New Multimeter Suggestions?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by N8XTH, Nov 13, 2017.

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  1. N8XTH

    N8XTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I killed the 25 year old analog MM I had on my bench a while back and been using a free Harbor Freight one as an incredibly awful substitute for a bit. I'm not quite sure if it understands what continuity is let alone any real measurements :D

    Any suggestions on the best one to replace my old one? Looking for one $75 or less. The $500 Fluke looks nice but I don't need it. hihi.
  2. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been using a B&K for years, but I paid like $120 twenty years ago.

    If has to be handheld, I wonder if it's just worth the money to buy fluke--once and done. Otherwise, a bench meter can be nice, less chasing around.

    Anything good on Ebay, or at local electronics places? I have to think decent DMM's come up for sale once in a while.

    Subscribing, as I'm sure that my meter will up and die now that I've praised it.
    K9ASE likes this.
  3. G4COE

    G4COE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was in the same boat a while ago..... I scoured the internet for reviews and tear downs, I came up with Bryman BM869A, so I got a Greenlee DM860A which is a Bryman BM869A with slightly better specification..... get the 'A' version, they have a far better LCD display these, It's slightly more accurate than a Fluke model I was around the same price... I forget which one it was.

    I decided to buy a 'reasonable' one rather than one of those 'wonder meters' that doesn't have the protection, many of which are poorly made and have poor protection... avoid those that uses glass fuses for the protection especially on the 10 Amp range. I went for one that had CAT ratings AND Cat rated test leads - many don't and are built to 'cut corners'.

    Have a look here at meters to stay away from. Watch Dave Jones test meter tear down.
    It took me a month at least to pick one.... get a good one and you may never need buy another. Click 'Skip the adverts'.

    Do stay away from Ebay, buy at your own risk when it comes to test meters.

  4. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look on Craigslist too. There are always several of them listed here.
    Hard to imagine only owning one to use all the time. I must have a dozen of them that followed me home through the years! Four of them are my favorites.
    I have read a lot of positive comments about the Greenlee multimeters.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you had a good analog MM (probably a VOM), you might want to replace it with another one that's simply newer, like one of these:

    ...or similar. These types are still made but cost in the $200-$350 range brand new; there are so many millions of them in circulation, they're a lot cheaper "used."
  6. N5DMC

    N5DMC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now and then I'll cruse by all the pawn shops looking for a rare "working" decent Fluke DMM. Found an Aligent and a "Meterman" Humm..... Wavetek-Meterman, now Amprobe. I pulled the trigger on the Meterman 37XR.
    I don't like those meters that do it all, or say they do. But this one had a Millihenry (inductance) function on 2 scales. So for $25 I was out the door. Everything works fairly well with fast gating. Here is the link

    I'm guessing that one could buy it for less than the $100+ price tag in NOS form if you could find one, here it the replacement model ~$140

  7. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    MCM Electronics is near you. They have some nice meters for 1/3 of the price.

    Made in China like all of the rest.

    Have Fun. Get you some PPE too.
  8. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

  9. KE0ZU

    KE0ZU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just buy an old Triplett 630 or one of the Simpson 260 series meters for your basic multimeter. For High input Z and measurement isolation, get a VTVM, then, a digital meter of some sort.

    If you're smart enough to know you shouldn't measure anything over 3 or 4 hundred volts without a "High Voltage" probe, you really don't need the expensive meters with the latest and greatest safety certs.
    N5DMC likes this.
  10. K0OKS

    K0OKS Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want safe, reliable, tested, and plan to use it on high voltage then a Fluke, Keithley, or Keysight would be the way to go.

    If you want cheap, but decent then this one is pretty nice for $25 ish

    Note that cheap meters actually LIE and print FALSE CAT (and CE) ratings on the face of the meters. You CANNOT trust CAT marking on a non-name-brand meter. So ignore that, and don't take any reassurance from such markings. If you do not believe me find a teardown of your favorite cheap meter (plenty on YouTube, or do one yourself) and take note of the lack of flash over protection, creepage distance, etc. in the inputs. CAT ratings have become meaningless because they are constantly forged.

    The main difference between a quality meter and a piece of junk is the safety features. There is much better protection for the user to prevent arc overs, etc. in the event of an overload. These are real issues that really do occur (lookup multi-meter testing on YouTube). The more expensive meters are also typically more accurate, and hold their accuracy longer, but you can see form the review of that $25 meter above that it is quite accurate.

    For low voltage circuits any old meter (even the Harbor Freight throwaways) are adequate.

    I like bench meters, since they have larger displays and require no batteries. However, for a single meter a hand held is more versatile. Look for a uA current range if possible. This can come in handy with modern electronics.
    K8MHZ and N0TZU like this.

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