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  • EEVblog #43 – Fluke 233 Multimeter Review

    Posted on November 8th, 2009 EEVblog 26 comments

    Dave gets his hands on the first Fluke 233 meter in the country. Gimmick?, or the biggest innovation in multimeters since autoranging?

    Aussie customers can buy the Fluke 233 HERE. Use “EEVblog” as the code to get free shipping. And if you register you get 15% off the price of all gear.

    Amazingly, even Dave’s wife liked this meter!, is that a good or a bad thing?

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    • http://kaqelec.dyndns.org Kathy Quinlan

      I can’t wait for the Electronics version to come out :)

      I love Fluke meters, I applied a couple of KV by accident to a 77, all that went was the fuse and 1K fuseable resistor. au$7 and I was back working :)

      I like the remote head, if they do release the protocol, you could build a PC link, and log the data over time :)

      Keep up the good work Fluke :)

      Three thumbs up from me ;) ( I need to cut down on radiation exposure this third hand is a pain ;)

      Regards,

      Kat.

      • PK

        A long time ago… I was repairing a defibrilator. I ended up fixing the unit, and out of curiousity, I thought that I will measure the voltage accross the BIG capacitor to see how many volts these things were charged to… Bad move, my fluke 77 failed miserably, the display went dark & the meter emitted a continuous beep. Fortunately, I sent it back for repair under warranty & it was returned fixed. Never did get to see what the BIG CAP was charged to… Next time I will will use a HV probe.

        /PK

    • Andrew

      I am not sure if I would like to have an Electronics version of this one on the bench. Doing this for an Electric multimeter and not an Electronics multimeter seems the right choice by Fluke.

      My problem with an Electronics version would be having yet another RF (== noice) source on the bench. And in case of such a multimeter, the RF source would be directly wired to the DUT via the test leads. And even without the test leads, we have an RF source with a wavelength in the decimeter range directly on the bench. Uhm.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        The beauty of the IR system is that the RF transmitter is only on when it’s remote, so most of the time there is no penalty for regular bench use. But then you’d have the option to use the RF when needed, along with any associated interference problems. I’d buy one with uA current ranges!

    • http://www.herzogmuehlweg.de Ingo Seidel

      Dave,

      do you have an idea why the display unit is attached via IR to the meter unit when “plugged in”.
      Wouldn’t it be easier and even more power saving to transmit the data electrically?

      Regards,

      Ingo

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Yes it would be better and lower power to do it electrically in theory. But I guess they figured you’d have contacts that just wear out, and possibly the potential of exposed terminals on the base unit (safety hazard). The IR is a nice solution because it keeps everything sealed.

    • http://www.herzogmuehlweg.de Ingo Seidel

      I forgot to mention:
      I saw this multimeter advertised on a flyer from ?Farnell/RS Components? a few weeks ago.
      I showed it to my colleague and we both shook our heads and couldn’t imagine any practical use for this “crazy s***”.
      Maybe the remote feature is practical for electrical service guys out in the field.
      When I work on my bench, I definitely prefer my benchtop multimeter, a Keithley 2000, the best multimeter in the world (to me).

      btw, I also own a Fluke 75-III multimeter which I like very much.
      The other day it showed false voltage readings and in resistance mode it couldn’t decide for the right range.
      After changing the battery, also the voltage was not too low and I had not noticed any battery warning, it was OK again.
      …kind of shattered my confidence…

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        With hindsight I can think of many situations in the lab over the years were a remote display would have been very useful. I guess it’s one of those thing that you don’t know what you need it for until you actually have the capability.

    • http://hackedgadgets.com Alan Parekh

      Great looking meter, well done Fluke! When I did field service work I could have used this feature! I can think of dozens of times I needed a helper to monitor a meter in a panel that was 20 feet from the main control system. Why did they go away from the flexible meter stands? They were the best, you could wrap them around a pipe, hang it from a panel door etc.

      One piece of constructive criticism Dave. When showing the board I love the closeups but you were moving around a bit fast and jittery with the camera. I think a small tripod or even a fixed full board view may have been a bit better.

      On a side note. Why does Fluke use those big and expensive fuses instead of the small glass ones? I have always wondered but no one could give me an answer.

      • http://www.herzogmuehlweg.de Ingo Seidel

        Hi Alan,

        I think the point with the fuses is that the meter is rated for 1000V, so if you make a short across 1000V you even would have to survive this.
        The small glass fuses are usually rated for 250V, I think they would explode or even couldn’t extinguish the arc when exposed to 1kV.
        So other meters that are capable of measuring high voltages and use the small fuses are not protected consistently.
        So the price defines the level of security (for me the glass fuses are sufficient).

        Ingo

        P.S. I am also a big fan of your hackedgadgets forum

      • http://www.testequipmentsolutions.com.au Duncan Livingston

        Hi Alan
        For us electronics guys the fuse seems like expensive overkill, in reality they are there so the user doesn’t get killed. Last week I saw an “electrical safety” video made by Fluke that being showed to apprentice electricians.

        They demonstrated what happens to a multimeter when CAT III 600V meter is used in an area where a CAT IV 600V meter should be used. The Fluke multimeter blew the fuse, the other two “no name” multimeters… well one went bang with a little arc flash, the other went bang and burst into flames.

        The moral of the story? If your multimeter is still working after 20 years its a Fluke!

        • http://kaqelec.dyndns.org Kathy Quinlan

          Duncan Livingston
          November 9th, 2009 at 21:41 said …..

          The moral of the story? If your multimeter is still working after 20 years its a Fluke!

          I agree, I have had 3 Fluke multimeters, One was stolen, one (the day I bought it) was left on the roof of the van and I drove off :( The third I still use :)

          I am looking to upgrade when funds permit to a higher count better resolution, this will be another Fluke :)

          Regards,

          Kat.

          • DocHudson

            The Real Moral of the Story is:
            CatIV standards were put into place in the late 90s.

            Fluke themselves will tell you that anything made before then, Fluke included, doesn’t comply with CAT IV.

            Having museum pieces is one thing but I’m not so sure I’d still be using a Fluke 70 from 1989 (20 years ago)–it’s CAT II rated!

            Product longevity is a good thing. But keep in mind safety standards aren’t retroactive.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        @Alan
        Yeah, I should use a small tripod for this I guess, but that would make it a bit hard to pan over the board. I should also include high-res photo images of all products open and link them on the blog. Forgot to do that this time, the meter has already gone back :(
        The new cam doesn’t have optical image stabilisation, so I’ve got to learn to be more steady and controlled when doing these sorts of shots too.

        Re. the fuses. Good meters will use the “High Rupture Capacity” fuses, and they are there for your safety. The small glass fuses can easily explode when severely overloaded, and then they won’t extinguish any arc created – the result is your meter can further explode or catch on fire while you are holding it, not a good thing.
        HRC fuses can break and extinguish massive fault currents safely.

      • Neil

        Hi Alan,

        To give you some idea of what energy a 600V CAT IV has to take – we test these at work. Devices are placed into a separate room with HV surge gear. 600V CAT IV should survive being plugged into 600V with an 8kV spike super imposed. The setup is Unit to test – coupling unit – 600V transformer – interlocks – fuse – substation. We have had to limit the fuse to 150A or we will overload the substation transformer.
        We tested a very cheap meter a while back – it blew the fuse.

        • http://hackedgadgets.com Alan Parekh

          Thanks for all the great replies!

    • TS

      Off-topic:

      I see this on the Altium forums sometimes:

      David Jones
      Product Design Engineer
      Posts 88

      Is that you?

    • Ivo

      Any idea what they use for the radio ? A TI / ChipCon device ? Maybe something from Nocdic ?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        I didn’t get look at that chip, sorry, I knew I should have taken some photos! The meter has already been sent back :(

    • http://mightyohm.com Jeff

      My jaw dropped when I saw the display pull off. What a crazy feature! Would I actually use it? Not so sure…

      The getting started rant had me laughing out loud. I don’t even think my 87V came with much more than a couple pages of advertising aside from the CD-ROM, which of course is PC-only. Very frustrating.

      One thing I have been very disappointed about with the newer Fluke meters is that the usable viewing angle of the display is much worse than my old non-backlit Fluke 77. This makes reading the display very difficult in anything other than ideal conditions. For example, if you actually use the flip out stand and look at the meter from anything other than a 90 degree angle, the display is considerably washed out.

      I don’t want to nitpick too much, but the audio levels of the intro are pretty high when compared to the rest of the video. It had me reaching for my volume control a couple times during the video.

      David, keep up the good work! :-)

      - Jeff aka @mightyohm

    • Jon

      Unlike Kat, fortunately or unfortunately, i do not have 3 hands. i think that the detachable display is a pain. it is one more thing for me to misplace. i really like the Agilent U1253A meter better. it has a great display, easy to read and i don;t have to worry about losing it.

    • Michael Thompson

      Man I wish I had that meter back at my old job.

      Great review!

    • arduinofan

      Dave, Good review.

      Did you see the Extech Wireless Datalogger DMM?

      http://www.ecnmag.com/The-Main-Circuit-Wireless-Multimeter.aspx

      No hacking required for wireless datalogging! LOL.Cheers.

    • Pro

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for everything, and this splendid idea.
      I give you a thumbs up for backing quality against quantity, a subject of debate on multimeters.
      Kindly do me a favour, and make me grateful. Please share your expertise on the following matters.
      You have fancied Rigol oscilloscope and HP multimeter, but mentioned Agilent and Tektronics, the two paramount bench top instrument manufacturers. Please give me a knowledge.
      B&K Precision offer a wide variety of hand-held multimeters. Shall I expect dependability and on paper specified performance? And Agilent seems to compete Fluke with new releases in the hand-held multimeter segment. Please suggest me: shall I buy the Fluke 179 or the Agilent U1241A (higher specified and lower priced from an equally reliable manufacturer)?
      Awaiting your answer…

    • Kirbdog

      I just picked one of these the other day. The removable screen is what sold me on it. I have been working service for the last while and its nice to be able to meter a circuit and take the screen to the panel and confirm its dead as I turn it off.

    • bob

      [img]http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/849/eev.png/[/img]