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Author Topic: Can you recomend a Digital Multimeter and supplier?  (Read 3788 times)

Posts: 18

« on: October 25, 2012, 11:37:49 AM »

I'm looking for a recomendation for a basic meter in the $30-50 range. I just want to use it for radios and projects. I don't need all the bells and whistles. I understand the importance of a good quality meter like a fluke but I just rekindled my intrest and I'm working with a budget.

 Also could you recomend a supplier where I can purchase everything I need to set up my electronics bench such as power supplies, test meters, etc.

Thank you in advance

Posts: 2083

« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 12:01:02 PM »

for initial poking around, if you have a Harbor Freight near you, get one of the $3 throwaway meters.  that is perfectly good for very casual work by anybody.

got my Beckman (d) at a local parts house (d) 40 years ago.  got my Fluke at Sears about 8 years ago for $80.  got my Triplett 300 series old-school meter (1950s series) off Fleabay a year ago for higher voltage than 1000 VDC.  dual-trace storage scope off Fleabay.  pretend freq counter from Radio Shack about 12 years ago and still using it as a secondary frequency readout.

if you need a cap/inductance meter, get the AADE kit for about $80, it whales the competition.

maybe you can detect a pattern here... anybody can sell you something new for more money than you have.  if you are making a living from it, and need calibration like W8JI, you are going to have to go there, or to a known reliable metrology/used equipment supplier that has the ability to calibrate to NIST-traceable standards.

otherwise, when you need a piece of equipment, look all over.  hit the web.  if possible, get something locally you can test to see if it works.  otherwise, cleanest machine close yo your price level, wherever it is.  hamfest, fleabay, craigslist, whatever.

HAM is Attic Greek for "cheaper than a hillbilly."

Posts: 4464

« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2012, 12:13:30 PM »

You'll get a variety of responses on this question, but at the $30.00 price point there's a lot to like about this one...

Auto ranging, data hold feature, volts amps, ohms, temp, capacitance, frequency, duty cycle, 4 1/2 digit display, yadda, yadda. It's intended as an electrical contractor's meter so it won't read more than 600 volts or True RMS on AC, but for the price I think it's one of the better choices on the market. Amprobe is trying to build market share and that's usually a good thing.

Scroll through the bar on the bottom of the Amazon page shown above and you'll see others in your price range.

The end of the world will occur on April 23, 2018 ( the day after Earth Day. Go Figure ).  If you're reading this on April 24th look for updates coming soon.  If you're reading this after June first, fuhgedaboudit.....

Posts: 67

« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2012, 01:45:31 PM »

Whatever meter you select, I would recommend one of the many test lead sets put up by Pomona.  They have sets which include different types of clips for when you can't hold both leads, or when testing several points in reference to a common point.

They are not cheap, but if they're not abused, will last many years longer than the leads that usually come with most low end multimeters,  I had a set at work that held up through over 21 years of everyday electrical and electronic testing in a hospital.  I'm retired now, but as far as I know, they are still going strong on the job.  I have a set for my personal multimeter, as well. 

I have a UEi 383B basic DMM which is on sale now for $58.95 at Test Equipment Depot (see link below).  One of my favorite features is the nice, large, backlit readout for us old folks.  They have several DMMs with different features, and plenty of attachments.

A bit of advice from my own experience...the combination clamp-on ammeter/multimeters (the single unit ones) made by Amprobe never seemed to hold up well in the long run.  If you need a clamp-on (for AC), get the separate attachment which plugs into a multimeter.

Bruce, KK4IKO

Posts: 926

« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2012, 05:43:03 PM »

I have several of the cheapo Harbor Freight meters.  They work fine for almost everything.  Harbor Freight frequently has a free coupon for the meter.  Can't beat free.  Eventually I would recommend looking for a modestly priced analog (meter type) VOM to supplement the digital.   If you can find a good used Simpson 260 for under $40, that is good value.  Some uses for a VOM, the analog is easier to use since you can see the meter move.

Posts: 2483

« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 06:03:15 PM »

Got my Fluke 87 III DMM at a pawn shop for $40. I think they sell new for around $350.

Dick  AD4U

Posts: 1757

« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 07:41:12 PM »

I keep several of the throwaway Harbor Freight $3 meters laying around for non critical use around cars and such. For a little better portable meter, I like the one they sell for $20 when it goes on sale.

This one:

If I need really accurate reading I use my Tektronics scope that has a 4.5 digit VOM built into it.

For high voltage or analog needs, I picked up an RCA Senior Volt-Ohmist at a ham tailgate for $20 and then a friend got me the high voltage probe for it. It's a great meter with a huge meter face.

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent VOM these days.

73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.

Posts: 2243

« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2012, 09:23:51 AM »

I don't need all the bells and whistles

No, you really don't.
Just make certain that you get an AUTO RANGING
meter and save yourself a lot of unnecessary
meter fiddling. Most annoying when you are
sorting through a bag/box of unknown value components.

GL ES 73, Ken AD6KA

Posts: 1156

« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2012, 10:18:13 AM »

 Home Depot has a few nice ones for a pretty good price.

Posts: 18

« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2012, 11:43:15 AM »

Thanks everyone for your recomendations and hints.

Posts: 49

« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2012, 05:09:27 AM »

I recommend Fluke products. They are above your price range if bought new, but well within if bought used. The build quality is exceptional, they are undestructible. I got my 75 back in 1981 or so, didn't always treat it well, but it's still going strong. The combined digital/analog read-out is nice for audio work, manual and automatic range select (manual is important for variable signals), a battery that lasts forever and a well protecting case.
I am certain that mine will outlive me, but in the rare event it do
esn't, I'll replace it with another Fluke.

Posts: 1484

« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2012, 09:25:13 AM »

I have several of the cheapo Harbor Freight meters.  They work fine for almost everything.  Harbor Freight frequently has a free coupon for the meter.  Can't beat free.  Eventually I would recommend looking for a modestly priced analog (meter type) VOM to supplement the digital

I've got several of the Harbor Freight ones; I've also bought a couple of them from High Sierra Online when they were on sale.  For $3-4, how can you go wrong?  One in each car, just in case, one in my desk at work--they're incredible bargains at the price, and darned useful for casual work.

I agree with K0IZ about an analog meter; mine is 30 years old and I guess I'm old-fashioned.   But it can be very useful to be able to see changes on an analog meter from a few feet away, when both hands are full.  :-)
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