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Reviews For: Mastech MS8203/Circuit Specialists CSI8203 DMM

Category: Tools & Test Equipment for the amateur radio work bench

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Review Summary For : Mastech MS8203/Circuit Specialists CSI8203 DMM
Reviews: 1MSRP:
# GENERAL FEATURES: A Large 4 Digit backlit Dual 8,000 count display and Analog Bar Graph
# RS232C Infrared interface, cable and software included
# Built in calendar clock, records measuring time 4 display modes, True RMS value and Frequency of Min/Max values: Temperature in Farenheit & Celsius; relative quantity and error % of relative value at the same time
# Data logging: Auto/Manual records up to 33 values
# Auto/Manual ranging and Auto calibration
# Recording and printing software included
# Heavy duty test leads and rugged cloth carrying case with storage space for test leads, RS232C cable & the included K-type temp probe
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
AA2YS Rating: 2005-02-14
Decent DMM with lots of features Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Circuit Specialists sells this house-branded Mastech 8203 DMM. Its claim to fame is that it includes a tremendous number of features for a relatively low price - RS232 interface, audible alarms when the measurement drops below or goes above a specified range, etc.

I honestly expected the DMM to be the usual Pacific Rim "slapped together" quality, but it's actually a very hefty and solid meter. I REALLY like having the dual display - it's incredibly convenient to be able to see both the voltage and frequency at the same time, for example. The minimum/maximum/relative measurement feature sounds goofy, at first, but it's actually very usable in practice.

There are a LOT of functions in this DMM, with a corresponding learning curve. For example, to measure voltage, you select the V range switch, and then press a button that switches from DC to AC to AC on DC mode. The resistance range requires you to use the selector button to cycle through resistance/continuity/diode check. And so on.

The included software runs under Windows XP, and probably other versions of Windows. Nothing special really - it graphs whatever the meter is measuring, and allows you to save the graphs or print them. The RS-232 cable is optically isolated, so you don't have to worry about smoking your PC if you have a probe slip at an inconvenient moment.

I would have given the unit a 5, except for the following issues:

o The manual is a canonical example of a really bad translation of an Asian language into English. It's just barely usable, but has the advantage that it's at least amusing. But figuring out how to use some of the advanced features requires a fair amount of trial and error.

o The Range Alarm function works fine in all modes except resistance. That doesn't really bother me, since I don't anticipate a need for it, but it would be nice if all the features work as advertised. At least on my unit, the unit alarms for ANY resistance measurement in alarm mode, no matter what you set the bounds at.

o Non-standard probe plug spacing. So if you have a 1-piece dual probe plug, it won't work. Not a big deal, honestly, since it comes with a decent probe set that even includes insulating caps.

o A spare set of fuses would be nice.

The only thing I really miss is that the DMM lacks a capacitance mode. But overall, I'm really pleased with it. Be sure to shop around - the range of prices for the house-branded versions of this meter vary by well over $100.00. Make no mistake - this is no Fluke, but it's a good deal for the price.