Author Topic: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?  (Read 2115 times)

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Offline Calambres

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2020, 09:13:46 am »
I use mine when aligning radio receivers. DMMs are useless for this.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 09:15:29 am by Calambres »
 
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Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2020, 10:03:09 am »
I find my analog multimeter handy for doing adjustments with potentiometers.
The distance from where the needle is, and where it should be has a direct relation with how far the pot needs to be turned. This could also be done with a DMM with Bar Graph, but I do not have that, and a analog meter has higher resolution then the bar graph. (Unless you go back to interpreting numbers).

I also use my analog multimeter for long time monitoring of voltages and currents. It does not need batteries, never turns itself off and it never beeps at you.

My analog meter was not very expensive, just 1 or 2 steps above the cheapest (those have almost no ranges). I also modified it a bit, so I can directly put "Dupont Wires" into it, which is convenient for breadboard work.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2020, 11:50:40 am »
Are analog multimeters still useful?

Not in my home lab, but there might be some specialized uses.

One that comes to mind is checking inrush current on a power circuit, where the "kick" of the meter movement gives you information about the load.

Telephone exchanges used this to good effect, back in the day. By briefly reversing the -48 V exchange battery polarity to a telephone line, and watching an analog meter respond to the line current transient, you could tell whether a line had a phone connected or not, and roughly how many phones were connected. In effect you were testing the line + phone capacitance.

You could also tell whether a line was short (less than a few km) or long (tens of km) - some long lines were in use for special purposes. So if you in the exchange and testing a line, but didn't see the expected meter kick, chances were you were testing the wrong line.

good examples of legit use cases
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2020, 11:51:53 am »
I use mine when aligning radio receivers. DMMs are useless for this.

good example of legit use case
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2020, 11:58:42 am »
I find my analog multimeter handy for doing adjustments with potentiometers.
The distance from where the needle is, and where it should be has a direct relation with how far the pot needs to be turned. This could also be done with a DMM with Bar Graph, but I do not have that, and a analog meter has higher resolution then the bar graph. (Unless you go back to interpreting numbers).

I also use my analog multimeter for long time monitoring of voltages and currents. It does not need batteries, never turns itself off and it never beeps at you.

My analog meter was not very expensive, just 1 or 2 steps above the cheapest (those have almost no ranges). I also modified it a bit, so I can directly put "Dupont Wires" into it, which is convenient for breadboard work.

good example of legit use cases

use case trend seems to be that they work well for helping to identify ~slow moving trends - over ranges that can be smaller to larger depending on the scale used
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 12:11:55 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Offline TimFox

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2020, 01:50:12 pm »
A proper analog meter is essential when adjusting a bridge for null--although normal VOMs do not have a zero-center movement.  The latency in a DVM prevents finding a good null.  I also use an analog CRO when adjusting AC bridges for null.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 01:53:55 pm by TimFox »
 

Offline emece67

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2020, 01:50:43 pm »
I have at home about 5 multimeters, 3 are analog (ICE 680R), the other 2 DMM. And at work I still have another 680R in the drawer. And I'm after some nice AVOMeter.

In spite of the previous legit use cases, I'll present another one: to use analog (may I say "old"?) multimeters when they are enough for the measurement and just for the pleasure of using them.

As it is said, if I have to explain, you wouldn't understand ;) But, well, it is known that civilized people ;D use fountain pens instead of ball-pens, mechanical clocks and watches instead of quartz ones, filament-bulb flashlights instead of LED ones, slide rules instead of calculators (although I must confess that I do this rarely, the effort needed to use it for a calculation instead of an hp Voyager usually outweighs the pleasure) and travel by train instead of plane.

Of my 680R multimeters, the first one I own was bought by myself on the 80's, it uses an normal 1.5V alkaline cell, the others were salvaged from scrapping at work and are older units using a 3 V cell not easily available, so I built an adapter to use CR123A cells.
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Offline rstofer

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2020, 03:21:35 pm »
Where you need to rapidly scan many displays to find which are abnormal, they are preferred. That's why such displays are still found in many aircraft.

In the electrical substation business, it is not unheard of to fashion an arrow of red electrical tape and attach it to the front of a meter to indicate where the needle should be for normal operation.  Possibly even two arrows to indicate a range.  We don't care about 3 decimal places, we just need to know the voltage is 'about' right and the current is in a 'range' of expected readings.

One of the laughing points of high digit count DMMs is the circuit being probed uses 5% resistors and -20%..+80% capacitors with staggering temperature coefficients.  Who cares about digits?  Is the reading 'about' right is the best you can get.

The first DMM I used (circa '72) was line powered.  I had to find a working outlet to use my DMM.  Or I could just use my Triplett 630 V-O-M.
 

Offline akimpowerscr

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2020, 04:17:11 pm »
In the past I used a Hioki AF105 and an AVO 9 Mark IV but in 1992 I was able to buy a used Fluke 73 .... which I still use although since then I have bought more other Fluke multimeters like the 87 V.

As I was working in a dangerous field (high power electronics), the digital multimeter gave me a security that I did not have with analog multimeters. (with the 10A current input blocked with a piece of insulation!)

I always have a few analog multimeters (Avometer 9 Mark IV, Hansen M100 and Triplett 630-NA) useful for measuring 2Kv voltages that are found in analog osciloscopes or for currents up to 10 A

Many digital multimeters cannot withstand 10A constantly and there is a risk of blowing an expensive and hard to find fuse.
 

Offline Calambres

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2020, 05:53:20 pm »
...And at work I still have another 680R in the drawer...
The ICE 680R is an excellent analog multimeter. Mine has served me well for more than 40 years and it's still alive and kickin'...

Of my 680R multimeters, the first one I own was bought by myself on the 80's, it uses an normal 1.5V alkaline cell, the others were salvaged from scrapping at work and are older units using a 3 V cell not easily available, so I built an adapter to use CR123A cells.
Those 3V cells are readily available in ebay. I bought one recently.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 05:55:11 pm by Calambres »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2020, 10:58:57 am »
...And at work I still have another 680R in the drawer...
The ICE 680R is an excellent analog multimeter. Mine has served me well for more than 40 years and it's still alive and kickin'...

Of my 680R multimeters, the first one I own was bought by myself on the 80's, it uses an normal 1.5V alkaline cell, the others were salvaged from scrapping at work and are older units using a 3 V cell not easily available, so I built an adapter to use CR123A cells.
Those 3V cells are readily available in ebay. I bought one recently.

Swell, just after trying to talk myself and others out of needing any more analog multimeters now I need one of these:
https://www.amazon.it/MULTIMETRO-ANALOGICO-MOD-680R/dp/B00B22CP26
 ;)
1-800-CALL-TEA
 

Offline Wallace Gasiewicz

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2020, 12:17:31 pm »
These still work, do you think your DMM will be alive in 100 yrs?
 

Offline Calambres

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2020, 12:33:31 pm »
Swell, just after trying to talk myself and others out of needing any more analog multimeters now I need one of these:
https://www.amazon.it/MULTIMETRO-ANALOGICO-MOD-680R/dp/B00B22CP26
 ;)
1-800-CALL-TEA
Way too expensive! It had a steep price back in its heyday but now you can find it easily for half that price.
Still a very good instrument for sure!

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2020, 03:27:36 pm »
One of the nice uses for Analog multimeters is to find out transformer winding polarity. Something I mentioned here

I also started my career on my dad's ICE 680R - nice meter, but mine is due for cleanup and tuning. My dad adapted a CR123 battery and it works quite alright.

I personally like their charm and being self-powered.

These still work, do you think your DMM will be alive in 100 yrs?
Well, TBH I have a 41 years old bench meter (Keithley 191) that I don't really see it going anywhere. It will require some maintenance, especially due to aging electrolytics, but apart from that everything else is still in quite good shape. Of course, if a nuclear EMP event takes place, than we go back to analog. :)
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Online james_s

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2020, 04:14:13 pm »
They are neat looking, and have a few niche advantages such as monitoring rapidly changing voltages and the fact that they will work without batteries to measure everything but resistance. I no longer have one though, digital does everything I need it to do. I do however like analog panel meters and prefer those over digital in most cases.
 

Offline emece67

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2020, 05:24:04 pm »
...And at work I still have another 680R in the drawer...
The ICE 680R is an excellent analog multimeter. Mine has served me well for more than 40 years and it's still alive and kickin'...

Of my 680R multimeters, the first one I own was bought by myself on the 80's, it uses an normal 1.5V alkaline cell, the others were salvaged from scrapping at work and are older units using a 3 V cell not easily available, so I built an adapter to use CR123A cells.
Those 3V cells are readily available in ebay. I bought one recently.

Swell, just after trying to talk myself and others out of needing any more analog multimeters now I need one of these:
https://www.amazon.it/MULTIMETRO-ANALOGICO-MOD-680R/dp/B00B22CP26
 ;)
1-800-CALL-TEA

Such multimeter does not look exactly  like the ones I have. Mine looks more like the one posted by Calambres https://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/what-was-your-first-multimeter-or-voltmeter/msg1455238/#msg1455238
Information must flow.
 

Offline Calambres

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2020, 08:00:58 am »
Yes, that one from Amazon a 680-R series VII. My 680-R is an older series 3 model.

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2020, 07:16:31 pm »
this is the kind of thing that helps grow your analog multimeter family :)


 

Offline pwlps

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #43 on: October 31, 2020, 07:44:31 pm »
For me there are two different questions here: analog meters and analog displays. I sometimes replaced the whole electronics in old lab instruments but always keeping the original analog milliampmeters as primary displays even if there are ADCs and everything is connected to a computer.  The thing is when I have to survey half a dozen or more displays during an experiment I don't like digital displays because it takes me much longer to integrate all the readings, it seems my brain remains analog in nature :). I think I couldn't fly a plane with an all-digital instrument panel (if such existed, I don't know any).
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2020, 08:03:36 pm »
For me there are two different questions here: analog meters and analog displays. I sometimes replaced the whole electronics in old lab instruments but always keeping the original analog milliampmeters as primary displays even if there are ADCs and everything is connected to a computer.  The thing is when I have to survey half a dozen or more displays during an experiment I don't like digital displays because it takes me much longer to integrate all the readings, it seems my brain remains analog in nature :). I think I couldn't fly a plane with an all-digital instrument panel (if such existed, I don't know any).

Basically... Yes.

But I was taught to fly a glider with zero instruments, on the principle that they fail and you still have to land. And yes, I had had failures.

Obviously the altimeter is pretty useless except if you are landing where you launched.

The vario isn't essential, but the battery can fail and the orifices can be blocked.

The ASI is important since eyou are often flying near stall or Vne speeds. Traditionally they are put out of action by a bumble bee or rain, but in my case it was a rubber flap.

Never had an artificial horizon since I never did cloud flying; I used the real one.

As for the radio... What radio?
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline pwlps

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #45 on: October 31, 2020, 08:35:28 pm »
The ASI is important since eyou are often flying near stall or Vne speeds. Traditionally they are put out of action by a bumble bee or rain, but in my case it was a rubber flap.

This is why I don't understand why in most schools only the power-assisted approach is taught, here the ASI indication is important. For power-off approach you don't really need it.
But maybe I'm going slightly off-topic here.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #46 on: October 31, 2020, 11:07:48 pm »
The ASI is important since eyou are often flying near stall or Vne speeds. Traditionally they are put out of action by a bumble bee or rain, but in my case it was a rubber flap.

This is why I don't understand why in most schools only the power-assisted approach is taught, here the ASI indication is important. For power-off approach you don't really need it.

Why on earth don't you need it?

ASI is just as important in a engine-off approach. Too slow => stall/spin, whether powered by hydrocarbons or gravity.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline pwlps

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #47 on: November 01, 2020, 11:20:58 am »
Why on earth don't you need it?

ASI is just as important in a engine-off approach. Too slow => stall/spin, whether powered by hydrocarbons or gravity.

This is really off topic but I will answer the question.   I mean I can safely land with engine off without even looking at ASI because I only slow down right before touching the runway,  before that I fly well above Vs so I can easily feel the speed on the yoke response.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 11:23:53 am by pwlps »
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Analog multimeters, are they still useful?
« Reply #48 on: November 01, 2020, 03:15:06 pm »


The ASI is important since eyou are often flying near stall or Vne speeds. Traditionally they are put out of action by a bumble bee or rain, but in my case it was a rubber flap.

This is why I don't understand why in most schools only the power-assisted approach is taught, here the ASI indication is important. For power-off approach you don't really need it.

Why on earth don't you need it?

ASI is just as important in a engine-off approach. Too slow => stall/spin, whether powered by hydrocarbons or gravity.

This is really off topic but I will answer the question.   I mean I can safely land with engine off without even looking at ASI because I only slow down right before touching the runway,  before that I fly well above Vs so I can easily feel the speed on the yoke response.

Precisely. There is no difference between a powered and unpowered landing w.r.t. needing an ASI.

However in a glider it is normal to fly close to stall speed, except during the approach since that's when you are more likely to suffer bad consequences from windshear or gusts.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 


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