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What Multi Meter do you recommend

1/19/2006 3:29 PM
What Multi Meter do you recommend
Hi Guys,  
I am starting out and need some advice on multimeters.  
What specs should I be looking at when going to buy one?  
Any specific models are winners?  
Cheers for your support  
1/19/2006 3:51 PM
mark h

I like Flukes because they're well designed and well made. A model with capacitence meter is a handy thing. Expect to pay between $80. and $180. quid for one, depending on features. A basic one will do just fine though...M
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1/19/2006 3:58 PM

do i need one to go up to a particular number of volts or amps?
1/19/2006 4:04 PM
Mark Lavelle

I would make sure it can handle 600V, AC and DC.  
You most likely won't ever need to measure more than 5A.
1/19/2006 5:18 PM

My FLuke has been banging around my tool box in field service and dropping on the floor in the shop now for 20 years or so. I like it a lot. I recommend FLuke meters. My old model 75 is equivalent to the current model 175, which sells for about $200. They make some nice meters for a lot less too. I know there are other brands of very nice meters out there, but since the FLuke is still going strong, I am not in the market, so I don't know them.  
600v at least, and preferably 1000. That 350v AC winding on a power transformer is actually 700v center tapped.  
If you are sticking to small tube amps, you don't need a lot of current measuring capability, but I like my 10A range. I think most brands jump from like 2A in the basic models to 10A or more in the more advanced. If you are measuring heater current in a larger amp, it can use quite a bit of current. But I agree, unless you are doing high power solid state work, you don't need a lot of space on the amp scale.  
MAke sure the meter has a diode test function. (It doubles as a continuity checker) Even in tube amps, we have diodes and transistors.  
Many meters now come with lots of extra functions. They usually throw them in as much for marketing as anything. I rarely use them, so I would not pay extra for them. But as long as they sort of come with the deal, then why not. I mean things like the little transistor socket that checks gain (beta), frequency measuring, (I use a freq meter for only one thing - when I adjust tape decks for speed I use it the check playback if a test tape.)and cap meters.  
The cap meter might be more useful if I had never had one. In the old days, they only could measure small caps - like nothing over 10uf. Nowdays they can measure large caps. But what it won't do is check the cap for leakage because it doesn't operate at voltage. I have stand alone cap meters and also grew up testing caps in other ways, so I wouldn't think to use a hand meter. For someone starting out a shop, it might be more useful. It also would help you verify the value of a cap you were unsure of. In the shop, if I think a cap might be funny, I just replace it. That is a lot faster, even if I wind up reinstalling the old part, than doing a bunch of testing.  
All that stuff like min/max hold, RS232 interface, and so on is fine for lab work, but has little value to me. And unless you work in logic, logoc detection is pointless. I never needed temperature. (which requires a temp probe accessory too)  
Accuracy is important, but not so you need to pay extra for it. For example, a typical accuracy on a basic meter is about a half a percent. A little better might be one with a .15% accuracy and then the next is .09%. If you are measuring 400VDC B+, .15% means we will be within .6v of the true reading. By paying more for the .09% version we knock the error down to .36 volt. But on 400VDC, who cares.  
Same thing with readouts. Most meters any more have a 4 digit display. SO you see 400.8 volts or 1243 ohms. More expensive meters can have five or six digits - 400.79 volts or even 400.793 volts. Again, why pay extra for accuracy you don't need? The five digit meter with the .025% acuracy selling for $400 versus the basic meter selling for $150? No contest. Unless you are doing lab work.  
A word about autoranging. All that means is instead of setting the meter to have a top reading of 2v, 20v, 200v, etc, the meter automatically sets itself to best show what you are measuring. There are still manual set meters out there, and there si nothing wrong with them. But Many meters, even basic ones, now are autoranging, and I find it very convenient. I have been using test gear for close to fifty years, so i am used to it without thinking about it much. But someone less experienced might be confused between an over-range reading and an open if the resistance scale is set too low. SO I recommend autoranging.
1/19/2006 6:02 PM

Thank you Enzo.  
That is a most generous response and one greatly appreciated by myself.  
Thank you  
1/22/2006 8:10 PM
I love my Fluke 189. It's on the pricey side, but it's the tops.  
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