Electronics > Beginners

Help me choose some lab tools [Part 1: DMM]

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I was attracted by electronics projects and ham radio since I was a child and now at 36 despite the fact that I am working as software engineer I still have the enthusiasm when it comes to PCB boards, circuit design and it seems that I finally got the time required to restart building some small/medium projects, mostly mixed signal ones. I don't have all the the tools required and I'm looking to buy some laboratory stuff such as DMM, power source and a signal generator that I'll use for RF projects.

I would like to buy a DMM that I'll use with some Atmel projects, small amortizations, LED, sensors, the usual hobby-type tasks. As a ham radio amateur I would like to use it as well while building some RF projects but I've got a LCR meter and a 100Mhz DSO already which are quite fine for these jobs.

I was reading for last couple of weeks about different brands and models, apparently one of the best bet would be a Fluke, perhaps a Fluke 87V. There are a couple of Chinese brands against it, low cost, perhaps lower quality such as UNI-T with their UT71D or UT71E models. The price difference is about 1/3 here in UK. While money are not an issue I am wondering if I'll really need at some point the accuracy gain that apparently Fluke has against the UNI-T. With my hobby projects, would I ever need to distinguish to the 3rd decimal point? Would not so stable readings on the UNI-T count for my amateur projects? Well probably the final question is something like, would I buy the Fluke just because I can afford it and it sounds like a 'thing to have'?

I was also looking at Fluke 289, Fluke 8846A models and the Agilent 34410A. They are all within my budget for my DMM but as an amateur do I really need any of them?


Those videos are a good starting point:

There's also a "DMM buying guide" episode, plus various other multimeter reviews. I would not choose a high-accuracy bench meter as your first meter, especially if you don't know if you need the extra accuracy, speed, features and convenience. Even if you can afford it, it's still a fair amount of change that might be better spent elsewhere. I would go for one of the Fluke (eg. 87V/28-II)/Agilent/Gossen meters if you have the budget for one. Initial accuracy is not likely to be the issue with the cheaper brands. Issues might be reliability, drift, build quality, user interface and safety. Or minor usability issues like display contrast, battery life and continuity response. See the various DMM reviews for details.

Chet T16:
Might be worth keeping an eye on this


Thank you everyone for the advices, after some thoughts I bough new Fluke 289.


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