Author Topic: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)  (Read 7300 times)

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Offline XDroidie626

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Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« on: July 08, 2015, 09:23:00 am »
Okay so I am looking at getting my first multimeter, I have no idea what to look for.
Im not looking to spend too much say around £20-30
So what would you recommend for a beginner?

Many thanks
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 09:29:32 am »
Aprobe AM220 or AM240 if you want temperature measurement.
https://www.simonselectronics.co.uk/shop
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Also, if you want to get ripped off: https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/simons_electronics?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
 

Offline KJDS

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 09:37:22 am »
What do you want to use it for?

Offline XDroidie626

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2015, 09:53:22 am »
What do you want to use it for?
Very simple stuff, nothing too big as I am still learning, more for just volt reading
 

Offline kerrsmith

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2015, 09:56:37 am »
If you just want one to use on low voltage projects (Arduino, small amplifiers etc) you could get a really cheap one like the following:

http://www.banggood.com/Wholesale-DT-830B-Screen-Digital-Multimeter-Volt-Ohm-Meter-Ammeter-p-50035.html

I have one of these and it is great for this kind of stuff - I would not use it for anything other than low voltage applications but for me this is fine. For basic stuff you do not need super high accuracy and I have built loads of things using this cheapy meter. The only issue I had with it is the probes had no strain relief so snapped off but they are so cheap I just got another set of them (hot glue would probably fix this issue).

There are a couple of interesting / funny videos about these cheap meters by CNLohr on Youtube:





If you think you want to do things which need high precision, good reliability and wide voltage range then these are probably not what you want.

I got mine as an 'it will do for now and I will get a better one later' but I have had it for ages and have not had a reason to get a more expensive one yet.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 10:05:15 am by kerrsmith »
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2015, 10:11:37 am »
considering the AM220 is only 30 quid and will always have a use I'd just skip the crap, why do we have to prop up people who make garbage.
https://www.simonselectronics.co.uk/shop
Varied stock of test instruments and components including EEVblog gear and Wurth Elektronik Books.
Also, if you want to get ripped off: https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/simons_electronics?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
 

Offline george graves

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2015, 10:30:46 am »
Very simple stuff, nothing too big as I am still learning, more for just volt reading

Think you'll want to stick with electronics?  If so, you might want to spend more, and invest.

I sooo wish meters like the uni-t 61E was around when I was starting out.  It's a lot of meter or the $.  If your budget is only $50, I would get a cheap meter and spend the rest on parts.   


Offline Deathwish

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2015, 10:53:41 am »
That a very Grave statement George !. Then again, I agree to a degree, cheap and cheerful to do the job and lots of parts to play with it. Me, I have the kit but no parts as such. so not much point in having the kit......
Electrons are typically male, always looking for any hole to get into.
trying to strangle someone who talks out of their rectal cavity will fail, they can still breath.
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Offline Macbeth

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2015, 11:00:40 am »
UNI-T UT136B (for capacitance) or 136C (for temperature). A great little auto-ranging meter, everyone should have one! Only £10 - £12 delivered.  :-+
 

Offline Macbeth

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« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 11:06:06 am by Macbeth »
 

Offline Deathwish

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2015, 11:04:55 am »
 :-- the link sends me to the forum index, I cant find the sub forum testgear ?.

Ok sorted, thank you Macbeth
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 11:07:22 am by Deathwish »
Electrons are typically male, always looking for any hole to get into.
trying to strangle someone who talks out of their rectal cavity will fail, they can still breath.
God hates North Wales, he has put my home address on the blacklist of all couriers with instructions to divert all parcels.
 

Offline DJohn

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2015, 11:06:22 am »
The only feature that routinely annoys me on cheap multimeters is the continuity test.  You want it to be fast and latching, so you can find the other end of a track by sweeping the probe over the pins of a chip.  Unfortunately, the people who put together feature lists for their advertising never include this.  The only way to find out, it seems, is to get a meter and try it.

My Fluke 115 gets it right, but that's considerably above your budget.
 

Offline Deathwish

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Electrons are typically male, always looking for any hole to get into.
trying to strangle someone who talks out of their rectal cavity will fail, they can still breath.
God hates North Wales, he has put my home address on the blacklist of all couriers with instructions to divert all parcels.
 

Offline Macbeth

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2015, 11:23:06 am »
The only feature that routinely annoys me on cheap multimeters is the continuity test.  You want it to be fast and latching, so you can find the other end of a track by sweeping the probe over the pins of a chip.  Unfortunately, the people who put together feature lists for their advertising never include this.  The only way to find out, it seems, is to get a meter and try it.

You certainly want it fast. Latching - there are pros/cons to that, ideally it should be switchable. The UT136 has a great continuity - just watch Lightages video above  @ 3:30
 

Offline kerrsmith

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2015, 11:57:47 am »
UNI-T UT136B (for capacitance) or 136C (for temperature). A great little auto-ranging meter, everyone should have one! Only £10 - £12 delivered.  :-+

This would probably be another good choice - slightly more expensive but also higher quality.

The money you save getting a 'basic' meter means you have more money to get other good stuff to start out with.  For the rest of your £30 you can get an assortment of resistors, capacitors, transistors, diodes, LEDs and voltage regulators as well as a breadboard and some Arduinos (clones) or make one yourself from the ATMega IC.

So for the price of a mid-range meter you can get a cheaper one (which will work in exactly the same way) plus loads of other great stuff to get going with.

With sites like:

http://www.bitsbox.co.uk
http://www.taydaelectronics.com
http://www.banggood.com

you can get loads of stuff for really great prices.
 

Offline grumpydoc

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2015, 12:04:03 pm »
+1 for the UNI-T's they are quite a lot of meter for the money - buy on ebay though, not Maplin's.

I'm missing my 61E as I left it in France last trip.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2015, 12:04:11 pm »


With sites like:

http://www.bitsbox.co.uk
http://www.taydaelectronics.com
http://www.banggood.com

you can get loads of stuff for really great prices.

and don't forget sparkylabs.co.uk/shop ;)
https://www.simonselectronics.co.uk/shop
Varied stock of test instruments and components including EEVblog gear and Wurth Elektronik Books.
Also, if you want to get ripped off: https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/simons_electronics?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
 


Offline Lightages

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2015, 04:57:09 pm »
I highly recommend this seller and this meter if you can wait for him to return. $50USD shipped to you.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Uni-T-UT139C-True-RMS-Digital-Multimeter-with-Temperature-NCV-Backlight-/171213085325
 

Offline Muxr

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2015, 05:22:41 pm »
The only feature that routinely annoys me on cheap multimeters is the continuity test.  You want it to be fast and latching, so you can find the other end of a track by sweeping the probe over the pins of a chip.  Unfortunately, the people who put together feature lists for their advertising never include this.  The only way to find out, it seems, is to get a meter and try it.

You certainly want it fast. Latching - there are pros/cons to that, ideally it should be switchable. The UT136 has a great continuity - just watch Lightages video above  @ 3:30
There are no cons with fast latching continuity. You want fast latching. The problem is you're not going to find it for $50, I don't think.
 

Offline Macbeth

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2015, 06:16:03 pm »
There are no cons with fast latching continuity. You want fast latching. The problem is you're not going to find it for $50, I don't think.
I think there are two issues here - fast acting which you want to happen as close to t=0 as possible, and then the latching or "hold" to prevent crackling sounds. This can be subjective as it's an artificial effect and ideally should be tunable by the user. I would rather have no latch than one just a bit too long.

The price of a meter doesn't enter the equation as if a latch is present the length of it doesn't cost the manufacturer anything. Its just a time delay in the software, or a different RC time. 
 

Offline Muxr

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2015, 06:45:14 pm »
There are no cons with fast latching continuity. You want fast latching. The problem is you're not going to find it for $50, I don't think.
I think there are two issues here - fast acting which you want to happen as close to t=0 as possible, and then the latching or "hold" to prevent crackling sounds. This can be subjective as it's an artificial effect and ideally should be tunable by the user. I would rather have no latch than one just a bit too long.

The price of a meter doesn't enter the equation as if a latch is present the length of it doesn't cost the manufacturer anything. Its just a time delay in the software, or a different RC time.
You want proper fast latching continuity test implemented in hardware. All software implemented latching continuity tests are too slow and defeat the purpose of latching imo. For example a Fluke 87V will detect open or short changes in continuity at 250 microseconds, a range that would not be audible on a non-latching continuity test. In fact you need 10s of milliseconds for your hearing to notice it, orders of magnitude difference.

Fast latching is superior to non latching, but if you can't have fast latching then I would rather have fast acting scratchy than slow latching.

In other words there is no better alternatives to fast latching, there are just compromises.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 06:50:10 pm by Muxr »
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Meter for beginner (Should I spend a lot?)
« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2015, 06:53:59 pm »
If learning is one of your goal, allow me give you another perspective to consider.  I am no expert in electronics, but, as has been said: "opinion is like an arse, everybody has one"  (heard it from a British guy, thus the Queen's English spelling).

My view is, the best consumer is an educated one.  One approach would be to consider your first purchase an education experience.

Buy a low-end meter like an UTE or similar.  As this is your first, you now have something to use/explore and learn with.  As you use it, understand its limitations, understand and respect its limitations, take note of what serves you well and what short-comings it has for your application, and find and learn how you could improvise

Understand its limitations:what accuracy it has, and what you really need...
Respect its limitations:for example: don't stick it into high voltage/current that it can't take....
Find and learn how you could improvise: for example, if it lacks current measurement, you can improvise by using a current-sense resistor; no diode/led test? how do I improvise and check for Vf and if this diode/led is good...

Then, in a year or so, you will be more able to see for yourself what features you would like/need to have and be able to decide if feature X is worth the added expense or you rather spend it on Y...

Lastly, your low-end first meter will not be wasted.  There seem to be always a need for a second meter if you stick with electronics stuff.
 


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