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First Multimeter Purchase

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I am attempting to purchase my first multimeter and finding it difficult to choose one. Let me give you my background and needs, so that perhaps you can suggest what would be best. I am a computer science PhD student and my research focuses on 3D printing. I hope to mostly make use of Arduinos and already designed parts (may require soldering), however I may do some small circuit design using AVRs and ICs. I believe temperature measurement could be important for my research, however I believe a dedicated temp meter would probably give me better accuracy that a multimeter with temp built in.

My lab has some older Radio Shack ($50-$60) multimeters and several lower cost ones. They are a bit dodgy with how well they work and the features that they have. I have decided to teach myself electronics, partly for my research and also because it is really interesting to me. I purchased the Make Electronics book and I have both component kits to take me through almost the entire book contents. Besides a soldering iron (which my lab has) my one lacking tool is a good multimeter.

I know that I will use continuity and resistance a lot, but I am not sure about other features. I have heard capacitance is not important and is important, so I'm not sure what to think about that. I have never used a cap greater than 100uF, but it is possible I will go up higher, however those are usually labelled well anyway. Is true RMS important if I am probably not going to measure mains?  I can spend about $100, with a little wiggle room. The BK Precision 2709 seems like the best option, except possibly for the beep, however I am unsure. 

Also, I want to get a good set of alligator clips and spring hook clips, are there certain things I should look for when buying these? I am considering the Extech TL809 Electronic Test kit http://www.amazon.com/Extech-TL809-Electronic-Test-Lead/dp/B0012VWUI6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1284998846&sr=8-1

These are the meters I am considering:
BK Precision 2709 (there's that beep...)
UEi DM391 (cap is low, non-RMS, and backlight doesn't look great)
Fluke 17B (How does this compare to the BK and UEi models?)
Extech 330 or 430

I know that there is no perfect meter, but I would like to get something that should last me a long time, has good accuracy, and won't annoy me. Thanks for any advice and suggestions.

Personally, for a 100 $ I would get the best Uni-T I can.
BK Precision is fine too, but its switch is exactly the same as my late grandmothers owen switches made sometime in 60's...
For me, it just doesn't cut it as a modern device:)

If you value brand name (quality) more than features, get a Fluke 17.
IF you can add another 25$ , get a Fluke 115! Sure, it doesn't have mA range, but add one 1 ohm .1% resistor in series and you can measure current with mV range and avoid blowing expensive fuses if you forget to switch the probes:)

Well, it's not a suggestion, it is just my humble opinion:)


--- Quote from: JSL on September 20, 2010, 04:15:21 pm ---and won't annoy me.

--- End quote ---

At the last one that did this to me , I turned  " on "  the snooze, and the alarm stopped ringing..  :D  :D

I wish you good luck.

And my advice are to watch as many videos as possible , and you will find in them, the true points of interest about your first DMM.

I highly recommend you to try to increase your budget and get a better multimeter already.

What has happened to me all the time is that I start buying medium entry equipment and ended up with a higher quality ones.

It happened with my DJ gear I started with medium entry units, and at the end I got the best gear on the market.

The same with my multimeter I started with a medium entry unit and now I got well the Fluke 87 V.

I hope you consider this and make the effort.

If not I will recommend you the Fluke 17 I have on of those and love the little thing.



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