Author Topic: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?  (Read 6010 times)

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Offline shims506

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Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« on: December 29, 2011, 04:35:24 am »
As I was about to purchase a older fluke i noticed a larger digital multimeter (Fluke 8520a) was cheaper and seemed to have more functions



My question is should I spend my money on a newer fluke or can I spare some cash on other equipment and get the Fluke 8520a or equivalent with decent readings?
 

Online Neilm

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011, 10:47:06 am »
As with all these sorts of questions, the answer is "Do you need the extra functions?"

A new meter will come with a cal cert, warranty and accessories the older meter may not.

Neil
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Online EEVblog

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 11:09:03 am »
The Fluke 8520a is 1980's vintage, that's over 30 years old.
It's specs are OK, but IMO you'd be better off with a nice HP3478A or something a bit newer (and smaller).
It doesn't even measure current!

What meter(s) do you currently have?

Dave.
 

Offline tekfan

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 05:06:46 pm »
The Fluke 8520a is 1980's vintage, that's over 30 years old.
It's specs are OK, but IMO you'd be better off with a nice HP3478A or something a bit newer (and smaller).
It doesn't even measure current!

What meter(s) do you currently have?

Dave.

Well the HP3478A is also 80's vintage but its small size and functions make it very useful.

The Fluke has the advantage of being a computing multimeter. You can directly display peak-peak value, deviation in %, calculate rise time, pass/fail measurments, burst measurments (500 readings per second - crazy)...
All this probably more suited for the production enviroment.

If you are looking for a first meter this probably isn't a very good option. The HP3478A will suit you better. Look for other smaller bench meters such as the Solartron 7150. Also very compact and 6 digits.



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alm

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2011, 05:48:07 pm »
The Fluke 8520a is 1980's vintage, that's over 30 years old.
It's specs are OK, but IMO you'd be better off with a nice HP3478A or something a bit newer (and smaller).
And the HP 3478A is from 1983, that's much newer ;).

It depends on the price in my opinion. For $50, I would seriously consider it. For $150, you can also get many other decent multimeters, like the HP 3478A. It's a more specialist device compared to the common handheld. It will be much better at some applications (eg. low resistance measurement), but also lack some features like current and diode ranges. It's also quite big. It shouldn't be your first or only multimeter, operating it is more complex than your average handheld. But you need multiple meters anyway ;).
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2011, 09:47:46 pm »
The 3478A is 1988 according to the manual, and they sold it into the 1990's, so good chance you'll get a 1990's vintage unit.
The 8520a is marked 1979/1981 in the manual, so a good decade earlier.
It's very rare you'd need all that automated measurement stuff.
The 3478A is probably the best value used bench meter on ebay. There are a ton of them, the service manual is easy to get, and it's a very reliable unit.

Dave.
 

alm

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2011, 10:28:06 pm »
The 3478A is 1988 according to the manual, and they sold it into the 1990's, so good chance you'll get a 1990's vintage unit.
According to your manual maybe. Which is probably not the first edition. It was introduced in the February, 1983 HP Journal issue and was included in the 1983 HP catalog. I think by 1988 they had already replaced those unbacklit LCDs by VFDs in new design.

The 3478A is probably the best value used bench meter on ebay. There are a ton of them, the service manual is easy to get, and it's a very reliable unit.
Another option is the 3468A. Often cheaper than the 3478A due to its lack of GPIB (which not many people use), and almost identical apart from the lack of rear inputs and lowest voltage/resistance ranges. One feature that I miss is a relative button. The Keithley 199 does include a relative button and has a bigger LED display with more contrast than the lousy LCDs that HP used in the eighties. Service manuals are available for download from the manufacturer's website. Both are better value than the 3478A in my opinion, although you have to get them for the right price. I don't see a listing for either of these meters with an attractive price on Ebay at this moment. There are several Fluke 8840As close to the $100 mark, which in my opinion are better meters than the HP 3478A, but usually too expensive.
 

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2011, 10:38:00 pm »
According to your manual maybe. Which is probably not the first edition. It was introduced in the February, 1983 HP Journal issue and was included in the 1983 HP catalog. I think by 1988 they had already replaced those unbacklit LCDs by VFDs in new design.

Ah yes, Rev 1 manual was Feb 1983 (Non "A" version perhaps?), Rev 2 was Jan 1988.

Quote
Another option is the 3468A. Often cheaper than the 3478A due to its lack of GPIB (which not many people use), and almost identical apart from the lack of rear inputs and lowest voltage/resistance ranges. One feature that I miss is a relative button. The Keithley 199 does include a relative button and has a bigger LED display with more contrast than the lousy LCDs that HP used in the eighties. Service manuals are available for download from the manufacturer's website. Both are better value than the 3478A in my opinion, although you have to get them for the right price. I don't see a listing for either of these meters with an attractive price on Ebay at this moment. There are several Fluke 8840As close to the $100 mark, which in my opinion are better meters than the HP 3478A, but usually too expensive.

As always, you have to shop around, I got mine for around the $100 mark, or slightly under.
Yes, no Relative button sucks.

Dave.
 

Offline shims506

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Re: Are older lab bench digital multimeter worth getting?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 12:18:06 am »
Wish i haven't been on vacation and read the rest of this thread just bought a 8520a for about $70  :-\ but i did get 3 other fluke dmm for about 60 (2 8010a and a 8012a)  :)

I do agree that the hp does look nicer and costs relatively the same amount wish I waited a bit longer, but for now I think I'll be fine .
 


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