Author Topic: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good  (Read 103802 times)

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Offline MacMeter

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #300 on: July 22, 2017, 08:26:53 pm »
Already posted by you here (and has since been answered). Please do not post the same question multiple times. It makes people waste time answering a question that may already be answered and splits discussions. It is bad enough having two threads about the same meter; please do not make it worse.

Normally a good suggestion. Unfortunately, not everyone follows every thread on the same subject. Therefore it's not possible to know what members may be able to help, if they are not in all the "sister" threads that may exist. Combining threads is usually the proper solution.

With some of the crazy, and OFF TOPIC posts, I don't see my "double" request post for pertinent information all that problematic. But thanks again for the link to the manual.
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #301 on: July 22, 2017, 09:04:15 pm »
Not Fungus, but my $0.02.

Under what conditions do you feel having a separate on/off switch makes a handheld multimeter less safe than one where the function is built into the rotary selector?
I do not think it is a big deal. The meter should be safe regardless of the switch and leads configurations. So powering on a meter with the switch set to current should not be a safety issue. That this is almost certainly not the case with this particular meter is a different issue.

Of course it can blow an (expensive) fuse or trip a breaker, shutting down a mains circuit. But those are not safety issues (unless there was a pre-existing one like a locked door that cannot be opened without electricity). I do not think it is an amazing design in combination with the shared current jacks. But I remember bench meters that used ganged switches for function switch (so it would be persistent across power off). They had a separate power button. And some had a shared V/mA socket. Never had any problems with that.

Do you feel the separate mechanical on/off switch is less safe than an electronic one? 
Since power on/off on a DMM will not usually affect safety and function selection or voltage at/current through the test leads, I do not think this matters at all. Meters that use soft switching for functions (e.g. any modern bench meter) will usually default to a high impedance (e.g. DCV) state on power on.

I figured Fungus brought  it up and could explain his reasoning.  I appreciate the input if others want to chime in on this as well. 
 
I've never seen a meter where the function or on/off switch has anything to do with the high current inputs.  If you have the leads connected and you attach across 2 phases of your 480 bus, at best the HRC fuse will go.  Worst, well for the meter Fungus refers to, there is no fuse.   Still, is has nothing to do with how the on/off is implemented in the HF meter or any other that I am aware of. 

Based on his initial post
Quote
The convenient on/off switch means the selector can literally be in any position when junior connects the probes.
  it seems this is concern but I can't come up with a case were it would increase your risk. 

Of the meters that I have remaining, the ones with a separate on/off switch are:

CEN-TECH  90899, mechanical  (basically the meter Fungus refers to)
UNI-T UT181A, electronic
Gossen Metrawatt Ultra, electronic
Fluke 97 scopemeter, electronic

The Gossen is an interesting case.  Forgetting that the relays can change their states from a simple magnetic hanger causing the meter to display very low voltages when high voltages present, the reason for the relays is to be able to remotely control the meter.   If you were using the meter with the RF link enabled, the meters function can be changed by the remote.   I really like the CEM with it's RF link and have used it.  However, in every case I set the meter up then forget it.  I see no value in being able to change the function from an RF link and can see this adding risk.   Removing this feature would have solved the state change problem as well.   I never did hear anymore out of Gossen.
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #302 on: July 22, 2017, 09:15:33 pm »
I figured Fungus brought  it up and could explain his reasoning.  I appreciate the input if others want to chime in on this as well. 

Short version: It increases the amount of diligence needed to operate it safely.

(as compared to a meter which has an "off" position and the high voltage ranges next to it)

The temptation will be to use it and simply switch it off. If you measure (eg.) current then switch off the leads will be in a low impedance position while it's sat waiting for next use.

Based on his initial post
Quote
The convenient on/off switch means the selector can literally be in any position when junior connects the probes.
  it seems this is concern but I can't come up with a case were it would increase your risk. 

I guess junior could also play with the dial on any meter before connecting the probes. Maybe it's not really much extra risk.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 09:19:25 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #303 on: July 22, 2017, 09:23:16 pm »
The temptation will always to be to simply power it off when you finish using it instead of returning the selector to a safe position.

eg. After measuring current, the selector will be in an amps range. If you simply switch it off and the next reading is a power supply (or heaven forbid, mains AC) then that's where the selector will be when you connect the probes.

A meter that always forces you to move the selector to a safe position after use is much better IMHO. Extra points if the ranges next to the "OFF" position are the high voltage ranges.

Of course such a meter can be operated safely, but ... Harbor Freight giving away DT830B class meters with on/off switches seems dangerous to me.

I guess with most handheld meters with a shunt, that fact you turned it off and the function was left in the Amps is not the problem.  It's that you left the leads in the Amps.    If I understand, you would really like a meter than can only be turned off by the function switch and the meter has a shutter feature that forces you to install the leads into the non-current inputs in order to turn it off?   

Quote
The same argument can be leveled at meters with separate input jacks for current. You have to be diligent about swapping the leads back after every use. If you forget and your next reading is a power supply, then, pop!

I can imagine a meter with a shared 20A input and someone rotating the switch to the second off position past the Amps function with the meter still connected across the 480 bus..  Oh yea, and the meter has a glass fuse rated for 250 in there.... :-DD   

Personally, rather than adding more complexity with shutters and shared/unique current inputs, if it were mandated that all meters for CAT III and up could not have a shunt, I personally would be fine with it.  I'm sure most would not agree with me.
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #304 on: July 22, 2017, 09:30:47 pm »
Personally, rather than adding more complexity with shutters and shared/unique current inputs, if it were mandated that all meters for CAT III and up could not have a shunt, I personally would be fine with it.  I'm sure most would not agree with me.

Those meters can have current clamps so where's the problem?  :popcorn:


Harbor Freight could also give away meters that only do volts and continuity. I'm sure that's 99% of what they're used for anyway.

 

Offline floobydust

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #305 on: July 22, 2017, 09:33:58 pm »
I hate to bring up AN8008/ZT109 HV spacings here, but I took my AN8008 apart and it seems the rotary switch is the bottle neck?
Forget my grumblings about the fuses and poor PCB layout and fake 61010 claims.

The rotary switch PCB track spacing measures 1mm, and the wipers' spacing 0.60mm :o  so I imagine that's the limit.
I can't recall if joeqsmith has done a robustness test on this model, I think I saw the AN8002 test.





 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #306 on: July 22, 2017, 09:44:48 pm »
I hate to bring up AN8008/ZT109 HV spacings here, but I took my AN8008 apart and it seems the rotary switch is the bottle neck?
Forget my grumblings about the fuses and poor PCB layout and fake 61010 claims.

The rotary switch PCB track spacing measures 1mm, and the wipers' spacing 0.60mm :o  so I imagine that's the limit.
I can't recall if joeqsmith has done a robustness test on this model, I think I saw the AN8002 test.

Is anybody still imagining this is a 'safe' meter?  :-//

The AN8002 did better than a Fluke 87V in joe's tests, I imagine this one will be similar.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 09:46:53 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #307 on: July 22, 2017, 09:49:41 pm »
Personally, rather than adding more complexity with shutters and shared/unique current inputs, if it were mandated that all meters for CAT III and up could not have a shunt, I personally would be fine with it.  I'm sure most would not agree with me.

Those meters can have current clamps so where's the problem?  :popcorn:


Harbor Freight could also give away meters that only do volts and continuity. I'm sure that's 99% of what they're used for anyway.

Exactly!  When I actually have to work in the wild, the meter I use does not have HRC fuses, or a shunt.  What's the down side? 
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #308 on: July 22, 2017, 09:51:14 pm »
Exactly!  When I actually have to work in the wild, the meter I use does not have HRC fuses, or a shunt. 

The little 101?

 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #309 on: July 22, 2017, 09:58:30 pm »
I hate to bring up AN8008/ZT109 HV spacings here, but I took my AN8008 apart and it seems the rotary switch is the bottle neck?
Forget my grumblings about the fuses and poor PCB layout and fake 61010 claims.

The rotary switch PCB track spacing measures 1mm, and the wipers' spacing 0.60mm :o  so I imagine that's the limit.
I can't recall if joeqsmith has done a robustness test on this model, I think I saw the AN8002 test.

Is anybody still imagining this is a 'safe' meter?  :-//

The AN8002 did better than a Fluke 87V in joe's tests, I imagine this one will be similar.

Maybe there is only low voltage routed through the switch on the 8008.  There is not much there if someone wanted to trace it out.  Maybe the one PTC and clamp is after the switch..  :-DD.

When I ran the 8002, the switch broke down first resulting in a damaged controller. 
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline joeqsmith

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #310 on: July 22, 2017, 10:06:57 pm »
Exactly!  When I actually have to work in the wild, the meter I use does not have HRC fuses, or a shunt. 

The little 101?

HIOKI
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline amspire

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #311 on: July 23, 2017, 01:20:17 am »
I hate to bring up AN8008/ZT109 HV spacings here, but I took my AN8008 apart and it seems the rotary switch is the bottle neck?
Forget my grumblings about the fuses and poor PCB layout and fake 61010 claims.

The rotary switch PCB track spacing measures 1mm, and the wipers' spacing 0.60mm :o  so I imagine that's the limit.
I can't recall if joeqsmith has done a robustness test on this model, I think I saw the AN8002 test.

Is anybody still imagining this is a 'safe' meter?  :-//

The AN8002 did better than a Fluke 87V in joe's tests, I imagine this one will be similar.
Safety does not require the meter survives. This is a meter that is cheap enough so that if you do put it across 240V in resistance mode and some tracks evaporate, you can get another one. AN8001 type meters cost just US$12 including postage. The AN8008 was about $25.

It has been said many, many times that this is not the meter you should be using for high voltage or high energy use. I think we all understand that. Not sure why we have to keep repeating it. We get it.  :horse:

Even the best meter is only "safe" on the day it leaves the factory. If you pick up a major brand name meter that several people use, you do not know if a switch contact has broken and is floating around in the case, or if someone has shorted out a blow fuse with copper wire. It may have had a serious overvoltage incident and someone didn't report it.

If you are working with dangerous energies, it is dangerous. If anyone is risking their life on any manufacturer's CAT rating, they are definitely taking a gamble. If I have to take a gamble, Fluke is a way better gamble then ANENG, but it is better not gambling. If I did use the AN8008 with high voltage in a way where it cannot do any damage if it fails catastrophically, it is much safer then a CAT IV 600V Fluke that I am holding in my bare hands right in front of my face.

I think the AN8008 is a great little meter to use on the bench with low voltage/low power circuits. People are buying it because it can read much lower voltages and currents then most multimeters. Nothing that can be said about the safety issues is a concern for this kind of bench use. If anyone does not wish to use a meter like this for low voltages because they do not trust the CAT ratings, that is their choice.
 
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Online Specmaster

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #312 on: July 23, 2017, 10:44:23 am »
Safety does not require the meter survives. This is a meter that is cheap enough so that if you do put it across 240V in resistance mode and some tracks evaporate, you can get another one. AN8001 type meters cost just US$12 including postage. The AN8008 was about $25.

It has been said many, many times that this is not the meter you should be using for high voltage or high energy use. I think we all understand that. Not sure why we have to keep repeating it. We get it.  :horse:

Even the best meter is only "safe" on the day it leaves the factory. If you pick up a major brand name meter that several people use, you do not know if a switch contact has broken and is floating around in the case, or if someone has shorted out a blow fuse with copper wire. It may have had a serious overvoltage incident and someone didn't report it.

If you are working with dangerous energies, it is dangerous. If anyone is risking their life on any manufacturer's CAT rating, they are definitely taking a gamble. If I have to take a gamble, Fluke is a way better gamble then ANENG, but it is better not gambling. If I did use the AN8008 with high voltage in a way where it cannot do any damage if it fails catastrophically, it is much safer then a CAT IV 600V Fluke that I am holding in my bare hands right in front of my face.

I think the AN8008 is a great little meter to use on the bench with low voltage/low power circuits. People are buying it because it can read much lower voltages and currents then most multimeters. Nothing that can be said about the safety issues is a concern for this kind of bench use. If anyone does not wish to use a meter like this for low voltages because they do not trust the CAT ratings, that is their choice.
I personally think that this sums it all up rather nicely, rather like an MOT certificate on a 3 year old car stating that it is roadworthy, which is actually only true at the moment that the test was done. Like all things electrical and mechanical things can and do go wrong from time to time when you least expect them to and all anyone can realistically do is to reduce the impact of an accident happening by taking the required safety precautions in the first place.
Who let Murphy in?
 

Offline b_force

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #313 on: July 23, 2017, 01:37:13 pm »
Safety is as safe as the person who is using it.
A proper (expensive) certified meter is still a ticking time bomb in the hands of someone who doesn't know what he is doing.
The point is, that grey line is stretched much further with a decent (properly certified) brand, than a cheapo meter from Ebay.
With a cheapo meter you're taking a risk and you simply don't know how and when this meter will perform in certain situations.

No deal for a hobbyist (with knowledge) IMO, but absolutely unthinkable in a professional situation.

From a practical point of view, I still don't see how even this cheapo meter can be a real potential murderer.
Worst case is that you blow the internals up. (Unless you work without any other safety precautions, which is wrong anyway)
Everybody with enough years of experience knows that these things will happen from time to time anyway.

Guess some people here have never been into a science & physics department/laboratory
Our safety fanboys and nerds would shiver.

So can we please stop the whole safety debate? I think it's clear by know that people use this thing at their own risk above certain voltages and/or currents.
That's not even beating a dead horse, but running over it a million times and than burning it.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 01:43:51 pm by b_force »
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Offline amspire

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #314 on: July 23, 2017, 02:11:43 pm »
From a practical point of view, I still don't see how even this cheapo meter can be a real potential murderer.
Worst case is that you blow the internals up. (Unless you work without any other safety precautions, which is wrong anyway)
If you are talking about something really dangerous like 1000V DC at 1000+ amps peak, basically you have entered a different world. If a cheap meter fails, it will probably not be able to contain the arc within the case, it may violently explode and fragment, or the internal arcing may not stop which basically means the meter will catch on fire. The ABS case will not need all that much encouragement to burn. A megawatt of electrical power is not something you ever want to see released in your hand or near your face.

Even 50V in a massive standby battery bank can be extremely scary. I have seen someone go to hospital with a first degree burn from a mistake he made working with a 4x12V 7AH battery pack. (Wearing a metal watch band while working near the batteries).

I wouldn't want to use a cheap meter in either of these cases. I would go for properly rated meter, and then still be extremely careful.
 

Offline alm

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #315 on: July 23, 2017, 02:45:55 pm »
From a practical point of view, I still don't see how even this cheapo meter can be a real potential murderer.
Worst case is that you blow the internals up. (Unless you work without any other safety precautions, which is wrong anyway)
Not even in the industrial three-phase circuits this meter claims to be suitable for? Sure, the person should have been wearing personal protective equipment and should have been paying attention. But accidents always occur due to rare combinations of circumstances. If the person failed to wear proper PPE and accidentally left it set to current, and suddenly a motor stops. That is when the safety features (supposedly) built into the DMM should save you.

Guess some people here have never been into a science & physics department/laboratory
Guess again.

So can we please stop the whole safety debate?
Posting a message debating safety seems like a very good way to do that ;).
 

Offline b_force

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #316 on: July 23, 2017, 02:49:03 pm »
From a practical point of view, I still don't see how even this cheapo meter can be a real potential murderer.
Worst case is that you blow the internals up. (Unless you work without any other safety precautions, which is wrong anyway)
If you are talking about something really dangerous like 1000V DC at 1000+ amps peak, basically you have entered a different world. If a cheap meter fails, it will probably not be able to contain the arc within the case, it may violently explode and fragment, or the internal arcing may not stop which basically means the meter will catch on fire. The ABS case will not need all that much encouragement to burn. A megawatt of electrical power is not something you ever want to see released in your hand or near your face.

Even 50V in a massive standby battery bank can be extremely scary. I have seen someone go to hospital with a first degree burn from a mistake he made working with a 4x12V 7AH battery pack. (Wearing a metal watch band while working near the batteries).

I wouldn't want to use a cheap meter in either of these cases. I would go for properly rated meter, and then still be extremely careful.
Well, that's what I meant with practical examples.
If you release that amount of energy (which is the correct term), at ones. Yes, that's a whole different league.

But I personally wouldn't work on both with some extra safety measures.
I rarely hold my meters in my hands for example and I mostly work with an extra switchable safety fuse in these high energy cases.
I would consider these things more as professional situations.

Ones again, people should think first.
But anyway, we are going off topic once again.
Maybe a separate topic (and sticky!) on this would be a nice idea.
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Offline b_force

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #317 on: July 23, 2017, 02:57:11 pm »
Guess again.

So can we please stop the whole safety debate?
Posting a message debating safety seems like a very good way to do that ;).
I know, but it's just to interesting to keep our mouths shut I guess  ;D ;D

I have a physics background, and have been to many laboratories and test facilities.
Mostly the safety regulations are pretty mild. That all has to do with the fact that the people who work there all educated enough to oversee the dangers.
To give you another example. If you do research on radioactive material you're actually allowed to have a much higher dosage of radiation.
The reason why is because these people are trained and know how to handle is certain situations.
It always has been a big mystery to me why this doesn't apply in the field of electronics
(I can tell you from personal experience that radioactive material can be MUCH more dangerous!!)
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Online Specmaster

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #318 on: July 23, 2017, 03:53:50 pm »
Guess some people here have never been into a science & physics department/laboratory
I for one have been in many such labs and also many ASTA certificated ones as well and have seen first hand the huge destructive power of electricity with the damage done to bullet proof glass and walls that have been subjected to the fragments of electrical equipment that has blown apart as a result of them being tested to destruction in safety checks.

Equipment used on high energy sources should be suitably rated and in the real world shouldn't this equipment be in the hands of suitable skilled and qualified people and only such persons should be allowed anywhere near such energy sources? Also it should be true that a multimeter is not the correct tool for the job anyway when working on these types of installation live, the the test equipment should be designed and to restricted to being able to measure just voltage only and multimeters restricted to working on dead and isolated circuits only?

It is perfectly possible to purchase all kinds of equipment designed to be used by a surgeon such as a scalpel for instance, but having one does not make you a surgeon, the individual using these tools has to accept some responsibility for their actions and understand their own abilities. I have a driving license, on that license I can drive a coach or a bus even but not with fare paying passengers on it, and I have driven these on many occasions BUT I would never dream of crossing into an area that I was not suitably qualified for. The same should be true in the electrical and electronics world, people have to know and acknowledge their own limitations, we cannot design fool proof equipment in every instance. 
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Online ebastler

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #319 on: July 23, 2017, 04:29:15 pm »
I guess we can now answer this topic's initial question: Yes, a $25 multimeter is clearly good for something -- at the very least, it makes a great conversation piece.  ::)
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #320 on: July 23, 2017, 04:34:03 pm »
I for one have been in many such labs and also many ASTA certificated ones as well and have seen first hand the huge destructive power of electricity with the damage done to bullet proof glass and walls that have been subjected to the fragments of electrical equipment that has blown apart as a result of them being tested to destruction in safety checks.

True, but most of these cheapo meters will only be used in a CAT II 300V environment, even by the reckless idiots.

(with maybe an occasional foray into CAT III 300V)

Plus: One of these is waaaay safer than the DT830B they'd be using if the only alternative was a $100 CAT rated meter.

It is perfectly possible to purchase all kinds of equipment designed to be used by a surgeon such as a scalpel for instance, but having one does not make you a surgeon...
:horse:
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 04:39:56 pm by Fungus »
 

Offline alm

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #321 on: July 23, 2017, 04:40:11 pm »
True, but most of these cheapo meters will only be used in a CAT II 300V environment even by the reckless idiots.

(with maybe an occasional foray into CAT III 300V)
Agreed. Does that make lying about it acceptable, though? Would it be acceptable to mark the same meter as bomb detector, because most users are unlikely to run into bombs?
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #322 on: July 23, 2017, 04:44:04 pm »
True, but most of these cheapo meters will only be used in a CAT II 300V environment even by the reckless idiots.

(with maybe an occasional foray into CAT III 300V)
Agreed. Does that make lying about it acceptable, though?

No, but changing what ANENG prints on the front of its meters is out of our hands.

The public don't know what the markings mean anyway, removing them would make very little difference.
 

Offline alm

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #323 on: July 23, 2017, 05:22:03 pm »
Well, not sending ANENG dozens of orders would be a start ;). As would be not recommending any meter that so blatantly lies about its safety.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #1007 - Is a $25 Multimeter Any Good
« Reply #324 on: July 23, 2017, 06:04:07 pm »
Well, not sending ANENG dozens of orders would be a start ;). As would be not recommending any meter that so blatantly lies about its safety.

How can I not recommend a $15 meter that does all this?

Making people aware is always the best solution, not trying to ban/censor.
 


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