functions are on the left side of the dial. It would be a hard mistake to make. Although capacitance is on the same dial setting as continuity, just a function button press away.




The most commonly-used meter among professionals is a Fluke--try to find a used one for sale.


I will keep an eye on ebay then. Thanks.

Agent Orange
April 21st, 2013, 08:04 AM
I'm pretty sure I didn't do that with this one, as the current functions are on the left side of the dial. It would be a hard mistake to make. Although capacitance is on the same dial setting as continuity, just a function button press away.






I will keep an eye on ebay then. Thanks.

Another good middle-of-the-road meter is B & K Precision. Their o'scopes aren't bad either for the price.

Compgeke
April 21st, 2013, 08:35 AM
I have an Extech I got for $11 on clearance, was something like $30 new. It seems to work well for what I've done, and unlike the cheap $5 Harbor Freight one I had before, it has a lot more features. At school I've used some older Fluke ones, although I'm more of a fan of mine than those, but that also comes back to the one I've used longer.

TX_Dj
April 21st, 2013, 08:50 AM
I tend to buy cheap chinese auto-ranging multifunction meters for $20 or less, use them til the battery dies (you did try swapping the battery, yes?), replace it, repeat until the meter dies, and buy another.

This is my current primary meter:
http://i.imgur.com/j8VOyuO.jpg

Can be had from a variety of worldwide ebay sellers for about $20-30 shipped.

CRT PCB not included. ;)

Chuck(G)
April 21st, 2013, 09:18 AM
Having owned a couple of auto-rangers, I don't much care for them. (Yes, I know that Fluke makes autoranging DMMs).

Generally, if I'm using a meter, I have an expectation of a measurement falling within a certain range. If it falls outside that range, I know that there's something strange going on. On the other hand, if I see a display where the position of the decimal or even the units being measured can change, there's a possibility that I'll misread it. I also believe, but can't verify it immediately, that autoranging meters take a bit more time to achieve a stable reading. I know of at least one published post where the author didn't notice that his meter was reading millivolts and mistook it for volts. Very embarrassing.

I also wonder if non-autoranging meters are a bit more robust.

I know that it's just my preferences, but there you go.

Steve Johnson
April 27th, 2013, 02:57 AM
Cheap meters and auto-range don't mix well. Most take too long to settle down and give an accurate reading. If you are working with low DC voltages then safety is not usually a problem. If you are working with higher current levels and AC voltages then the cheap meters are downright dangerous. The Flukes are the industry standard and you can usually find a good deal on a used one if you look long enough.

Meter discussion is probably the largest topic on the EEVBlog and for anyone considering buying a good DMM I suggest you read through some of the discussions there.
I'd start with "Multimeters that do not appear to meet their safety specs" (http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/a-list-of-multimeters-that-do-not-appear-to-meet-their-claimed-safety-specs/).

There are also some good meter shootout reviews there by price range so if you are on a tight budget you can actually see the comparative performance of some of the popular ones in a price range.
Check out the long list of videos here: www.eevblog.com/episodes (http://www.eevblog.com/episodes/)

As for me. I use Flukes. They may not have as many cup holders as some of the cheaper meters but they will last and forgive you for your mistakes without blowing up.
Here are mine (http://www.stevenjohnson.com/pics/fluke-8020a-8020b-75-87v-dates.jpg). As you can see they are accurate and dependable, even after many years of being dropped and kicked around inside tool boxes.

Agent Orange
April 27th, 2013, 05:12 AM
I concur with SJ. I've had my Fluke Model 75 since 1986.